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01/2008 - January Newsletter



(Holiday Edition Nov 2007-Jan 2008)

You are welcome to copy and distribute these newsletters to other directors, students, or anyone else who might be interested.


INTRODUCTION – Holidays and gift giving
NEW MUSIC – New charts are on the way
GUEST ARTIST – Paul Baker writes on gifts to give your students and your program
OPEN CHORUSES – Open for discussion
SHOUT SECTION – Thanks and kudos
CODA – Final Words



Happy New Year! I hope everyone’s getting back into the swing of things again after a much needed and well deserved holiday break. As busy as this time of year tends to be, I’m struck by the coincidental sequence of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve.

In November, we pause to take stock of all the blessings in our lives – the people, the opportunities, the relationships, the good fortune we received throughout the past year. Then, in December, we have the chance to turn that all around and show others how much we love and appreciate them through the giving of gifts, large and small, grand or seemingly insignificant. Sometimes, it’s the littlest gifts that have the most impact, isn’t it? In any case, the joy we receive from giving to others is a gift in itself. Then, as the calendar turns over to the first day of January, we’re back on the receiving end again, having been presented with a brand new year to live into, filling it with memories and experiences that will make it like no other before or yet to come.

Through all of this runs the thread of giving, of reaching out and connecting with other people, other places, and with life itself. May your New Year runneth over with gifts and giving.



We have some exciting new music on the way. I’ve written four new charts and John Vander Gheynst has two more in the works. On January 28th, I’ll be taking a big band of Austin’s finest players into a recording studio to record our new demo CD which will be available at our booth at TMEA (#2234) and by request any other time. Excerpts of the recordings in addition to a full recording of each chart will be available online as well in the Charts section of the website.

As always, check here for all of our charts for middle school, high school, and college programs. If you’re looking for a particular type of chart, let us know. We might be able to fill your need with something we have already in the works – OR – we are available for commissions and will be happy to work with you and your band to create custom music for your band. Contact paul@bakersjazzandmore.com to discuss further.

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GUEST ARTIST – Paul Baker, composer and owner of Baker’s Jazz And More

(Each month we’ll try to feature a guest artist/clinician in this space who will contribute an article or mini-clinic on a topic related to jazz education)

In my Introduction, above, I wrote above the nature of gifts and giving, and I wanted to take this time and opportunity to put forth some ideas for gifts that you can give your students and your program. These are things that can be done at minimal cost, but that might make a big difference in the education of your students.

In my opinion, one of the most critical and probably most overlooked aspects of jazz education, and music education in general, is listening. Originally, that was the only way to teach the music. There were no textbooks or play along CD’s. Jazz was learned by listening to performances, live and broadcast, analyzing, and then trying to recreate what was heard on your instrument. How can students emulate something they’ve never heard done properly? I was clinicing a band a few years ago and asked if anybody knew the name Woody Herman. Not a single hand went up. Therefore, most of the suggestions below will revolve around listening.

At the most basic level, set aside a small portion of each rehearsal for listening and discussion. Five minutes to play a recording and five more to discuss. Give the students the gift of music they’ve never heard and might never hear. If you have multiple rehearsals throughout the week, set aside an entire period for listening and discussion. Who was playing? What instruments were involved? What era was this music recorded? Discuss the soloists. Were they aggressive or laid back? Did they play inside the changes or outside? What specifically did you like about the performance? Have each student listen in particular for their instrument.

At the next level, if there is available space and budget, set up a listening lab where students can gather and listen to music from a library, letting them explore and discover players new to them. A band director told the story of a student who came running up to him asking, “Have you heard of this new bass player, Ray Brown?” The director laughed to himself because at that time, he knew that Ray Brown had been performing and recording for over 40 years – but he was brand new to this student. A new fire was lit.

Of course, the next thing better than a recording is a live performance. Some school districts have a “jazz in the schools” programs that sponsors concerts and clinics by local musicians in the schools. This can be at the elementary level to get the kids excited about being involved in the music program or at the middle and high school levels where more advanced instruction can be given through rehearsals, sectionals, and master classes.

If you are in a medium sized city or larger, or if you’re reasonably close, ask around to find out who the best players are and invite or pay them to come out for an hour to work with your kids. First of all, seeing a real live professional player makes a big impact on students. They’ve heard about people making careers in music or they’ve seen musicians on tv, but to meet one in person and interact with them is another thing entirely. To paraphrase the commercial – finding the player = a few phone calls, bringing him or her out for a clinic = a few dollars, the impact on the students = priceless. Of course, then hearing a soloist improvise live and in living color is a whole new experience as well, and then they can actually ask questions and get to know the player as an individual.

