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Witching Hours

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Witching Hours is the debut studio album of Chicago-born, Phoenix-residing trumpet player John Michael Sherman. It is a consummation of his work in the Arizona State University jazz studies program both as a performer and composer. Featured on the album

Witching Hours is the debut studio album of Chicago-born, Phoenix-residing trumpet player John Michael Sherman. It is a consummation of his work in the Arizona State University jazz studies program both as a performer and composer. Featured on the album are several other musicians who John Michael played alongside throughout his tenure at ASU, including Chaz Martineau on tenor saxophone, Evan Rees on piano, Reid Riddiough on guitar, Vince Thiefain on bass, Matt McClintock on drums, and Dan Meadows on baritone saxophone. The album features seven pieces, all original compositions or arrangements. The first track, "Workin' My Nerves", is a blues shuffle in the key of F. This is followed by "Scarborough Fair", an arrangement of the classic English folk tune in a rock style. The title track, "Witching Hours", is an cadaverous linear composition in 7/4 which is followed by "Goliath", a pseudo-tone poem about the biblical giant. "I Should Have Known" is a pensive ballad featuring an a capella intro and cadenza, followed by the most recent composition, a minor blues-esque piece entitled "Who Said That?" The final track, "Don't Change A Thing", is an upbeat samba which was written in John Michael's first year of college. These pieces demonstrate an understanding of the jazz tradition and exhibit influences from such musicians as Clifford Brown, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, and Snarky Puppy. The album was recorded at Tempest Recording in Tempe and produced by Clarke Rigsby. Clarke is a veteran recording engineer and is the first choice of many of Phoenix's finest jazz musicians, including thesis director and head of the ASU jazz department Michael Kocour. The pieces were composed and recorded under the guidance of Mike Kocour and Jeff Libman. Witching Hours represents a culmination of John Michael's course in the Arizona State University jazz department and his endeavors as a trumpet player and composer.

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Date Created
2017-05

Chronos: An Arrangement for Jazz Sextet

Description

"Chronos" is a composition by the great jazz pianist, Aaron Parks. Originally arranged for a quartet consisting of piano, upright bass, drums and tenor saxophone, I sought to arrange the piece for a sextet consisting of trombone, alto saxophone, tenor

"Chronos" is a composition by the great jazz pianist, Aaron Parks. Originally arranged for a quartet consisting of piano, upright bass, drums and tenor saxophone, I sought to arrange the piece for a sextet consisting of trombone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, guitar, upright, bass, and drums. This thesis outlines my process as I transcribed "Chronos" from the original recording and then arranged it for a new ensemble. It also discusses the difficulties faced in all the phases of the project from transcribing to rehearsing and performing the work. My arrangement is included with the thesis for those who wish to analyze the music as well as a recording of a live performance of my arrangement at The Nash in downtown Phoenix on April 7th, 2015.

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Date Created
2015-05

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A study and analysis of trombonist Andy Martin's improvisations: thematic hooks as a teaching/learning tool

Description

This project sheds light on trombonist Andy Martin's improvisation and provides tools for further learning. A biographical sketch gives background on Martin, establishing him as a newer jazz master. Through the transcription and analysis of nine improvised solos, Martin's improvisational

This project sheds light on trombonist Andy Martin's improvisation and provides tools for further learning. A biographical sketch gives background on Martin, establishing him as a newer jazz master. Through the transcription and analysis of nine improvised solos, Martin's improvisational voice and vocabulary is deciphered and presented as a series of seven thematic hooks. These patterns, rhythms, and gestures are described, analyzed, and presented as examples of how each is used in the solos. The hooks are also set as application exercises for learning jazz style and improvisation. These exercises demonstrate how to use Martin's hooks as a means for furthering one's own improvisation. A full method for successful transcription is also presented, along with the printed transcriptions and their accompanying information sheets.

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Created

Date Created
2013

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The collegiate vocal jazz ensemble: an historical and current perspective on the development, current state, and future direction of the genre

Description

The Vocal Jazz ensemble, a uniquely American choral form, has grown and flourished in the past half century largely through the efforts of professionals and educators throughout the collegiate music community. This document provides historical data as presented through live

The Vocal Jazz ensemble, a uniquely American choral form, has grown and flourished in the past half century largely through the efforts of professionals and educators throughout the collegiate music community. This document provides historical data as presented through live and published interviews with key individuals involved in the early development of collegiate Vocal Jazz, as well as those who continue this effort currently. It also offers a study of the most influential creative forces that provided the spark for everyone else's fire. A frank discussion on the obstacles encountered and overcome is central to the overall theme of this research into a genre that has moved from a marginalized afterthought to a legitimate, more widely accepted art form. In addition to the perspective provided to future generations of educators in this field, this document also discusses the role of collegiate music academia in preserving and promoting the Vocal Jazz ensemble. The discussion relies on recent data showing the benefits of Vocal Jazz training and the need for authenticity towards its universal integration into college and university vocal performance and music education training.

