I received the most inspiring comment today on my KeyboardImprov YouTube channel. Nyssa wrote:
“I love this! I am working on this tune for an arranging class, and we didn't understand why a Monk tune was labeled bebop. Thanks for the historical context!”
First of all, good luck to Nyssa and the other arranging students! Secondly, this comment keys in on the exact reason I’m making these videos.
We’re at the end of an era and are transitioning to another one.
We’ve left behind the era when jazz musicians remembered the time when the music was created. Although I didn’t live through the swing or bebop eras, I was lucky to study with and perform with many musicians who did. And they told me about the music in a way that even history books don’t convey in the same manner. Oral histories do convey something, and in-person conversations as well as videos can bring us to a deeper and more alive understanding of the music in its cultural and “street” context.
This disappeared from classical music over a century ago (after all, how many Chopin pianists waltz on a regular basis anymore?), and it’s all but disappeared from jazz as well.
The Rolling Stones current concert tour, sans their late drummer Charlie Watts, is a reminder that rock world is transitioning too.
Nyssa’s comment highlighted what my goals are: To help musicians connect with the context in which these types of music were formed, and also to help pass this along into the future.
I was fortunate to receive a great amount of musical connection from musicians such as Billy Taylor, Max Roach, Harold Danko, and lesser-known greats like Hale Smith and Gregg Smith.
It is my privilege to have the opportunity to attempt to pass at least some of it to you and future generations of musicians.
Thanks for being here, and good luck with your music!
PS – Here’s this week’s Journey Through The Real Book video, with a John Coltrane classic:
Lazy Bird: Journey Through The Real Book #207
Learn the 5 Essential Left Hand Techniques with my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
You'll also get my weekly jazz newsletter with practice tips and inspiration