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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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2017-05

Chronos: An Arrangement for Jazz Sextet

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"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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2015-05

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

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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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2019-05