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Created

Date Created
2013

Understanding Sound as a Language: The Link Between Music and Narrative

Description

With this thesis, I have set out to answer two fundamental questions within music: does music mean anything, and should music mean anything? In answering those questions, I also set out to create a creative project that would implement these

With this thesis, I have set out to answer two fundamental questions within music: does music mean anything, and should music mean anything? In answering those questions, I also set out to create a creative project that would implement these ideas: an original concept album of music that is programmatic in nature and incorporates motivic composition, jazz improvisation, lyrics, extra-musical audio and more all in the service of telling a narrative, a story, through music. I have done research into understanding music as a language, finding that this language is primarily communicative and recreational, rather than representational, of meaning. As well, I discuss the various different ways that music composers from Wagner to Williams have created narrative meaning in their works, using examples of leitmotif and other devices, as well as tracing the contextual associations of meaning that occurs when music is perceived in certain contexts. Furthermore, I discuss the dialogue between absolute and programmatic music, and also talk about the role of jazz improvisation in adding meaning to works.
For the second part of my thesis I talk about how I came to create the creative project aspect. I discuss how and why I designed the narrative that I did, and also analyzed the music I have created to illustrate how I implemented the various methods of musical storytelling that I detail in the first part of the paper. Lastly, I discuss my plans for publication and release of the creative project.
The third part of this thesis is a sample of the creative project. There is a version of the narrative that goes along with the creative project, as well as one of the eight pieces of original music on the creative project, entitled Journey.
Overall, I found that music does have meaning, it is just meaning that society ascribes to it based off of artistic intent and context, and as to whether music should mean anything, I believe that this is a question best left to be answered on an individual basis. Music can be whatever it wants to be.

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Date Created
2019-05

Transcribing Al Grey: a legacy defined by thirteen improvisations

Description

The study of artist transcriptions is an effective vehicle for assimilating the language and style of jazz. Pairing transcriptions with historical context provides further insight into the back story of the artists' life and method. Innovators are often the subject

The study of artist transcriptions is an effective vehicle for assimilating the language and style of jazz. Pairing transcriptions with historical context provides further insight into the back story of the artists' life and method. Innovators are often the subject of published studies of this kind, but transcriptions of plunger-mute master Al Grey have been overlooked. This document fills that void, combining historical context with thirteen transcriptions of Grey's trombone features and improvisations. Selection of transcribed materials was based on an examination of historically significant solos in Al Grey's fifty-five-year career. The results are a series of open-horn and plunger solos that showcase Grey's sound, technical brilliance, and wide range of dynamics and articulation. This collection includes performances from a mix of widely available and obscure recordings, the majority coming from engagements with the Count Basie Orchestra. Methods learned from the study of Al Grey's book Plunger Techniques were vital in the realization of his work. The digital transcription software Amazing Slow Downer by Roni Music aided in deciphering some of Grey's more complicated passages and, with octave displacement, helped bring previously inaudible moments to the foreground.

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Created

Date Created
2011

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Learning in an online jazz history class

Description

This study examines the experiences of participants enrolled in an online community college jazz history course. I surveyed the participants before the course began and observed them in the online space through the duration of the course. Six students also

This study examines the experiences of participants enrolled in an online community college jazz history course. I surveyed the participants before the course began and observed them in the online space through the duration of the course. Six students also participated in interviews during and after the course. Coded data from the interviews, surveys, and recorded discussion posts and journal entries provided evidence about the nature of interaction and engagement in learning in an online environment. I looked for evidence either supporting or detracting from a democratic online learning environment, concentrating on the categories of student engagement, freedom of expression, and accessibility. The data suggested that the participants' behaviors in and abilities to navigate the online class were influenced by their pre-existing native media habits. Participants' reasons for enrolling in the online course, which included convenience and schedule flexibility, informed their actions and behaviors in the class. Analysis revealed that perceived positive student engagement did not contribute to a democratic learning environment but rather to an easy, convenient experience in the online class. Finally, the data indicated that participants' behaviors in their future lives would not be affected by the online class in that their learning experiences were not potent enough to alter or inform their behavior in society. As online classes gain popularity, the ability of these classes to provide meaningful learning experiences must be questioned. Students in this online jazz history class presented, at times, a façade of participation and community building but demonstrated a lack of sincerity and interest in the course. The learning environment supported accessibility and freedom of expression to an extent, but students' engagement with their peers was limited. Overall, this study found a need for more research into the quality of online classes as learning platforms that support democracy, student-to-student interaction, and community building.

