[Dixielandjazz] IAJE - TJEN - Some thoughts.

Larry Walton Entertainment - St. Louis larrys.bands at charter.net
Sat Jan 20 12:29:27 PST 2007

Mike and Steve - Well thought out comments.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: <hsalotti at aol.com>
To: <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>; <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Thursday, January 18, 2007 4:16 PM
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] IAJE - TJEN - Some thoughts.

> I agree with Steve's comments.
> I would like to comment on some relevant observations. Most public schools 
> music teachers have a limited background in jazz. If they have any 
> experience it is probably from playing in a big band at some point in 
> their music career. In most high school big bands you might find only one 
> or two members of each section that have the ability to improve and play 
> by ear. (there are many players who can play over chord changes but can't 
> play melodies by ear.) Most players first learned to read and play concert 
> band music in public school and then were taught by their high school band 
> director how to read the swing rhythms. The shame is that many of these 
> students were taught by rote and not exposed to recording of bands like 
> Basie, Ellington and Goodman. This resulted in hundreds of high school 
> bands where you had over sixteen students in each band and maybe only four 
> students in the group could improvise over a simple blues or rhythm 
> changes. Very few of the improvisers were ever taught how to play an 
> actual melody. Many band directors started playing rock based charts so 
> the students wouldn't have to learn to swing.(many of the open solo 
> sections are based on one to two modal scales, not any real chord 
> progression.) You can find big band arrangements now that are written 
> quite skillfully for junior high bands where the range and ability level 
> of the individual parts are appropriate to the grade level. These charts 
> require no improvising or a solo is written out.
> The problem as it relates to OKOM is that:
> 1.Most directors teach jazz from a reading music approach. Trad is based 
> on improvisation and playing by ear.
> 2. Directors are expected to include large groups of students in their 
> ensembles. Trad bands contain six or seven players at most.
> 3.Directors have a limited amount of rehearsal time for their jazz 
> program, mostly one day after school or one night a week. It is easier and 
> quicker to teach a group of fifteen students to read an easy arrangement 
> of Watermelon Man than it is to teach six students The Original Dixieland 
> One Step by ear. God forbid your trumpet player is sick on the night of 
> the concert.
> 4. The priorities of most school boards and parents are marching band, 
> concert band and large amounts of students in the program.
>    If your want directors to start introducing trad jazz into their 
> programs they need:
> 1.Arrangements that include more than just one trumpet, clarinet and 
> trombone. An arrangement could be based on the street bands of New Orleans 
> such as the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. The best setting for these 
> arrangements is for a smaller section of the marching band to play them in 
> the stands at the football games. Riff based arrangements that contain two 
> or three trumpets parts,clarinet,alto,tenor,and bari sax (bari could be 
> used as a bass instrument ie. Adrian Rollini) trombone, tuba and snare, 
> cymbals and bass drum. Since the music would be used as part of the 
> marching band program, directors could justify using more rehearsal time 
> to teach this style of music. Songs with simple three chord progressions 
> could be used at first (yes, I mean The Saints Go Marching In) to teach 
> basic improvisation by altering the melody(all instruments should learn to 
> play the melody). A simple riff by alternating horn sections could supply 
> the background for the soloist. This ensemble could be brought inside 
> after football session and developed into a great group. Possibly even 
> broken into smaller groups based on ability level.
> If you really want to do something to help this music survive, sit down 
> and write a simple arrangement and GIVE it to the high school band 
> director in your home town.
> If you give the directors the tools to teach this music we have a chance 
> of preserving this style of jazz into the future and not only for our own 
> lifetime. Harry Salotti
> -----Original Message-----
> From: barbonestreet at earthlink.net
> To: dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
> Sent: Tue, 16 Jan 2007 11:26 PM
> Subject: [Dixielandjazz] IAJE - TJEN - Some thoughts.
>  Just got home from jamming with some guys who are IAJE members and 
> teachers
> at local High Schools. We were jamming straight ahead and bop but I got a
> chance to ask them about the lack of trad teaching, relating a story about 
> a
> high school concert Barbone Street did a year ago.
> The concert was at a local High School which has a killer jazz band and a
> strong jazz teaching program. They brought Maynard in two weeks before our
> concert and all the young musos and music teachers went to hear him.
> Our concert, sponsored by an arts foundation followed. Prior to it I 
> called
> the music dept head and discussed our band, pointing out that in their
> youth, our guys had played with Billie Holiday, Clifford Brown, Lester
> Young, Coleman Hawkins, Thelonious Monk, Kai & JJ, Max Roach, Buddy Rich
> etc., etc., etc. I asked if he would bring his jazz students to this FREE
> concert.(Maynard charged about $25) "Sure" he said, "you guys have a good
> rep and we'd love to talk about the guys you all played with". I put 
> flyers
> up on the bulletin boards.
> Concert comes, no music students. Audience was about 750 from the
> neighborhood and included about 250 HS students, but none from the music
> program and no music teachers.
> Students who did the sound were blown away by our band. WOW, they said,
> Awesome etc. Other students were blown away, some dancing free style in
> aisles. Rest of audience also loved it.
> I asked these teachers tonight, why they thought that no music students 
> and
> no music teachers showed up.
> Basically, they thought it fairly simple. The Teachers did not know beans
> about OKOM, can't play it and therefore didn't want to get involved with 
> it.
> They are hip to Maynard and/or Kenton and comfortable with what they do so
> why in hell should they have to work hard to learn Trad?
> Now that made me think back to my day gig days part of which were spent as 
> a
> director of a major trade association in the automotive field.
> Eureka!!! The light went on. The major purpose of a trade association is 
> to
> further the careers of their members, to provide services to members, and 
> to
> make sure that the association stays in business since the members supply
> the money. (Not too different from any political process.)
> IAJE will not care about trad jazz, because their members in large part do
> not care about trad jazz. It therefore is not in IAJE's best interest to 
> do
> a damn thing about getting trad jazz into High Schools. In fact, it
> threatens their power base and so they'll give it lip service, but nothing
> So, if folks want to get Trad into schools, the best bets are TJEN which 
> is
> trying to drag IAJE kicking and screaming into trad, or to support Wynton
> Marsalis who's Jazz At Lincoln Center has a program for schools that
> includes a pretty fair amount of trad.
> Be that as it may, the problem is not that we don't teach musos Trad. Heck
> we have more than enough young trad musos coming out of various jazz camps
> all over the USA. We don't need more trad musos.
> then, we've all heard that song before and ignored it. Just keeps bringing
> me back to the Branford Marsalis quote:
> ³Jazz Musicians are always talking about, ŒWhy isn¹t jazz popular.¹ But 
> jazz
> musicians today are completely devoid of charisma. People never really 
> liked
> the music in the first place. So now you have musicians who are proficient
> at playing instruments, and people sit there, and it¹s just boring to them 
>> because they¹re trying to see something, or feel it.²
> Maybe he's right. It's not the music, it's the musicians. Perhaps it never
> was the music, but the overall charisma, sex, booze and dirty dancing.
> Please don't shoot the messenger. And don't tell me it can't be done,
> because I'm doing it. A large portion of my gigs are for young audiences 
> who
> love OKOM when they hear it played with verve, and with a band that gets
> down with them.
> Cheers,
> Steve Barbone
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