The Skies Open — Banff 2011

Posted by: admin on May 29, 2011 @ 10:46 am
Filed under: Banff Workshop, Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts)

My God, it’s beautiful up here today.

After a week of rain and snow, the skies opened this morning and the sunshine is dazzling on the snow covered peaks. It’s a good day for a run. A few of us plan to run up Sulfur Mountain (update: in Canada they spell it Sulphur. Go figure.), an elevation change of about 2200 feet (update: it was more like 3000 feet of climb).

Last night’s concert was also a high. The faculty this week, in addition to myself, was Donny McCaslin, Robin Eubanks, Anthony Wilson, Geoff Keezer, Matt Brewer, and Clarence Penn. Everyone brought tunes and the chemistry really clicked. The first half, with two participant groups, was also elevated: from Australia, The Vampires; from South Korea, the Ungwon Han Trio. Both groups played with joy, passion and drive.

Every year the focus of the Banff Jazz and Creative Music program changes, based on the particular interests of the new faculty, but also on subtle changes in way music is played and perceived. These changes develop over time. The curriculum here, if there is one, is to deal with the individual musicians in the moment, and what these young musicians play and how they hear is constantly evolving.

A lot of the learning here goes on in simply playing. New discoveries arise in both students and teachers in the wordless exchange. When Robin Eubanks talked about breaking through one door only to find seven more to be explored, it was a universal reminder that learning never ends. Geoff Keezer talked about looking to the music of the masters in order to find meaning in your own way. Even when you encounter ideas developed by McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Keith Jarrett, or Ahmad Jamal, these ideas are new for you. The goal is to take the lessons of that music and apply them to your own circumstances. That goal changes from year to year based on all the new sounds we hear coming out of young musicians around the world.

Anthony Wilson talked about and practiced “accurately transcribing the music inside yourself that is already complete.” The Composers Workshop yielded almost sixty new pieces that we will continue to refine in the coming weeks.

Donny McCaslin spoke on and demonstrated using melodic and rhythmic motives to create your own material, and how to practice it. Matt Brewer examined the idea of using unusual rhythm and finding parallels in traditional music as well as looking for the danceable factor in any rhythms we encounter. Clarence Penn talked about how to apply all of this to the real world of rehearsals, rent, and trains, boats, and planes. We also hosted Steve Bellamy of Humber College, who was here with the Audio department. Steve started with the most basic components of acoustics and sound, and continued into the latest recording technology.

Participants also created four nights of music in the club, as well as constant jam sessions. As instrumentalists, we all agree that the level gets gradually better every year. Maybe it’s the growth of jazz education programs, maybe it’s that they are standing on the shoulders of giants. But they come armed with new inspirations, new desires and whims, new questions about how to make music better and richer.

If I obsess about Thelonious Monk it’s because I feel there is an enduring value in his music that is relevant to musicians today, no matter the shifting tides of technology and fashion. I likewise harp on part writing and voice leading because the power of Bach applies to the nuts and bolts in everyone’s music, now just as in the past.

In any case a new faculty crew arrives today: Eyvind Kang, Steve Lehman, Brandon Ross, Myra Melford, Anthony Cox, Jerry Granelli, and Clarence Penn who stays for another week of percussion intensive. We’ll see where the new trails lead.

No Comments

The Jazz Session #273

Posted by: Jim Tuerk on May 27, 2011 @ 10:50 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas (News)

A great new Jazz Session with Jason Crane just posted with Dave talking about his music, specifically United Front and Spark Of Being. A must listen.

Be sure to support the Jazz Session. More info on how to do that over here.

Happy weekend.


Martin Bresnick

Posted by: admin on @ 7:18 am
Filed under: Culture

Fantastic piece in the Times. (Hopefully not behind the firewall).

On March 6, 1970, at the close of the Second International Free Composers Tribune in Prague, the final composer to be represented at the conference, Luigi Nono, spoke for more than 10 minutes before a large audience of mostly Czech musicians, vigorously criticizing my score for the short film “Pour,” which preceded his presentation. Although the protocol of the tribune permitted each composer only 10 minutes to speak about his or her own music, Nono took those 10 minutes to speak about mine, concluding with a scathing condemnation of my use of vernacular music.


Nono then went on for another 10 minutes about the making of his own work, especially pointing out the theoretically correct choice of the pre-recorded sounds he had employed. He then played a tape of his composition “Non Consumiamo Marx.” When the piece was over there were three people left in the hall at the Janacek Composers’ Club at 3 Besedni Street: Luigi Nono, Mr. Okurka (the technician who operated the tape recorder and sound system) and me.

Worth a read–lots of remembrances and insights, with recordings and a stream of Bresnick’s score for the film ‘Pour.’

No Comments

Last chance listening: A soundtrack to the end times

Posted by: Jim Tuerk on May 20, 2011 @ 5:34 am
Filed under: Humor

While we wait for the looming Rapture/Apocalypse to march down from the sky tomorrow, here’s some music that, should the end-times truly come, we’ll be blaring from the Greenleaf offices.

