All posts by Kevin Vallene

Jazz at 100 Hours 13 and 14

Catch up on last week’s show before tuning in on Thursday Night from 7-9!

Hour 13:

In the eleventh hour of Jazz at 100, we followed Count Basie through the Benny Moten Band in Kansas City and heard his first recordings as a leader. In 1937, after Benny Moten’s death, he took the nation by storm with his driving band lead by the “All American Rhythm Section” and the dual tenor saxophones of Herschel Evans and Lester Young.

Hour 14:

In the last hour, we heard Count Basie emerge as an exciting new voice from Kansas City. In this hour, we return to New York to follow Duke Ellington’s innovative path through the 1930s as he experiments with longer musical forms while building one of his greatest bands featuring tenor player Ben Webster and bassist Jimmy Blanton.

Jazz at 100 Hours 11 and 12

Catch up on last week’s show before Thursday night for the next installment of Jazz at 100! Tune in from 7-9!

Hour 11:

Outside of the Chicago – New York nexus, jazz thrived during the late 1920’s and 1930’s in Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas, with its center in Kansas City. Under the careful control of Boss Pendergast, Kansas City was a wide open town with a thriving night club music scene, nurturing musicians like Joe Turner, Count Basie, Ben Webster, Lester Young and Charlie Parker. Working the urban centers and roadhouses in the region were a slew of “territory bands” only a handful of whom are preserved in the recorded legacy. In this hour, we’ll explore the early jazz of Kansas City and the Territory Bands.

Hour 12:

Sidney Bechet made a stand with the soprano sax and Frankie Trumbauer celebrated the lightness of the C-melody sax. And then there was Coleman Hawkins.

Jazz at 100 Hours 9 and 10

Be prepared for this week’s Jazz at 100 by catching up on both hours of last week’s show. You can listen to them right here and be sure to tune in every Thursday from 7-9.

Hour 9:

In this hour, we’ll return to Harlem to listen to maybe the most important band leader in jazz history and one of the most significant composers of the music – Duke Ellington.

“Calling Ellington a bandleader is like calling Bach an organist.” – Gary Giddens

A contemporary of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington moved from Washington, DC to New York at roughly the same time and established himself as a recording artist. By 1927, he was established in residency at the Cotton Club, broadcasting nationally on the radio and building a repertoire of jazz compositions custom-made for the specific players in the band.

Hour 10:

Large jazz ensembles, such as Ellington’s, soon to be known as “Big Bands”, evolved through the 1920s with significant innovations led by bandleaders Fletcher Henderson, Benny Carter, Jimmy Lunceford and Don Redman, and arrangers Carter, Redman, Edgar Sampson and Sy Oliver. By the mid-1930s Big Bands dominated popular music.

 

Jazz at 100 Hours 7 and 8

Missed last week’s show? We have you covered with both hours right here to get prepared for this weeks show! Tune in on Thursday night from 7-9!

Hour 7:

In this hour, we return with Louis Armstrong to Chicago and listen to his seminal small group recordings. We are joined by John D’earth – trumpet player, composer, educator, member of the music performance faculty at the University of Virginia and the jazz faculty quintet, the Free Bridge Quintet.

Hour 8:

In this hour we will listen to Bix Beiderbecke’s music often in the company of C-melody saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer. We’ll also listen to several bands featuring cornetist Red Nichols and ground-breaking trombonist Miff Mole.

We are joined in this hour by Brendan Wolfe, the author of “Finding Bix – The Life and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend”. He is the managing editor of the Encyclopedia of Virginia, a project of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

Jazz at 100 Hours 5 and 6

Catch up on last weeks show before hours 7 and 8 air Thursday night from 7-9 PM.

Hour 5:

While New York hosted small combos similar to Chicago, it also grew a number of significant larger groups and orchestras. We’ll hear from orchestras led by Fletcher Henderson, Paul Whiteman, Don Redman and Red Allen. Within these bands, we’ll find some of the greatest soloists of the period – Bix Beiderbecke, Coleman Hawkins, Miff Mole, and Louis Armstrong, who spent a little more than a year in Harlem in 1924 and 1925.

