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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

Etta James, At Last. How to vary a song

[Monday’s Notes No. 140] At Last is a song by Harry Warren composed in the 1940s but brought to success by Etta James in 1960, also thanks to a simple but very good arrangement. The singer improvises much of the song, let us analyse her interpretation.

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Monday Notes

Les Baxter, Busy Port. Exotica, a precursor of New Age

[Monday Note No. 136] Les Baxter is one of the most important exponents of Exotica, a genre of music that was popular in the 1950s. Exotic music was vaguely inspired by the sounds of distant and fascinating places, such as the Pacific Islands, the Orient, and South America. Let’s listen to Busy Port, taken from…

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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

Warne Marsh, All The Things You Are. An Author’s Contrafact

[Monday Notes No. 127] All the Things You Are is a Broadway song and in the author Jerome Kern’s intentions was not a jazz piece. However, the song appealed to jazz musicians, who took it over and turned it into a classic of the jazz repertoire. Warne Marsh went even further, using the harmony of…

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Monday Notes

Gorni Kramer, Crapa Pelada. In Imitation of Duke Ellington

[Monday Note no. 123] Crapa pelada is a piece from 1936, when jazz was opposed by the fascist regime because it was foreign music. Gorni Kramer resolved the issue with humour, using a nursery rhyme in Milanese dialect to the tune of Duke Ellington’s It Don’t Mean a Thing.

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Monday Notes

Every Time We Say Goodbye, a masterpiece by Cole Porter

[Monday Notes no. 121] Every Time We Say Goodbye is one of the most beautiful songs written by Cole Porter, a songwriter who contributed dozens of unforgettable songs to the repertoire of great American songs. While many composers worked in tandem with a lyricist, Cole Porter for Everytime We Say Goodbye wrote both the lyrics…

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Monday Notes

James P. Johnson, The Carolina Shout. From ragtime to stride piano

[Monday Notes no. 119] James P. Johnson was one of the greatest pianists of the 1920s, also famous for his composition The Charleston, which contributed to the spread of the dance of the same name. James P. Johnson’s music marks the transition between ragtime and stride piano, the earliest form of jazz piano. Let us…

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Monday Notes

Ethel Waters, Don’t Blame Me. An elegant voice with a blues vein

[Monday Notes no. 118] Ethel Waters is a first-generation jazz singer, her style is conversational and discreet, enhanced by an alto voice and a pleasant blues vein. We listen to her performance of Don’t Blame Me, a ballad composed by one of the great couples of American song: Jimmy McHugh and Dorothy Fields.

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Monday Notes

Kenny Dorham, Blue Bossa. Bossa nova from a Jazzman’s perspective

[Monday Notes no. 113] Blue Bossa is one of the simplest pieces in the jazz repertoire and one of the most popular among beginners. Yet the author Kenny Dorham himself did not take it too seriously, to the point that he only recorded it once. Joe Henderson, on the other hand, liked the piece and…

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