Tales From Sleeping Buffalo

Posted by: Dave Douglas on May 8, 2009 @ 7:39 am
Filed under: Dave Douglas (Artist Thoughts)

Workshop in Jazz and Creative Music starts May 18.

WEEK ONE: Joshua Redman, David Gilmore, Adam Benjamin, Matt Penman, Clarence Penn, Chris Chafe, Dave Douglas.
WEEK TWO: Tony Malaby, Angelica Sanchez, Joe Ferla, Ron Samworth, Ben Street, Jerry Granelli, Dave Douglas.
WEEK THREE: Don Byron, Edmar Castaneda, Nicole Mitchell, Hank Roberts, Dafnis Prieto, Marshall Gilkes, Dave Douglas.

Sleeping Buffalo

Looking forward. New this year, tunes of the week:
All The Things You Are (Jerome Kern)
I Mean You (Thelonious Monk)
Law Years (Ornette Coleman)
Blue In Green (Miles Davis / Bill Evans)
Giant Steps (John Coltrane)

Smatter (Kenny Wheeler)
Falling Grace (Steve Swallow)
Nefertiti (Wayne Shorter)
Embraceable You (George Gershwin)
Dogon A.D. (Julius Hemphill)

Autumn Leaves (Joseph Kosma)
Inner Urge (Joe Henderson)
Firm Roots (Cedar Walton)
Peace (Horace Silver)
Upper Manhattan Medical Group (UMMG) (Billy Strayhorn)


  1. A couple thoughts about the tunes. This is an *extremely* rudimentary list of tunes that are good to know. We looked for tunes by a wide variety of composers with the assumption that anyone interested could look to the rest of that composer’s catalog for more gems. The idea is not that everyone will or would perform these tunes. It’s merely to insure that we have at least some common vocabulary.

    A number of visiting artists at Banff have noticed a shift in the relationship to tunes over the last decades. My experience as a young student in jazz education was that you had to learn these tunes. A lot of us rebelled, preferring to focus on original compositions and free improvisation. Mine was not the first generation to fight that fight. But in my memory we had to put up some resistance, or persistence, to be able to play our own music. Our musical heroes of the time were not playing standards, but our teachers insisted (and our work environment demanded) that we learn standards.

    Students that come to Banff now seem to come with the presupposition that the most important work is original music and improvisation. There’s no more struggle, what I see is tacit acceptance. In a way it’s a dream, because young musicians (from what I hear) are working with their own voices and refining their own visions. But I feel there’s also something lost in not learning tunes.

    The other night Suzannah and I went down to hear Brad Mehldau’s trio at the Vanguard. He opened with Airegin (Rollins) and Work (Monk)– honest, in-depth renditions that were lyrical, inquisitive, well-developed, rhythmically engaging, relaxed and from the heart. Most of all they felt natural, like home. The set also contained original music, but the context was so much richer for having heard the standards first. It’s a richness that only comes from learning them.

    Comment by Dave Douglas — May 10, 2009 @ 1:24 pm

  2. I’m curious, was there any reasoning behind the grouping of the tunes into each week? Week 2 sounds like the odd one out, in terms of jazz-standardiness. But hearing “Dogon, A.D.” and “Embraceable You” back to back should certainly be fun.

    Comment by Matt Rubin — May 11, 2009 @ 9:42 pm

  3. Tunes were suggested by the visiting artists of the week, as well as past visitors who were asked for input. Tried to get a combination of tempos and feels and represent a broad array of composers. There are obvious omissions, two of my most-missed would be Cole Porter and Charles Mingus.

    Comment by Dave Douglas — May 12, 2009 @ 4:39 am


    Comment by M.MALLOY — May 22, 2009 @ 4:55 pm

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