27 February 2017

Post 481: NAME THAT TUNE!

Today a little puzzle for you, using snippets from a couple of lead-sheets.

Question 1

Which classic traditional jazz number begins with this?

Question 2

This is an extract from another famous jazz tune. Although the key signature is not shown in this extract, I can tell you it is in three flats - the key of Eb. What is its title?


I will publish the answers in my next post (Post 482), on 2nd March.

Meanwhile, if you think you know them and care to email me, I will also publish the name of the first person to send the correct answers.

ivantrad (at) outlook (dot) com

23 February 2017

POST 480: LADIES SHAKE 'EM UP AT UMBRIA JAZZ FESTIVAL

The Shake 'Em Up Jazz Band, made up entirely of great lady musicians who are based in New Orleans, is to play at The Umbria Jazz Festival in mid-July 2017. The Festival is held in Perugia, Italy.

Shaye Cohn, who founded the band, has now dropped out and her place is to be taken on trombone by Haruka Kikuchi - the superb Japanese-born musician.

In case you are unaware, let me tell you that in the summer of 2016, Shaye Cohn put together in New Orleans this traditional jazz band comprising only ladies. We are lucky to live at a time when so many of the greatest traditional jazz musicians are ladies and when so many of them happen to have settled in that city.

And in this band, you find SIX of them making up what may well be one of the greatest all-female bands ever.

Another interesting feature of the band is that Shaye Cohn played trombone - something I had never seen her do before. Is there nothing that young lady can't master? Even before this, she had become established as one of the finest trad jazz piano and cornet players of all time, as well as being very good on violin, string bass and accordion. The other ladies are Chloe Feoranzo, Marla Dixon, Defne Incirlioglu, Julie Schexnayder, and Molly Chaffin Reeves - every one a heroine of our musical times.

Shaye's original purpose was to give a demonstration of traditional jazz at the Girls' Summer Band Camp in New Orleans. But the all-ladies band - once formed - was too good to waste and fans pleaded for them to play elsewhere.

They were invited to play at the famous Abita Springs Opry on 19 November. 

The concert they gave was traditional jazz of the finest kind - tasteful and yet always exciting and full of intelligent ideas. They opened with Some Day Sweetheart and then continued with Root, Hog; or Die!Sugar Blues, When You Wore A TulipMake Me A Pallet on the Floor, and - to finish - Hindustan.

Having done the good work behind the scenes, Shaye gave herself a secondary role in performance, leaving Marla to play the trumpet, lead the band and do the announcing.

Everyone was interested to see how Shaye would fare playing her newest instrument.
What she did was exactly what we might expect of her: she played a perfect and accurate though simple and basic line, fully conscious of the harmonising and rhythmic responsibilities of the trombone in our music. On Sugar Blues (played in the rarely-used key of G) she took a complete solo chorus and the audience loved it.

Root, Hog; Or Die! - played in C minor - romped along, with plenty of mini-solos and Marla providing the vocal.

Among the highlights of the concert were a beautiful two-chorus solo by Chloe on Make Me a Pallet (which they played in F) and an exquisite vocal duet at the end of When You Wore A Tulip (played in Ab) with Chloe singing the melody and Marla perfectly harmonising on lower notes. Chloe was also the vocalist on Sugar Blues, which she sang with great passion.

(I am mentioning keys because they differ from those sometimes used for the tunes in question.)

Pumping the band along, Molly on guitar and Julie on string bass provided the chords very solidly, four to the bar; and 'Dizzy' as ever maintained metronomic gentle percussion on the washboard, and took very neat solos, including a full chorus on When You Wore a Tulip.

Molly is a fine singer, as well as being a brilliant player of the guitar and banjo;  and she gave a lovely rendition of Make Me a Pallet. In fact, Make Me a Pallet is my favourite performance in this video. Molly reminds me of Carol Leigh singing with Kid Thomas; and every member of the band plays it beautifully, with terrific teamwork.

Chloe's clarinet was stunningly eloquent throughout and Marla was her usual exuberant self – passionately singing and also playing some wonderful stuff on the trumpet. On this occasion she did not use her famous Derby mute but her playing with the plunger mute on Sugar Blues and Pallet on the Floor was outstanding.

What a treat for us all! Let's hope this band - in addition to its performances in Italy - will continue to get together from time to time and that there will be many more videos for us to enjoy all over the world.

You can watch the Abita Springs performance by going to Abita Springs' own site and then clicking on the arrow by the name of the band:
http://www.abitaopry.org/html/AO2016-11.html
It is also to be seen here:
https://vimeo.com/201161078

I am deeply indebted to my blog-reading friend and Louisiana resident Michael Brooks for supplying me with information.

21 February 2017

Post 479: 'MOOSE MARCH'

My introduction to 'Moose March' was hearing the Ken Colyer band play it about 50 years ago. Probably Ken had picked up the tune during his time with the musicians in New Orleans.

In order to learn tunes to play on my cornet and keyboard, I like first to try to establish the dots and chords for storage in my mini-filofaxes. Here's what I came up with for 'Moose March'.



You will note that it has two themes - the main 32-bar melody and the 'fanfare' interlude. This is how jazz bands can still occasionally be heard playing it.

What I did not discover until very recently is that this traditional jazz 'standard' is in fact taken from a quite long and complex good old-fashioned brass band march, called The Moose. It was composed in 1909 by Mr. P. Hans Flath (about whom I know nothing). It has a 4-Bar Introduction, followed by a first Theme of 32 bars. Then comes another Theme, also of 32 bars. Next there is a four-bar link (the start of 'The Trio' - see below) leading to a change of key from Eb to Ab and ONLY THEN comes the 32-bar Theme and 16-bar Fanfare Interlude as played by the jazz bandsSo the truth is that when we play Moose March we are really using only 48 bars of a much longer composition. That's the kind of thing that happened in the early days of jazz repertoire creation.

18 February 2017

Post 478: 'THE MINER'S DREAM OF HOME'

It has been some time since I heard a band play The Miner's Dream of Home - one of the oldest tunes in our repertoire: it was composed in 1891.

It used to be a favourite of the late English trumpet-player and bandleader Sonny Morris. His playing was always tasteful and he enjoyed sentimental and gentle melodies such as this.

It is easy to play, since it has a simple 32-bar melody, to be taken only at a moderate pace; and the chord sequence is basic - pretty well intuitive.

So may I recommend it to you, especially if you are a 'learning' band wishing to increase your repertoire? Here's how I have it in my mini-filofax collection.




If you would like to hear the tune performed very pleasantly and with appropriate unpretentiousness by an English jazz quartet, click here. Should you wish to offer a vocal, the words are:

I saw the old homestead, and the faces I love.
I saw England's valleys and dells.
And I listened with joy, as I did when a boy,
To the sound of the old village bells.

The log was burning brightly.
'Twas a night that should banish all sin,
For the bells were ringing the old year out
And the new year in.