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Jazz and Studio Music has a long and successful history at the University of Memphis. Initiated by Dr. Tom Ferguson in the 1960s, the School of Music has developed one of the most comprehensive programs in the United States, currently offering both undergraduate and master’s degrees in Jazz Performance and Composition/Arranging. Both music majors and non-majors at the University of Memphis are strongly encouraged to participate in the performing groups, classes, and applied lessons offered in the Jazz and Studio Music curriculum. To describe the importance, complexity and beauty of Jazz so that our students will become the listeners, consumers and fans of the next generation of jazz musicians.

The 1930s belonged to popular swing big bands, in which some virtuoso soloists became as famous as the band leaders. Key figures in developing the “big” jazz band included bandleaders and arrangers Count Basie, Cab Calloway, Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey, Duke Ellington, Benny Goodman, Fletcher Henderson, Earl Hines, Harry James, Jimmie Lunceford, Glenn Miller and Artie Shaw. Although it was a collective sound, swing also offered individual musicians a chance to “solo” and improvise melodic, thematic solos which could at times be complex “important” music. In the northeastern United States, a “hot” style of playing ragtime had developed, notably James Reese Europe’s symphonic Clef Club orchestra in New York City, which played a benefit concert at Carnegie Hall in 1912.

Supergroup Snarky Puppy adopted this trend, allowing players like Cory Henry to shape the grooves and harmonies of modern jazz soloing. YouTube phenomenon Jacob Collier also gained recognition for his ability to play an incredibly large number of instruments and his ability to use microtones, advanced polyrhythms, and blend a spectrum of genres in his largely homemade production process. In 2001, Ken Burns’s documentary Jazz was premiered on PBS, featuring Wynton Marsalis and other experts reviewing the entire history of American jazz to that time.

Similarly, the blues has featured in most great jazz in some form or other , but there are other genres which use elements of the blues without being considered jazz. Stan Getz’s collaborations with João Gilberto, the music of Weather Report, or Herbie Hancock’s fusion albums, to give three examples, do not swing. As Murray and Crouch note, the swing rhythm has generally been integral to jazz. In fact, these parameters would exclude a number of the sub-genres mentioned above, including jazz-rock, fusion, Brazilian jazz and much of what we think of as modern European jazz. These fundamentals remained in place from the music’s beginnings in New Orleans to, literally, yesterday. Those fundamentals are 4/4 swing , blues, the romantic or meditative ballad, and what Jelly Roll Morton called “the Spanish tinge,” meaning Latin rhythms.

Students should utilize play-along tracks to simulate the feel of a live performance; faculty will provide constructive feedback as part of the audition process. The Jazz and Contemporary Music program develops students’ improvisation abilities and helps each student realize her or his unique voice as a performer and as an arranger/composer. April 23, 2021 • We examine the life and legacy of 2021 NEA Jazz Master Phil Schaap with music from Jazz at Lincoln Center and a rare live album produced by Schaap himself at the West End Café in Manhattan.

He often composed for the style and skills of these individuals, such as “Jeep’s Blues” for Johnny Hodges, “Concerto for Cootie” for Cootie Williams (which later became “Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me” with Bob Russell’s lyrics), and “The Mooche” for Tricky Sam Nanton and Bubber Miley. He also recorded compositions written by his bandsmen, such as Juan Tizol’s “Caravan” and “Perdido”, which brought the “Spanish Tinge” to big-band jazz. The band reached a creative peak in the early 1940s, when Ellington and a small hand-picked group of his composers and arrangers wrote for an orchestra of distinctive voices who displayed tremendous creativity.

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