Category Archives: Jazz

Vote for Saxophone Player Temitayo Kayode in Nigeria’s Top 10 Wonder Kids


Searching for Nigeria’s Top 10 Wonder kids

FFM member and prodigious musical talent, saxophone player Temitayo Kayode is taking part in the Nigerian Top 10 Wonder Kids Competition. As you can see and hear on the video, Temitayo is a born musician and entertainer. You can vote for him below

The Top 10 Magazine is in search of 10 child prodigies and super talented Kids who deserve to be on the top 10 list of Nigeria’s outstanding kids that will grace the cover of the next edition of the magazine as “Nigeria’s Top 10 Wonder kids”

Visit Top 10 Magazine and vote for Sax player Temitayo Kayode here




The unmistakable sound of David Powell



By Roger Moisan

Many people possess a talent,  great singing voice or a natural ability in music but are never heard. Occasionally, a few of these unsung heroes will surface after many years of quietly honing their skills and become an ‘overnight success’.

One such musician is Blues guitarist and singer David Powell. David’s voice sits somewhere between Joe Cocker and John Lee Hooker with his authentic and powerful guitar playing completing the package.

David is building a catalogue of his own songs including the moving ‘Jesus is Crying’, ‘Desecrated‘ and ‘At The Bottom‘ with this music fan’s favourite being ‘Crawling into Yesterday‘. This song caught my ear as it demonstrates David’s classical guitar technique fused with the blues feel and powerful vocals.

This amount of talent in one place cannot go unnoticed for long and as David Powell is experienced by more and more lovers of the genre, I am sure we will soon be able to enjoy David’s first commercial release. I for one would be more than happy to release a Powell debut album at FFM Records, but I imagine we will be beaten to the post by the big boys in the industry.

David Powell
David Powell and son



 

Knowing the Building Blocks of Jazz Chord Progressions



A jazz chord progression is made up of smaller blocks of progressions. This video will go over the three most important types of blocks or progressions that you need to know in order to understand the chord progression of a jazz standard. These will help you memorize and play jazz songs and make it possible for you to get better at sight-reading jazz lead-sheets!!

Thanks so much for checking out my weekly lesson at Musicians Unite!! I hope you found this chord progression discussion helpful!!

Please check back next week for another lesson, and in the meantime please catch up with me on my website and social media pages!!

Jens Larsen – MU Educator

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Your New Music Video Album Trailer?


Go to the profile of Bob Baker

Movie trailers have been around for decades — you know, those short teasers that make you yearn to see the full movie.

Video book trailers were all the rage a few years ago.

But I don’t recall seeing many trailers for new music albums — at least not from independent artists.

That’s why I’m so impressed with this new promo trailer from Ryan Marquez.

It includes live performance samples interspersed with interview clips from band members. It’s well done.

Question: Could you do something similar with your next album release?

Bob


Work of the week – Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s Trumpet Concerto “Nobody knows de trouble I see”



On 20th March we celebrated the 100th anniversary of Bernd Alois Zimmermann’s birth. For this reason, many concerts featuring his compositions will be performed worldwide, including one of his most famous works, the Konzert “Nobody knows de trouble I see” für Trompete in C und Orchester. This week, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Fabien Gabel and with Håkan Hardenberger as soloist, will play it on 23 March, and on the following day it will be performed by Paul Hübner together with the WDR Sinfonieorchester, conducted by Brad Lubman in the Funkhaus in Cologne.

Originally, the NDR commissioned Zimmermann to compose a piano concerto. However, by referencing the existence of countless piano concertos, Zimmermann was able to convince the NDR to promote the trumpet, which was somewhat neglected as a solo instrument, thereby making repeat performances of the work more probable. He had already made drafts of a trumpet concerto years earlier and completed them after he was commissioned. It was premiered on 11 October 1955 in the Studio X in Hamburg with the Sinfonieorchester des Norddeutschen Rundfunks and the trumpeter Adolf Scherbaum under the direction of Ernest Bour. At the time of the world premiere, the work was titled “Darkey’s darkness”. After a few years, however, Zimmerman learned that the word “Darkey” was used to describe a person of color in a contemptuous way, so he changed the title of his work to “Nobody knows de trouble I see” in reference to the spiritual that is used in the composition as cantus firmus.