Hour 6:

In the last hour, we listened to several of the bands associated with New York, with an emphasis on the new large ensemble form, the jazz orchestra. In this hour we’ll stick with New York, but focus in on the piano music of Harlem – “Stride.” We are joined in this hour by Art Wheeler, pianist, producer, composer and educator.

Jazz at 100 Hours 3 and 4

Catch up on last week’s Jazz at 100 before hours 5 and 6 air this Thursday starting at seven.

Hour 3:

In this hour, we’ll explore the music of two more giants of the New Orleans diaspora, pianist and composer Jelly Roll Morton, who left Louisiana in 1908 and clarinetist and soprano saxophone player Sidney Bechet, who hit the road in 1916. In the complex racial landscape of New Orleans, both Jelly Roll Morton, born Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe, and Sidney Bechet, like Kid Ory, were creoles. Creoles were lighter skinned mixed-race people, who brought conservatory musical training to the mélange that became jazz.

Hour 4:

In addition to King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, The Chicago scene bristled with black and white bands, initially dominated by more New Orleans musicians, but in time a home grown group of Chicago players emerged. In this hour, we’ll return to the Chicago of King Oliver. As the 1920s progressed the Chicago music scene attracted such early jazz luminaries as Louisiana born clarinetists Jimmie Noone, Johnny Dodds and Leon Roppolo, Earl Hines from Pittsburgh, pianist Lovie Austin from Chattanooga, and Georgia-born trumpeter Jabbo Smith. We will also explore the scant recorded legacy of Freddie Keppard, who reigned in New Orleans as Cornet King after Buddy Bolden, until unseated by Joe “King” Oliver.

Jazz at 100 Hours 1 and 2

Did you miss the airing of the first two hours of Jazz at 100 last week? Don’t worry, because you can listen to them right here in preparation for hours 3 and 4 tonight from 7-9 PM.

Hour 1:

On February 26, 1917, five musicians from New Orleans recorded for Victor Records in New York as the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, bringing a new syncopated music to the broader world – jazz. The new music form had developed and evolved in New Orleans and Chicago, primarily, from a rich mix of sources. In this hour, we’ll be exploring these first recordings and their antecedents – African rhythms, sanctified singing, vaudeville, minstrelsy, blues and ragtime.

Hour 2:

As New Orleans lost its commercial position as a major port and blacks fled the oppression of the American south, the cream of NOLA musicians hit the road. Many would play a significant role in the development of jazz.  In this hour we will explore the music of two of these pioneers – trombonist Kid Ory and cornetist King Oliver.

A Look Back At The 50th Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival

Photo Credit: The University of Idaho Photo Services
Preston Snyder

The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival is held at the University of Idaho and is a festival inviting student musicians and school jazz bands from around the Pacific Northwest to compete for awards, participate in workshops and clinics put on by professional jazz musicians and experience concerts featuring famous musicians and bands. Started in 1967, this year marked the 50th anniversary of the festival. The Univeristy of Idaho made a promotional video commemorating the 50th anniversary:

The Saturday night concert started with the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival Big Band, loud and proud, led by Vern Sielert. Featuring a variety of guests, including Jason Marsalis on Vibraphone, Claudio Roditi on trumpet, and Julia Keefe singing, the band played a variety of songs including a song called 50 and Counting written by Vern and closed with a loud and proud arrangement of Lionel Hampton’s Flying Home featuring Jason Marsalis, in the style of Hampton, and a dancing trumpet section.

The set then transitioned to the best student soloists from the day and each group played their best songs from their set. Then they all came together for a final group performance and one lucky soloist, Max Zhang from Semiahmoo Secondary School in Surrey, British Columbia, was named Outstanding Instrumental Soloist for bass and received a University of Idaho scholarship from Avista Utilities.

