Archive | April, 2010


My Musical Journey #4

Posted on 23 April 2010 by Robert

I want to apologize for doing this later than I’m supposed to. I got really caught up in some homework and work and I didn’t have the time. But, here it is! This time, I’m playing a tune called “Devil Music,” once again from the Jazz Method Book.

Please let me know what you think!

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My Musical Journey #3

Posted on 14 April 2010 by Robert

It’s that time of the week! Every week between Wednesday and Friday, I post an update on the progress of my trumpet playing. Recently I bought the “jazz Method For Trumpet” method book and I must say that it’s very good. Since jazz is what got me interested in trumpet in the first place, it makes sense that I work on jazz tunes.

Anyway, here is the first “real” tune in the book that I’ve learned…

“When The Saints Go Marching In”

And the second:

Please comment and let me know how I’m doing!

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What Is Bebop?

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What Is Bebop?

Posted on 13 April 2010 by Robert

Before the second world war, big bands (also known as swing bands) were the “in” thing with artists such as Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman being some of the more well-known leaders of the swing era. The bands usually consisted of between twelve and twenty-five musicians featuring a whole host of brass, woodwind, and rhythm instruments. Swing didn’t allow much room for improvisation and the solos (if there were any) were usually short. Wanting to show off their skills, they began to experiment with a different type of music. They began to experiment with music that allowed for more artistic freedom, that allowed them to bend the rules of music theory. They began to experiment with bebop.

Nobody can say the exact moment when bebop was born, but the first important bebop recording was one done by Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie entitled “Shaw Nuff.” You can listen to “Shaw Nuff” below:

Here’s a video of Charlie Parker & Dizzy Gillespie:

You can tell by listening to “Shaw Nuff” that bebop is characterized by fast rhythms that seem to move around a lot. I’ve heard bebop described as sounded “stressed out” or “frantic,” and it’s easy to understand why. In bebop, the bass drums rhythm-keeping function is moved to the hi-hat and the bass drum is used for accents. Below is a great video of Steve Gadd’s bebop drumming:

Bebop musicians often alter the way the chords are played by the rhythm section by flatting certain notes or adding others in order to add more “flavor” to the music and make the solo more interesting. However, as much flavor as they tried to add, bebop was not initially received very well by the general public who didn’t understand the point of bebop. Swing music was much easier to dance to than bebop, and dance music is what sold in that day. Bebop was more of a “music for musicians,” in a way that many times musicians understood what the soloists were doing while non-musicians didn’t.

Whether the general public accepted it or not, bebop greatly changed the face of jazz. Jazz went from being a type of dance music to a virtuosic style of jazz where musicians had an outlet for their creative impulses.

Great Bebop Albums:
Krupa & Rich
Bird’s Best Bop on Verve
Drums Around the Corner
Drum Suite
Clifford Brown & Max Roach
Tenor Madness
The Sidewinder
Smokin’ at the Half Note

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10 Useful Sites For The Trumpet Beginner

Posted on 11 April 2010 by Robert

While trying to learn trumpet, I’m constantly scouring the internet trying to find the best exercises and other information to help me progress. I’ve noticed that the good sites seem to be difficult to find if you don’t already know about them, and that there don’t seem to be any lists of the good ones. After a while of searching, you begin to feel like the guy below. So, I wamt to make a list for you beginners who, like me, are trying to find good information in order to become a better player.

1. Trumpet Herald
2. Trumpet Master
3. Exercise Database
4. O.J.’s Trumpet Page
5. How To Practice Trumpet
6. Another How To Practice Page
7. US 215th Army Band Youtube Videos
8. Solos
9. Trumpet FAQ
10. KNTU Jazz (Great music for your breaks!)

Bonus Links (keep ’em coming!)

11. Trumpet Playing Thoughts
12.Pop’s Trumpet College
13. Trumpet Resources
14. The musicians you should be studying

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The Ashley Hamer Group Does Avishai Cohen

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The Ashley Hamer Group Does Avishai Cohen

Posted on 09 April 2010 by Robert

I’ll admit, I have never listened to Avishai Cohen or heard anyone cover any of his songs. However, that didn’t stop me from being interested when I got an invitation via Facebook to see one of Denton’s up-and-coming jazz groups play some great music.