Bernd Alois Zimmermann – Trumpet concerto: Crossover to reconciliation

The spiritual is at the center of the concerto and its structure is similar to that of a chorale prelude. Apart from this modern kind of a cantus firmus, Zimmermann also uses jazz elements and a twelve-tone-row as the basis for the composition. This special row appears frequently in Zimmermann’s work: It is also used in his Concerto for oboe, his film music for “Methamorphose”, and in his ballet Alagoana. By fusing these three formal principles, Zimmermann hoped to demonstrate a kind of fraternal connection in the music in response to the political realities of his time. As a soldier in the NS-regime and during the composition of the piece, Zimmermann’s awareness of the struggle of people of color in the USA to achieve equality and overcome endemic racial discrimination was heightened. He honors this struggle in the spelling of the title: Instead of “the”, Zimmermann uses a spelling based on the sound of the word as it was passed on through oral tradition, “de”.

“By the way I have recently finished a trumpet concerto with the title “Darkey’s darkness”. The negro spiritual “Nobody knows de trouble I see” underlies the work and the musical characteristics of the spiritual inform and imbue the work with the struggles of the coloured people.” –Bernd Alois Zimmermann, 1954

After this week’s concerts, the concerto can even be heard again. On 6 April, it will be performed by the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester with Håkan Hardenberger as soloist under the conduction of John Storgårds. In addition, as part of a Zimmermann concert series, the SWR Sinfonieorchester conducted by Ingo Metzmacher will perform the trumpet concerto on 28 April with Håkan Hardenberger again as soloist.

The most recent edition of the Schott Journal is dedicated to Bernd Alois Zimmermann. Therein you can find all events about the anniversary and an insight into his most important works.

 



Coltrane Pitch Diagrams



Go to the profile of Lucas Gonze

In the mid 90s I was browsing in the bookstore at Berklee College of Music in Boston. I was looking for Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns, a book of algorithmically-generated scales which had a following among jazz musicians, most notably John Coltrane.

Near it on the shelves I came across a similar but more peculiar book, Repository of Scales and Melodic Patterns, by Yusef Lateef.

As a frontispiece he had included two surprising images.

What were these? A small note at the bottom of the acknowledgements said:

Geometric Drawings: By John Coltrane, 1960. Gifts to Yusef from John.

Over time I became fascinated by the Coltrane drawings and set about decoding them using a protractor, compass and tracing paper.

First I made a clean schematic of Coltrane’s marked-up diagram.

In thinking about it I realized it could be simplified from two rings to one without losing any of the intrinsic relationships.

Of course, from a musician’s perspective this had the surprising result of converting from a whole-tone scale in Coltrane’s original to a chromatic scale in my single-ring version. Then I realized there could be a three-ring version as well, with the intervals on each ring describing diminished triads.

This new three-ring version was visually strange and beautiful, and had a feature that wasn’t evident in either the one-ring or two ring versions: a winding pattern.

Pick a section starting with C and walk to the next C, one semitone at a time. The first four notes of the series would be C, C#, D, Eb. In the one and two ring versions D and Eb are adjacent, but in the three-ring version Eb is on the far ring.

That got me to thinking of the series as a winding banner.

And from there a 3D pattern, not a flat one.

I made a clean final version of this sketch.

From there it was natural to go on to versions with four, five and six rings.

When I had finished my six-ring version, I was sorry that I couldn’t go any further, because each set of rings shows a symmetric interval, and there are no symmetric intervals larger than this.

My drawings were complete, so I made a little title page for the collection.


Not long after I went to a Yusef Lateef concert. It was at Lincoln Center in New York City. He was a stellar player and the show was unforgettable.

After the performance I made my way to the crowd of people chatting by the stage door with the musicians, introduced myself, and asked him to sign my copy of his book.

We talked about the Coltrane diagrams. I showed him a version of my work. He told me that Coltrane had been drawing the original diagrams between sets on a gig they did together, and had given them to him. Lateef said this wasn’t the first time. “He was always doing that,” Lateef said.

That was probably during a period when Coltrane was studying Slonimsky and thinking about generative patterns for melodies. The year was 1960. He was growing from the modernist formalisms of bebop harmony — all bright lines and strict causality — to the ecstatic spirituality of free jazz. The connection between his post-bop and free jazz was numerology, a belief that divine or mystical phenomena can arise from quantitative thinking.

1960 was arguably his peak year. He founded his landmark band with McCoy Tyner and Elvin Jones and recorded his signature hit, “My Favorite Things.” Whatever the diagrams meant to him, they were connected with his best art.


Lateef was warm and generous with his time. I promised to send my own schematics, and later that year I did, along with a cover letter.



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Trumpet Geek Corner – JO-RAL Copper Bottom Trumpet Bucket Mute







Jo-Ral Mutes provide exciting and musical tonal qualities to instrumental playing along with near perfect intonation. Made in a variety of different finishes and materials, the scope for different sounds is limitless. Used extensively throughout the music industry, Jo-Ral Mutes are a fantastic purchase for all musicians.

mutes
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Bucket Mute

The Bucket Mute provides an soft and muffled tone, which is caused by cancelling out the really high frequencies. The Jo-Ral buckets are designed almost like over sized straight mutes but with a different head with slits down the sides for air release.

Copper Bottom Mute

The aluminium body combined with a copper bottom to the mute provides a denser and more sonorous sound to the muted trumpet. With a slightly different overtone pattern to an all-aluminium mute, it is preferred by many symphonic players.


Tributes paid to South African musician and activist Hugh Masekela






‘Father of South African jazz’, who had career spanning more than five decades, dies aged 78

South Africans have paid tribute to Hugh Masekela, the legendary jazz musician and activist, who died on Tuesday aged 78.

The South African president, Jacob Zuma, said the nation would mourn a man who “kept the torch of freedom alive”. The arts and culture minister, Nathi Mthethwa, described Masekela as “one of the great architects of Afro-Jazz”. “A baobab tree has fallen,” Mthethwa wrote on Twitter.

A statement from the trumpeter’s family said Masekela “passed peacefully” in Johannesburg, where he lived and worked for much of his life, on Tuesday morning.

“A loving father, brother, grandfather and friend, our hearts beat with a profound loss. Hugh’s global and activist contribution to and participation in the areas of music, theatre and the arts in general is contained in the minds and memories of millions across six continents,” the statement read.

Relatives described Masekela’s “ebullient and joyous life”.

Masekela had been suffering from prostate cancer for almost a decade. He last performed in 2010 in Johannesburg when he gave two concerts that were seen as an “epitaph” to his long career.

South African social media was flooded with tributes to “brother Hugh”, whose career and work was closely intertwined with the troubled politics of his homeland.

The singer Johnny Clegg described Masekela as “immensely bright and articulate … an outstanding musical pioneer and a robust debater, always holding to his South African roots.”

Masekela was born in Witbank, a mining town in eastern South Africa, and was given his first trumpet by the anti-apartheid activist archbishop Trevor Huddleston, who formed a pioneering jazz band in Soweto in the 1950s that became a launchpad for many of South Africa’s most famous jazz musicians.

Masekela went on to study in the UK and the US, where he had significant success.

Hugh Masekela with ex-wife Miriam Makeba and Paul Simon in 1987.
 Hugh Masekela with ex-wife Miriam Makeba and Paul Simon in 1987. Photograph: Phil Dent/Redferns

As well as forming close friendships with jazz legends such as Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charles Mingus, Masekela performed alongside Janis Joplin, Otis Redding and Jimi Hendrix in the 1960s.

He returned to Africa where he played with icons such as Nigeria’s Fela Kuti, and in 1974 he helped organise a three-day festival before the “Rumble in the Jungle” boxing clash in Zaire (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo) between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman.

In 1976, the man who became known as the father of South African jazz composed Soweto Blues in response to the uprising in the vast township. He toured with Paul Simon in the 1980s while continuing his political engagement, writing Bring Him Back Home (Nelson Mandela) in 1987. The song became an anthem of the anti-apartheid struggle. James Hall, a writer and broadcaster who spent time with Masekela in the 1990s, said he “could have prickly personality” at times “due to the tension and frustration of being away from his own country for so long”.

Masekela was briefly married to Miriam Makeba in the 1960s and remained on good terms with the South African singer after their divorce. “They had a wonderful friendship and were very, very close,” said Hall, who co-wrote Makeba’s autobiography.

Masekela refused to take citizenship anywhere outside South Africa “despite the open arms of many countries”, said his son, Selema Mabena Masekela, on Tuesday.

“My father’s life was the definition of activism and resistance. His belief [was] that the pure evil of a systematic racist oppression could and would be crushed. Instead he would continue to fight.”

After more than 30 years in exile, Masekela returned to South Africa in the early 90s after the release of Nelson Mandela from prison and the end of apartheid.

In 2010 he performed at the opening ceremony of the football World Cup in Johannesburg.

