This is a representative cross–sample of Eastman’s Jazz Studies/Contemporary Media program circa 1995–96 with an opening number by the Jazz Ensemble and others by groups of various shapes, sizes and points of view with every selection composed, arranged and performed by students at the Rochester, New York, school. The ensemble is center stage for about eight minutes with David Cutler’s boppish “Bucking for the Buck,” and it is time well spent. The rest of the program could accurately be described as uneven. Following the ensemble is a sort of semi–free improvisation by alto saxophonist Neveu and pianist Cutler, recorded in concert, that includes references to Warne Marsh/Lennie Tristano/Lee Konitz and is well–played if not especially diverting. The electro–acoustic “Blendervision 2.0,” with all manner of synthesized rumbling, is next, and if one can make it past that, there’s Cutler’s “Concerto for Studio Orchestra,” a more interesting band music–style piece that includes strings, horns and timpani but excludes Jazz. “Siete,” by uni3, is another experimental work with Middle Eastern overtones, nicely performed by Jeffrey Paul (composer/woodwinds), pianist Adam Benjamin and percussionist Jason Treuting. Brad Wheeler’s jaunty “Chanson Pour Nous” (Song for Us), performed by Saxology (five saxophones and rhythm), has its moments, and is followed by Neveu’s “Old Friends” (winner in the ’96 Downbeat student awards for best original composition), performed by the New Jazz Ensemble with solos by pianist John Nyerges, trumpeter Martin Hodel, tenor saxophonist Lawrence Miller and guitarist Chris Jentsch. Completing the program are “Transitions,” written by saxophonist Michael McGinnis and performed by his octet; Pat Donaher’s “Kibbeyisms,” a second cutting–edge duet with Donaher on alto and Ben Kibbey on piano; and the sometimes chaotic “Method 2 Madness,” composed by saxophonist Matthew Belzer and played in concert by his septet. While not everything served is to our taste, the young musicians at Eastman are well–grounde
Track listing: Bucking the Buck; Take the Next Step; Blendervision 2.0; Concerto for Studio Orchestra; Siete; Chanson Pour Nous; Old Friends (73:24).
Eastman Jazz Ensemble, the Neveu/Cutler Duo (Alan Neveu, alto sax; David Cutler, piano), Eastman Studio Orchestra, uni3 (Jeffrey Paul II, oboe, English horn, alto sax; Adam Benjamin, piano; Jason Treuting, drums, percussion), Saxology (Matthew Belzer, Alan Neveu, alto sax; Brad Wheeler, David Pope, tenor sax; Damon Zick, baritone sax; David Cutler, piano; Drew Waters, electric bass; Matt Aiken, drums), Eastman New Jazz Ensemble.
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.