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Old Sep 18, 2008, 01:13 AM
Gavin Walker Gavin Walker is offline
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Jazz Feature for Sept.22: Leonard Bernstein: "What is Jazz?"

Tonight's Feature is Part 2 of the "back to school" idea that we programmed last week with Cannonball Adderley's "Introduction to Jazz" narrated by the eminent musician. The timing was just right for last week's Part 1 as it was Mr. Adderley's 80th birthday anniversary. Tonight's Feature involves a person who could be called America's "musical man for all seasons" as it is the famous recording of maestro Leonard Bernstein's "What is Jazz?". Bernstein,who was born in Lawrence,Massachusetts on August 25, 1918 and died in New York on October 14, 1990, was a composer, conductor, pianist and educator who was the first American-born classical musician to be accepted and honoured by his European peers. Bernstein grew up with Jazz and although not acknowledged as a Jazz player, Leonard understood the music and respected it's artists and practitioners. Stories of Bernstein sitting-in with various Jazz groups over the years abound and it's too bad there is no recorded evidence of these happenings. One can compare, however, Bernstein's recording of the sometimes 'jazzy' "Concerto in G" by Maurice Ravel (Bernstein on piano and conducting The Columbia Symphony Orchestra on Columbia Records) with European interpretations of the same piece and you will hear how Bernstein brings the 'jazzy' flavour to the forefront.

Bernstein's recording of "What is Jazz" is an outgrowth of his famous TV series "Omnibus" and it's a fun and educational listen. Mr. Bernstein explains in layman's terms what is and what isn't Jazz. He plays the piano and gives you a mini history of the music using himself and some very prominent Jazz players like Coleman Hawkins, Buster Bailey, Phil Woods, Miles Davis etc. Sure, some of the references are a bit dated like "some Jazz musicians are college graduates and some are intellectuals", stuff like that but that was only Bernstein's way (don't forget this album was recorded in the 50's) of making Jazz musicians appear 'normal' for the lay person. As this is a very popular annual Feature on The Jazz Show those that have heard it before will enjoy it again and if you've never heard this you are in for a treat.

As we only got to Cannonball Adderley's first album "Portrait of Cannonball" and his signing with Riverside Records and his alliance with the great producer, Orrin Keepnews, on last week's show, we are going to continue (up until the Jazz feature at 11pm) to honour and play the music of Julian 'Cannonball' Adderley beginning with the formation of his 'second' and successful Quintet and their hit recording: "The Cannonball Adderley Quintet in San Francisco", an album that allowed Riverside Records to prosper as an independent Jazz label. In other words the first two hours of our three hour show will be devoted to Mr. Adderley, his alto saxophone and his music. Be there.
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