A Brief History of Jazz Education @ NPR Music

The first UCLA cohort of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock

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!

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My Linguocentric Predicament

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

Posted in Ethnomusicology, Jazz Journalism | 2 Comments

UCLA Jazz Course: Early Jazz in Los Angeles

Kid Ory

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:

Continue reading

Posted in Education, Links, Trombonists | 1 Comment

Jessica Jones/Hitomi Oba Review @ LA Weekly

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.

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New Jazz Presenters Feature @ NPR Music

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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.

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A Personal Aspiration Towards Ethical Listening

The most recent example of me parting with money in exchange for music

This weekend, NPR Music intern Emily White wrote a well-meaning (and well-written) reflection on her relationship to music — namely, the fact that she never purchased any, given the free and easy access with which she has grown up.

I, too, have purchased little music since my regular trips to the Used Jazz CD shelves at Everyday Music in high school, unless you count pre-ordering a few things through Kickstarter campaigns (the latest of which, Darcy James Argue’s new record, has four hours left and has reached its goal!) In fact, I think the last piece of music that I directly purchased was Argue’s previous album, back in 2009.

But that’s largely because I have had the good fortune of falling into the jazz journalism world, where I am given promotional copies of music for review. Given the excellent stuff that comes across my desk, I am rarely compelled to reach out and buy more.

But this strongly-worded and well-argued rebuttal to Emily’s confessional has me thinking a little bit more closely about the ethics of my music listening habits. And with your help, I’d like to publicly lay out a set of guiding principles for my future listening, and check back later to see whether or not I was able to live up to my aspirations:  Continue reading

Posted in Jazz Journalism, Music Review | 9 Comments

Fred Wesley @ Oceanside Jazz Festival

Fred Wesley at the Oceanside Jazz Festival

In case you were wondering, Fred Wesley still knows how to get down. At the tender age of 68, the Funkiest Trombonist of All Time overcame a long cross-country flight and a bout with acute bronchitis to serve as the guest artist for the Oceanside Jazz Festival, an all-day celebration of local college and high school jazz ensembles.

I drove down to Oceanside to catch the final concert, which featured the Mira Costa Jazz Collective and Mira Costa Oceanside Jazz Orchestra (operating under the clever acronym MOJO) directed by Steve Torok with Wesley as the guest soloist.  Continue reading

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Funkiest College Jazz Festival Ever

Tomorrow night, I will be driving down to Oceanside to see perhaps the greatest living trombonist, my childhood trombone hero Fred Wesley, sit in as a guest artist for the Oceanside Jazz Festival. I’m looking forward to checking out the vibe, and hearing what Fred has to offer the next generation of potential funkateers.

Tickets are still on sale — do you really want to miss a chance to hear a living legend doin’ it to death?

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Blue Whale Feature @ NPR Music

In Los Angeles, An Immigrant’s Dream Becomes a Jazz Hub

By Alex W. Rodriguez for A Blog Supreme/NPR Jazz

This piece is a part of the Jazz Journalists Association’s Jazz Day Blogathon, celebrating jazz in local communities in honor of “Jazz Day.” Click the link for updates from all over the world!

Posted in Jazz Journalism, Links | 1 Comment

Badbadnotgood: Leave Jazz Alone

Behold: A white piano trio that is not full of shit

This morning, I finally caught up with the jazz internet hoopla surrounding the Toronto-based trio Badbadnotgood (BBNG). I will not link to any of their music here, because they have received plenty of attention already.

I will, however, link to Peter Hum’s excellent take.

Read that, and then come back to see why I even bothered weighing in: because this group exposes the racist underbelly that haunts today’s systems of music distribution and consumption, something that many jazz musicians have been diligently and intelligently resisting for decades.  Continue reading

Posted in Education, Jazz Journalism, Links | 35 Comments