Tuesday, February 22, 2011


FEBRUARY 24, 2011 
The Los Angeles Philharmonic, conductor Joshua Weilerstein, and legendary jazz artist John Beasley (2011 Grammy Nominee) are hosting this concert in a musical celebration of the exuberance of jazz music. Beasley’s band includes Carlos del Puerto (bass), Roy McCurdy (drums), Bijon Watson (trumpet), and Bob Sheppard (tenor saxophone).

This concert explores the idiomatic characteristics of jazz through the sound of the orchestra and a jazz combo. The two groups share the stage and play-off of each other, showcasing how each group has the ability to swing in its own way. (http://www.vicfirth.com/exchange/2011/02/18/los-angeles-philharmonic-performs-

What kind of roles do the musicians have when making music?
How is the job of a bass player in the orchestra different than that of a jazz bass player?
What are the differences and similarities of jazz for the orchestra and for a quintet?

These and other musical questions are explored with John Beasley

Symphony No. 9, Finale

Dvorak was a famous Czechoslovakian composer who came to the United States 
in the 1890’s to teach at a New York music conservatory. 
In New York he was introduced to the many sounds of folk music from the city’s diverse population 
including African –American music to which he stated that this music could be the basis for a truly American music style. 
His 9th symphony, “The New World” celebrates the diverse music he heard in United States.
The Outlaw
With a pianistic and compositional style that draws from black gospel, bebop, Latin and R&B sources, 
Horace Silver was one of the major musicians of the hard-bop and soul-jazz movements of the '50s and '60s.

Times Square 1944, from On the Town:
Three Dance Episodes

It Don’t Mean a Thing
(arr. John Clayton)

TRADITIONAL (arr. Ed Barguiarena) “The Itsy Bitsy Spider”
ARACHNOLOGY (arr. Sean O’Loughlin) Orchestral Variations of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider"

This is a re-harmonized arrangement of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" showing the concept how jazz musicians can reinterpret a well-known melody and change the way we relate to it. In the concert the traditional version of "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" is followed by a few brief interpretations on the piano – "What if the spider were silly or scared?" After that the ballad arrangement is performed. The sound from the music does the majority of the teaching because "the goal is to have the young people in the audience get a visceral sense of what makes music worth pursuing and to feel like learning is fun!”
Walt Disney Concert Hall
111 South Grand Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Walt Disney Concert Hall:
This is the newest home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic is a 3.6-acre complex designed 
by the architect Frank Gehry to be one of the most acoustically sophisticated concert halls in the world 
as well as an internationally recognized architectural landmark with its exterior striking stainless steel curves.

DISNEY HALL: Fishko Files

Instruments This section discusses the instruments commonly used in jazz. 
The instruments are divided into categories according to the roles they typically fill.

Melody Instruments

Ones that mostly play melodic parts

Chordal Instruments

Ones that can play chords
Bass Instruments

Ones that provide harmonic and rhythmic foundation
Percussion Instruments

Ones whose primary role is rhythm

Combos Small groups of two to nine

Groups of two to nine players are most common in jazz.

They are usually organized as a set of horn players and a rhythm section.

The conventions of this configuration allow the players to perform without detailed arrangements,

although individual parts may still be written out if desired.

Big Bands Large groups of ten or more

Big bands offer great potential for textural variety.

In order to take advantage of these possibilities,

written arrangements are almost invariably used to keep things organized.

Big bands are typically divided into sections of related instruments.

The specific instrumentation varies between bands, but some standards have emerged.

Solo Performance

Unaccompanied performance

Unaccompanied improvisation offers the most freedom, but it is difficult for musicians

other than pianists or guitarists to fill all the conventional roles of melody, harmony, bass, and pulse.

Many solo performances feature unconventional music that does not rely on these elements.
John Beasley

An original artist with a highly expressive and personal style, veteran pianist-composer-arranger JOHN BEASLEY’S ninth album “Positootly!” has just earned a 2010 Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Album, Individual or Group. 

With a music career spanning three decades, Beasley’s credits reads like a who’s who list in the music world. He has performed with illustrious artists including Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard, Carly Simon, Barbra Streisand, Christian McBride, Chaka Khan, and James Brown; took the lead as Musical Director for Grammy Award winning Steely Dan, Queen Latifah and AR Rahman; arranges for popular television shows American Idol and The Tonight Show; played on box office
hits Wall-E, Austin Powers; and composed for TV series Star Trek, Cheers and Fame. 

As a solo recording artist, Beasley’s compositions, arrangements and playing are inventive, explorative and exquisitely realized expanding musical thought, transcending limitations and genres while maintaining his unique and unmistakable style not only in jazz, but blues, classical and world music as well. His nine solo recordings illustrate how adept he is at writing both lyrically, rhythmically and across boundaries.

When did you start playing jazz?
When I was in my teens, my parents moved to Denton, Texas where my dad took a job teaching, at the University of North Texas, which has one of the country’s best music and jazz programs. A lot of musicians came through that town, like Mel Lewis and Oliver Nelson. These guys would do workshops and concerts, and I got really inspired to play jazz. I had been playing guitar in rock bands up until that point. I remember hearing Jimmy Smith, Art Blakey, and Charlie Parker at home, but the music didn’t really sink in until I actually saw it being played. Jazz became my love. From that point on I knew I was going to be a musician.

