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07/2007 - July Newsletter

THE BJAM SESSION

July 2007

SPECIAL NOTICE – Please stop by our booth (#930 – Baker’s Jazz And More) at the Texas Bandmasters Convention July 21-23!

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TABLE OF CONTENTS:

INTRODUCTION – Welcome from Paul Baker
NEW MUSIC – New original music for all levels – Middle School, HIgh School, and College
GUEST ARTIST – Edwards Trombones Artist Ron Wilkins offers his views on Jazz Improvisation
OPEN CHORUSES – Open for discussion
SHOUT SECTION – Announcements
CODA – Final Words

INTRODUCTION

Hello, my name is Paul Baker, and I’m writing to introduce my fellow TMEA members to my new music publishing company, Baker’s Jazz And More. You have received this newsletter because your name and address are on the membership list offered by TMEA. Our goal is to build relationships and become a valuable resource to the music education community.

We are a new company, but as individual composers, we’ve been around a long time. Our primary focus is bringing high quality original music to middle and high school jazz band programs, music that is very playable yet still fun to play. Many of our tunes are already proven crowd pleasers, performance tested over the years in a variety of instrumental formations.

Our music is exclusively ours. You’re not going to find these tunes or arrangements anywhere else – not Pender’s, not RBC, and not Southern.

Currently, we have four composers on our roster.

Paul Baker has earned degrees from the University of North Texas, where he played in and wrote for the One O’Clock Lab Band, and the University of Southern California where he earned a Certificate in Film Music Composition. He has also been a principal composer and arranger, as well as a member of the Dallas Jazz Orchestra and the Tony Campise Big Band. While living in Los Angeles, Paul was a member of the Bill Watrous and Tom Kubis big bands, amongst many others.

Robert “Beto” Skiles is legendary in the Austin, Texas musical community for creating the unique blend of jazz, salsa, and a little classical (for good measure) known as “Beto and the Fairlanes”. Robert has many other composing credits in a wide variety of genres ranging from Tejano to the Austin Symphony Orchestra and most everything in between throughout his career. We have culled many of the “greatest hits” from the Beto library and have enjoyed arranging them in the big band format to share with you and your students.

Dr. Paul White – Originally from Miami, Florida, Paul became infatuated with music at a very early age, and during his undergraduate studies at Appalachian State University was exposed to jazz through the recordings of John Coltrane. Paul then went on to graduate study the University of Texas where he received his Masters and Doctoral degress in Music Composition. Notable teachers include Dan Welcher, Rick Lawn, Rick Margitza, William Gora and Donald Grantham. Paul has performed with and has had the privilege of writing for many local and national musicians such as Phil Woods, Michael Brecker, Peter Erskine, Butch Miles, Frank Mantooth, Wayne Newton, Bob Newhart, Pete Rodriguez and many others. His compositions have been performed all over the country by many academic, professional and military ensembles, including Riverside Community College, New England Conservatory, Temple Jazz Orchestra and The U.S. Army’s Jazz Ambassadors.

John Vander Gheynst – John is a former band director from Georgia now pursuing his doctoral degree at the University of Texas in trumpet performance. He is also the founder and director of the Contemporary Works Jazz Orchestra, a 20 piece professional ensemble he assembled to perform his jazz ensemble compositions. Building on the jazz traditions of Gil Evans, Bob Brookmeyer, and Maria Schneider, John incorporates extensive woodwind doubles and brass mutes to achieve new palettes of sound and expression.

Please visit our website at http://www.bakersjazzandmore.com for chart descriptions and mp3 audio clips.

We’re looking forward to earning your business and making great music together.

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NEW MUSIC!!!

We currently have 16 high school and college level charts in our catalog. You can listen to them and learn more about them on our website at http://www.bakersjazzandmore.com. Select the “charts” button from the column on the left side of the screen. We hope to be adding several more charts before the TBA convention, so please check back often for updates. Also, we’ll be adding some pdf score excerpts as well.

Middle School Music: We’ve spoken with a number of middle school directors looking for new music for their groups, and we’re happy to announce that we’ll be including at least six new charts for middle school ensembles at the Texas Bandmasters Association convention this July. As audio demos become available online, I’ll include a mention in future issues.