Sawtell & Shefterr — Apocalypse Jazz from The Last Man On Earth

Mahavishnu Orchestra — Wings Of Karma from Apocalypse

Olivier Messiaen — Quartet for the End of Time

Wayne Shorter — Mephistopheles from The All Seeing Eye

John Coltrane — Ascension

Codona — Like That Of Sky

Medeski, Martin, and Wood — Last Chance To Dance Trance

Bill Callahan — anything from his latest, Apocalypse, would calm me down after all that

Any others you’d like to add to the playlist, feel free. Please exclude “End Of The World As We Know It” by REM and “The End” by the Doors—you can do better than that!

Oh, and be sure to take care of your pets.


An Amazing Life

Posted by: admin on May 19, 2011 @ 9:15 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

61631426Snooky Young, 92.

I remember seeing him on The Tonight Show as a kid. Only years later did I realize all the amazing roles he played in jazz over the decades. Had the honor of meeting him in 2008 backstage at the Chicago Jazz Festival, where he was playing with the Gerald Wilson Orchestra. What a sweet man, and funny, too. And what a tasty musician.

“The trumpet player’s trumpet player.” – John Clayton.

No Comments

Ten Freedom Summers

Posted by: admin on May 16, 2011 @ 6:57 am
Filed under: Events

Wadada Leo Smith’s new piece for the Golden Quartet w/ Angelica Sanchez (piano) , John Lindberg (bass) and Pheeroan akLaff (drums), commissioned by FONT and premiering at Le Poisson Rouge on June 5. Don’t miss.

1303150062_50_largeFestival Of New Trumpet presents the NYC premiere of trumpeter/composer Wadada Leo Smith’s Ten Freedom Summers, a three-part suite dedicated to the American civil rights movement between 1954-1964: “Brown v. Board of Education” (equal protection, 1954); “Little Rock Nine” (desegregation in education, 1957); and “Freedom Summer” (voter registration, 1964). Born in Leland, Mississippi in 1941, Smith had a first-hand view of the revolutionary activities that inspired this work. The piece is written specifically for the musicians in Smith’s signature ensemble, the Golden Quartet; an ensemble of master composer/performers, whose experimental practice utilizes the quartet form, considered by Smith the purest foundation of musical expression in jazz/creative music and western music culture. The appearance of Wadada Leo Smith’s Golden Quartet is made possible by Chamber Music America’s Presenting Jazz program, and Smith’s composition Ten Freedom Summers was commissioned through the CMA program New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble Development. Both programs are supported through the generosity ofthe Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

June 05, 2011 6:30PM

Le Poisson Rouge [map]

Purchase tickets here.

$15 Student Tickets available

This is a first-come, first-served partially seated event. Seating is limited and not guaranteed, please arrive early.

No Comments

Monday morning pep talk.

Posted by: Jim Tuerk on @ 6:55 am
Filed under: Culture, Education

Based on a letter by the artist Sol LeWitt, written to the artist Eva Hesse.

No Comments

Celebration of Bill Dixon

Posted by: admin on May 12, 2011 @ 7:20 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas (News), Music

Festival of New Trumpet Music returns for a short concert series in June. Concerts feature, among others, Wadada Leo Smith in a new commissioned work, Tomasz Stanko with a group of New York players, Ted Daniel explores King Oliver, Amir El Saffar, Stephanie Richards, Jonathan Finlayson, and much more.

Here’s a profile about the June 3 concert celebrating the life and music of Bill Dixon. Many of the players involved worked with Dixon for years. Should be an exciting night of music.

Bill Dixon

Honoring Bill Dixon at the Rubin Museum of Art

The Festival of New Trumpet Music celebrates the life and work of the late trumpet player Bill Dixon (1925-2010), who was an inspiration and a trailblazer.

With long-time Dixon collaborators Taylor Ho Bynum, Stephen Haynes, and Rob Mazurek (cornets, trumpets), William Parker (bass), Warren Smith (percussion), and special guests Stanton Davis and Wadada Leo Smith (trumpets)


Rubin Museum of Art | 150 West 17th St, NYC

$18 advance, $20 door, $5 students, includes a post-concert guided tour of museum

No Comments

Music in the Rockies

Posted by: admin on May 11, 2011 @ 7:49 am
Filed under: Banff Workshop, Dave Douglas (News), Uncategorized

The annual pilgrimage to Banff begins in a couple weeks. Here is this year’s cast of visiting artists:

Week One:
Donny McCaslin
Robin Eubanks
Geoff Keezer
Anthony Wilson
Matt Brewer
Clarence Penn
Dave Douglas

Week Two:
Steve Lehman
Eyvind Kang
Myra Melford
Brandon Ross
Anthony Cox
Jerry Granelli
Clarence Penn
Dave Douglas

Week Three:
Shane Endsley
Ben Wendl
Adam Benjamin
Kaveh Rastegar
Nate Wood
Dave Douglas

This will likely be my final foray into the elk infested forests of the Bow River Valley. Looking forward!

No Comments

It’s Up

Posted by: admin on @ 7:38 am
Filed under: Culture, Music

The National Jukebox

The Library of Congress presents the National Jukebox, which makes historical sound recordings available to the public free of charge. The Jukebox includes recordings from the extraordinary collections of the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation and other contributing libraries and archives.

Now streaming at the link above.

No Comments

Older Posts →