April 24, 2017-Otaru University of Commerce Lecture Ben Jansson, Saxophonist www.benjanssonmusic.com
Playing Jazz in America and Japan
I. What is Jazz?
A. History of Jazz Music in America 1a. Traditional African Music, Slavery, Rhythmic hierarchy over harmony, Call and Response, Work songs, life and music relationship in tradition African cultures music, European and African instruments in America, Blues, Ragtime, important cities in Jazz History: New Orleans, St.Louis, Kansas City, MS, Chicago, NYC ( Harlem). 1b. Main Jazz styles: “Traditional Jazz”, “Swing and Bigbands”, “Bebop”, “Cool Jazz”, “Modern Jazz” or “Post Bop”, “Free Jazz”, todays Jazz music scene 1c. Jazz is exported to the world. Unique world music collides with Jazz, Latin America has huge influence on Jazz from almost the beginning. Caribbean, Cuba, Samba, Bossa Nova
II. The Performance Practice of Jazz
A. How Is Jazz played? 1a. Unique Jazz configurations: Piano/Saxophone Trio, Quartet, Quintet, Bigband, “Free Jazz” B. Listen and identify: Melody, Solos, Melody ( Listening examples)
III. Aesthetic Goals of Jazz versus Western Classical Music
Jazz is improvisatory, should be a creation in the moment (Many types of Folk Music around the world are improvisatory too)
The “moment” is important, perfection is not guaranteed or desired. Like ourselves and life, perfection is unattainable.
Communication in the moment can change the direction of the music,in Classical Music the direction of the music is always written out, decided ahead of time. Jazz can change rhythm, meter, key, dynamics, indeed all aspects of music in a moment of interplay between musicians. ( The most change happens possibly in “Free Jazz”)
IV. Jazz in America Today
“The Downbeat Magazine Scene”, NYC Jazz most prominent,Record labels focus on“big names”, small record lables or individuals set up own labels. ( a good project is for individual artists to cooperate with businesses related to the arts and fund each other?...good for community and investing in community by proliferating arts and artists).
“The Players outside NYC”,every large City in America has Jazz “scene”
Band contracts for touring. Musicians have to be multifaceted, savvy and create their own
Jazz scene and products
arrangements for hire, (Even jazz festivals: Mirai Jazz Festival in Sapporo),
Jazz is valued as an art,something that is important to our society.It has healing power,
power to inspire and motivate a society.
Presentation issues leading to a lack of Jazz knowledge in public: Late-evening
performances, cost, cigarette smoke ( Japan not America), Music EDUCATION excluding Jazz-Western Classical Music educational track. Stereo types about Jazz.
V. Benefits of Jazz Education in America and Japan
Students in Jazzband can learn“improvisation-enhancing”self confidence through creating musical solos with original ideas. Students taught well, WILL become more skilled at improvisation-since it is a natural state of being (We improvise all day long!!). Only in modern education and school do we sometimes learn to NOT IMPROVISE and follow or creative thinking.
Studentsplayinginatypicalsmall“JazzCombo”learnmoreaboutmusicalcommunication then if playing in a large band or orchestra because there are fewer people to share the musical ideas with and it will be easier to effect the music though musical thoughts and skills.
Music Education approached from a traditional Classical music education often emphasizes preparedness where as Jazz education can release a student from a search for perfection and often harmful “preparedness” and into a more natural relationship to music performance, one based on following individual creative thoughts.
......“working and practicing an instrument from a “fear based preparedness” is much less effective, often harmful in its absorbing of bad habits and mental outlooks creating anxiety in performance. The creative process is about a vision and then working towards that vision. This is how we learn Jazz. As we become more skilled we “hear” what we want to create and work it out to play it. Following this natural path we are more likely to play with good habits since we are creating out of ease and not “fear”. A good Classical musician or any musician will use the same method! BUT students are often taught "fear based" ways of learning an instrument. For example: "Next week we will have a test on our piece followed by the BIG concert!" "Everybody needs to practice!".
1a. The conductor is ready....students assume a “position to play” ( often a position of harmful tension is present because of nerves and required performance etiquette). In Jazz a more “natural” way of playing and preparing the music is emphasized. Another way of looking at this is, unless you are free of harmful tension when playing and preparing to play you cannot improvise with fluidity....which is celebrated in Jazz music.
In traditional Classical music education -programs in secondary schools like traditional schooling itself, testing is held in high importance. We often focus on the “big end of year concert”. In Jazz we only learn improvisation through repeated performances and students must play often in front of people to practice “live creation”. This method of music education flips the idea we need to aim for a big concert. We must show music students that music is not about ONE big performance, or ONE big test, but every performance is important, every moment of playing. Often students playing jazz and improvisation develop a more personal relationship to their instrument over time. As well, a casual relationship to performance etiquette is often better for students well being, the result of to much performance etiquette and “rules” and the anxiety of the BIG CONCERT is bodily tension. This will cause unhealthy aspects to students lives and their individual performance.