Essays

What’s On Magazine Desert Discs

Asking a musician for his favorite songs or recordings is like asking a beach lover her favorite drop of water in the ocean, or his favorite grain of sand on the shore. In jazz, songs become friends that we musicians visit with, each conversation different from the last, based on how we feel that day, […]

Why Do I Sing

I sing because it is the one activity in which my body, mind and spirit unite in a creative fashion. In my life, the dual objective of art- self-expression and communication- is realized most effectively in the act of singing- specifically, jazz singing. On an external instrument, such as saxophone or piano, one has visual […]

Building Jazz Communities

There was a posting online that lamented a local jazz scene, of which I’m personally familiar. While the complaints were valid ones, the proposed solution didn’t convince me. I had some thoughts on the matter to share. Every strong jazz community needs four elements in order to take root and grow: 1) Education/exposure – Jazz […]

What Makes a Singer

Songs Old and New I’d like to know if there is a preference for the standards from the 40’s and 50’s like ‘The man I love’ and ‘Tenderly’ as opposed to the newer lesser heard songs like ‘Skylark’, and ‘I Thought About You’. And would someone define what makes one jazz singer different from another, […]

Collective Improvisation

I was listening to Oscar Peterson’s rendition of “You Stepped Out of a Dream” (which I have been unable to find on YouTube, sadly) from his album Tristeza on Piano, and I decided to look up a lead sheet, which I then found in my Real Book Volume II. And, apart from some very rough […]

Jazz Mastery – Random Thoughts

I can understand why one would think that jazz mastery is not necessarily about change. We have had at least 2 kinds of jazz masters: 1) those who find a sound, a concept that appeals to and challenges them, one that most accurately expresses their ideas; and 2) those who are always searching for if […]

Louis & Billie

Anonymous asked: <<I’ve just attended a jazz music class. The teacher gave us this question: “What is the difference between the styles of Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday?” I’m making a small research to answer this question. Can you help?>> Louis created a bravura solo style at a time when jazz was predominately an ensemble […]

10 things I’ve learned in my musical career

Charles McNeal recently posted “10 things I’ve learned in my musical career”. I liked what he had to say, but I found that certain points might benefit from being modified/clarified for vocalists. This is my humble attempt to ‘re-invent his wheels’: 1. Hire the best band possible. Just because your best friend, Charlie, plays drums […]

Whites in Jazz

frail asked this question on 7/22/2000: Are there any Black Americans willing to give me some opinions about white people in jazz?   Scotty Write gave this response on 7/24/2000: Jazz has been an equal-opportunity music from the beginning. When Benny Goodman hired Teddy Wilson and Lionel Hampton, it was probably the first time America […]