Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

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Wreckhouse Workshops!

July 5, 2013

With the 2013 Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival less than a week away, we want to make sure you get the most our of this year’s festival.  As always we have 4 nights of the best Jazz, Blues, and World Music in the world, but this year we also have the exciting opportunity to present you with two workshops from trombone veteran Michael Daigeau, and guitar master John Scofield!

Scofield Color 1John Scofield Workshop

Thursday July 11 – 2:00pm @ ACC Barbara Barrett Theatre ($25)

John Scofield’s guitar work has influenced jazz since the late 70’s and is going strong today. Possessor of a very distinctive sound and stylistic diversity, Scofield is a masterful jazz improviser whose music generally falls somewhere between post-bop, funk edged jazz, and R & B.  He has recorded over 30 albums as a leader (many already classics) including collaborations with contemporary favorites Bill Frisell, Joe Lovano and Phil Lesh. He’s also played and recorded with Tony Williams, Jim Hall, Ron Carter, and Herbie Hancock among many jazz legends.  Now an adjunct professor of music at New York University, John Scofield has a wealth of knowledge to pass on to the next generation, and any up-and-coming musicians should not miss out on this great opportunity to hear from a pro.

Michael Daigeau 2Michael Daigeau Masterclass

Saturday July 13 – 2:00pm @ Rocket Room ($10)

Michael Daigeau is an extraordinary musician, and one of the most sought-after horn players out there. He has played with just about every big name in music, including Doc Severinson, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Dizzy Gillespie, Tina Turner, Neil Diamond, Phil Collins, The Temptations, Gladys Knight, Chaka Kahn and Stevie Wonder, Tupac, Ashanti, and countless other bands and orchestra’s. Any wind players out there, do not miss this chance to not only listen to this industry titan speak, but you can also sign up to participate in the masterclass and play for him!  Anyone interested in taking part in this workshop should contact Brian Way at brianway@nl.rogers.com to sign up!  There are a multitude of accompanists available for performers and ANYONE is more than welcome to participate.

 

Don’t miss either of these fantastic workshops at the 2013 Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival, July 10-13 in Downtown St. John’s.  For more information on our artists, or the festival schedule, check out our website at http://wreckhousejazzandblues.com/ or email alex@wreckhousejazzandblues.com.

 

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Music NL Export Readiness Training Pitching Workshop Thursday, October 27th

October 17, 2011

Music Newfoundland and Labrador is proud to offer its export-ready musicians, managers and company representatives an advanced Export Readiness Training Pitching Workshop on Thursday, October 27th held at the Delta St. John’s Hotel (Bonavista Bay Room) from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Learn the skill sets and tools to forward your career in the business of music!

This full-day advanced Export Readiness Training Pitching Workshop, facilitated by internationally-acclaimed pitching consultant Jan Miller, is designed for export-ready artists, managers and companies who wish to perfect their presentation and one-on-one pitching techniques while developing relationships with music industry buyers.

Learn the components to strengthen your personal communication styles and adapt pitches for conversational, one-on-one business meetings. Participants will take part in an interactive, two-hour session focusing on the elements essential to conducting an effective business meeting through observing live, one-on-one pitch conversations in action. Guest Speakers: Shelley Nordstrom (ECMA Export Manager, Halifax, NS), Jonny Stevens (Halifax Pop Explosion, Halifax, NS) and John Clarke (Musician/ Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival).

Pre-registration is required. Open to registered conference delegates. To register, contact gerald@musicnl.ca or Music NL office at (709) 754-2574 (www.musicnl.ca).

Deadline Friday Oct 21st, 2011 at 4:30 PM.

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Jazz in the Education Field

September 7, 2011
Eckstein Middle School Jazz Band performing at...

Image via Wikipedia

By Alex Abbott

In today’s school systems music has become an integral part of the curriculum and a large part of school life itself.  Opportunities for students to get a good education in music are endless thanks to the help of well-developed music programs in our schools that provide plenty of instruments for students to learn on.  Not to mention that Newfoundland in general is home to some very highly skilled and experienced teachers.  Thanks to this system of resources, a child in Newfoundland can very easily get an education of applied study, music history, music theory, and many other aspects of music.  However, this marvellous education is centered almost entirely around classical, pop, or concert band music.  Other genres, like jazz, it seems have been put on the backburner or deemed unimportant in the process of getting a good musical education.  To me, this is very strange indeed.

Although classical and big band music are excellent for teaching technique, and pop music can certainly help stimulate a child`s interest in music, jazz also has many things to offer the young budding musician.  Jazz is a genre very different from any other taught in school systems as it challenges musicians in many areas and provides unique opportunities in performance.  Jazz music, no matter what style, offers a player with complex rhythms, the opportunity to learn how to work together with other musicians, and most of all the opportunity to improvise.   These are skills that often go completely undeveloped in many musicians because they have never had to deal with situations like these before, however these skills are absolutely essential for someone who wishes pursue music as a career or just as a pastime.