Getting more ambitious, let’s go off campus. Many schools travel to at least one jazz festival every year, and sometimes more. That’s a great thing. I remember when I was in high school in the Dallas area and we were riding on a big yellow unairconditioned bus all the way to Brownwood, Texas. I was suddenly struck by the fact that unlike concert band, in jazz band we were each solely responsible for our parts. There were only 17 of us on that bus and each one of us had a particular part to play.

My question is this: how often do you arrive, warm up, perform, and then leave without hearing any other bands perform? Wouldn’t you like to play for a full audience of involved listeners instead of just the judges and a few parents? Be an audience for another band. Give them the gift of your support and give your students the gift of hearing what other kids their age can do. Some festivals schedule middle school bands and high school bands together in the mix. That’s all the more reason to stick around for middle school programs. Let the kids hear what they can aspire to in high school. Let the high school kids hear what a college or junior college band can sound like.

If it’s not feasible to attend a formal festival, organize an evening at your school where bands from the area come to play for each other. In larger cities, this can be done by district, even. Schools can rotate hosting each year and the event can be held in the band hall, cafeteria, or performance hall. Again, let the kids hear each other. Directors might hear some charts they weren’t previously aware of. Here’s a thought – the kids could actually meet each other and hang out a little and the directors could do the same! If you had at least four schools participating, each director could then take each section aside after the performance to discuss what they heard or problems they had with a particular charts or solo. One director takes the saxes, one takes the trumpets, etc. It’s even better if the director plays that particular instrument because he can then talk to the students as a fellow player and not a teacher. Give them the gift of themselves and of your personal experience.

Finally, if you have the means and facilities, it is possible to book professional jazz groups to perform at your school. Artists or groups with enough name recognition and popular appeal will bring in enough audience to more than cover the booking cost. Another way to access that level of talent is to approach a professional artist or group who is already performing in your area and inquire if they would be willing to come to your school for a clinic. Many artists love to combine those types of opportunities and are eager to act on them when they occur. Another option is to contact the promoter or booking agent and see if a group discount might be available for students or schools. The point is to look for any angle of access for your kids. These kinds of gifts are invaluable and will remain with the students long after they leave your program.

I just realized I’ve missed one hugely important idea that rarely if ever fails – if you don’t already have a school jazz program, start one! In our last issue, which can be found here, Mark Gurgel (director at Kealing MS in Austin, TX) wrote an excellent article on how and why to start a jazz program at your school. Read it and put it to work in your school – and then do everything I said before!

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Have any topics for discussion? Have any questions you’d like to ask? Have any comments you’d like to make?

This is the place. Send your topics, questions, and comments to paul@bakersjazzandmore.com and we’ll put them in the next issue of the BJAM Session. The goal is to share knowledge and experience for the benefit of all, teachers and students alike.

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Congratulations to all the All State jazz musicians and their directors and families! Be sure to attend their performance at TMEA on Saturday, February 16th in Ballroom A of the Convention Center. Downbeat is at 12 noon. This year’s clinician and conductor will be Mike Tomaro of Duquesne University. You can find out more about Mike at http://www.music.duq.edu/fasBioToma.html

Thanks to Tonia Mathews at Austin HS in Austin, TX. In addition to hosting the All-Region jazz band auditions and concert this past fall, she’ll be hosting the Austin HS Jazz Festival on April 26th. Two student musicians in the AHS jazz program earned positions in the All State Jazz Band. You can contact Tonia for more information. Oh, and she bought one of our charts, モThis Band Needs A Blues, Bluesヤ, too!

Spring 2008 Jazz Performances

Baylor Univ.: The Langston Hughes Project, led by Ron McCurdy

Feb. 12, 7:30, Jones Hall, plus afternoon clinics

Ingrid Jensen, trumpet, with Baylor Jazz Orchestra, Feb. 27 and 28, 7:30, Jones Hall (and it’s free!), plus clinics

Houston’s High School for Performing and Visual Arts, with Robert “Doc” Morgan, at the Discovery Green Fondren Amphitheater Slope, March 1, 6:00-11:00 (free). Also La Mafia, and headlining Al Jarreau

Houston’s Trinity Episcopal Church: Trinity Jazz Festival – The Four Freshmen, January 25. University of Texas Jazz Faculty, January 26. Jazz Mass, January 27.

