Monday, May 16, 2011

The miracle of cell phones

Cell phones are a real treat for my generation. We can play games, post on Facebook, text, call, take pictures, upload compressed music files, and have 24/7 access to our friends. We can also search in the music section for some new sounds.
I'm sure everyone has heard of Herbie Hancock, and how ashamed I am to mention that until last night, I had not. A rather eclectic man, this comes through all the more in his music. Searching him in the Bing app on my phone (which really isn't supposed to be able to do that), brought up a tune from my freshman year in the marching band: Chameleon. This song was challenging to march to and play if I am recalling correctly, but a thrill to hear coming together. Later in the year, we played another gem at Eastern Michigan University: Birdland. What a dream to play! I cannot give my review on the difficulty of marching this song would require as we were simply standing in the standard EMU position: a giant EMU, no less.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Okay, this is the real beginning

Living where I live, there is not too much jazz that can be heard other than through the records or other mediums through which music seeps into our souls. However, there is one particular band that I would like to highlight. The Ambassadors.
This band, though unknown to many, has wrenched my heart several times, swinging through the ages and bringing the oldies into the here and now. They are a wedding, birthday, and, well, just about everything band with little credit and no website, which makes me nearly as sad as the fact that I have few chances to see them play. Michael Letovsky (alto saxophone), who is a band director at Hartland High School, sheds the layers in his mind, inspiring dancers to come onto the floor, even if they can't identify the dance required.
As he swings and sways, the trumpet in first chair, who just so happens to be his wife and the choir director at Hartland High School, pairs up rhythm and passion, painting a picture with her muted trumpet and supporting her husband all the way. She may, perhaps, have the sweetest sounding bell I have ever had the pleasure of hearing in person. I'm hoping she doesn't mind my mentioning her, but spread the news! The Ambassadors are coming to town!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Having lived in the country for about eleven years, I can tell whether people are "city slickers" or "country bums" in about five seconds of dicussion or looking at one's car. This is a talent one acquires, as is the ability to hear the intricacies that modern jazz artists strive for. As talents go, it is greatly underappreciated, except by the musicians themselves, and many people just assume that jazz critics and fans were just born out of the box. It is not true. Many years of study can give you the grasp of general knowledge of jazz, but unorthodox study can give you the greatest appreciation for the artform.
Study of artists such as Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw, Eddie Condon and Pee Wee Russell, and Gene Krupa and George Wettling can give you the ubiquitously understood. However, pick up a record (or other form of music appropriation) of Herbie Fields or Frank Traynor. That can give you the little-known pleasure of discovery. Pick up a Matt Munisteri album at some point and listen to the eloquence and poise with which his guitar can sing. All I'm saying is that jazz fans and critics need to pick up something other than their favorites every once and a while and bring these unsung heroes out into the limelight.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Different Perspectives

As a high school student, I am able to see things in a different light than most people. While my sight is limited, the things I do see are often unappreciated, taken for granted, tossed aside as too ordinary, too ubiquitous. As a musician, however, I see the beautiful undercurrents of our society, the fast-paced pulse that keeps everyday life possible. This pulse inspires musicians almost as much as their love of music itself and keeps us just crazy enough to refine the perfect, but just sane enough to realize we're insane. Some musicians, if you're ever lucky enough to go backstage and chat with them, will tell you that music is more than love. It is what defines the stride and the heartbeat and it is a gift from supernatural forces. If anyone ever asks you to define music, here's a simple answer: "Music is what we make it, but we are what music makes us."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

It has caught my attention

It has caught my attention that many people in my generation believe that jazz is merely the dancing tunes used by "old people." I must fervently disagree. I recently wrote this response to one of Michael Steinman's blog posts:
Although I am relatively new to the world of jazz, as you say, a new jazz scholar, I do realize that jazz didn’t spring from the bell of Miles Davis, nor from John Coltrane’s saxophone. Rather, jazz sprang, by all technicalities from those of a darker race (I don’t want to say African American because that’s not always correct and I don’t want to say black because it just sounds a little harsh). Cultivating the gardens, at least in my generation, is much more difficult than it sounds… "Jazz is for old people," I can hear my friends say. I must disagree with my fellow teenagers. Jazz permeates everything we hear today, just as the mixture of the blues scale and the smallest bit of classical music permeates jazz. And though I realize that jazz didn’t just spring out of the most well-known jazz artists, it is difficult for my "pupils" to understand this crucial fact. Benny Goodman did not begin swing, he merely made it popular. Dixieland isn’t exclusive to Bob Crosby, nor is the dance tune only Glenn Miller’s. But once they get stuck on one way of thinking, good luck in changing their minds….
I have another thought to add to this: yes, jazz is even in Justin Bieber's squeaking. Listen to the chord progressions(if you don't know what this means, please go learn music theory) and the occasionally implied beat, even though this is hard to hear through the shrill soprano voice this boy seems to possess. And even with these similarities, those who are jazz drummers will be able to tell you, with a combination of annoyance and amusement, that everyone who doesn't use a jazz drumset probably has no idea how to tune a tom.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Benny Goodman

Everyone who ever enters this blog, whether they meant to or not, should know that I'm a Goodman FANATIC!!!!!!!! This man truly deserves all the attention he recieves. I was recently listening to his song POOR BUTTERFLY, a balanced combination of "classical" style music and the beauty of jazz. His clarinet soared through the string section with a lilt and a wave, creating the scene of a meadow of butterflies and flowers and a dancing girl. Though I wasn't alive at the time that any of my favorite artists were, their music brings me back, almost allowing me to reminisce about the past. My favorite saying is sighed as I hum the tune as best I can: "I was born in the wrong generation."
It's a simplistic thing to say, but it's also one of the most powerful motivators in this puny life. The remembrance of the original artists who formed the very base of the jazz today is my main mission. Many times, the only person that anyone in my generation has ever heard of is Frank Sinatra. This makes my heart fall. What happened to the world, to not even know the names of Les Brown or Glenn Miller? My fellow jazz aficionados: thank you. This is why I refer all who ever discover my blog to those from whom I am still learning: Michael Steinman, Michael McQuaid, and the man who calls himself Perfesser M. Figg.
I hope these men don't disapprove of my redirecting all web surfers to them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Subscription madness

I've recently subscribed to several blogs. All, of course, involve jazz in some way. Among those that I have signed up for are Aesthetic, Not Anesthetic, a witty blog which covers several genres of music and also takes sense to a new level. As a new jazz fanatic, this is a fantastic source for an intelligent being discussing music and its impacts. Please take a look!