Masekela had many fans overseas. “Hugh Masekela was a titan of jazz and of the anti-apartheid struggle. His courage, words and music inspired me … and strengthened the resolve of those fighting for justice in South Africa,” said Jeremy Corbyn on Twitter.

Hugh Masekela photographed for the Guardian in 2011.



My 39 Favorite Albums Of 2017 – Hanif Abdurraqib






Go to the profile of Hanif Abdurraqib

 

Much like last year, I have decided on a somewhat random number of albums. I do appreciate how the list format can be equal parts exciting and somewhat exhausting during this time of year. But for me, it’s a good place to mention a lot of albums that I loved but didn’t always get to write about or talk about a lot this year. In 2017, I went from (arguably) writing too much about music to not having nearly as much time to write about music as I wanted to. I hope to strike a balance in 2018. In the meantime, here are my 39 favorite albums of the year. Like last year, if there was good writing on the artist or album, I’ll link that as well.

39. Big K.R.I.T. — 4eva Is a Mighty Long Time

This track-by-track breakdown is really cool.

38. Wiki — No Mountains In Manhattan

37. Migos — Culture

You’ve probably read enough about Migos this year. Here’s a gif I like of Offset adjusting his cuff links in preparation for a potential physical altercation.

36. Paramore — After Laughter

This one really came and went for a lot of folks! This NYT profile was good.This Fader piece was also good. And though I try not to share my own stuff when I do these, I also enjoyed dissecting the album.

35. Syd — Fin

34. Gas — Narkopop

33. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings — Soul Of A Woman

This piece on the making of the album after the death of Sharon Jones is heartbreaking and good.

32. Sabrina Claudio — About Time

31. Julien Baker — Turn Out The Lights

A lot of good writing on Julien Baker this year — I most enjoyed thisthis, and this.

30. DJ Quik & Problem — Rosecrans

29. Bell Witch — Mirror Reaper

This Bandcamp piece about the album’s making and process is good.

28. Jonwayne — Rap Album 2

Jonwayne is not too big on interviews, but The Guardian did a solid one.

27. Idles — Brutalism

A good profile was done here.

26. Vince Staples — Big Fish Theory




Mychal Denzel Smith on Vince Staples was one of my favorite things to read this year.

25. Sleigh Bells — Kid Kruschev

24. Harry Styles — Harry Styles

Anne Donahue wrote many things on Styles this year, this was among my favorites.

23. Slowdive — Slowdive

Lots of cool stuff written on Slowdive’s return this year. I most enjoyed This Noisey profile and this NYT Piece on Shoegaze.

22. Converge — The Dusk In Us

It’s quite long, but this exhaustive history of Converge is very good.

21. Stormzy — Gang Signs And Prayer

There’s not enough good writing on Stormzy, I think. But I did enjoy this British GQ profile.

20. Chelsea Wolfe — Hiss Spun

19. Kendrick Lamar — Damn

A lot has been written about Kendrick and that’s fine but instead of any of those things, here’s 2 Chainz freestyling over the DNA instrumental — which was my favorite freestyle of the year until like three weeks ago.

18. Kelela — Take Me Apart

Loved this piece in The Fader.




17. Protomartyr — Relatives In Descent

All Songs Considered broke down the album well.

16. Rapsody — Laila’s Wisdom

15. Grizzly Bear — Painted Ruins

I enjoyed reading this GQ piece.

14. L.A. Witch — L.A. Witch

13. Power Trip — Nightmare Logic

A couple good interviews with Power Trip Here and Here.

12. Oddisee — The Iceberg

This profile was good.

11. Kelly Clarkson — The Meaning Of Life

There should be more in-depth writing on this era of Clarkson IMO, but this piece was a good one.

10. Daymé Arocena — Cubafonía

Short, but a good piece on the artist for those potentially unfamiliar.

9. 2 Chainz — Pretty Girls Like Trap Music

I wrote this pretty weird thing about 2 Chains and bowling.

8. LCD Soundsystem — American Dream

7. Jlin — Black Origami

Great feature on Jlin here.

6. Lorde — Melodrama

A lot has been written on Lorde this year, but I got some joy out of revisiting this Rolling Stone article from 2013, and then reading this one from 2017.

5. Thundercat — Drunk

Good profile here.

4. Open Mike Eagle — Brick Body Kids Still Daydream

3. Kehlani — SweetSexySavage

2. Richard Dawson — Peasant

1. Sza — CTRL

Here and Here and Here.

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