Univ. of North Texas: “Lab 2007” with bonus DVD containing the documentary

“Live From Thailand” CD/DVD release on Feb. 28.

“Live From Blues Alley” double CD release on March 28 or April 15

One O’Clock Lab Band, February 22, 7:00, Bass Hall, Ft. Worth

Jim Hall with UNT Jazz Faculty and One O’Clock Lab Band, Feb. 28, 8:00

Lab Band Madness, April 15, 7:00

North Texas Jazz Festival in Addison, April 2-4, www.ntjazzfest.unt.edu

Lab band performances every Thursday, 12:00-1:00, Student Union One O’Clock Lounge

Dan Haerle and Friends piano jazz concert, Feb. 3, 4:00, Kenton Hall

Lynn Seaton and Friends jazz quartet, April 1, 8:00, Kenton Hall

Texas Christian Univ.: TCU Jazz Festival, March 28-29, featuring The Four Freshmen and Joe Jackson, trombone.


Texas State Univ.: Hill Country Jazz Festival, Feb. 9, concert featuring John Fedchock, trombone, and Butch Miles, drums.

Texas A&M Kingsville: Jazz Festival, March 28-29

UT Arlington: Jazz Festival, March 1, James Bowie High School in Arlington, Texas. The evening awards concert will feature the Southlake Carroll Jazz Band II, UT Arlington Jazz Band II, and UT Arlington Jazz Orchestra with our guest artist, the Dan Cavanaugh Big Band.

Texas Tech: January 20, 8:00, Jazz Bass Trombonist Bill Reichenbach in Concert

Jazz Festival – Jazz Ensemble II, March 28, 8:00,Jazz Ensemble II , free

Jazz Festival – March 29, Duke Ellington Orchestra, Reggie Thomas-organ, piano, vocals, Donnie McCaslin-tenor saxophone, Jazz Ensemble I-Brad Leali, director

University of Houston: Jazz Festival, February 29-March 1, featuring the Texas Music Festival Jazz Project and the Moores School Jazz Orchestra with guest artist Vincent Herring.

Jazz Orcehstra and Jazz Ensemble concert, April 16, 7:30 pm

Univ. of Texas at Austin: Longhorn Jazz Festival Concert, March 1, 8:00, UT Jazz Orchestra with guest artist Rufus Reid, bass, Bates Recital Hall.

Jazz Ensemble, March 6, 8:00, Bates Recital Hall

Jazz Orchestra, April 12, 8:00, Bates Recital Hall

Jazz Combos, April 14, 8:00, Recital Studio

Jazz Combos, April 28, 8:00, Recital Studio


UNT: www.jazz.unt.edu/?q=node/93

UT Austin: www.music.utexas.edu/calendar

UT Arlington: www.uta.edu/music/jazz/index.php

UT El Paso: academics.utep.edu/Default.aspx?alias=academics.utep.edu/musicevents

Texas State: www.txstate.edu/jazzstudies/about.html

Texas A&M Kingsville: www.tamuk.edu/music/calendar/calendar.html

Texas Tech: www.depts.ttu.edu/music/SOM/calendar.asp

Univ. of Houston: http://www.music.uh.edu/jazz/

Texas Christian Univ.: www.cfac.tcu.edu/


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Thank you for taking the time to read our newsletter. It is our desire to make this newsletter a valuable tool for you by hosting letters, posing questions to the community, offering rehearsal, performance, or arranging tips or whatever you’d like to see discussed. If you have a jazz education topic you want to explore, please contact us at paul@bakersjazzandmore.com and we’ll include it in our next newsletter. Eventually, we’d like to get enough response to set up a discussion forum on our website http://www.bakersjazzandmore.com.

If you find this information valuable, we encourage you to forward it on to anyone else who you feel might benefit from it. One of our main goals is to “spread the word”. The more information educators and students have about jazz, the better the music will be and everyone benefits.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you, and we hope that you’ll be looking forward to hearing from us as well.

Until next month,

Paul Baker

Owner and Composer

Baker’s Jazz And More


If you would prefer to not receive future issues of the BJAM Session newsletter, then please email us at paul@bakersjazzandmore.com and you will be unsubscribed post haste.

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