NJO weekly residency news

Just a quick note that the Nashville Jazz Orchestra is ending its weekly residency at the Commodore Grille tonight!  Put another feather in the cap of “venues that don’t get it.”  Details will emerge, but in the meantime, keep your eyes peeled for a new weekly spot for the NJO soon! -evan

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Talking with Steve Herrman, part 2

Here’s the second half of the recent conversation with Steve Herrman.  After talking about the benefits of Nashville’s location, we got off topic discussing our very happening lunch at Jamaica Way – curried goat for Steve and bbq soy for me.  Eventually Steve steered our ship back onto track.   SH: So I started really getting into the R&B scene – you know we would play a lot of festivals and I started hearing about the Muscle Shoals thing and Stax and listening to all that music I hadn’t been all that familiar with before. EC: Is that when you first got in touch with Jim Horn? [the horn section leader for the Kenny Chesney band] SH: Yes actually Delbert brought him out when we …

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Scholarship Opportunity

Being a music teacher in Tennessee has been one of the most rewarding parts of my 4.5 years here.  Beginning with singing in church choir at the age of 5, I had had music teachers work with me privately or in groups on a weekly basis for two decades.  The more I teach, the more I recognize what has stuck with me, not just in terms of information but pedagogy.  I can still hear the voices of my early choir directors Mrs. Rodland and Mrs. Ho-Ho (yes that’s an abbreviation!) teaching how to read note values in a song: “A whole note is – a great big circle.  A half note adds – a great big stem…” As all students do, I had many opinions …

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Things Falling Up at the End of 2011

A few quick hits while preparations for the unfurling of 2012 commence… Falling Up continues to receive a lot of great airplay.  Crecent City Ditty just had its first spin on one of the world’s premier radio stations: WWOZ – the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station! Incredibly, every one of the eight tracks on Falling Up has received airtime on terrestrial radio.  JazzWeek  – the definitive Jazz  national radio airplay chart – has recently ranked the album 80th in the country for weekly airplay. Falling Up also received recognition in the Nashville Scene’s 2011 jazz and blues roundup, including being one of seven albums on the “Local recording scene honor roll.” Here’s to lots more excitement in 2012! – evan

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Making the Changes

There’s a funny term musicians use to imply that a soloist is adequately navigating the harmonic form of a tune: “making the changes.”  ‘The changes’ is quite obviously referring to the changing chords, but why is the word making the term of choice to describe the process of successfully improvising? A quick look at the Meriam Webster dictionary reveals that the verb make has tons of definitions.  One can make the bed, make plans, or make dinner, to name a few.  Making the bed is essentially neatening, making plans is formulating, making dinner is creating.  One could also make their dog sit (force an action), make money (earn/acquire), or ‘make something of it’ (come to a conclusion). Suddenly to make seems rather ambiguous.  Let’s think …

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Voice

How can we recognize the difference between “good” art and  “bad” art?  The question is inherently unanswerable – ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are subjective terms, and the question implies an objective answer: choose good/bad like you would choose yes/no or black/white. Before we pass any judgements, we must realize that context HUGELY affects our feelings for a work of art.  Imagine a picture of two solid-colored squares – on the wall of an elementary school hall, you might think “pretty easy” – on the wall of the MOMA, you might think “pretty brilliant.”  But that’s an oversimplification – to understand the squares, you need to know the title and some information about the artist’s background.  If you learn that the artist has also drawn highly detailed …

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Speaking of Jazz Singers

Well it’s a beautiful February morning here in Nashville.  After an incredibly rewarding weekend of playing with Gladys Knight, spring has descended upon us here and is working hard to make us forget about our frozen troubles. One moment that we SHOULD try to freeze in time is this one. I recall seeing Esperanza play bass in Donald Harrison’s quintet at Newport in the summer of 2007 and being blown away by her playing and presence.  I didn’t know anything about her then and she didn’t sing on this gig, but her love and passion for music and performance were communicated as clearly as any artist I have EVER seen or heard. Speaking of inspiring jazz singers, I’m very happy to announce the special guest …

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Dave Douglas on Jam Sessions

Scouring the intraweb for jazz blogs, I came across this recent post from Dave Douglas about jam sessions.  Since getting regular jazz jam sessions up and running here and Nashville has been such a focus of this blog, I wanted to link to his article which asks “What is a Jam Session?”. Raises some interesting questions.  In the meantime, please keep coming out to the monthly jazz jam at the Nashville Jazz Workshop – the third Sunday of each month at 4pm.  Next one is June 20th! – evan

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Thinking of Coltrane

As a high school student first piquing my interest in jazz, I remember becoming fascinated by the way John Coltrane cut through the changes of standard repertoire in the ensembles of Miles Davis.The Prestige album Workin’ was one of the first albums that I ever purchased, and the solos of Miles and Trane on the tracks ‘Trane’s Blues’ and ‘In Your Own Sweet Way’ were some of the first material that I ever transcribed. To a young listener developing my ears with the vocabulary of jazz, I found it enthralling to listen to Trane flow effortlessly and melodically across harmonic changes. In Your Own Sweet Way As I furthered my musical studies, I found that I preferred the playing of a number of John Coltrane’s …

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