After a brief intermission, the stage was reset and, in an outfit far more colorful than the other two performances before her, Esperanza Spaulding took to the stage, had a casual conversation with the audience as she tuned her bass, and then began to play and sing. She was joined by Justin Tyson on drums and Matthew Stevens on guitar. She played a variety of different styles and genres from an Argentinian standard to a mash-up of Humpty Dumpty by Chick Corea and All The Kings Horses by Aretha Franklin because “Those songs just sound like they should go together.” Then Justin left the stage leaving Esperanza and Matthew to play a slow, free version of Have I Stayed Too Long At The Fair. Justin came back and the trio played a loud and engaging Endangered Species. Finally, after asking for some participation, Esperanza Spaulding led a rousing finale of Nina Simone’s Forbidden Fruit. The trio took their bows, the lights came up and as the they walked backstage that was the conclusion of the 50th Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival.

For more information about The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival and The University of Idaho visit:

http://www.uidaho.edu/class/jazzfest

At 75, Chick Corea Still Has That Magic Touch

Image result for chick corea

Chick Corea celebrated his 75th birthday this year but the acclaimed jazz pianist is still going strong with a number of live performances this year. Corea was on the road all summer and has settled into an eight week stay at the Blue Note Club in Greenwich Village, New York. This year he has played with 15 different bands that have played music from every phase of Corea’s career.

 

Chick Corea was born in 1941 in Massachusetts and had music influence from his father who was a bebop trumpet player. Corea gravitated to Latin music in High School and was also influenced by Miles Davis. He got the chance to work with Davis in the 1960’s and helped pioneer jazz rock fusion with records like In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. Corea also formed the group Return to Forever which would become his most successful venture and still records with the likes of pianist Herbie Hancock and vibraphonist Gary Burton.

 

Through his numerous groups and bands, Corea finds great importance in collaboration. “The particular music that I love is not just casual interaction with other musicians, but actually creative interactions with other musicians,” Corea says. “It means everything”. The love of creation is what he says keeps him going.

 

You can read more about Corea’s past and influence on jazz at NWPR.org:

http://www.npr.org/2016/11/13/501592227/at-75-chick-corea-still-has-that-magic-touch

Hyperdrive on the Piano

 

The Ruthless Shapes of Paradise

A hyperpiano is, for the most part, the same as any other piano with one difference. Instead of just hitting the keys to create sound, a multitude of different objects are placed on different strings of the piano. Many of these sounds seem to come right out of an eerie horror movie soundtrack.

While playing the piano, everything from copper bars, rubber blocks, cow bells and even plastic cassettes can be placed on the strings as well as slid up and down for different effects. For example, by placing a rubber block across the strings, higher pitched sounds are created. Sliding the block will make audible rubbing or whipping sounds. By listening to just the sounds being created by these objects, it’s hard to tell that you are actually listening to a piano. In fact, it sometimes sounds like you are listening to another instrument like a guitar or banjo. These different sounds can also be combined with playing the piano traditionally, which adds structure to the music and creates a more cohesive piece.

Hyperpianos are not widely used throughout the musical world and this could be attributed to their odd sound as well as the risk of damaging the piano. Strings are fragile and placing and rubbing objects on them could ruin them. Specific sizes of objects are recommended as to not damage the strings. This recommendation comes from the creator and main player of the instrument Denman Maroney, who lends his sound to Steve Olson’s album, The Ruthless Shapes of Paradise.

Despite its relative obscurity, the hyperpiano is able to create numerous sounds by changing which objects are on the strings. While it may not work as well in mainstream jazz, it could find a home in Avant-Garde Jazz or by providing the soundtrack for the next blockbuster horror or suspense film. If you are in the mood for some truly experimental jazz, check out the hyperpiano. You can learn more about it and the different techniques used to create its unique sound at Maroney’s website:

http://www.denmanmaroney.com/Hyper.html