When I first arrived at The Greenhouse, I quickly found that it was a packed house. Granted, I arrived around ten minutes late but I’ve been to The Greenhouse before and it was never this packed. The Ashley Hamer Group played in a nice location, and it was a very in-your-face situation. The set was entirely acoustic with no mikes which had one drawback: I didn’t get to hear the saxophone as well as I wanted to. The name of the band was nowhere to be found. It wasn’t on the invitation, and it was posted nowhere near the bar or anywhere else at The Greenhouse for that matter. It wasn’t until I asked the drummer in the band, Colin Hinton, that I knew they were referred to as The Ashley Hamer Group.

Ashley Hamer – Saxophone
Matt Hornbeck – Guitar
Tim Chernikoff – Keyboard
Julia Adamy – Bass
Colin Hinton – Drums

I noticed right off the bat that Matt Hornbeck has some great chops on the guitar. He was playing some fast runs that require tremendous dexterity with ease. I was rather impressed. The keyboard fit in well with the rest of the band; almost too well. At times, I didn’t even notice what the keyboard was playing until I heard a quick fill or solo. I also noticed that Colin Hinton has a lot of fun playing the drums and seems to be a nice, easy-going kind of person. In fact, the group as a whole seems to be a  laid-back group of friends just out having fun loving what they’re doing. Between every song, they could be seen laughing and cutting up with each other. It’s this type of attitude that makes a band great.

The only negative part I can say about the experience is the fact that there wasn’t enough seating to fit the crowd. I had to sit behind a small tree in order to be close enough to the band to hear and see what was going on, but others were less fortunate. I ended up leaving at 11 PM because it became so crowded that people were constantly standing in front of me. I was disappointed, but I had already been impressed by the band and had enough information written down to write this review.

The Ashley Hamer Group is a great 5 piece band. You definitely need to go seem then when you get the chance to. The music they played at The Greenhouse was wonderful, their attitudes are great and they’re good musicians. I regret having to leave early as I’m sure the performance got even better as time went on. I’d love to hear some original tracks and hopefully I’ll be able to hear a few at a performance of theirs in the future.

Photos courtesy of Lucky George Blog

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My Musical Journey #2

Posted on 09 April 2010 by Robert

It has been a week since my first MMJ post and I’ve learned a bit more of “The Black Pearl” from Pirates Of The Caribbean. It might not seem like much but it was difficult for me. I didn’t think I’d be able to learn as much as I have so far, but I did it!

I know that I need to be patient with developing better tone, but I wish I could send better already! I know that I need to work on remembering fingerings for all of the notes. I’ve noticed that when I go in for a lesson, I always seem to forget them. Well, here’s the video for this update, for your enjoyment.

Please comment and let me know what you think!

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Who am I?

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Who am I?

Posted on 07 April 2010 by Robert

It just occurred to me that much of the people who read my blog don’t know me as well as they know other bloggers in the jazz niche. I feel that having a tight-knit community is important in small groups such as the one I’m a part of, so I’m going to tell you a little about myself and why I’m doing this.

My name is Robert, although my closest friends call me Ross. I’m a 23 year old student at the University of North Texas studying electrical engineering. I got into jazz just about the time I started my time here at the university, four years ago. Before that time, I had listened to a few jazz songs and liked them, but when I was thrown into the jazz scene here in Denton, my love for the genre grew.

The next thing I know, I’m taking classes such as “Introduction to jazz records,” and “Music health” just because my love for music had grown for so much. The music found on my iPod went to being mostly jazz tunes (and now it’s almost completely jazz). My guitar playing style went from rock to jazz and I recently began learning to play trumpet and I haven’t really played the guitar much lately at all. Soon after, I began this blog in an attempt to spread my love of jazz to everyone.

I’m always watching, always listening, always reading and always talking about jazz. You might say that I have become obsessed with it. I enjoy every aspect of it, from the theoretical aspect of it through the final result: the album. If you ever want to talk jazz, you can find me on AIM (minorsecond), or even call my google number posted on my bio page.

I hope you enjoy reading what I have to say, and you should let me know via email ( if you ever have any suggestions on topics or if you would like to write a guest post. Be sure to subscribe via RSS!

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Recital – Yoshi Matsubara & Asher Barreras

Posted on 06 April 2010 by Robert

Yoshi Matsubara & Asher Barreras, two seniors at UNT held a recital performance in Kenton hall at the University of North Texas April 5 2010. Senior recital performances are essentially projects that students must complete in order to get their degree. One might not expect much from a recital, but then again most don’t get the chance to see a performance by Yoshi & Asher. Yoshi is a guitarist & Asher is a bassist.

Roberto, Yoshi, Asher, Brian C, Brian G

The room was extremely hot but that was soon forgotten when the music started. Recital performances at UNT are very intimate affairs, usually with less than 50 people in the room (including the band.) However, there was a huge turnout for Yoshi & Asher, and I soon understood why. The performance consisted of 5 standards and 2 original pieces. “I Wish I Knew” was originally on the program but wasn’t played for an undisclosed reason. However, Yoshi’s original piece “Victory Dance” easily made up for it.

Yoshi and Asher

Set List:
I Wish I Knew (Not Played)
Victory Dance
Blame It On My Youth
Don’t Forget

Brian Girley – Alto Sax
Brian Clancy – Tenor Sax
Roberto Verastegui – Piano
Ryan Jacobi – Drums

Yoshi, Asher, Ryan, Brian G

I remember being most moved by “Victory Dance,” “Joya,” and “Don’t Forget.” The band had obviously rehearsed many times over a long period of time and I believe this was most obvious on these songs. Here’s a clip from the performance for your pleasure:

The piano solo in “Victory Dance” and the sax solo that followed it along the way it was obvious that Yoshi was enjoying his song being played and that he believed in what he was doing really helped make this song even more awesome. It really is a great tune. The simple fact that Asher explained that “Joya” was written because of the support of his family combined with the amazing saxophone work, compliments of Brian Clancy & Brian Girley, Roberto’s fluency at piano, and the great beat courtesy of Ryan Jacobi make a monumental song.

Too bad these songs aren’t available online or I’d purchase them right away. If you hear of either of these guys (or any of the sidemen, for that matter) hitting the big time, don’t be surprised! Definitely take the time to go see Yoshi Matsubara or Asher Barreras if you have the chance. You don’t be sorry.

Photos & Video courtesy of LuckyGeorge

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Recommended Listening


Recommended Listening

Posted on 05 April 2010 by Robert

Sometimes, I get stuck in a rut with music and can’t seem to find anything worth listening to. While the music you already have is great, it does get old when you don’t have anything new to play. I’d like to help keep this from happening to you by linking up with some fellow jazz bloggers who have helped me find some new ones for my collection.

These articles, written by Shaunna Morrison Machosky, highlight some great Spring-themed jazz tunes. I encourage you to check them out because they are some of my favorite tracks, plus they are embedded so you can listen to them via the website.

Swing Into Spring
Jazz In Bloom: May Flowers
Jazz Is For The Birds

Also, I want you to jump over to Elements Of Jazz and check out Donna’s Jazz Appreciation Month Contribution. She’s highlighting 156 artists for you to check out. She’s already up to part three and has highlighted 39 artists so you have some catching up to do, but it’s well worth it.

Also, the Jim Cullum Jazz Band’s latests (February, 2006) “Chasin’ the Blues” is masterful, if you haven’t already heard it. I’m going to do a proper review on it this week, but I’d just like to say that I’m impressed already. Check it out via the link if you’re interested.

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Foundations Cover

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Review – Paul Murphy & Larry Willis – “Foundations”

Posted on 03 April 2010 by Robert

Disclaimer: Avant-Garde jazz is not my thing, so this review will obviously be from my perspective. If Avant-Garde is your thing, then you’ll likely not find my review helpful.

Sometimes an album comes along that receives great praise from all of the knowledgeable people and you are left wondering what all of the hype is about. Perhaps it’s too experimental for you, or perhaps it feels like it’s not going anywhere.

Album Art
Album Art

Both are the case with Paul Murphy & Larry Willis’ Foundations,which was released August, 2009. While the musicianship is undoubtably virtuosic, I felt as if the tracks were written for a very specific audience. As a matter of fact the liner notes state that the entire album is improvised, which is impressive.

Foundations is almost one of those “you had to be there” things. I’m sure that the live performance (assuming there was one) was one to be amazed at, but for me it just doesn’t work.

While the following video is a track which is not on the album, it’s very much the same type of track you’ll receive when purchasingFoundations.

Notable Tracks
Dance Pointe

Mr. LB
Dance Pointe
East Turn Alt
Composite Drive
June Jump

Avant Garde jazz is not for everyone. Some say that it is music intended only for musicians. I appreciate the abilities of the musicians in this album, but it’s definitely not an easy listener. This is music to listen to with intent, almost as if it were made only to be studied. Watch the video posted above before you make your mind up on this matter. If you want to listen to a sample of this album, or even buy it, click the link below.

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