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- All Subjects: Jazz
The collegiate vocal jazz ensemble: an historical and current perspective on the development, current state, and future direction of the genre
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.
Concerto for Piano and Chamber Orchestra was conceived in February of 2013, and conceptually it is my attempt to fuse personal expressions of jazz and classical music into one fully realized statement. It is a three movement work (fast, slow, fast) for 2 fl., 2 ob., 2 cl., bsn., 2 hrn., 2 tpt., tbn., pno., perc., str. (6,4,2,2,1). The work is approximately 27 minutes in duration. The first movement of the Concerto is written in a fluid sonata form. A fugato begins where the second theme would normally appear, and the second theme does not fully appear until near the end of the solo piano section. The result is that the second theme when finally revealed is so reminiscent of the history of jazz and classical synthesis that it does not sound completely new, and in fact is a return of something that was heard before, but only hinted at in this piece. The second movement is a kind of deconstructive set of variations, with a specific theme and harmonic pattern implied throughout the movement. However, the full theme is not disclosed until the final variation. The variations are interrupted by moments of pure rhythmic music, containing harmony made up of major chords with an added fourth, defying resolution, and dissolving each time back into a new variation. The third movement is in rondo form, using rhythmic and harmonic influences from jazz. The percussion plays a substantial role in this movement, acting as a counterpoint to the piano part throughout. This movement and the piece concludes with an extended coda, inspired indirectly by the simple complexities of an improvisational piano solo, building in complexity as the concerto draws to a close.
A study and analysis of trombonist Andy Martin's improvisations: thematic hooks as a teaching/learning tool
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.
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.
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.
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.
Tony Baker & Alex Iles: interviews with two trombonists who excel as performers and soloists in classical and Jazz settings
The ability of musicians to perform well in multiple musical styles is increasingly common and necessary. This paper profiles two trombonists who have gone well beyond the ability to function in multiple genres, and are instead considered significant artists. Tony Baker and Alex Iles were chosen to be profiled for this project because both have achieved recognition as solo artists in the genres of classical music and jazz and have performed on international stages as soloists. They also have significant ensemble experience in both classical and jazz settings and are active teachers as well. Both hold-high profile positions that have helped grow their reputations as performers: Mr. Baker as a professor at one of the largest music schools in the United States, the University of North Texas, and Mr. Iles as a highly in-demand freelance musician in Los Angeles. This paper presents interviews with both trombonists that investigate their development as musicians and soloists in both classical music and jazz. They are asked to describe the benefits and challenges of performing at a high level in both styles, and how these have affected their musical voices. Common traits found in their responses are examined, and recommendations are created for musicians seeking stylistic versatility.
New music is often created as a product of commissions resulting in a collaborative effort between the performer and the composer. This performer-composer relationship represents an important component of the role of the artist in expanding the repertoire of the instrument. Belgian composer, Norbert Goddaer (b. 1933), has written numerous works for clarinet that are the result of such collaborations. Mr. Goddaer's works for clarinet are well-crafted and audience-friendly, and are thus good programming choices for students and professionals alike. His clarinet works have been performed worldwide in artist recitals, conferences for organizations such as the International Clarinet Association, The Midwest Clinic, and the Texas Music Educators Association, and have been commercially recorded and released by some of the foremost contemporary clarinet artists. These works have a great education value given the fact that they are appropriate choices for such a wide range of clarinetists. In an effort to contribute to this body of performance history, the author has produced a recording of five of Goddaer's previously unrecorded works, accompanied by a performance guide to each work. This document provides detailed performance notes with corresponding musical examples, basic formal analyses, and musical suggestions for Las Mañas, Conversations, Ballad, Duets, and Restless by Norbert Goddaer. The author has included a full transcript of an interview with Norbert Goddaer, which includes a first-person discussion of each work, and additionally includes biographical information supported by concert programs and an annotated list of all of Goddaer's works for clarinet, and a discography of his works for clarinet.
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.
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.