Danilo Perez is a pianist and composer. He was born Dec. 29th, 1965 in Panama. Perez was a member of the Dizzy Gillespie United Nations Orchestra from 1989-1992. He joined the Wayne Shorter Quartet in 2010 and is also a member of the jazz group Global Messengers. Some of his albums include Central Avenue, Panamonk, and Emanon. Perez is an UNESCO Artist for Peace and a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.
On December 23rd, 1938 the concert From Spirituals to Swing was held at Carnegie Hall. Record Producer John Hammond organized the concert as a memorial to Bessie Smith. The concert was significant for the time because it was rare for there to be a formal jazz or blues concert and because it gave equal prominence to the African American artists who performed.
Fletcher Henderson was a pianist, band leader, and music arranger born on December 18th, 1897 in Cuthbert, Georgia. Henderson worked for Black Swan Records, putting together backing groups for artists such as Ethel Waters. He formed his own Orchestra in 1923. Henderson pioneered the instrumentation of jazz big bands. His Orchestra was one of the first to feature a rhythm section consisting of piano, bass, guitar, and drums. His Orchestra was also one of the first to have the brass and reed sections participate in call and response sessions. Henderson’s Orchestra disbanded in the 1930s due to financial difficulties. He then worked as one of Benny Goodman’s main music arrangers, orchestrating King Porter Stomp, Down South Camp Meetin’, and Bugle Call Rag, among others. Henderson died in 1952.
Up Close & Personal Gift Pick:
It’s undeniable that there is great Jazz in the Pacific Northwest. Concert tickets are a thoughtful gift and help reduce the clutter one may accumulate during the holiday season.
Although they are not immediately deliverable, that’s okay!
Sometimes a little delayed gratification can have just as big a pay-off.
Here are some upcoming concerts in the region with tickets available that you can shower on your loved ones (in chronological order):
- An American in Paris, Olympia, Washington. Thursday, January 16th at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts.
- The Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho. Festival dates are February 28th and 29th, 2020. The leap year lineup includes the Lionel Hampton Big Band whose members all personally played with Lionel Hampton at one point in their careers. Jason Marsalis is the featured vibes player. It’s definitely worth the trek if you live out of town!
- The Spokane Jazz Orchestra in Spokane, Washington. A concert featuring George Gershwin will be March 14th, 2020.
- The Mt. Hood Community College Jazz Festival, in Gresham, Oregon. Festival headliners play April 24th and 25th
- The Ballard Jazz Festival in Seattle, Washington. Festival dates are May 27-30th 2020.
Besides giving the gift of a fun night out, concert tickets are small, so you can sneak them in as an unassuming stocking-stuffer. Then when they open it, it’s a nice surprise for them to find it’s not just $1.00 folded into an origami shirt.
After that first surprise, when you attend the concert, you get another pay-off. Seeing them enjoy the music while you enjoy it with them.
Just Listen! Gift Picks:
Harry Connick Jr.’s New Album True Love: A Celebration of Cole Porter
Going into the 2020s, 100 years later it might be fun to get the jazz-lover in your life a taste of the roaring 1920s in a modern take. Singing in a classic crooner style, Harry Connick Jr.’s new album focuses on the renowned composer and lyricist. Cole Porter began to gain fame during the 1920s and continues to be a strong influence on jazz musicians today. Take a listen to the NPR story about the album and the interview with Harry Connick Jr. as he describes why he loves to play with Cole Porter like a “set of musical Legos”.
The Glenn Crytzer Orchestra’s New Holiday Album, Underneath The Mistletoe
If you want to give a gift of fun Holiday Jazz music, The Glenn Crytzer Orchestra specializes in the “Vintage Jazz” sound that will be treasured in any music collection. Along with the imaginative cover songs, there are several originals on the album which breath new life into Holiday Jazz music. The album veers away from the somber and sultry arrangements that are often on Jazz Holiday albums. Neither does it foray into the frenetic over-the-top music that is blasted at shopping malls. Underneath The Mistletoe lands squarely in the realm of classic swing music, upbeat, fun, a little silly, but still classy. The song titled “The Krampus” will delight those who enjoy the “darker side” of the Holidays. Definitely a good music gift pick for those with a sense of humor and a love of swing!