These charts cover the range from swing to latin to rock, and are much more than the usual “unison everywhere” charts that so many directors we spoke with were complaining about. Trumpet range is usually to written F# or G. Trombone range is usually no more than Eb or F, and the low trombone range is never lower than low F on the bottom of the bass clef.

The bass and piano parts are written out, but chord changes are included. Guitar parts include written notes as well as chord symbols for comping. The drum parts are partially written out to indicate a suggested pattern or style, but there is room for the player to play on his/her own as well. Written solos are included for the soloists along with chord changes for those who choose to improvise.

Alternate parts are available upon request – flutes, clarinets, French horn, euphonium, bass clarinet, etc. Let us know what you need and we’ll get it to you quickly.

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GUEST ARTIST – Ron Wilkins

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. This month, I’m proud to present Edwards Trombone Artist, and good friend of many years, Mr. Ron Wilkins. Ron is a fabulous trombonist who personifies the phrase “He just has no respect for the limitations of the instrument.” You can learn more about Ron at http://www.edwards-instruments.com/trombone/jazz/artists/wilkins.shtml. Keep reading to find out about Ron’s Treatise on Jazz Improvisation.

Treatise on Jazz Improvisation

(It Ain’t Rocket Science)

by

Ron Wilkins

Edwards Trombone Artist/Clinician

Jazz Improvisation has been looked upon over the years as “an Imperfect Art,” some kind of mystical experience, a frightening concept, unbelievably difficult or confusing, “rocket science,” a mystery, or “just something I can’t do.” The real truth is that jazz improvisation is really a simple concept anyone can grasp and do. It just takes time to commit to doing. Once that is in place, improvisation (and the enjoyment of doing it) becomes relatively simple.

The idea behind jazz improvisation is to allow the musician the opportunity to “dive into the sea of creativity and learn to swim.” It is one of the greatest forms of self expression an individual can experience. To improvise jazz is to study the music of those who’ve come before you and figure out their thought process; and in doing so, develop your own. It is also a way of liberating yourself and opening your mind to your own creativity. I believe that if more students were taught to improvise, there would be even greater musical development throughout our schools, colleges, and universities. Young musicians would find out that they can “get high” on their own creativity, which would eliminate drug use/abuse in schools. There would be less nervous moments for the young improviser and even more mature musicians developing their art and craft. Ensembles would really “burn” when it came to the performance time, and audiences would be even more amazed at the level of musicianship.

In order to improvise jazz, the student/teacher must have a good understanding of the music, its history, the theory, the artists who’ve made the greatest statements, and the musicians who practice and perform it today. Therefore, I’ve come up with the following list of what to do in order to develop and grow as an improviser:

1. LISTEN- Find as many recordings of jazz musicians who play your particular instrument, as well as other instruments, and listen to them. Study their solos. Memorize their musical ideas. See if you can even play along with them on the recording (this leads to being able to mentally transcribe their solos). Later, you’ll be able to write out their ideas and use them in your own improvisations. On the back of this handout, you will find a list of famous jazz musicians and their respective instruments. Research and find out about these artists (the Internet can be a fabulous tool for this).

2. LEARN YOUR SCALES/MODES- In order to improvise jazz (as well as just to play music), you must know your instrument. I believe the best way to do that is through the study of scales and modes. To be able to play all twelve major scales is useful. Memorize them and dissect them. Play them diatonically (ascending and descending). Play them in different intervals (thirds, fourths, fifths, arpeggios-ascending and descending). Then take each scale and play them in modal form. They work like this: Major scale-Ionian mode; Major scale starting on the second degree/note-Dorian mode (also known as the jazz minor scale); Major scale starting on the third scale degree/note-Phrygian mode; Major scale starting on the fourth scale degree/note-Lydian mode; Major scale starting on the fifth scale degree/note-Mixolydian mode (also known as the Dominant scale); Major scale starting on the sixth scale degree/note-Aeolian mode (also known as pure/natural minor); Major scale starting on the seventh scale degree/note-Locrian mode (also known as the half-diminished scale). Once you’ve gotten to work on and play these scales in different ways, find out how they relate to chords used in jazz. This will help you to understand CHORD/SCALE RELATIONSHIPS (otherwise known as the hieroglyphics you see on a sheet of music when it’s time to take a solo). This will also help you to overcome the dreaded “FEAR OF SOLOING!!!!” Remember, knowledge is power. A little knowledge can take you a long way, and a lot of knowledge can take you around the world and back again (if not out of this world). Check out the back pages for a list of books on scales and chord study, as well as understanding jazz theory.

