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Music Lessons

The blues: musical genre, blues scale, blues progression

What is the blues? The answer to this question is not as simple as it may seem, in fact the term ‘blues’ refers to many different things, all of which have to do with music, but the point of view can be very different. In this lesson we will discover different uses of the word…

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Monday Notes

Mo Better Blues, a soundtrack to understand the blues

[Monday notes no. 159] Mo Better Blues is the title track of the soundtrack for the film of the same name directed by Spike Lee, who commissioned the music to his father Bill Lee. Mo Better Blues is has a funky feel but in many ways falls in the tradition of the more archaic blues.…

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Monday Notes

Piero Umiliani, Gassmann blues. Jazz meets Italian comedy

[Monday Notes no. 153] For the soundtrack of the film I soliti ignoti Mario Monicelli chose a young Florentine musician named Piero Umiliani. Monicelli wanted a soundtrack that was completely jazzy, a very unusual choice for the time. Let us analyse the track entitled Gassmann Blues.

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Monday Notes

Freddy Cole, I’m Not My Brother I’m Me

[Monday Note No. 152] Freddy Cole, younger brother of the great Nat King Cole, was a fine musician who performed for almost fifty years with his trio, until his death about a year ago at the age of 89. In his song I’m Not My Brother I’m Me, Freddy humorously recounts how he spent his…

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Monday Notes

Nina Simone, Feeling Good. A song to explore soul music

[Monday Notes No. 144] Feeling Good is a soul piece made famous by Nina Simone in 1965. The song appeared the same year in a musical starring Cy Grant, but it was Nina Simone who made it popular. Her version is certainly more successful and intense, let us try to analyse it also to better…

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Monday Notes

Robert Johnson, They’re Red Hot. Between blues and minstrel show

[Monday Notes No. 135] Robert Johnson is a blues legend. He died at only 27 years of age, of him there remain a handful of recordings in which he sings accompanied by guitar, in the classic Delta blues style. One of these recordings, however, is very different from the others: it’s a song, entitled They’re…

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Monday Notes

Domenico Modugno, Amara terra mia. An Italian spiritual

[Monday Note No. 134] Amara Terra mia is a song that Domenico Modugno reinterpreted and thus brought to the attention of the whole of Italy. The original piece titled Nebbia alla valle (Fog in the valley) dates back to the early 20th century and was a work song of the olive harvesters of the Abruzzo…

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Monday Notes

Chick Webb, Blues in My Heart

[Monday Notes no. 131] Chick Webb was one of the first great jazz drummers, his career was short but many drummers were inspired by him. Buddy Rich, Gene Krupa, Sid Catlett, Jo Jones and others paid homage to Chick Webb and considered him a master. We listen to his orchestra playing Blues in My Heart,…

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Monday Notes

Arjen’s Bag, John McLaughlin and English jazz

[Monday Notes no. 111] That same year that he participated in Miles Davis’ masterpiece In a Silent Way, guitarist John McLaughlin recorded a beautiful lead album entitled Extrapolation, accompanied by other English musicians like himself. Let’s listen and analyse Arjen’s Bag.

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Monday Notes

Footprints, a jazz classic between avant-garde and jam session

[Monday Notes no. 110] In its original version Footprints is an avant-garde piece, at the same time the simplicity of the harmonic progression has turned it into a jam session piece that anyone can play. It is difficult to think of another piece in which these opposite qualities coexist. Let us listen to and analyse…

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