Complex rhythms for example are impossible to avoid once you reach a certain level of music, and often when people reach this level they face a very steep learning curve.  However if students were taught jazz from an early age, the learning curve would be almost non-existent as these skills would have been developed over many years of practise.  Not to mention that simple rhythms then would become second nature, allowing the performer to focus more on technique and musicianship.  An education of jazz rhythms, not only in ensembles but in the music curriculum in schools would also make the lives of music teachers much easier as they would not need to spend countless hours of ensemble rehearsals going over simple rhythms.  The level of performance throughout a teacher’s ensembles would be very likely to increase.

Another daunting task that musicians have to face as they progress is the ability to play with an ensemble.  No matter how talented you are and no matter how much you wish to be a solo performer, being able to work with other musicians is a skill that every musician needs to develop.  Whether you are playing in a high school band or being accompanied by a single collaborative pianist, it is essential to know how to perform with another musician.  In my opinion, jazz teaches this skill better than any other genre because of the intricate part writing which is so common in jazz music.  If every single person in a jazz ensemble is not in sync with their counterparts, the piece runs the risk of being a complete train wreck.  This forces students to learn to work together with their fellow musicians to pull off a good performance.  These skills translate very well over into everyday life as well, as the ability to trust and work together with fellow students, co-workers, etc. is essential in real life.

Finally, we come to one of the most crucial components of jazz: improvisation.  While a musician probably could get by their entire life without knowing how to improvise, it is still an incredibly valuable skill to have.  Not only does it teach musicians an understanding of key and chords, and help them think on their feet, but it is simply a lot of fun!  It is a great skill for any musician to have even if they do not plan on pursuing jazz.  Improvisation can be, and is, used in any number of mainstream styles.  It is a great tool for members of any band to have, and it can lead to some great song writing as well.

Jazz is a wonderfully unique genre of music with so many skills and opportunities to offer a young budding musician, but sadly it seems that schools and post-secondary institutions alike in Newfoundland do not see the value in this style of music.  While a lot of schools in Newfoundland do now offer jazz bands as well as a limited amount of jazz in other school ensembles, in my opinion it is still not given the recognition as a teaching tool that it deserves.  It has been my experience that some high schools for example will offer a jazz band, but will not allow students to obtain a credit for it as a course; students will only receive credit if they participate in the concert band.  This absolutely should not be the case.  Speaking personally as a saxophone player who has played in multiple concert and jazz bands, I found that my skills improved far more while playing in my high school jazz band than they did throughout many years of playing in concert bands.  A similar trend is seen even throughout post-secondary institutions.  Even though Newfoundland is home to many great jazz musicians and ensembles, it remains impossible for a musician to get a degree specializing in jazz music.  This to me is astounding, considering that our neighbours in NS have one of the best jazz programs in the country at St. Francis Xavier University.

Music is certainly ripe throughout Newfoundland and Labrador in all forms: classical, pop, rock, folk, jazz, etc. and it is certainly not hard to get an education in music in this province.  However, the merit of jazz music is still being overlooked time and time again.  Jazz is an extremely beneficial genre for musicians of any age to take up.  With the opportunity to learn so many great techniques and skills that can transfer over into real life, it would make sense for any musician no matter how old or experienced to take up jazz.  “What if you don’t have an interest in jazz?” you may ask.  Not to worry, jazz is a constantly expanding genre of music.  With so many sub-styles and branches off of jazz, there is sure to be something for everyone.

For more information on the St. FX Jazz program visit http://www.stfx.ca/faculties/arts/music/ and for more information on ensemble performance in schools visit http://mpsh.ca/curriculum/course-descriptors/Ensemble%20Performance%20MAY%2006.pdf

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Guitar Lessons with Brad Jefford. Jazz Lessons Begin September 7th

September 1, 2011

Jazz Lessons begin Sept. 7th
Registration now.

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Jazz Styles Family Tree (Post-World War II) Part 2

August 30, 2011
American jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman

American jazz saxophonist Ornette Coleman Image via Wikipedia

In part one we featured Vocalese, Cool Jazz /West Coast Jazz, Hard Bop and Bossa Nova. In Part two we continue our journey through the post World War Two jazz family tree. (To read part one click here)

Some artists, most often but not always those following in the Bebop-Hard Bop progression, wished to continue the train of freedom of improvisation that these genres had started. It is due to this wish that Modal Jazz and Free Jazz were born. Modal Jazz moves past the Western tradition of major and minor scales, opening their music, and particularly their improvisation, to entirely new sounds. The followers of Free Jazz, led by Ornette Coleman, took this progression even further, creating songs not necessarily based on any preset melody or even chord progression. This allowed artists a complete range of originality to work with, enabling complete spontaneity in the music. This could often be seen in the form of group improvisation, where an entire group (generally smaller combos) would improvise together to create something completely original. John Coltrane is perhaps the most famous Free Jazz player, also contributing to the development of Modal Jazz.