3. STUDY RHYTHMS- If there’s one big thing that seems to be left out of learning jazz improvisation, it’s the study of rhythm. Ever heard a Duke Ellington song called “It Don’t Mean a Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing?” Well friends, there’s a lot of truth to that statement/title. Young musicians (and musicians overall) get very little study on rhythms in jazz music. Why??? Perhaps because there isn’t enough time in the daily curriculum. Perhaps the only way to learn to improvise rhythmically is to “hang out” in percussion class with a group of drummers. I have found that so many colleges/universities (as well as high schools) don’t offer studying jazz rhythms and concepts. I myself have had to develop my sense and study of rhythm by listening to jazz music and imitating/emulating the artists’ solo styles. There are more books out these days explaining rhythms (mostly Latin rhythms), yet there can be still more. As I continue my study in jazz, I will strive to relay more information. For now, the best thing to do is to LISTEN (there’s that word again) to different jazz styles and try your best to imitate/emulate the style. Also, use the K.I.S.S. theory (Keep It Simple Son-or Daughter) in developing your improvisational skills. There are too many musicians (young and old) who tend to overplay. There is a time and place for speed and virtuosity, just as there is for relaxed, easy playing. Try to find examples of both to listen to and learn from.

4. DEVELOP YOUR MUSICAL VOICE- In the process of learning about your instrument, focus on developing your own sound, concept and style. In playing wind instruments, the musician works on long tones to help establish a beautiful tone quality. Being able to play with good tone helps the performer play better soloistically, as well as in ensembles. In jazz, the musician not only has to have good tone quality, but also should have a sound that is uniquely theirs. One of the goals of any artist/musician is to have their music recognized and appreciated. Start by listening, once again, to musicians on your respective instrument(s), and trying to imitate their tone quality. Get private lessons whenever possible from musicians more experienced and knowledgeable, and LET THEM HELP YOU. Go to clubs and jam sessions and check out as much live performance as possible. Become comfortable in your own skin, but not complacent. There is always someone else out there “saying something,” so check them out and see what they are “saying.”

5. NEVER STOP LEARNING- So many musicians/teachers get to a point where they feel that they’ve “reached the peak,” that they have learned all they need to know when it comes to the study of music. I submit that the study of jazz, classical or any other creative music/art is continuous. Creative people should always continue to learn and grow. That’s how you become more creative. Jazz music continues to go through changes in form, style, function and individual statement. We as musicians must continue to grow and learn in order to understand the music, as well as relate it to the students we teach. We can always learn more and do more, and therefore make a difference through the music.

JAZZ ARTISTS TO CHECK OUT

TROMBONE- J.J. Johnson, Slide Hampton, Bill Watrous, Urbie Green, Bill Reichenbach, Michael Davis, Kai Winding, Al Grey, Tommy Dorsey, Glen Miller, Jiggs Whigham, Robin Eubanks, Steve Turre, Dennie Wilson, J.C. Higginbotham, Billy Eckstine, Bob Brookmeyer, Juan Tizol, Rob McConnell, Roswell Rudd, Albert Mangelsdorf, Ron Wilkins, etc.

TRUMPET- Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Arturo Sandoval, Wynton Marsalis, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan, Jon Faddis, Doc Severenson, Kenny Wheeler, Roy Hargrove, Terence Blanchard, Randy Brecker, Byron Stripling, etc.

SAXOPHONE (ALTO and TENOR)- Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young, Julian “Cannonball” Adderly, Michael Brecker, Sonny Rollins, David Sanborn, Stan Getz, Paul Desmond, Bob Berg, Sonny Stitt, Ernie Watts, Bob Mintzer, Chris Potter, Branford Marsalis, etc.

GUITAR- Joe Pass, Bucky and John Pizzarelli, Wes Montgomery, Django Reinhart, Jim Hall, Pat Metheny, George Benson, Russell Malone, Grant Green, Freddie Green, Polly Harrison, etc.

PIANO- Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Duke Ellington, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Fats Waller, Willie “The Lion” Smith, Benny Green, George Shearing, Tete Montiliu, Monty Alexander, Brad Meldhau, Keith Jarrett, Fred Hersch, etc.

BASS (ELECTRIC and ACCOUSTIC) – Ray Brown, Oscar Pettiford, Slam Stewart, Jaco Pastorious, John Pattitucci, Ron Carter, Charlie Haden, Marc Johnson, etc.

DRUMS- Sonny Payne, Jo Jones, Mel Lewis, Butch Miles, Joe LaBarbara, Jack DeJohnette, Dave Weckl, Billy Cobham, Philly Joe Jones, Kenny Clarke, Art Blakey, Elvin Jones, Tony Williams, Jeff “Tain” Watts, etc.

JAZZ METHODS, BOOKS, PLAY ALONGS AND MORE

There are still more useful tools for the jazz improviser. Check into these methods. They are available through the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Catalogue (Jamey Aebersold Jazz, Inc., P. O. Box 1244, New Albany, IN 47151-1244. Toll free: 1-800-456-1388. www.jajazz.com.

Scales for Jazz Improvisation by Dan Haerle (Warner Bros.)

The Jazz Language by Dan Haerle (Warner Bros.)

The Source (scale book) by Steve Berta

The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine (Sher Music)

Thinking in Jazz by Paul F. Berliner (University of Chicago Press)

Reading Jazz by Robert Gottlieb (Vintage Press)

Check into the Jamey Aebersold Play-A-Long series. They come with a book (in C, B, Eb and bass clef) and either CD or cassette (I suggest the CD!):

Vol. 1: How to Play Jazz and Improvise

Vol. 2: Nothin’ But Blues

Vol. 24: Major and Minor in Every Key

To discover more about jazz and the musicians of yesterday and today, check out these magazines:

Down Beat (www.downbeat.com)

JAZZIZ (www.jazziz.com)

Jazz Times (customerservice@jazztimes.com)

And a new publication: Jazz Improv (1-888-472-0670/www.jazzimprov.com).

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OPEN CHORUSES

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 <> 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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SHOUT SECTION

Thank you to Dr. Keith Winking of Texas State University whose TSU Jazz Ensemble performed “Mi General” and “This Band Needs a Blues” Blues on concerts this past Spring semester.

Thank you to George Briscoe and the Crimson Jazz Orchestra in San Antonio, Texas who purchased seven(!) charts to include in their library – an example I hope many of you will follow ;-) The Crimson Jazz Orchestra is a rehearsal band made up of professional players and teachers from the San Antonio area. Look them up and be sure to catch one of their gigs. (http://www.bluestarbrewing.com/music/crimson-jo.html)

Thank you to Todd Toney, director at North Garland HS in Garland, Texas, who was our first high school customer.

Thank you to Mark Gurgel, director at Kealing Middle School in Austin, Texas, and the KMS jazz ensemble for taking the time to sightread and critique my middle school charts.

PLAYING BJAM MUSIC ON YOUR CONCERT? LET US KNOW!

Let us know which tune(s) you’re playing, and if you want to send an mp3, we’ll post it for others to hear.

WE’D LIKE TO HELP YOU GET THE WORD OUT ABOUT YOUR BAND:

BRINGING IN A GUEST ARTIST? LET US KNOW!

Bringing in a guest artist can be a hugely valuable experience for everybody involved – including the guest artist! Let us help alert the other band directors in your area and around the state. Even in large metro areas, great guest artists can be few and far between. Get the word out so more people can take advantage of the opportunity to hear great music and great musicians. Who knows, you might be able to split the cost with another school across town

Also, guest artists don’t have to be big names flown in from out of state. There are many local musicians who have much to offer and would be happy to spend time with your band. Many of the larger cities like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and Austin have national caliber players that are available and accessible.

UPCOMING APPEARANCES? LET US KNOW!

We’re happy to help you advertise your upcoming performances or festival appearances. Since this newsletter only comes out once a month, please give us plenty of lead time.

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CODA

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 trying to build a community.

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

paul@bakersjazzandmore.com

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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