Saturday, May 13, 2006

Legends of Jazz

Has anyone checked out the series on PBS by Ramsey Lewis? Here is the link:

I've seen them all, I enjoyed the trumpet episode and the guitar episode. Pat Metheny's band sounds good. I love how the musicians have that fake suprised look when Ramsey says, "would you like to join me in playing the Legends of Jazz theme?"

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Jazz Edjucatoon

When surfing the net and reading some jazz websites, such as many musicians websites, one will soon see that being a jazz musician and teacher are one in the same. The thing that I wonder is if jazz was a little more popular would there be as many teachers? You don't see people like Lars Ulrich and Richie Sambora giving lessons to rock wannabees. I think the reason you see so many jazz musicians that are into teaching is that it's a meal ticket. You can read stories about musicians who will give you a lesson at the hotel, or Wynton who will help youngsters, that's not what I'm talking about.

The only problem with this is that the aspiring jazz musician will be overwhelmed by all the teaching info, when what they should be doing is learning from recordings and checking out live music if possible. How many people do you run into who study with a teacher but don't have many recordings? Lots in my experience.

I do believe it's important to learn the basic skills for your instrument from someone, but some get by without that so much. I'm a guitar player (hangs head in shame:) ) and my best teacher was a letter carrier who used to play classical guitar, he could hardley play due to injuries. His approach was to pay attention to the sound you are making. I've had lessons from Ron Eschete, Kenny Burrell, Peter Leitch among others (some in group settings), so that says a lot about him.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

The Wangcaster

Please check out this link, click on the title. I found this in the following thread:


Monday, April 24, 2006

Check out Armen's Post

Please read this, by Armen Nalbandian. This touches on some of the things I write about below. Click the title of this post to read.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

More Stereotyping

When having a recent talk with a musician friend of mine, we were complaining about the lack of quality music played by the school bands. Why do all the arrangements have to be from the same Woody Herman/Stan Kenton stock? It seems like the band directors are just more comfortable with working with those arrangements.

I remember when I was playing in school, I noticed a racial barrier in the music we played. The majority of the musicians I loved and listed to at home were black, it seemed like all of the arrangements were by white people. I'm not saying white people can't play or anything, it's just something that stood out. We played Basie if via Sammy Nestico.

One time I was playing with some older guys who were all white, and some who played with Stan Kenton. It was funny because they seemed totally unaware of any black musicians. Instead of Coltrane it was all about Stan Getz. We were talking about guitar players and they knew about Howard Roberts, but I got no reaction when I was talking about Wes Montgomery, forget about Grant Green.

All of the people mentioned above are good players, it's just weird situation I've noticed.

88.9 KXJZ needs to drop the JZ

Man, I hope the people in LA and Fresno understand how lucky they are to have a jazz station that still plays jazz. The station in the Sacramento area never seems to play jazz anymore, during the drive time it's always news. And when they do have music, it's rare to here a straight set of swinging, blues oriented jazz. You may get one straight ahead tune, then a bunch of watered down brazilian music, then some musak, then some Botti, then five minutes of "pledge your support" and then three minutes of previews of the upcoming shows on NPR. It blows! KXJZ used to be decent, but it's been a long time since I've enjoyed it. I do sometimes enjoy NPR, but come on!

This is the jazz programming per the website:

7:00p - 1:00a
2:00p - 5:00p
7:00p - 2:00a

Wow, an extra hour on Friday night! Now, the music has been a little better lately then it was say last year, but perhaps us working folks would like to listen to jazz radio during the daytime hours.


Check out Jazz Portraits in the links section, lots of good reading, links etc.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Power of Marketing

One thing I used to find amusing, is that when I was in school some people knew more about the aebersold play a longs rather then actual jazz recordings. When Brandord Marsalis used to have his forum, he would recommend that you just play with the records you have. I think what sells a lot of the play a longs is that it's an ego booster, you get to be "the cat", sitting in with Dexter Gordon and Woody Shaw's Homecoming rhythm section on the Woody Shaw play a long is fun, have to admit (sorry about that awful sentence). That's what Jamey says, "builds confidence". Confidence in the living room I say. When you first start jamming for real, you realize what it really feels like to play, there is no substitute.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Speaking of Underrated

Over the years, the underrated musician has been a popular topic, depending on who you ask it could be Duke Ellington, Duke Pearson, Joe Henderson..But it's one thing to be underrated, but another to be underrated and unknown.

The musician that comes to my mind has never really been discussed when I've been around musicians (I think maybe a couple times), never mentioned on the air, briefly mentioned in a textbook, I think he's been played on the air via Mingus records. The man is Booker Ervin.

I first became aware of him through a Horace Parlan recording, "Happy Frame of Mind"

no I didn't have to pay $50, bought back when it was in-print)

The reason I've been thinking of this, is that recently I bought "Tex Book Tenor" and I've listened to it about fifteen times. Now Booker isn't the trailblazer as a Wayne Shorter or John Coltrane, but I was just blown away by this. Check out Booker and Woody Shaw, and the rhythm section with Billy Higgins, Jan Arnet and Kenny Barron. Hearing Shaw with Higgins is great, the CD has really good sound and provides a lot of inspiration. Please check it out!

First Post

First post. I've been doing some interesting reading online lately, the following is from

In 2005, a small label named Uptown Records released this very recording dating back to June 22, 1945 with Bird, Dizzy, Max, Don Byas, Curley Russell and Al Haig to very little fanfare. There is about 40 minutes of never heard music on the CD. Is it great? Of course it is. The question arises as to why this release didn’t get the hype of the others. The other three releases were released on large labels: Miles on Columbia, Monk on Blue Note/Capitol, and Trane on Impulse/Universal. This may explain the exposure but I think that something else has been occurring as of late to Jazz history.

This post created some activity as noted in Armen's blog, (you should check it out) and mostly in agreement. I think what Armen was noting was the fact that musicians were not into this recording as much as they should be. The Monk album is 52 on the the amazon sales rank, and the Parker album is 569. The 569 rank is an excellent figure however for a jazz cd. All of this reminds me of a time when I was in high school, and I asked a trumpet player about Miles, and he said "Miles Davis sucks dude". I remember all the kids said Louis Armstrong sucked, couldn't hit notes etc. They dug Maynard, Arturo, the high note dudes.

I agree with Armen about the hype, at Borders around Christmastime, they were really plugging the Monk cd. I think Monk happens to have a mistique about him, I'm suprised at how many people know who he is. Out of all the people I've been around who don't know anything about jazz, they have known who Monk is, rather then Miles for example.