You played with Freddie Hubbard?
I played with Freddie off and on for about eight to nine years.
I think I started with him when I was about twenty-one or twenty-two so in a way that was my graduate school. 

You toured with Miles Davis, what was that like?
That was an interesting time in my life. My wife at the time was pregnant with my daughter Sierra. I was juggling jazz gigs and doing quite a bit of studio work in Hollywood. We had just bought a house and it seemed like everything was happening at once. Miles called right in the thick of it. I dreamt about playing with him all my life. I grew up a lot during that gig. I saw how dedicated Miles was to the band and to improving after every concert. His dedication to being an artist was inspiring. He really put in a lot of time and hard work. People think the sound came magically out of his horn, but he put a lot of time and dedication into his art.

Who are your biggest influences musically?

This is a long list. I like all kinds of music. I like R&B, I grew up playing it. I like soul, classical music.

I can’t name one person, but Duke Ellington, Robert Johnson, Eric Copeland to name just a few.

How do your influences affect your own writing and performing?
When you’re practicing, studying, and listening that’s when you’re soaking all that up. When I am writing or playing I’m not thinking of any of any one in particular. I think it just comes through in your sound. That’s what you like and what you listen to, so that’s what resonates with you. I’m just trying to get the music to what it really wants to be on its own. I’m kind of a mix of all these people and it hopefully comes out as being my voice.

You worked as an arranger on several seasons of American Idol. 
How do you come up with the shortened versions of the songs, and the arrangements?
That’s the hard part. How do you get to the core of the song so it still has the integrity of the full length of the song? I can give you a better idea of how I arrange using the time when I was Associate Producer for the female contestants (Season 4 – Carrie Underwood’s year). You’re there with the artist, and sometimes the producers are there, and you go through it. You also have to try to find the best part of the song that really makes that particular singer shine. So you sit there with the artist and just bang it out. Everyone has ideas about tempo, groove, or maybe doing it in another style from the way it was originally performed. Because it’s a contest you can’t say ‘Oh I think you should do it this way,’ or ‘do it that way.’ If they get knocked off the show they could come back and say the producers or this guy said to do it this way and it turns into a mess. So you have to present different options and then they make that decision.

What’s up next for you?
I’m working on scoring a movie in January and February. The first week of February I will travel to Japan for a week with Mike Stern and Lee Ritenour. Then in the middle of February I’m hosting, and playing with my band, some special concerts at Disney Hall with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The series is called “Jazz Meets the Orchestra.” There will be a jazz quintet and the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra. The conductor and I will highlight the differences and similarities of jazz for the orchestra and for a quintet. The classical bass will speak to the jazz bass and so on. They’re targeted to youth audiences but really anyone interested. The interaction is going to be fun. Then I will do some more work with A.R. Rahman in March and April. I was just in South Africa with him. We started his world tour in the spring of last year.

What is it like scoring for television and movies?

The directors will usually put in some temp music that represents what they like. They already have kind of an idea of what they want. As composer, you have to find that balance. They hire you for a particular sound. You have to find a happy medium between what they want and what you can give them. You’re helping the director actually write music for his movie. Writing is sure different for movies and TV as opposed to making records. It’s really the director’s baby. It’s his record so to speak. You’re really trying to help them to get their points across and still be creative and interpret their vision. It’s a fine line to walk. 

What are the most memorable experiences in your career?

Well, I never thought it would happen, but to be recognized by my peers with a Grammy nomination is really humbling for me. I’ve been out here for a while. The selection goes through these committees. These members listen to all the music and whittle it down to five records, out of in my category around four hundred, which they think deserve recognition. It’s really humbling. I didn’t ever really think about getting a GRAMMY. The idea of it is settling in. It’s pretty cool. In my career musically, working with Miles was a highlight, and with Freddie Hubbard too. I love writing for movies. I love working with the ever imaginative film composer Thomas Newman. These artists are all about creativity and finding something new in music. That’s what I aspire to do every day.

You can learn more about John Beasley at beasleymusic.com

Jazz and the Orchestra

What Jazz is according to Bing Crosby

Birth of Jazz 

Sociology of Jazz

Basic introduction to "Jazz" narrated by Cannonball Adderley
Featuring Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Thelonious Monk etc.

Jazz Stamp for USPS.  Paul Rogers.

Using the hand-out given in class 
(taken from this site http://www.billytaylorjazz.net/kce_jazz.pdf)
and based on these sites:
complete the following:

03. BEAT:

04. BEPOP:

05. BLUES:


07. CHORD:


20. NOTES:
26. SCORE:
28. SWING:

01. What time period became known as the Jazz Age?
02. Name three famous jazz masters?

03. What are three elements of a good improvisation?

04. When a jazz ensemble performs what part do the drums usually play?

05. What was the dominant jazz form in the 1930’s and 1940’s?

06. According to this worksheet, what are the three most important elements in music?

07. Making up music as you go along is called what?

08. Name a famous jazz band from the 1920’s.
09. What was the name of the earliest form of jazz?
10. What is the job of the string bass in a jazz ensemble?
11. Songs that tell stories are called what?
12. What is “call and response” in jazz?
13. When were the “BLUES” created?
14. What is the name given a rhythm which consists of shifting accents and stresses?
15. Name the art form that was originated and used as a way of expression by African Americans.
16. What type of music was used by slaves to express religious convictions?

Alan Lomax's interview with Albert Glenny and Leonard Bechet 
about the evolution and essence of jazz: