10 February 2017
Written by Buster Birch
For the 2017 Spring sessions we'll be focussing on the following three tunes and we'll be using transcriptions of these specific recordings, not "Real Book" or "Aebersold" or "Hal Leonard" versions. Make sure you are sourcing the correct version in the correct key and make sure you know the actual specific recording that we will be working on, not another version. You should have listened to these recordings at least 10 times before coming to the class.
Centerpiece - by Harry "Sweets" Edison - as recorded by Scott Hamilton and The Jeff Hamilton Trio on "Live In Bern" (2015)
Little Sunflower - by Freddie Hubbard - as recorded by Freddie Hubbard on "Backlash" (1966)
Cantaloupe Island - by Herbie Hancock - as recorded by Herbie Hancock on "Empyrean Isles" (1964)
A thought about jazz repertoire...
Jazz has been around for about 100 years and over that time it has evolved and is continuing to evolve. As each new generation came along with a new style of jazz, so they approached the music in new and radical ways. There are many different ways of playing jazz, each with its own sets of protocol and concepts according to each different style and individual approach. Thus, we need to be aware of the history and development of each different style and approach to jazz and understand the different concepts and how they work in context with the music and what the musicians were trying to do at the time. The concepts and musical devices that Louis Armstrong used for improvising were different to Dizzy Gillespie, and Dizzy Gillespie used different methods to Miles Davis, and so on. As the music evolved so did the methods and concepts for improvising on the music. This can be confusing for students of jazz who may have learned one thing from one teacher or workshop and then struggle to apply it in another situation, which may be out of context. Playing Jazz Standards from Real books can add to this confusion because they can feel very generic and not specific to any style. Of course, for the experienced jazz musician this can be beneficial and liberating as it enables the music to be played in any style. But for the jazz student this lack of context can be confusing as there is no protocol to guide them. Therefore, when learning it is extremely beneficial to focus on particular recordings, as they give a sense of time and place and context, which can guide the student when making artistic choices.