Friday, December 30, 2016

Wrapping up 2016: perceptions about jazz

The first post on Kind of Pink and Purple was entitled Reasons Why I Love Jazz and dates back to December 29, 2013. Since that first post, I have graduated high school and I am now in my third year of college.

Thelonious Monk.
Painting by Grace-Mary Burega.

My perceptions about jazz have changed since then. In my aforementioned first post, I wrote a rather controversial opening:

As a teenager, I often feel alienated by my love of jazz. I live in a world of swing and bebop, yet my friends seem to be repelled by the name "jazz". Somehow without ever truly listening to it, they can hate it.
You know, when I was a bit younger, I didn't listen to the radio. I felt like pop music was fake. But, by being surrounded by my friends, my peers, my generation, I can say I really can and do love pop music. Not all of it, but I can find meaning in it. Some songs really speak to me. Across all genres there are songs or artists that really speak to me. By living with it, I have come to love it.
So I wanted to blog about why I love jazz, because I think people my age should try to listen to it, and try to love it. Sometimes I think that teens hate it because they have this misconstrued perception of what it is. Well, I can't truly define it, but I'll give you reasons why I can say jazz is my life, and I wouldn't want to live any other way. 

Now that I am twenty, and settled in college, rereading these sentences takes me back to this headspace that is a bit too negative. Do I still think everyone hates jazz? No. I feel that jazz is not adequately taught in public school education, even though it is integral to American history. I feel that jazz, when make affordable and available to the community, is in fact widely loved.

I have experienced this sense of love and community at the Detroit Jazz Festival, for example, which is the world's largest free jazz festival. I have felt connected to jazz history through my work as the editor of JazzBoston's newsletter, where I write about Boston's immense history and interview members of the music community about festivals, venues, and more.

Ron Carter at the 2016 Detroit Jazz Festival.
Photo by Paul Burega.

Do I still have reservations about pop music? No. As a film composer, every type of music is valid depending on the circumstances. As a musician living in America, I feel that it is disconnected to not open my ears to all types of music, people, countries, etc. I will always love classic jazz albums, and artists such as Miles Davis, but that does not take away from what else is out there to hear.

I have experienced opening my eyes and ears in such places as the Montreal Jazz Festival, which hosts international musicians and artists.

Art from the Montreal Jazz Festival.

Do I still feel that jazz is my life? Yes. And no. Jazz is integral to my life, and is something I work on, practice, play, listen to, compose, analyze, read about, etc. However, lately I feel that life is so much more than a genre of music. I have experienced that jazz elevates my life, but music represents all that is in the human experience. The end goal of jazz is not a goal of creating great music or art, but rather a goal of sharing perspectives on the human experience, and celebrating community.

A picture from previous travels to New York City.

To end my first post I wrote,
Maybe jazz won't become your life, but maybe you'll find some new music that speaks to you. And isn't that the goal of all music - to speak to you?

As I continue in the path of a professional musician, I know that I am privileged to say I found something that speaks to me, that I am passionate about, that I have the utmost privilege to study. As we wrap up 2016, I wish everyone a Happy New Year, and all best for what's ahead!

The Subject is Jazz was a television program that aired on NBC in 1958:

Please subscribe to Kind of Pink and Purple by email (top right of the page) and follow on other social media: TwitterTumblrInstagramGoogle PlusPinterest. Also, please visit my jazz poetry blog, Without a Poem and my musician website.

Since September 2015 I have been the JazzBoston newsletter writer-editor. Please sign up for the monthly newsletter to learn more about the Boston jazz scene.   

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Lessons from college

After writing on this platform for almost 3 years, I took a couple month hiatus from writing in order to focus on school work. However, I am happy to come back to writing in order to share some of my experiences and lessons from this semester.

To preface this, I am studying saxophone performance with a duel degree in film scoring, with a minor in writing for television & new media at Berklee College of Music. In addition to lessons, I wanted to share some influential music, from both jazz and film genres.



Lessons from this semester 

1. Social justice

This semester at school I had the immense privilege of being selected to go on Berklee's Cultural Leadership  Retreat with the Diversity and Inclusion Department. This retreat brought together a small group of Berklee students from different backgrounds to talk about social justice and ways to improve our communities. We focused on learning about oppression, identities, intersectionality, and privilege. This experience taught me to think differently, to approach scenarios in new ways, how to actively listen to someone, how to be an active bystander, how to celebrate differences and how to be inclusive to different viewpoints and backgrounds.

One exercise we did was having two silent circles of people. We would rotate and look each new person in the eyes while a moderator said things such as, "see the struggles this person has been through to get here," or "see the joys of this person's life." This activity made me deeply realize that while we all came from vastly different lives, the depth and types of emotions we all feel is similar. I want to continue learning from these social justice and team building exercises, and share them with my peers whenever applicable.


2. Proactively focus on the root of the problem 

This semester I realized that in order to solve problems I need to be proactive about the root of the problem. For example, procrastination can come as a result of poor time management or anxiety can come as a result of not utilizing stress management techniques. The question is, how can I move forward so when I get to these points I have the skills to react calmly, to manage my time? How can I move forward in a way that can be proactive when these problems are bound to happen? In this way, planners, color coding, scheduling my time, taking breaks, setting realistic expectations, and chipping away at work over a length of time are all skills that are proactive. I want my New Year's Resolution to focus on this: to become more organized by being proactive.


3. Hobbies are interdisciplinary 

This semester I continued with my hobbies of studying Tai Chi and karate. Studying these martial arts is a great way to relax and learn interdisciplinary skills. While karate seems distant from music, the underlying concepts are the same and this has taught me how to "learn how to learn" again. Practicing slowly, repeating areas that you have trouble with, focusing on fundamentals, following through with movements, breathing effectively, etc. are all ideas I learn in these classes. Also, traits of respect, honor, patience, integrity, humbleness, strength are emphasized.

This carries into music, especially in jazz, where my saxophone teachers emphasize similar ideas: practicing scales slowly, focusing on areas I have trouble with, being humble while you assess what you need to work on. This mental focus and courage is applicable to any career path.


4. Start with yourself

This semester I learned to solve problems as an individual. For example, in the past I have talked about how veganism has positively changed my life: I am healthier, more compassionate towards animals, and my carbon footprint is much lower. This decision has led me to be empowered so when I see something I do not like, I can make a choice solve that problem in my own life.

In addition to animal rights, I feel strongly about unfair labor, and realized that buying clothes second-hand is better for the environment than fast fashion and reduces the demand for clothes from sweat shops.

I also feel strongly about elevating jazz as a musical community. Many people, musicians included, feel that jazz is an exclusive club, and this concept frustrates me as jazz is supposed to be built on a sense of community. In response to this, next semester I will be starting a club at Berklee College of Music, The Women in Jazz Collective. The club hopes to create this kind of community of diverse musicians, composers and business people in the field, as well as a space for those interested in jazz, of all levels, genders, backgrounds, etc. to learn from each other by promoting diversity.


5. Filter through feedback

At music school students get a lot of criticisms from conflicting viewpoints and sources. I have learned to be skeptical of intentions and to focus on what will help me grow. I have learned to filter through feedback and assess what I think is true for what I want to do, as a musician and composer. This is different from completely ignoring feedback: it is consciously deciding what I think is worth my personal investment to commit to practice. For example, a rude comment from a peer can be ignored, but well-intentioned feedback from a teacher will be used to grow.

Listen to Bernard Herrmann - North by Northwest Theme

Final Thoughts: 
This semester was especially fulfilling and challenging. I am excited for what next semester has to bring! 

I included film music and jazz music in this post, as film music is a huge part of my life. I hope that you can hear the intersection between jazz and film music from the selections I shared. 


Please subscribe to Kind of Pink and Purple by email (top right of the page) and follow on other social media: TwitterTumblrInstagramGoogle PlusPinterest. Also, please visit my jazz poetry blog, Without a Poem and my musician website.

Since September 2015 I have been the JazzBoston newsletter writer-editor. Please sign up for the monthly newsletter to learn more about the Boston jazz scene.   

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Detroit Jazz Festival photo highlights

Artist in Residence Ron Carter

Last weekend I attended the Detroit Jazz Festival, the world's largest free jazz festival. The event is held each year over Labor Day Weekend at Hart Plaza and Campus Martius Park in Detroit, Michigan and spans four days, Friday to Monday.

Downtown Detroit

I wanted to share photo highlights from my time in Detroit in order to show the depth and beauty of the event. All photos are by Paul Burega.

George Benson

Roy Hargrove

The Detroit Jazz Festival brings amazing local, national and international acts to four different stages. Local Detroit Public School students are able to perform amongst Detroit jazz professionals, Mack Avenue Record label artists, jazz legends, international talent and the Artist in Residence.

(Left to Right): Jimmy Heath and Roberta Gambarini

The United States Airmen of Note

This year bassist Ron Carter was the featured Artist in Residence. Carter's career has spanned over 50 years, and he has played on many of the most important jazz recordings with greats such as Miles Davis, McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Wayne Shorter. In addition to this, he holds the Guinness World Record for most recorded bassist: he has appeared on more than 2,000 albums. A native of Michigan, Carter went to Cass Tech high school in Detroit, and was greeted with a heartwarming homecoming. My favorite show of the festival, among many highlights, was the Ron Carter Quartet because of the energy and inspired solos from the group.

Ron Carter Nonet

The many themes of the festival included education, mentors and disciples, the artist in residence program, living legends, and beyond category groups. It was amazing to see the local Wayne State college jazz band have pianist Randy Weston as their special guest as part of the mentors and disciples program.

Randy Weston in the Jazz Talk Tent

Randy Weston

Also included among the music is a Jazz Talk Tent, which hosts daily interviews with festival artists and historians. A special highlight amongst the interviews was the rare chance to hear pianist Randy Weston and saxophonist Jimmy Heath, both around ninety years old, speak about their lives. Randy Weston spoke about his time living in Morocco for some years, while Jimmy Heath spoke about his relationship with Dizzy Gillespie.

Vanguard Jazz Orchestra

There was also numerous jams, both in the daily schedule and as a nightly jam session. At night, the jams were packed to see the house band play with many of the talented artists that came to sit in from the festival. The jam photo below is from a special collaboration between Detroit local artists and Japanese guests. 

Japan meets Detroit: a global jam

Freddy Cole

In addition to this, there was a nightly movie screening that featured episodes of the Nat King Cole television show that were fully restored. Nat King Cole's brother, Freddy Cole, performed at the festival and came to the television show screening to speak about his brother. I was able to see restored episodes with Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis Jr. as guests. I was amazed by the tap dancing and comedy of Sammy Davis Jr., who even mimicked Charlie Chaplin in a skit.

Cyrille Aimée

Stanley Cowell

Final Thoughts: 
The Detroit Jazz Festival was the highlight of 2016 for me. There is nothing that compares to the experience of being immersed within inspiring, jubilant music while in a city as warm and kind as Detroit. I met and talked to many wonderful people, that shared their stories with me and encouraged me to play and write about jazz.

I hope these pictures showed you the color, liveliness, joy and diversity of the festival. Any of these acts could be a great springboard to learning about and listening to this music.

Jason Moran

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Ron Carter Quartet

Since September 2015 I have been the JazzBoston newsletter writer-editor. Please sign up for the monthly newsletter to learn more about the Boston jazz scene.   

Visit these resources to learn about veganism, a stance of nonviolence towards animals: PETAThe Best Speech You Will Ever Hear101 Reasons To Go VeganWhat is veganism?CowspiracyThe Most Inspiring Speech You Will Ever Hear.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Albums of the summer

Every season has a playlist. From wintertime holiday songs to spirited summer songs, a season carries a sound.

This week I wanted to share some of the albums I listened to over the course of the summer, as well as what each album helped me realize along the way.


1. Lush Life - John Coltrane 


I listened to Lush Life almost everyday, on the way to work, at the gym, while reading, on car rides, etc. Singing along with Coltrane's solos in hour-long traffic and scatting along on the treadmill allowed me to start internalizing the music. This internalization not only helps me hear language, but also helps me start to realize the intention behind what I am hearing. I became aware that the trait that makes me resonate with Coltrane is honesty, and that when I learn this music I must also strive for honesty.


2. Relaxin' with the Miles Davis Quintet - Miles Davis


This album, along with Lush Life, is my most listened to album of the summer. Listening anywhere I could, the repetition of hearing this album allowed me to start singing along as well. There is a temptation to always want to hear new music or more music, yet by focusing on such a small body of works, I found that I started to hear details in the performances that I wouldn't have heard before. I realized the dynamic reach of Miles Davis, and while learning these songs and solos I noticed his repetition and how he comes back to similar thoughts.


3. Tangerine - Dexter Gordon

This album has taught me about the importance and strength of tone: Dexter Gordon is instantly recognizable by his broad, strong sound. While learning the melody to "Days of Wine and Roses" from this album, I noticed how Dexter is not in a rush to get the next note out - everything seems so assured and natural. This element of being natural encouraged me to continue learning songs and improvising by ear. By hearing how the melody and the chords fit together, and by practicing without accompaniment, I started to realize that I should play what I am hearing,  just as Dexter does, and that I don't need to overcomplicate anything. 


4. Solo Monk - Thelonious Monk

This particular album allows you to hear Monk solo, whereas many albums he is joined by a quartet. It is amazing to realize that every twist and turn in the music is solely coming from Monk himself. I particularly love how the pieces have a stride-piano influence, because it shows a bouncy, almost humorous side to Monk. This album taught me to pay justice to the melody of a song. Monk brings so much richness and depth to even cute songs like "I'm Confessin' (That I Love You)" and shows how the solos come out of the beauty of the melody, instead of trying to create beauty from nothing in the solo section.


5. No Count Sarah - Sarah Vaughan

The first time I listened to this album was on a long car ride home from work. Stuck in traffic, I decided I would listen to something different, so I chose to put on Sarah Vaughan. When the track "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" came on, I couldn't believe what I was hearing! From the sliding opening saxophone solo to the buoyancy of Sarah's vocalese, I put this one song on repeat for the entire work week, only wanting to hear this one song. Sarah's richness combined with the support of the Count Basie Orchestra is haunting.


Final Thoughts: 
The sound of this summer was full of swing!

Please subscribe to Kind of Pink and Purple by email (top right of the page) and follow on other social media: TwitterTumblrInstagramGoogle PlusPinterest. Also, please visit my jazz poetry blog, Without a Poem and my musician website.

Since September 2015 I have been the JazzBoston newsletter writer-editor. Please sign up for the monthly newsletter to learn more about the Boston jazz scene.   

Visit these resources for veganism: PETAThe Best Speech You Will Ever Hear101 Reasons To Go VeganWhat is veganism?CowspiracyThe Most Inspiring Speech You Will Ever Hear.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Jazz Quotes 7

This week I wanted to go back to my series of inspiring quotes.

Alice Coltrane

Jazz Quotes 7

1. Alice Coltrane
The music is within your heart, your soul, your spirit, and this is all I did when I sat at the piano. I just go within. 

Listen to "Earth":

2. Charlie Haden
If you strive to become a good human being, with the qualities of generosity, humility and having reverence for life...just maybe you'll become a good musician. 

