Brainkiller, whose recent album “Colourless Green Superheroes” is pretty great.
I’ve been writing at a decent clip this month, with pieces now online at the IASPM-US website and the Ethnomusicology Review Sounding Board. Check ’em out:
Music Scenes: Creating Space for Creative Music at LA’s Blue Whale for IASPM-US
CD Review: Book of Omens and Colourless Green Superheroes and
Book Review: People Get Ready: The Future of Jazz is Now! for the Ethnomusicology Review Sounding Board
Next up: I’m flying to Chile on Thursday to start a month of fieldwork in South America. Wish me luck on the next step of this adventure—and let’s hope that it generates lots more writing in the near future!
For a long time, I used to get really jealous of my jazz musician peers who grew up in musical households. So many of today’s great young players—Gerald Clayton, Anthony Wilson, Zack and Adam O’Farrill, the list goes on—come from families of jazz greats (not to mention, of course, the Marsalis Dynasty.) I remember hearing Clayton, for example, as a precocious dreadlocked teenager wowing all of us in jam sessions at the annual Port Townsend Jazz Workshop, where he is now on the teaching faculty, and his dad John is now the Artistic Director.
Even as a young player, I could tell how skillyfully these musicians soaked up new musical ideas, plugging them into a seemingly inborn musical logic. Of course, they woodshedded harder than the rest of us; still, I’ll never forget feeling like they had access to some secret formula. These guys had something special—and everyone knew that their proud papas had a lot to do with it.
What I never realized then, but have since come to appreciate since taking a dive down the Jazz Writing Rabbit Hole four years ago, is that I was getting a similar father-son transmission all along—I just don’t think that either of us knew it before. Continue reading
Photo courtesy of reddit, dottylemon
When I logged into my WordPress account for the first time in a few weeks this morning, I was greeted by a cheerful note:
Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com! You registered on WordPress.com 4 years ago! Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!
Wow — not only is that a lot of exclamation points, but four years is, like, a really long time. For those keeping score at home, that’s one seventh of my life, and the same amount of time that I spent pursuing my B.A. It also reminded me that this blog has roughly coincided with my return to academia as a graduate student — in fact, my first post was also a paper that I wrote for my first class at Rutgers (and later became the introduction to my MA thesis.) I’m not sure quite what to make of the milestone, but I’ve been meaning to put up a stuff-I’ve-been-up-to-recently post anyway, so here it is! Continue reading
Tigran Hamasyan, photo by Rob Gaudet
On Wednesday night, I finally made it back to my favorite LA jazz club, blue whale. Pianist Tigran Hamasyan was playing a solo show, and I knew that it was going to be something that I’d regret missing. So I carpooled with two friends, Alyssa Mathias and Kristin Gierman, to check it out—and we sure weren’t disappointed! Rather than write a straight-ahead review, though, I thought I’d try something different: an improvised concert review. So after the set, I fired up my audio recorder in the car, we asked each other questions about the set, and I transcribed the result. Check it out after the jump, lightly edited, minus our typically Angeleno debate over which freeways to take home: Continue reading
In MLK Days past, I have shared a famous quote that outlines Martin Luther King, Jr.’s love of jazz, a passage that has been something of a mantra for me ever since I first came across it in 2009.
Today, I’ve linked to it again but also want to share another, perhaps less-well-known quotation that ought to resonate with what jazz can mean for our continued struggle against racism in the United States and around the world.
I first got hip to this quote via the prolific and oftentimes hilarious antiracist advocate John Randolph, aka Jay Smooth. Here’s his video of ten OTHER things MLK said: Continue reading
The first UCLA cohort of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance with new UCLA professors Wayne Shorter (bottom left) and Herbie Hancock (bottom right)
A Brief History of Jazz Education: Part 1 and Part 2
By Alex W. Rodriguez for A Blog Supreme/NPR Jazz
The second half of my latest contribution to A Blog Supreme is now online — part one was posted in November — and I learned a lot from putting this together. It turned out that part two went up on the same day that UCLA announced the appointment of Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter as Professors of Music there — auspicious times for jazz education, indeed!
Former UCLA Professor Charles Seeger
With another year of graduate coursework well underway now, I figure it’s time to take a minute to reflect here at the blog on the various writing, musicking, and writing-about-musicking activities swirling through my calendar these days.
The title of this post refers to former UCLA musicologist Charles Seeger’s apt description of musicology: that scholars of music are “in a linguocentric predicament,” that is, that we are stuck talking about music when the music expresses so much all by itself. I’ve done a lot of talking about music recently, which has been a lot of fun and has also reminded me of the stark limitations to the word’s capacity to convey musical meaning. Continue reading
As the quarter gets underway again here at UCLA, I have added a new wrinkle to my academic grind: being a Teaching Associate for the Department of Ethnomusicology’s undergraduate survey course, Jazz in American Culture.
In fact, this is the first time that I have actually sat in on an old-school undergraduate jazz history survey, so I am learning a lot about how certain stories about jazz are told and retold. The real fun, though, lies in being able to supplement the text with some of my own perspectives during the two discussion sections that I lead on Fridays. As an experiment, I have been posting links and outlines on the course website, which are also viewable to the public. Tomorrow, the topic is early jazz in Los Angeles:
Hitomi Oba, Dominic Thiroux, and Jessica Jones at Blue Whale
Jessica Jones, Hitomi Oba — Blue Whale — 7/24/12
By Alex W. Rodriguez for LA Weekly West Coast Sound
This was is my first piece for LA Weekly — and what a great set to review! Jones and Oba, her former student, brought all original music and sounded fantastic. It also featured a cameo from Ambrose Akinmusire, another former student of Jones, who sounded amazing even as a last-minute addition.
Alex Pinto and Laura Maguire, co-founders of the SF Offside Festival
Six Creative Presenters Finding New Audiences for Jazz
By Alex W. Rodriguez for A Blog Supreme/NPR Jazz
I wrote this about a month ago for NPR Music, and in the midst of end-of-the-year shenanigans forgot to link to it here at the blog. In case you missed it, do have a look: the piece gives an overview of six jazz presenters that are finding new ways to reach out to jazz listeners.