"Armando's Rhumba" - Chick Corea & Gary Burton

The pianist Chick Corea was one of the first great jazz musicians to pass away in 2021. In his honor, the Durham radio station WNCU featured him as their artist of the month in February. Corea had a long career as a musician playing jazz styles including bop, fusion (combines jazz and rock), and latin jazz. He composed and recorded "Armando's Rhumba" his 1976 album "My Spanish Heart."

"My Funny Valentine" - Nancy Wilson

Continuing with our focus on the 32-bar form, we will listen to "My Funny Valentine." This song is a ballad from the very successful musical Babes in Arms by Richard Rogers and Lorenz Hart. It quickly became a jazz standard. During the song, the female lead character, Billie, teases and criticizes her love interest, Valentine, while also admitting that she likes him and would hate for him to change. One of my favorite things about performing this ballad is the long build up of tension in the melody and harmony.

"There Will Never Be Another You" - 32-bar song form, continued

Last week we discussed the most common structure of 32-bar song form, AABA. Another variation on this form is AB, where each section lasts 16 bars. Unlike AABA, in this form both A and B may start with the same melody and harmony, and before changing later on. Some popular standards using this form are "Yesterdays," "Beatiful Love," "All of Me," and "There Will Never Be Another You."

"Cotton Tail" - Duke Ellington

In our exploration of musical forms, we will next look at thirty-two-bar or AABA form. Each of the four sections in the form last eight measures. The musician/s play the "A" section twice, an 8-bar "B" section (often called the bridge), then a closing "A" section. This form was very common in popular music, on Broadway, and in jazz, during the first half of the 20th century. Many of the Broadway songs adopted by mid-century jazz musicians use this form, so they often composed using it.

"Blues in C Minor" - Aaron Diehl and Warren Wolf

This week we will listen a different take on the blues. The vibraphonist Milt Jackson composed "Blues in C Minor," for his combo, the Modern Jazz Quartet. Unlike musicians such as John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Charlie Parker, who embraced the night club image with its sense of cool, and associations to alcohol and drugs, the Modern Jazz Quartet established a very polished image by wearing fashionable suits, and performing in concert halls.

The Blues - "Stormy Monday"

This week we will listen to a standard blues. Thousands of songs have been written in the blues form. Most commonly the blues uses 3 chords and is only 12 bars long. In C major, a blues will use the C major, F major, and G major chords. The typical form looks like this (4/4 time signature):

CM  |CM  |CM  |CM  |

FM  |FM  |CM  |CM  |

GM  |FM  |CM  |CM :|

"Virginia Moon" - Dave Grohl and Norah Jones

For the first part of 2021, I will focus on aspects of style and form in this blog. I will continue to draw on the music of performers from a wide range of genres. This week features Dave Grohl's song "Virginia Moon," featuring the singer and pianist Norah Jones.

Musical style describes how the harmony, rhythm, texture, and instrumentation come together to create a composition. Heard together, these individual parts create an identifiable genre.

Musicians of "Soul"

On December 25th, Disney/Pixar released the movie Soul, about a musician's journey to realize his dream of working as a jazz pianist. Pixar was intent to capture the diversity of the performers active in today's jazz world. To accomplish this, the animators based the movie's musician characters on the performers who recorded the sound track. Pianist Jon Battiste (piano) led the group of artists, including Tia Fuller and Eddie Barbash (saxophones), Phil Kuehn and Linda May Han Oh (bass), Roy Haynes, Marcus Gilmore, and Joe Saylor (drums).

Happy Birthday Beethoven!!!

Beethoven was born in the middle of December, 250 years ago, in Bonn, Germany. No record of his birthdate exists, but he was baptised on December 17th. Happy birthday, Beethoven!

"Love for Sale" by Cole Porter - Cyrille Aimée, Roy Hargrove, Joel Frahm

There are very few videos of contemporary jazz musicians with hundreds of thousands of views. This week's video is an exception. I seldom find a video that captures the energy and excitement of all the musicians like we see here. This performance was filmed live at Smalls, a popular jazz club in New York City, that features the world's greatest jazz musicians. Even if you don't live in NYC, you can enjoy their club's shows via livestream from their website.


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