Listen to "The Moon Song":

3. Ornette Coleman
It was when I found out I could make mistakes that I knew I was on to something.

Listen to "Buddha Blues":

4. Steve Lacy
Whoever has an original thing to say is a sort of threat to the status quo.

Listen to "Alone Together":

5. Duke Ellington
A problem is a chance for you to do everything possible.  

Listen to "Caravan":

Final Thoughts:
I hope these quotes can give us all newfound wisdom and motivation.

Duke Ellington


Please subscribe to Kind of Pink and Purple by email (top right of the page) and follow on other social media: TwitterTumblrInstagramGoogle PlusPinterest. Also, please visit my jazz poetry blog, Without a Poem and my musician website.

Since September 2015 I have been the JazzBoston newsletter writer-editor. Please sign up for the monthly newsletter to learn more about the Boston jazz scene.   

Sunday, July 3, 2016

If it improves upon the silence

Recently I have come across the Mahatma Gandhi quote, "Speak only if it improves upon the silence." This quote reminds me in music to play what is genuine, and in speech to say what is true.

This week I wanted to focus on how jazz has helped me find the tools and motivation to improve my life. While jazz is a music, it has really developed to be a sort of backbone to my life. 


In June, I created a series on how to start listening to jazz including Discover jazz, Planting the seedsThrough one album and Learn at your library


If it improves upon the silence


1. Jazz has helped me find outlets for myself. 

Music is a way to express yourself. In my life I have found that in addition to music, I need to have some separation in order to find purpose. In other words, I need to find silence in my mind to find sound clarity in music. 

This has translated into my newfound love of Tai chi, which I practice on a weekly basis. While Tai chi seemingly has no connection to jazz, this slow martial art works on balance, focus and energy throughout the body. Tai chi has numerous healing benefits, such as improved circulation. As a martial art, Tai chi teaches you to defend yourself through balance and redirection of energy. Perhaps my favorite part of Tai chi is how we are learning to sense the energy around us, and incorporate ways to bring more positivity into our space. This in turn can uplift others. 



2. Jazz has given me a reason to improve the quality of my life.

We all have and set goals. My goals have taught me that sometimes you need to go outside of music in order to combat your problems within music. 

This has translated into a new focus on my health and wellbeing. It is easy when you become focused on a goal to forget about your physical and mental health, yet by ignoring these aspects you will not be able to fully reach your goals. Earlier this year I became an ethical vegan overnight, and have incorporated exercise into my daily life. This has in turn given me an abundance of energy, mental clarity, stress relief and strength. Also, I feel that my life and actions can have a direct impact on the animals I want to help, which has in turn helped my confidence and self image. 



3. Jazz has given me perspective. 

It is easy to become absorbed in our own problems and worries. This sense of worry in the past has caused me to have bouts of depression, anxiety, self doubt. Yet, by the push of music I have found ways to stop focusing on my own selfishness, and to find positivity through gratitude.

This has translated into keeping a gratitude journal. I have kept a gratitude journal for several years, and I write in it 1-2 times a day. Every morning I write down 3 things I am grateful for and 3 things I plan to do to find happiness in the day, in addition to 1 daily affirmation. At night I write down 3 things that went well in my day, and 1 way I could have improved my day. It's amazing how there is so much to be grateful for in every day, no matter how bad it may seem. I have realized my problems are so small, and that I am in control of my own happiness.  

This has also translated into meditations. I do guided meditations based around affirmations. My favorite meditation is called "living with ease," which focuses on accepting yourself, and realizing how every living being wants the same level of ease and happiness as you do. This has helped me feel more empathy, since every living being is interconnected. 



Final Thoughts: 
While Tai chi, veganism, gratitude journals and meditations do not seem connected to jazz, they all have been implemented in my life as part of my passion for music. At the end of the day, jazz improved upon the silence, bringing joyous music to each day. 

Has music helped you change your life for the better? 



Please subscribe to Kind of Pink and Purple by email (top right of the page) and follow on other social media: TwitterTumblrInstagramGoogle PlusPinterest. Also, please visit my jazz poetry blog, Without a Poem and my musician website.

Since September 2015 I have been the JazzBoston newsletter writer-editor. Please sign up for the monthly newsletter to learn more about the Boston jazz scene.   

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Learn at your library

So far this month I have written about how you can discover jazz through an artist, album or song. This week I wanted to share different resources to discover jazz, such as through radio and festivals. 

Thelonious Monk

Read my previous posts, Discover jazz, Planting the seeds and Through one album

Each week in June I will be writing about ways to discover jazz for yourself through examples and tips.


Learn at your library


1. Check out your local library's jazz collection

You can learn a lot about the music by going to your local library. Physically seeing the jazz section of CDs helps to learn about new artists, and discover CDs from the artists you already know. For example, if you have heard of Thelonious Monk you can go to the library and find various albums such as Monk's Dream and Solo Monk. Seeing the album art and reading the liner notes is helpful for learning more about the artist as well.

Another thing you can do is write down the sidemen of an album you like and research in the library if they have their own albums. For example, if you like the album Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall, then you could look up albums with John Coltrane and discover his albums, such as Blue Train and Impressions.


2. Find local jazz concerts 

Jazz is, without a doubt, best heard live. With a simple google search you can find jazz clubs in your area. For example, there are numerous jazz clubs around Boston, including Scullers, Regattabar, Wally's, among others.

If you have trouble deciding which show to see, you can call or email the club and ask for recommendations based on the artists you like. Club websites often link to the artist website, YouTube, SoundCloud, which can also help you determine what the act would sound like.

Another tip is to find local arts organizations websites, and see if they list any free jazz concerts in your area. Free concerts are often held at colleges with a music program, local libraries, or town centers. For example, ArtsBoston and JazzBoston are Boston concert calendars. You can also sign up for Jazz Near You from All About Jazz to get emails about local concerts in your area.

Many restaurants have jazz brunches or live entertainment during dinner. This is a great way to start listening to jazz while also going out with family and friends. Thelonious Monkfish, Ryles, Beehive all have jazz brunches around Boston.


3. Attend a jazz festival

Jazz festivals are an invaluable resource to learn about jazz. Festivals vary from free outdoor events, to indoor ticketed concert series. 

Free festivals are great to bring friends and family to. These informal festivals will help you hear different types of jazz while also being able to come and go as you please. Examples of free festivals around Boston are the Cambridge Jazz Festival, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival, and the Berklee Beantown Jazz Festival

Larger festivals are often ticketed. Outdoor jazz festivals, such as the Newport Jazz Festival, are in a large field and often have multiple stages and larger schedules. Whether you choose to stay at one stage all day, pick and choose acts at different stages or even just walk around, you will hear diverse acts. You can save the festival schedule for reference so you can look up the artists' music before or after you attend. Also, you may start to recognize artists playing at local clubs from the festival. 

Indoor ticketed festivals are often held as a concert series, either over the course of a season, month, or week. Oftentimes these festivals are similar to attending a jazz club, but the festival allows for more choices in jazz programming. The Rockport Jazz Festival is an example of this. 



4. Jazz radio or podcasts

Another free resource for learning about jazz is through radio stations and podcasts. Radio programs have a wide range of music depending on the theme of the station. Some programs focus on new releases by current jazz musicians, while others may focus on an era or style, such as swing or Latin jazz. 

Podcasts are perfect to listen to while driving to work, on the train or bus, or doing chores. This form of media often combines short clips of music with interviews or historical information. Some of my favorite podcasts are Piano Jazz with Marian McPartland, Jazz Profiles with Nancy Wilson and Jazz Stories.

Some apps that I recommend for this include JazzBird and NPR Music. JazzBird is a free global radio app lets you listen to live, hosted jazz shows all over the world. NPR music is a free app that offers podcasts, radio stations and news articles.


Final Thoughts: 
From libraries, to concerts, festivals, podcasts, radio programs and apps, jazz is easily and readily available to discover!


Please subscribe to Kind of Pink and Purple by email (top right of the page) and follow on other social media: TwitterTumblrInstagramGoogle PlusPinterest. Also, please visit my jazz poetry blog, Without a Poem and my musician website.

Since September 2015 I have been the JazzBoston newsletter writer-editor. Please sign up for the monthly newsletter to learn more about the Boston jazz scene.   

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Through one album

So far this month I have written about how you can discover jazz through one artist or one song. Today I wanted to take a similar route and talk about the influence one album can make.



Read my previous posts, Discover jazz and Planting the seeds.

Each week in June I will be writing about ways to discover jazz for yourself through examples and tips.

Through one album

Oftentimes the way we are introduced to jazz is through one album. Maybe a Benny Goodman album was lying around the house that sparked an interest, or a family member gifted a Charlie Parker album to you. For this post, I will be using the Miles Davis album Birth of the Cool as an example, as it was one of the first jazz albums that I loved.


1. Who recorded the album?

Birth of the Cool is a compilation album by trumpeter Miles Davis which features his nonet. 


What other famous albums did Miles Davis record? Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew are two seminal works. What other albums did Davis record in the same time period? Birth of the Cool was recorded between 1949-1950, while Dig was recorded in 1951. 

2. What are all the songs on the album?

"Move," "Jeru," "Moon Dreams," "Venus de Milo,"  "Budo," "Deception," "Godchild," "Boplicity," "Rocker," "Israel," "Rouge" and "Darn That Dream" are the tracks on Birth of the Cool.


What is your favorite track on the album? Maybe your favorite track is "Venus de Milo" by Gerry Mulligan. Who was Gerry Mulligan? Mulligan was a baritone saxophonist, composer and arranger. What do you like about the song? Is it the tempo, melody, or the solos? 

3. What is the personnel? 

Birth of the Cool has a large personnel because it was recorded over the course of two years, so different tracks feature different musicians. The personnel includes Miles Davis on trumpet, J.J. Johnson on trombone, Gunther Schuller on french horn, Lee Konitz on alto saxophone, Gerry Mulligan on baritone saxophone, John Lewis on piano, Al McKibbon on bass, Max Roach on drums, among many others. 


Which voices stood out from the band? Did you like Lee Konitz's light alto saxophone sound? What other albums did Lee Konitz make? Maybe you will listen to his album Motion. Or maybe you liked the use of french horn in the nonet. Gunther Schuller was a conductor, composer, historian and musician. Maybe you will discover his compositional works such as his string quartet and other orchestral pieces. 

4. What style is the album? 

It is easy to get caught up in too many terms or styles or sub-genres. Yet, it is helpful to realize Birth of the Cool is regarded as seminal in the history of cool jazz, which is a style of jazz that is lighter in tone and tempo. 


Who were some other major musicians in the cool jazz movement? Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, Warne Marsh, Stan Getz, Lennie Tristano, Dave Brubeck and Chet Baker are some musicians of that style. What makes Lee Konitz different from other alto saxophonists such as Charlie Parker?

5. Explore! 

Maybe you will decide to explore more cool jazz albums or to delve into the music of Lee Konitz. You may like the arrangements of Gil Evans and discover that he collaborated with Miles Davis to write the album Sketches of Spain. Or, maybe you like the sound of orchestral jazz and will discover the music of bandleader Claude Thornhill


Final Thoughts: 
Albums are a powerful tool for learning because they contain a launching board for jazz's many musicians, composers, arrangers, styles, time periods and soloists. 

What jazz album(s) got you interested in jazz?

Miles Davis

Please subscribe to Kind of Pink and Purple by email (top right of the page) and follow on other social media: TwitterTumblrInstagramGoogle PlusPinterest. Also, please visit my jazz poetry blog, Without a Poem and my musician website.

Since September 2015 I have been the JazzBoston newsletter writer-editor. Please sign up for the monthly newsletter to learn more about the Boston jazz scene.