Read It And… Don’t Weep:
Lady Sings the Blues: the 50th Anniversary Edition with a Revised Discography
Billie Holiday’s memoir in an updated treatment with revised discography is a great gift for fans of Jazz classics. Who doesn’t want a little bit of Holiday’s voice, either in a song or in a book? It’s available here.
Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks
Exploring the many pathways music takes in our brains and our lives, Oliver Sacks’ book will sure to delight any brainy music-lover on your list. Sacks’ is a physician, an author and a professor of neurology and his unique perspective will make for a special and memorable gift. It is available here.
Watch It! Gift Pick:
Ken Burns’ 10-Part Documentary on Jazz
Though made in 2001 (there’s been some Jazz history happening in the past 18 years!), it is still a good educational documentary for people who love the Jazz classics. Filled with fascinating interviews, clips, history, and music, the Ken Burns’ Jazz documentary is a gift that will take a long time (in a good way) to get through.
Practically Perfect Paraphernalia:
There May Be Treble Ahead…
You could adorn your friend or loved-one with a treble-clef necklace while punning with the lyrics of Irving Berlin’s “Let’s Face the Music and Dance”.
Jazz Classics Christmas Socks
Get something to put inside those dancing shoes!
For some people, receiving socks or underwear for Christmas is like the modern-day equivalent of coal. For others, though, it’s a godsend at the end of the year, replacing the worn toes of socks from Christmas yesteryear.
If you know someone who could use a little sock drawer sprucing-up, you could give them the gift of happy feet in the form of socks à la Jazz. There’s a variety of jazz themed socks on Etsy.
Whichever gift you choose, be sure to share the joy of music and jazz with everyone you know!
Disclaimer: This gift guide does not contain affiliate links. We choose our gift ideas completely blind and selected gifts due to gifting fit (with an emphasis on the Northwest, and, of course, jazz).
Diana Krall was born November 16th, 1964 in Nanaimo, British Columbia. She is a jazz pianist and vocalist. Some of her better known albums include All For You: A Dedication to the Nat King Cole Trio (1996) and Live in Paris (2002). Her most recent album is Love is Here to Stay (2018), with Tony Bennett. Krall has won three Grammy awards. She is married to British musician Elvis Costello and has two children.
Esperanza Spaulding is a jazz vocalist, bassist, and composer from Portland, Oregon. She is currently a professor of music at Harvard University. Spaulding has one four Grammys. She is the first jazz artist to win in the best new artist category.
White House Performance
Wynton Marsalis is jazz and classical trumpeter and composer from New Orleans, Louisiana. He has recorded over eighty albums and has nine Grammys. He is the only musician to receive a Grammy for both his jazz and classical work. Marsalis was the first jazz musician to win the Pulitzer Prize for Music and he received the National Humanities Medal from President Barak Obama in 2015. He co-founded the Jazz program at Lincoln Center in 1987. Marsalis is active in jazz education worldwide and was named an international ambassador of goodwill for the United States by the U.N. in 2001.
His youngest brother, Jason Marsalis will be playing in the Lionel Hampton Big Band during the 2020 Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival in Moscow, Idaho.
60 Minutes Interview
KJEM’S Operation and Production Manager Kevin Vallene sits down and chats with Peter Daniel, bandleader of the Seattle based 45th Street Brass ahead of their performance at John’s Alley in Moscow, ID.
KJEM’s Assistant Operations and Production Manager Andrew Swanson sits down and chats with Michael League of Snarky Puppy before their performance at the Roseland Theater in Portland.
KJEM’S Operation and Production Manager Kevin Vallene sits down and chats with Magda Giannikou of Banda Magda at the Roseland Theater before their performance.
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: