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Dave Brubeck – piano Paul Desmond – alto sax Gerry Mulligan – baritone sax Jack Six – bass Alan Dawson – drums ● Dave Brubeck Trio feat. Gerry Mulligan & Paul Desmond – Berliner Jazztage 1972 Recorded live on November 4th, 1972 at Berliner Philharmonie, Berlin, Germany.
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The song soon became a popular and much-recorded jazz standard, described as “without doubt … one of the finest songs the composer ever wrote … Gershwin’s highly evocative writing brilliantly mixes elements of jazz and the song styles of blacks in the southeast United States from the early twentieth century”. Composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim has characterized Heyward’s lyrics for “Summertime” and “My Man’s Gone Now” as “the best lyrics in the musical theater”.
Porgy and Bess
Gershwin began composing the song in December 1933, attempting to create his own spiritual in the style of the African American folk music of the period. Gershwin had completed setting DuBose Heyward’s poem to music by February 1934, and spent the next 20 months completing and orchestrating the score of the opera.
The song is sung several times throughout Porgy and Bess. Its lyrics are the first words heard in act 1 of the opera, following the communal “wa-do-wa”. It is sung by Clara as a lullaby. The song theme is reprised soon after as counterpoint to the crapsgame scene, in act 2 in a reprise by Clara, and in act 3 by Bess, singing to Clara’s now-orphaned baby after both its parents died in the storm. It was recorded for the first time by Abbie Mitchell on July 19, 1935, with George Gershwin playing the piano and conducting the orchestra (on: George Gershwin Conducts Excerpts from Porgy & Bess, Mark 56 667).
Heyward’s inspiration for the lyrics was the southern folk spiritual-lullaby “All My Trials“, of which he had Clara sing a snippet in his play Porgy. The lyrics have been highly praised by Stephen Sondheim. Writing of the opening line, he says:
That “and” is worth a great deal of attention. I would write “Summertime when” but that “and” sets up a tone, a whole poetic tone, not to mention a whole kind of diction that is going to be used in the play; an informal, uneducated diction and a stream of consciousness, as in many of the songs like “My Man’s Gone Now”. It’s the exact right word, and that word is worth its weight in gold. “Summertime when the livin’ is easy” is a boring line compared to “Summertime and”. The choices of “ands” [and] “buts” become almost traumatic as you are writing a lyric – or should, anyway – because each one weighs so much.
Musicologist K. J. McElrath wrote of the song:
Gershwin was remarkably successful in his intent to have this sound like a folk song. This is reinforced by his extensive use of the pentatonic scale (C–D–E–G–A) in the context of the A minor tonality and a slow-moving harmonic progression that suggests a “blues“. Because of these factors, this tune has been a favorite of jazz performers for decades and can be done in a variety of tempos and styles.
While in his own description, Gershwin did not use any previously composed spirituals in his opera, Summertime is often considered an adaptation of the African American spiritual “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child“, which ended the play version of Porgy.Alternatively, the song has been proposed as an amalgamation of that spiritual and the Ukrainian Yiddish lullaby Pipi-pipipee.The Ukrainian-Canadian composer and singer Alexis Kochan has suggested that some part of Gershwin’s inspiration may have come from having heard the Ukrainian lullaby “Oi Khodyt Son Kolo Vikon” (“A Dream Passes by the Windows”) at a New York City performance by Alexander Koshetz‘s Ukrainian National Chorus in 1929 (or 1926).
Statistics for the number of recordings of “Summertime” vary by source; while older data is restricted to commercial releases, newer sources may include versions self-published online. The Jazz Discography in 2005 listed 1,161 official releases, ranking the song fourth among jazz standards.Joe Nocera in 2012 said there were “over 25,000” recordings.
Thelonious Monk’s Harmony, Rhythm, and pianism (Part 1)
On February 28, 1964, jazz pianist, composer, and group leader Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) graced the cover of Time magazine, then America’s major newsweekly. Coming at the height of the civil rights movement and amid dawn-ing recognition for African Americans’ achievements, it was a true breakthrough into mainstream media for him and for jazz.
The moment was short-lived, with rock-and-roll’s ascendancy to cultural dominance just around the corner, but it was also well-earned: Monk had been producing extraordinary music—often under difficult social and personal circumstances—for almost two decades, and would continue to perform for another nine years.
Gnomic and inscrutable, he also magniﬁed, for better or worse, popular clichés about the jazz artist as insouciant, hipster weirdo—aspects played up in Time’s account, and undoubtedly part of the reason its editors had singled him out, for the moment, as jazz personiﬁed.
Yet despite the typecasting, Monk was actually an unlikely icon, musically and personally. Jazz comprises a cluster of genres bound loosely by a symbiosis of individualism, commercial concerns, and high art leanings, but even given this, Monk’s playing was in many ways too idiosyncratic to ﬁ t in to any niche. His music differed more from his contemporaries than theirs did from each others’. His small hands and distinctive piano technique often gave cause for his very skill and competence to be called into question, sometimes not without reason. Such perplexities complicated Monk’s reputation and that of jazz itself, which he was both part of and apart from.
And as if to enhance this otherworldly aura, after touring and recording almost continually from the late 1940s until the mid-1960s, he simply faded away. He stopped playing piano soon after his last record-ings in 1971 and retired into semi-seclusion for the last decade of his life. Yet both his musical legacy and mythic status have continually strengthened ever since.
Our own lifelong obsessions with Monk’s music started in the 1970s. It was a romance of recordings: the only performances we ever saw were on ﬁlm, and that was much later. For us back then, “Thelonious Monk” was an outré persona conjured by liner notes and cover art. The cover of one LP— Monk’s Music, from 1955—showed him writing music while perched in a child’s red wagon, donned in hipster’s garb and sunglasses; another— Underground, his last Columbia recording, from 1968—set Monk as WWII French resistance ﬁghter, seated at an upright piano in a barn hideout, with several open bottles of wine, a live cow, weaponry, and a captured Nazi in tow.
These manufactured images suggested ways for the public to digest the music: Monk as idiot-savant, genius-child, rebel-recluse—a collection of quirky, individualistic, American countercultural personas. But, however these images may have hooked us as teenagers, we could not fail to hear his music as indispensable. His deadpan playing, stocked with “scribbled lightning”, and jabbing, stabbing, amazing chords, textures, rhythms, empty spaces, and clusters, was riveting, at once instantly recognizable, diverse and unpredictable, and full of the divine laughter that made it both deadly serious and hilariously funny. It invaded our musical selves-in-formation and led to insatiable ﬁxation. Of course, we were among many trying to internalize Monk and make him part of us. This chapter harvests fruits of our Monk incubation, and the friendship built partly from it.
Here we also position Monk to represent the multiplicity of jazz, some-thing for which no one artist or performance is suited, and yet, for the same reasons Time chose him, no one is as well suited as he. Our aim is not so much to depict the dimensions of Monk’s style as it is to show what he was able to achieve on one particular occasion. We consider a renowned April 1957 solo piano recording of “I Should Care” (hereafter ISC) , a song composed around 1944 as a number for the boilerplate Hollywood movie Thrill of a Romance and known to the public through recordings by Jimmy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, and others. It appeared repeatedly on the 1947 hit parade and was almost immediately adopted by Monk, (pianist) Bud Powell, and myriad other players.
Our choice of a “standard,” rather than one of Monk’s numerous seminal original compositions, is deliberate, allowing us to focus on the deeply symbiotic relationship between Monk and the jazz mainstream, a microcosm of the relationship between jazz and American popular music as a whole.
Monk’s decision to create a personalized, at least seemingly improvised (though in fact hardly at all) rendition of a popular song is itself “standard” practice for jazz. In general Monk’s taste in standards leaned toward the popular music of his youth, but he seems to have had a particular fascination with ISC: he recorded it at least four times for as many record labels, over a span of twenty years. Our chosen ISC is especially concentrated and allows us to frame Monk’s idiolect against the background of some of the era’s musical conventions and their milieu.
Jazz, Monk, and Modern Jazz Technique
Jazz and Jazz Analysis
In the United States jazz was long ago pronounced “America’s classical music,” a phrase used so often as to now elude original attribution. Many Americans regard this African-American form as a birthright and know it when they hear it, even if hard-pressed to say what it is that makes it “it.” Born in late nineteenth-century New Orleans, it long ago permeated global culture, provoking cultural responses by the 1920s in places as distant as Japan and China.
To have even a passing acquaintance with Western culture is to have some awareness of jazz as an idea involving musical self-expression through improvisation. Beyond the “jazz buﬀs” that live in every country, this awareness can be expressed in indirect, idiosyncratic ways: a “jazzy” turn of phrase in a Bollywood production number, a rural Japanese man belting Sinatra-style while fronting his local high school’s jazz band, or a lip-synching crooner in a Manila transvestite bar. These and thousands of other appropriations attest to jazz’s potency.
Jazz history is often described in terms of a series of fast-morphing eras (until a pluralistic stasis set in after the mid ’70s)—Dixieland, hot jazz, swing, bebop, cool, hard bop, free jazz, fusion, and so on—whose musics evolved but were also retained in coexistence. Throughout, it has been girded by poly-rhythmic, cyclical, repetitive principles tracing back to the West African music of slave ancestors, the dialects of song and rhythm in earlier African-American music (the blues, spirituals, etc.), the strophic ballad and popular song forms of Anglo-America, and the harmony and instruments of European art music. Jazz digested, synthesized, and transformed all of these.
The bebop style of Monk’s era was typically played by combos of up to six players comprised of piano, stand-up bass, drum trap set, and possibly electric guitar (all comprising the rhythm section) , fronted by saxophone(s), trumpet(s), or trombone(s). Most performances use the melody or “head’” of a popular song or a newly composed tune to launch solo improvisations stated over the tune’s cyclically repeated harmonies, which are rendered by the rhythm section in constantly changing accompaniment patterns.
Rhythm section members also take solos. Bebop players such as Charlie Parker (saxophone), Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), and Bud Powell (piano) perfected a vocabulary of scales and patterns that brought out the color and quality of the “changes” (the chord sequence) while ﬂying far from the original melody.
Jazz is improvisation, and the image of the spontaneously creative soloist, playing instinctually, is powerful. Some players can and do spin off very different solos from take to take and/or from night to night, but most draw from a personal lexicon of phrases, large and small, that constitute a player’s style. The degree to which great improvisers plan their solos varies, and the line between improvisation and composition is ﬂuid. Aﬁcionados have always known this, but today the ready availability of myriad “alternate takes” by Charlie Parker, Monk, and innumerable others proves that jazz improvisation can be a highly calculated act. The ﬁxed, solo arrangement of ISC we selected is a case in point.
Jazz analysis, like all analysis, begins with listening, and is a multistage process proceeding from general stylistic features to consideration of players’ own styles, and ﬁnally to the details of a performance.
Knowledgeable listeners weigh a critical mass of musical markers including instrumentation, form, harmony, tempo, and rhythmic subdivision to identify and appreciate individual players. Even should such a listener ﬁrst hear a recording of ISC “blind-folded”—that is, without being told who is playing—and fail to recognize Monk’s musical signatures, he or she could still place the music at circa 1945-1965. This was an era encompassing related styles (bebop, cool, West Coast, and more) that we refer to for convenience as the era of modern jazz.
The integrity of any durable genre rests on the tensile strength of its basic principles; Monk’s relationship to modern jazz is a characteristic one of testing these strengths. Among the features relevant to this performance are certain types of harmonic and rhythmic complexity seen in relation to musical form, and a range of ways of laying these out on the piano keyboard. To analyze ISC in terms of these features, we will ﬁrst survey their treatment in the genre. Then it can emerge how Monk mobilizes rhythm (especially ﬂ fluctuations of tempo) and harmony on the one hand, while retaining form and melody on the other, to create a layered, asymmetrical reading of this standard song.
We later refer to a full transcription (ﬁgures 4.5 and 4.6) through which we can ﬁ x the performance in our minds at a glance. But even though we made every eﬀort to make it accurate in pitch and harmony (though one can never be sure) and urge the reader to play it, not even a note-perfect performance will make it sound like Monk. This is because he plays with an embodied hand and ﬁnger pianism that even neurological and psychological description could hardly capture, let alone conventional music notation.
Monk’s touch at the keyboard vividly shapes surface rhythm and the envelope of the sound—its attack and decay contour. Playing it is worth doing, how-ever, to encounter the sonic diversity of his style and wealth of unexpected piano sonorities.
Form and Fusion
ISC is composed in one of a small number of easily recognizable thirty-two-measure popular song types of the era (the top staff of ﬁgure 4.1 gives the melody). It consists of two sixteen-measure periods that are parallel, in the sense that the ﬁrst eight measures of each are identical and the second eight differ. This can be thought of formally as ABAC, in which each letter designates eight bars of melody and chords (actually the very ﬁrst measures of B and C are also the same). Songs of this genre were written to be recorded by professionals and, if successful, were published as sheet music for amateurs.
The sheet music arrangements, distributing the tones of the chords in various ways on the keyboard, were dispensable, but the harmonies were also represented by shorthand chord symbols (about which more below).
A lead sheet consisting of these symbols over a single staff with the notated melody circulated among jazz players; a version of this can be seen by combining the top staff of ﬁgure 4.1 with the ﬁrst row of symbols below the second staff. This version is from The Real Book, a latter-day “fake book” (originally a samizdat anthology of lead sheets for standard tunes and modern jazz compositions).
The “double period” form of ISC stems from European models. In non-jazz performances, such as for ﬁlm or singers’ nightclub acts, the songs last only as long as their words; that is, the music is read oﬀ the arranger or com-poser’s notation and repeated (with preplanned small variants) as many times as necessary to sing the entire lyric. This is as it would be in many a Brahms Lied or an aria da capo in Mozart opera.
But jazz is a deep fusion of European and African music. This integration of independent, but in many ways compatible, musical systems was not only an ingenious cultural project directly contradicting the segregated social realities of America, but could be seen as providing that society with a compelling model of how to overcome those difficulties.
Jazz harmony has roots in African melody based on ﬂexible, unstandardized ﬁ ve- or seven-tone scales, but it acquired new depth of ﬁeld (the range of colors and sensations of unique relation to a stabilizing “tonic” center that harmony evokes) by ingesting Europe’s twelve-tone chromatic scale and its system of functional harmonic progressions. At a time when European composers largely eschewed it, jazz took up the mantle of enriching functional harmony.
Figure 4.1. Melody and four harmonizations of I Should Care, with chord roots and harmonic functions.
Figure 4.1 (continued)
Jazz form evolved to become a cycle of harmonies reminiscent of analogous (though briefer) cycles in much African music, as well as in circular European forms based on a repeating bass line, such as the passacaglia. African cycles are conﬁgured with rhythmic and melodic patterns. These are given multiple, varied repetition, with the patterns locked in and aligned with the unchanging cyclic structure. Such isoperiodicity also deﬁnes most jazz, with regularly recurring chord progressions (“changes”) instead of rhythms or melodies.
Variation may last for as many cycles (isoperiods) as the soloist per-forms, organized by the harmonies linked to the cycle. Cycle and progression, seemingly as contradictory as circle and line, thus reconcile.
So that Monk’s style can soon be broached, let us pause to clarify our usage of three terms already in play:
• Harmony: one of three essential functions of motion or rest perceived from pitch combinations at a given place in the form. These are the stable tonic (T) and the unstable dominant (D; leading to a tonic) or subdominant (S; leading to a dominant). • Chord: speciﬁc root (fundamental tone) and quality (interval structure and sound) of a harmony speciﬁ ed by the lead sheet. • Voicing: the speciﬁc, registrated pitches used to realize a chord.
Harmonic progression in European art music evolved from a conception of counterpoint that wove the simultaneous tones of concurrent melodies into a few stable chordal structures while retaining nuances like anticipation, suspension, and other kinds of melodic dissonances—tones that do not belong to a stable chord and that must resolve to those that do, else the tone combination parses as unstable. Stable chords contain only three tones in European practice. Such triads come in and out of focus when the music’s polyphonic strands either line up or diverge.
Counterpoint oversees the management of dissonance, and this process, at various orders of magnitude, generates both harmony and form in great variety. Western music’s variation forms, similar to jazz in some ways, act to restrain this tendency. But more culturally signiﬁcant and musically distinctive is the fact that counterpoint, with its prolongation of dissonance and harmonic progression, historically urged Western music in extremis to long operas, symphonies, and other noncyclical structures. In jazz, counterpoint and dissonance shape melodic lines and chord progressions, but cyclic structure prevails.
The role of harmony is to identify, with particular colors (i.e., chords and voicings), the region of the cycle through which one is passing. Jazz harmonies are glued to their positions; nothing can dislodge them. It is not the chords themselves that are glued there, but their harmonic functions, and this allows (as we shall see) for many ways to substitute diﬀerent chords of equivalent function, or to severely alter chords so long as their function is preserved. The functions have such a forceful progressive logic that the practiced ear can distinguish which of the many tones that may be sounding are operative in establishing the harmony, and which are more or less ornamental.
Even if crucial tones are absent, expert listeners can infer harmonic function from the context.
What identiﬁes harmonies and how they are realized in sound must thus not be thought of as the same thing; indeed, the two can vary seemingly to the point of severing their relationship—but not quite.
Harmonic Principles and Chords
Songs like ISC are composed in the tonality of one of the twelve equal- tempered chromatic notes, and end with tonic harmony, though some, like ISC, do not begin with it. The tonality, which may be major or minor in quality, shifts ﬂuidly and temporarily at many points in the cycle. We restrict discussion to ISC’s home key of D major for illustration; ﬁgure 4.2a shows the root-position triads (major, minor, or diminished) in open note heads with Roman numerals, indicating the scale tone that is the root of the chord, on the ﬁrst line below the staff.
The second line below the staff labels each with tonic (T), dominant (D), or subdominant (S) function. With rare exceptions, a jazz chord has a harmonic meaning only if it can be conﬁ dently heard as having one of these three functions. Thus III and VII chords are rare in jazz major keys because the former is function-ally ambiguous and the role of the latter is understood as a weak version of V.
In fact, each of the S, T, and D functions is normally linked to a single chord, which progresses to one of the others strongly because their roots are a ﬁfth apart: II for S, V for D, and I for T. IV and VI chords are very often heard as equivalent to ii (note that the roots of ii, IV, and VI together form a II triad). The constituent tones of III, IV, VI, and vii chords may appear as voicings of other chords, or the chords may function in other keys where they play the roles of II, V, or I.
Jazz chords and voicings were inﬂuenced both by the tonal language of other African-American forms such as the blues, and by the sonorities of early twentieth-century French composers like Debussy and Ravel.
Evolving style came to allow sevenths (tones that are the interval of a seventh above the root; shown with black note heads) not to be considered dissonant, and to inhere to virtually all chords.
This is also true of many other nontriad tones (ﬁgures 4.2b and 4.3), but sevenths are essential and assumed. Adding them to triads produces seventh chords of various distinctive qualities depending on the type of the triad and the size of the seventh. The major seventh chord (labeled M7) has a major triad plus major seventh. The dominant seventh chord (labeled 7) is the same but with a minor seventh. The minor seventh chord (m7) has a minor triad plus minor seventh, and in the half-diminished seventh chord (m7b5) the minor seventh is joined to a diminished triad.
These are labeled in the fourth line below the main staff of ﬁgure 4.2a.
Mention of the half-diminished seventh chord occasions a brief diversion into the role of major and minor tonalities in jazz. The exact nature of this relationship is multifarious, varying from era to era and player to player, and intertwined with devices absorbed from other practices such as the blues. As with much European tonality, the distinction between major and minor modes is retained as an overall aﬀect—in other words, tunes are one or the other—but in actual practice the two freely commingle. In essence, this comes down to the unique case of the half-diminished seventh chord, built on the second degree of the minor scale.
Consider that in D major in jazz, one may often encounter an E-rooted seventh chord that uses Bb, from D minor, instead of B, making the chord a half-diminished seventh rather than a minor seventh. Also, as shown above the staﬀ in ﬁgure 4.2a, the VII chord in D major has the same root and half- diminished-seventh quality of the II7 chord in B minor, so it can be used to temporarily change to that key, or even to B major. And by playing a half- diminished seventh when a tonic function is expected, jazz musicians can create a chain of II–V progressions. This is our ﬁrst example of “chord substitution,” a principle of harmonic modularity at the core of jazz practice (see “Chords and Voicings” below).
In jazz, motion from S to D to T functions usually reﬂ ects root motion by ﬁfth, as in the iconic ii–V–I progression. Mastery of jazz harmony involves the ability to manipulate ii–V–I in all keys and combinations. In D major, II–V–I is most simply expressed as Em7–A7–DM7, which occurs twice right at the beginning of ISC, but the same functional progression, transposed and with substitutions, occurs in many places throughout the song. In the fake book (the lead sheet) version shown in the second staﬀ of ﬁgure 4.1, the vocabulary is varied, close to what an accomplished player might actually play, and the progression is sometimes interrupted. For example, the II–V in mm. 8 and 24 suggest that a richly chromatic F major is coming, but the progression is not allowed to complete.
Measures 17-20 bring a dovetailed chain of II–V motions, each one leading to the next, as the arrows show. All staves of ﬁgure 4.1 and all harmony in ISC can be explained in II–V–I terms.
Dominant function chords contain the crucial interval of the diminished ﬁfth (also known as the tritone) between the third and seventh. In the A7 chord, this means C#7 and G. The tritone’s distinctive sound is absent from major and minor seventh chords, but their occasional substitutes, the bor-rowed half-diminished seventh and the dominant seventh sonority itself—which does double duty as tonic in blues forms—include it. The interval impels forward motion in II–V–I progressions, which sometimes concatenate and elide into strings of descending tritones in inner voices, creating, if art-fully done, a spinning vortex of dominant resolutions. The approach to and departure from the tritone is more expansive in the music of Monk’s era—and certainly to an even greater degree in Monk’s own music—than it is in classical music; it is without question the most important source of the feeling of harmonic progression in the music.
The tritone is the structural hub orienting and ordering the tremendous vocabulary of idiomatic chord voicings.
December 7, 2018, Tomasz Trzciński, Polish pianist, composer and conductor residing in Germany, was awarded the Medal of Merit for Culture – Gloria Artis in the category of music by the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, which is given to people who stand out especially in the field of artistic creation, cultural activity or protection culture and national heritage http://pressmania.pl/maestro-tomasz-t… „
The piano music by Tomasz Trzciński, that he performs at his concerts, produces and publishes on CDs and in online media, is extraordinarily exceptional and a lively, virtuous art of improvisation. His expressive, poetic and individually creative music flows directly from the heart and soul of a Polish artist who is fascinated by classics and jazz, by his Polish roots just as much as by European music and by the global culture of music… I am very impressed by his original concert art and his valuable achievements, artistic abilities, and publications.”
Louis Armstrong, “La Vie En Rose” – Jazz Trumpet Solo Transcription with sheet music
La vie en rose – Lyrics
LyricsDes yeux qui font baisser les miens Un rire qui se perd sur sa bouche Voilà le portrait sans retouches De l’homme auquel j’appartiensQuand il me prend dans ses bras Il me parle tout bas Je vois la vie en roseIl me dit des mots d’amour Des mots de tous les jours Et ça me fait quelque choseIl est entré dans mon cœur Une part de bonheur Dont je connais la causeC’est lui pour moi, moi pour lui dans la vie Il me l’a dit, l’a juré pour la vieEt dès que je l’aperçois Alors je sens en moi Mon cœur qui batDes nuits d’amour à plus finir Un grand bonheur qui prend sa place Des ennuis, des chagrins s’effacent Heureux, heureux à en mourirQuand il me prend dans ses bras Il me parle tout bas Je vois la vie en roseIl me dit des mots d’amour Des mots de tous les jours Et ça me fait quelque choseIl est entré dans mon cœur Une part de bonheur Dont je connais la causeC’est toi pour moi, moi pour toi dans la vie Il me l’a dit, l’a juré pour la vieEt dès que je t’aperçois Alors je sens dans moi Mon cœur qui bat La la, la la, la la La la, la la, ah la La la la la
Louis Daniel Armstrong (August 4, 1901 – July 6, 1971), nicknamed “Satchmo“, “Satch“, and “Pops“, was an American trumpeter, composer, vocalist, and actor who was among the most influential figures in jazz. His career spanned five decades, from the 1920s to the 1960s, and different eras in the history of jazz. In 2017, he was inducted into the Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame.
Armstrong was born and raised in New Orleans. Coming to prominence in the 1920s as an inventive trumpet and cornet player, Armstrong was a foundational influence in jazz, shifting the focus of the music from collective improvisation to solo performance. Around 1922, he followed his mentor, Joe “King” Oliver, to Chicago to play in the Creole Jazz Band. In Chicago, he spent time with other popular jazz musicians, reconnecting with his friend Bix Beiderbecke and spending time with Hoagy Carmichael and Lil Hardin. He earned a reputation at “cutting contests“, and relocated to New York in order to join Fletcher Henderson‘s band.
With his instantly recognizable rich, gravelly voice, Armstrong was also an influential singer and skillful improviser, bending the lyrics and melody of a song. He was also skilled at scat singing. Armstrong is renowned for his charismatic stage presence and voice as well as his trumpet playing. By the end of Armstrong’s career in the 1960s, his influence had spread to popular music in general. Armstrong was one of the first popular African-American entertainers to “cross over” to wide popularity with white (and international) audiences. He rarely publicly politicized his race, to the dismay of fellow African Americans, but took a well-publicized stand for desegregation in the Little Rock crisis. He was able to access the upper echelons of American society at a time when this was difficult for black men.
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Bennie Carter originally composed and arranged this famous melody for the Count Basie band, who recorded it in 1961. In 1982 Benny revised his earlier arrangement to be used for concerts and master classes he was giving. In 1987 this arrangement was recorded by the American Jazz Orchestra. The melody remains largely the same as the 1961 chart; however, he added additional ensemble choruses and gave the brass a larger role throughout. Benny considered this arrangement to be the definitive version of this song. Bennett Lester Carter (August 8, 1907 – July 12, 2003) was an American jazz saxophonist, clarinetist, trumpeter, composer, arranger, and bandleader. With Johnny Hodges, he was a pioneer on the alto saxophone. From the beginning of his career in the 1920s he was a popular arranger, having written charts for Fletcher Henderson’s big band that shaped the swing style. He had an unusually long career that lasted into the 1990s. During the 1980s and ’90s, he was nominated for eight Grammy Awards, which included receiving a Lifetime Achievement Award.
Bennie Carter’s life
Born in New York City in 1907, he was given piano lessons by his mother and others in the neighborhood. He played trumpet and experimented briefly with C-melody saxophone before settling on alto saxophone. In the 1920s, he performed with June Clark, Billy Paige, and Earl Hines, then toured as a member of the Wilberforce Collegians led by Horace Henderson. He appeared on record for the first time in 1927 as a member of the Paradise Ten led by Charlie Johnson. He returned to the Collegians and became their bandleader through 1929, including a performance at the Savoy Ballroom in New York City.
In his early 20s, Carter worked as arranger for Fletcher Henderson after that position was vacated by Don Redman. He had no formal education in arranging, so he learned by trial and error, getting on his knees and looking at the existing charts, “writing the lead trumpet first and the lead saxophone first—which, of course, is the hard way. It was quite some time that I did that before I knew what a score was.”
He left Henderson to take Redman’s former job as leader of McKinney’s Cotton Pickers in Detroit. In 1932 he formed a band in New York City that included Chu Berry, Sid Catlett, Cozy Cole, Bill Coleman, Ben Webster, Dicky Wells, and Teddy Wilson. Carter’s arrangements were complex. Among the most significant were “Keep a Song in Your Soul”, written for Henderson in 1930, and “Lonesome Nights” and “Symphony in Riffs” from 1933, both of which show Carter’s writing for saxophones.
By the early 1930s, Carter and Johnny Hodges were considered the leading alto saxophonists. Carter also became a leading trumpet soloist, having rediscovered the instrument. He recorded extensively on trumpet in the 1930s. Carter’s short-lived Orchestra played the Harlem Club in New York but only recorded a handful of records for Columbia, OKeh and Vocalion. The OKeh sides were issued under the name The Chocolate Dandies. Carter stands with Robert Goffin, Louis Armstrong, and Leonard Feather in 1942.
In 1933 Carter participated in sessions with British band leader Spike Hughes, who went to New York City to organize recordings with prominent African American musicians. These 14 sides plus four by Carter’s big band, titled at the time Spike Hughes and His Negro Orchestra, were initially only issued in England. The musicians were from Carter’s band and included Red Allen, Dicky Wells, Wayman Carver, Coleman Hawkins, J. C. Higginbotham, and Chu Berry.
Carter moved to London and spent two years as arranger for the BBC Big Band. In England, France, and Scandinavia he recorded with local musicians, and he took his band to the Netherlands. In these settings Carter played trumpet, clarinet, piano, alto and tenor saxophone, and provided occasional vocals. In 1938 he returned to America. He found regular work leading his band at the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem through 1941. The band included Shad Collins, Sidney De Paris, Vic Dickenson, and Freddie Webster. After this engagement he led a seven-piece band which included Eddie Barefield, Kenny Clarke, and Dizzy Gillespie. Portrait of Benny Carter, Apollo Theatre, New York City, c. October 1946
In the middle 1940s, he made Los Angeles his home, forming another big band, which at times included J. J. Johnson, Max Roach, and Miles Davis. But these would be his last big bands. With the exception of occasional concerts, performing with Jazz at the Philharmonic, and recording, he ceased working as a touring big band bandleader. Los Angeles provided him many opportunities for studio work, and these dominated his time during the decades. He wrote music and arrangements for television and films, such as Stormy Weather in 1943. During the 1950s and ’60s, he wrote arrangements for vocalists such as Louis Armstrong, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, and Sarah Vaughan. On something of a comeback in the 1970s,Carter returned to playing saxophone again and toured the Middle East courtesy of the U.S. State Department. He began making annual visits to Europe and Japan. Carter performs at the North Sea Jazz Festival in 1985.
In 1969, Carter was persuaded to spend a weekend at Princeton University by Morroe Berger, a sociology professor at Princeton who wrote about jazz. This led to a new outlet for Carter’s talent: teaching. For the next nine years he visited Princeton five times, most of them brief stays except for one in 1973 when he spent a semester there as a visiting professor. In 1974 Princeton gave him an honorary doctorate. He conducted teaching at workshops and seminars at several other universities and was a visiting lecturer at Harvard for a week in 1987. Morroe Berger wrote Benny Carter – A Life in American Music (1982), a two-volume work about Carter’s career.
Time had little effect on Carter’s abilities. During the 1980s he wrote the long composition Central City Sketches which was performed at Cooper Union by the American Jazz Orchestra. Another long composition, Glasgow Suite, was performed in Scotland. Lincoln Center commission him to write “Good Vibes” in 1990. The National Endowment for the Arts gave him a grant that led Tales of the Rising Sun Suite and Harlem Renaissance Suite. This music was performed in 1992 when he was 85 years old.
Carter had an unusually long career. He was perhaps the only musician to have recorded in eight different decades. Another characteristic of his career was its versatility as musician, bandleader, arranger, and composer. He helped define the sound of alto saxophone, but he also performed and recorded on soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, and piano. He helped establish a foundation for arranging as far back as 1930 when he arranged “Keep a Song in Your Soul” for Fletcher Henderson’s big band. His compositions include the novelty hit “Cow-Cow Boogie” recorded by Ella Mae Morse, and the expansive Central City Sketches, written when he was 80 years old and recorded with the American Jazz Orchestra.
Carter died at the age of 95 in Los Angeles at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on July 12, 2003 from complications of bronchitis.
On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Benny Carter among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire.
Sant Andreu Jazz Band
Sant Andreu Jazz Band is a youth jazz band from Barcelona, featuring 7- to 20-year-old children and teenagers. The bandleader is Joan Chamorro.
The band was founded in 2006 at Escola Municipal de Música de Sant Andreu. The band has performed at numerous concerts and festivals in Catalonia and other regions of Spain as well as in neighbouring countries. They released their first live CD/DVD Jazzing: Live at Casa Fuster in 2009, featuring alongside established jazz musicians, the precocious 14-year-old, Andrea Motis among other young talents.
2010 was a breakthrough year for the band, with appearances at more than 20 festivals including Valls, Terrassa, Girona, Barcelona, Platja d’Aro, and legendary venues like el Jamboree, Palau de la Música Catalana, JazzSi, Hotel Casa Fuster, featuring international performers like Dick Oatts, Ken Peplowski, Bobby Gordon, Perico Sambeat, Ignasi Terraza, Matthew Simon, and Esteve Pi. The band also released their second recording Jazzing vol.2.
In 2012 the film director Ramón Tort made the documentary A film about kids and music based on the band’s work and efforts. The film was awarded best feature film at the Lights. Camera. Help. festival in Austin, Texas, in 2013.