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Date Created
2011

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The undocumented: a musical analysis of three saxophone solos of the "light music" era

Description

The solo repertoire from the Light Music Era serves as an important link between the Classical and Jazz soloist traditions. These characteristics are best highlighted through an analysis of three solo transcriptions: Felix Arndt's Nola as performed by Al Gallodoro,

The solo repertoire from the Light Music Era serves as an important link between the Classical and Jazz soloist traditions. These characteristics are best highlighted through an analysis of three solo transcriptions: Felix Arndt's Nola as performed by Al Gallodoro, Rudy Wiedoeft's Valse Vanité, as performed by Freddy Gardener, and Jimmy Dorsey's Oodles of Noodles, as performed by Al Gallodoro. The transcriptions, done by the author, are taken from primary source recordings, and the ensuing analysis serves to show the saxophone soloists of the Light Music Era as an amalgamation of classical and jazz saxophone. Many of the works performed during the Light Music Era are extant only in recorded form. Even so, these performances possess great historical significance within the context of the state of the saxophone as an important solo instrument in the wider musical landscape. The saxophone solos from the Light Music Era distinguish themselves through the use of formal development and embellishment of standard "song forms" (such as ABA, and AABA), and the use of improvisational techniques that are common to early Jazz; however, the analysis shows that the improvisational techniques were distinctly different than a Jazz solo improvisation in nature. Although it has many characteristics in common with both "Classical Music" (this is used as a generic term to refer to the music of the Western European common practice period that is not Pop music or Jazz) and Jazz, the original research shows that the saxophone solo music from the Light Music Era is a distinctly original genre due to the amalgamation of seemingly disparate elements.

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Date Created
2012

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A new cartography: learning jazz at the dawn of the 21st century

Description

Jazz continues, into its second century, as one of the most important musics taught in public middle and high schools. Even so, research related to how students learn, especially in their earliest interactions with jazz culture, is limited. Weaving together

Jazz continues, into its second century, as one of the most important musics taught in public middle and high schools. Even so, research related to how students learn, especially in their earliest interactions with jazz culture, is limited. Weaving together interviews and observations of junior and senior high school jazz players and teachers, private studio instructors, current university students majoring in jazz, and university and college jazz faculty, I developed a composite sketch of a secondary school student learning to play jazz. Using arts-based educational research methods, including the use of narrative inquiry and literary non-fiction, the status of current jazz education and the experiences by novice jazz learners is explored. What emerges is a complex story of students and teachers negotiating the landscape of jazz in and out of early twenty-first century public schools. Suggestions for enhancing jazz experiences for all stakeholders follow, focusing on access and the preparation of future jazz teachers.

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Date Created
2013

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The out-of-school musical engagements of undergraduate jazz studies majors

Description

This multiple-case study addresses the nature of the out-of-school musical engagements of four undergraduate students who were enrolled as jazz studies majors in a large school of music in the U.S. southwest. It concerns what they did musically when they

This multiple-case study addresses the nature of the out-of-school musical engagements of four undergraduate students who were enrolled as jazz studies majors in a large school of music in the U.S. southwest. It concerns what they did musically when they were outside of school, why they did what they did, what experiences they said they learned from, and how their out-of-school engagements related to their in-school curriculum. Research on jazz education, informal learning practices in music, and the in-school and out-of-school experiences of students informed this study. Data were generated through observation, interviews, video blogs (vlogs), and SMS text messages.

Analysis of data revealed that participants engaged with music when outside of school by practicing, teaching, gigging, recording, playing music with others, attending live musical performances, socializing with other musicians, listening, and engaging with non-jazz musical styles (aside from listening). They engaged with music because of: 1) the love of music, 2) the desire for musical excellence, 3) financial considerations, 4) the aspiration to affect others positively with music, and 5) the connection with other musicians. Participants indicated that they learned by practicing, listening to recordings, attending live performances, playing paid engagements, socializing, teaching, and reading. In-school and out-of-school experience and learning had substantial but not complete overlap.

The study implies that a balance between in-school and out-of-school musical experience may help undergraduate jazz studies students to maximize their overall musical learning. It also suggests that at least some jazz studies majors are fluent in a wide variety of music learning practices that make them versatile, flexible, and employable musicians. Further implications are provided for undergraduate jazz students as well as collegiate jazz educators, the music education profession, and schools of music. Additional implications concern future research and the characterization of jazz study in academia.

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Date Created
2014