Splitting from Hard Bop in the opposite direction, Soul Jazz was perhaps the most popular style of the 1960’s. Relying on simpler, bluesy melodies and dance-like rhythms it distanced itself from the more complex improvisational techniques being developed in Free Jazz. It was greatly influenced by rhythm and blues, as well as gospel elements, and was often driven by – and is the reason for the popularity of – the Hammond organ, seen in the playing of Les McCann as well as many others. Tenor saxophone and guitar were often featured as well, a prime example being the saxophone stylings of Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis.

The 1970’s were a difficult period for jazz. Due to the growing popularity of the television, and the access that provided to the popular music of the time, Rock & Roll was quickly overshadowing the jazz scene, with the help of Disco later on. As such, many jazz artists, particularly those from the progression of Hard Bop, transferred their skills to the Fusion school of jazz, which combined jazz improvisation with the new, high energy rhythms of Rock & Roll. Fusion is interesting in that not much of its influence is seen in today’s jazz; it has actually influenced rock to a much greater degree.

Moving into the 1980’s, the biggest addition to the scene was that of Afro-Cuban or Afro-Latin jazz. A blend of jazz improvisation and infectious rhythms from South and Central America, this genre is related to the earlier Bossa Nova but with much more influence from the traditional Bebop, as seen in the Afro-Cuban recordings by Dizzy Gillespie. This style was pioneered by trumpeter Mario Bauza and percussionist Chano Pozo, and can be seen in the works of artists like Arturo Sandoval.

The final addition to an already diverse repertoire of jazz genres came in the 1990’s, by the way of Smooth Jazz. Growing out of Fusion, and adopting the mindset of their Cool Jazz forerunners, Smooth Jazz leaves behind the energetic solos and wild dynamics of Fusion, focusing more on its polished, slick sound. This results in a very unobtrusive style, including the abandoning of improvisation, leading some jazz “purists”, often fans of the Bebop and Free Jazz schools, to question whether Smooth Jazz can truly be counted as a subgenre of jazz. Aside from Smooth Jazz however, the 90’s saw a resurgence of older jazz styles, often referred to as the Hard Bop Revival, Retro Swing, and Neoclassicism (For the resurgence of Bebop, Swing, and New Orleans Jazz, respectively). This occurrence, along with the continuation of Free Jazz and Afro-Cuban, accounts for the variety of jazz seen today, resulting in a rich jazz culture that can be seen all around the world.

View our previous articles on the Jazz family tree;

Jazz Styles Family Tree (Pre World War II)

Jazz Styles Family Tree (Post-World War II) Part 1

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Jazz Styles Family Tree (Post-World War II) Part 1

August 2, 2011

By Devin Grant

Dave Brubeck in 1954.

Dave Brubeck was a key figure in post war jazz music. Image via Wikipedia

At the end of our article Jazz Styles Family Tree (Pre-World War II), we left off in the history of jazz with the Gypsy Jazz (or Jazz Manouche) of Django Reinhardt and the Swing music of such greats as Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw. However with many band leaders and members serving in World War II (and some, such as Glenn Miller, losing their lives in the war effort), this period saw the breakup of the “Big Bands”, leaving the field open for smaller groups and a new style of jazz, called Bebop. Led by such jazz legends as Charlie “Bird” Parker and John “Dizzy” Gillespie, this style moved away from the melody-based improvisation seen in most big bands and toward chordal improvisation, the style most readily seen today. In Bebop an artist would be free to explore whatever improvised melody they saw fit, as long as it fit within the chord structure of the piece.

This era also saw the birth of Vocalese, a rather unique style of jazz in which pre-existing melodies, and even solos, would be given lyrics and then sung by artists in the style of the previous instruments. Considered by many to have been invented by Eddie Jefferson, Vocalese did not see much success until more recently, with more well-known artists such as Jon Hendricks and The Manhattan Transfer (who won a Grammy for Best Jazz Fusion Performance for their Vocalese performance of Birdland).

Descending directly from Bebop in the 1950’s was Cool Jazz, also known as West Coast Jazz due to the heavy influence out of the western states, especially California. A mixture of Swing and Bebop, Cool Jazz is most easily recognized for its harmonic tones combined with much more smoothed out dynamics, avoiding the more aggressive styles and tempos of Bebop. Such artists as Lester Young and Miles Davis are considered to have contributed heavily to the feel of Cool Jazz, and many successful recordings have come out of this style, such as The Dave Brubeck Quartet’s “Time Out”.

While the Cool Jazz style was growing in recognition, some artists wished to recapture both the excitement and the audience of the Hot Jazz and Swing era. An extension of Bebop, Hard Bop filled this need, partially returning to both the Bebop and Hot Jazz of the past while drawing inspiration from Rhythm and Blues and even Gospel to a degree. Hard Bop tunes often had simpler melodies than its Bebop predecessor; with an emphasis on its now more sophisticated rhythm section. Horace Silver and Art Blakey of The Jazz Messengers are well known for their work in Hard Bop, with a prodigious talent for innovation keeping their pieces interesting for the audience. Both Funky Jazz and Gospel Jazz can be seen as natural extensions of Hard Bop.

Moving back to the other end of the spectrum, Cool Jazz had been mixing with the more European sensibilities and styles of South America, and by the time it worked its way up to North America in the 1960’s we had the new style of Bossa Nova. A lighter genre of jazz, even in comparison with that of the West Coast musicians, this “Brazilian Jazz” relied heavily on samba rhythms and acoustic guitar, often with English or Portuguese vocals. Bossa Nova gained popularity as an alternative to the Hard Bop of the time, and also due to the contributions of such artists as Charlie Byrd (Not to be confused with Charlie “Bird” Parker) and Stan Getz.

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A History of Taiko Drumming

June 21, 2011

By Jonathan Hicks

Taiko, meaning “big/fat drum” in Japanese, refers to a traditional and very interesting drum which is still used today in Japan and around the world. The Taiko drums and drumming tradition was thought to have been possibly brought to Japan from China or Korea along with the Buddhist faith. Despite this, as the drums began to develop they were regularly made and improved on in Japan. These instruments began to be known as being a very traditional and unique Japanese instrument. After hearing the word Daiko many people often get confused as to why this word is being used instead of Taiko. However it is actually quite a simple concept; “Daiko” is used as a suffix used when speaking of a type of Taiko drum, Taiko drum group or a style of Taiko playing when a compound word is being used. When being used in a compound word the “T” sound changes to a “D” sound.

Byou-daiko (Head fastened with nails)

The construction of these drums is just as interesting as the drums themselves. Taiko drums are traditionally made using only one piece of wood for the shell of the drum. You may be wondering how this could even be possible. These drums were traditionally made by hollowing out a tree trunk. Some of the trees, used for the bigger instruments, needed to be thousands of years old. The largest of these instruments known as an O-daiko could exceed 3 feet (91cm) in diameter and could weigh more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds). When it comes to the head of these drums animal skin is used (much like most hand drums). The most popular skin to be used is that of a young Holstein bull. For the larger O-daiko drums a full hide of the animal is needed to make the drumhead. The heads of Byou-daiko drums are fastened to the drums by stretching the head over the top and then tacking (with some sort of nail) the head to the side of the drum. The heads of Shime-daiko drums, however, are kept on with a rope; these days a bolt or other device can be used. This allows the drum head to be tuned, which is very convenient when transporting the drums to places with varying humidity.

Shime-daiko (head fastened with rope)

The first Taiko drums were believed to have been used as an instrument of war as they were the only instrument that could be sounded and heard throughout an entire battlefield. Often times a soldier would strap a Taiko drum onto his back (like a backpack) and two other soldiers would follow him and play the drum on either side to ward off and scare the opposing army. Another use for the Taiko drum on the battlefield was to send commands to the soldiers of the army who were scattered across a battlefield. In this way this drum was obviously very useful due to its loud volume. Along with being used on the battlefield the Taiko drum was often used for religious ceremonies and also to signal entire communities of an oncoming storm or the beginning of the traditional hunt.

Largest O-daiko (9 foot diameter weighing over 4 tons! That’s 8818.4 pounds!!)

Nowadays Taiko drums are most often played in ensembles containing only Taiko drums. In these ensembles you will find many different kinds of Taiko drums ranging from very small drums to extremely large ones. These drums allow the artist to express themselves in a way which is very unique to their style of music.

This year at the Wreckhouse International Jazz and Blues Festival we will be hosting a concert by Uzume Taiko. This group from Vancouver has experienced success both nationally and internationally. On the international stage “Uzume Taiko has performed throughout the United States, Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Channel Islands and Japan”.  This show is sure to be a spectacle of drumming!  Uzume Taiko will be performing on July 16th at 8:45pm at the Masonic Temple.

Related websites:

rhythmweb.com/taiko/index.html

www.uzume.com/

www.drumdojo.com/taiko.htm

www.taiko.com/taiko_resource/taiko.html

http://www.taiko.com/taiko_resource/taiko.html

http://www.taiko.com/taiko_resource/history.html

http://www.simonsen-holzart.de/eng/o_daiko.html

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