Sunday, March 27, 2016

Songs for spring

This week I came across a quote by Sarah Vaughan, "When I sing, trouble can sit right on my shoulder and I don't even notice."

Music has the power to empower mankind personally, socially, environmentally. In this way, with the change to spring, I wanted to share some music to help us all have a fresh, empowering start to the season.

Sarah Vaughan

Songs for spring

1. Limehouse Blues

Listen to John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley play, "Limehouse Blues":

2. It Might As Well Be Spring

Listen to Sarah Vaughan sing, "It Might As Well Be Spring":

3. I'll Remember April

Listen to Clifford Brown play, "I'll Remember April":

4. It's Only A Paper Moon

Listen to Nat Cole sing, "It's Only A Paper Moon":

5. April In Paris

Listen to Count Basie and his orchestra play, "April In Paris":

Final Thoughts: 
With this new start to a new season I hope we all feel motivated to accomplish our goals! My goals for spring include focusing on gratitude, positivity, and personal health as well as learning more about animal rights, environmentalism, and social issues. 

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, March 20, 2016

The real innovators

This past week I came across the Count Basie quote, "The real innovators did their innovating by just being themselves."

Count Basie


This quote speaks volumes about individuality. Jazz standards have been revisited and reconfigured by hundreds of musicians, yet still sound fresh after all these years. Changing the tempo or the instrumentation, and contributing unique improvisations to a standard help musicians showcase their individuality. To learn more about jazz standards, listen to NPR's Jazz in Song: The Standard.

In this way, I wanted to share several versions of the standard, "St. Louis Blues." While listening to these versions I hope you hear how each artist makes this 1914 W.C. Handy blues their own.


The real innovators





















Final Thoughts: 
We all have the power to contribute to a better society with determination and honesty. In this way, the real innovators are just that - real.

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, March 13, 2016

Working simply

Bill Evans

Since midterms are now done at school, I've been back to watching documentaries and interviews of jazz musicians. I am particularly interested in interviews with pianist Bill Evans, and I came across a particularly poignant interview where Evans talks about playing simply. 

Watch the interview of Bill Evans here:

I wanted to share some takeaways from this interview that can apply to any field, art, or study. 

Working simply

Bill Evans starts the interview by talking about how a jazz musician may go about improvising over a song. Most improvisers will hear the top jazz musicians and their level of mastery, and want to play what they are playing. Yet, Bill Evans warns that this kind of playing without a sense of fundamentals or mastery is only a mere approximation.
Rather than be satisfied and say 'I'll work simply with the framework, and honestly, and really, and play something simple'...They try to approximate the other thing, but in a vague way...They're trying to do this thing in a way that is so general they can't possibly build on it. And if they do, they're building on top of confusion and vagueness, and they can't possibly progress.

Watch Bill Evans perform, "Nardis":

Bill plays several versions of a solo to explain this, then is questioned about the idea of overplaying by his brother who claims that most musicians don't have to time to play simply. This makes Bill Evans explain that your playing reflects what you're satisfied with - mastery or vagueness.
What are you satisfied with? In other words, it's better to do something that is real...it can still be satisfactory, but it is something you can build on because you know what you're doing...Whereas if you try to approximate something that is very advanced and you don't know what you're doing, then you can't advance and build on it.
The interview goes on to explain the form of jazz songs, with the standard "Star Eyes." Bill Evans showcases the melody, harmony, and rhythm of the song, from simply what's on the page to an individualization of it. When talking about freedom in jazz, Evans states, "There is no freedom without being in reference to something." This line sheds light on what Bill previously stated - working simply with the framework in order to gradually achieve mastery.

Watch Bill Evans play, "My Foolish Heart":

Final Thoughts: 
Bill Evans' lessons are so important for all of us to remember, no matter if you're a musician, artist, teacher, scientist or businessman. So often we get caught up in trying to prove ourselves, that we lose who we are and what is genuine in the process. By breaking things down to their simplest forms, and being completely honest with ourselves, we can master something and enjoy the process. What I've learned lately is that the slow way is the fast way, and that we all have the same amount of natural brilliance and ability of any genius that came before us - we just need to work simply in the process.

Watch Bill Evans play, "Waltz for Debby":

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, March 6, 2016

Jazz Documentaries 2

This week I wanted to go back to some of my favorite jazz documentaries, and share the lessons I've learned from each of them.



Jazz Documentaries 2

1. Jazz on a Summer's Day

Jazz on a Summer's Day features clips from the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival. Sprinkled among clips of jazz greats such as Thelonious Monk, Gerry Mulligan, Louis Armstrong is footage of the Newport water, boats and scenery. The movie showcases the sunny, leisurely, fun and social culture of music; and it's wonderful to know the festival is still going strong after all these years!

Watch a clip from the movie featuring Anita O'Day:

2. The Case of the Three-Sided Dream

I saw this film at the 2015 Detroit Jazz Festival. Following the screening, filmmaker Adam Kahan, wife Dorthaan Kirk, musician Steve Turre and poet Betty Neals participated in a Q&A. What was most interesting to learn about Kirk was that everything he did was based on his dreams - from playing three saxophones at once to changing his name, his dreams guided him through life.

Watch a clip of the movie here.

Watch Rahsaan perform, "The Inflated Tear":


3. Charlie Haden Rambling Boy

I also saw this film at the 2015 Detroit Jazz Festival. Directed by Reto Caduff, the film explored the legacy and influence of the bass player, bandleader and composer whose spiritual beliefs about music bringing socio-political changes uplifted his work with his Liberation Jazz Orchestra, as well as his bands with Ornette Coleman and Keith Jarrett. Several members of the Liberation Jazz Orchestra were present to talk about Haden, including Carla Bley, Steve Swallow, Joe Lovano, Matt Wilson and Joe Daley as well as Haden's wife, Ruth Cameron. What I didn't know about Haden was that he started out playing country and bluegrass music in the rural country.

Watch a clip from the movie:

4. The World According to John Coltrane

Produced with the help of John Coltane's widow, Alice Coltrane, The World According to John Coltrane focuses on the middle to latter part of the saxophonist's life. Coltrane went through several phases in his life, and became one of the strongest voices in jazz with such albums as Giant Steps, Blue Train, and A Love Supreme. Coltrane brought elements of Eastern music and spirituality into his music, with such songs as "My Favorite Things." Several musicians featured in interviews were Wayne Shorter, Rashied Ali, and Tommy Flanagan.

Watch a clip of the movie:

5. Jazz 

Jazz was a PBS documentary mini-series directed by filmmaker Ken Burns. The series emphasizes the roots of jazz and its connection to American history. The documentary focuses on many major jazz musicians including Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Billie Holiday, and more. The series is a great way to become acquainted with the begginings of jazz, and learn some of jazz's key personalities, songs, geography and facts.

Watch a trailer for the movie:

Final Thoughts: 
Documentaries are a perfect way to learn about history, as well as become acquainted with numerous jazz musicians. From watching Jazz on a Summer's Day, for instance, you can learn about numerous musical innovators while watching them perform.


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.