On Saturday, June 30th at 10am we’ll start delving into Miles Davis’ revolutionary “Birth of the Cool”. This influential and enduring work has it all: inspired arranging, cool vibe, great playing – a multi-session group effort featuring compositions and arrangements by Gil Evans, Gerry Mulligan, Miles, John Carisi and John Lewis. This nonet project from the late 1940’s and early 50’s is the culmination of hours of hanging out and experimenting, and is a great example of intricate, intimate and soulful small ensemble writing. We will study “Jeru” by Gerry Mulligan using scores and parts.
Then after a short break I’ll bring up my good friend and NYC homeboy drummer, composer and band-leader Paul Peress. Paul comes from an exceptionally musical family, his late father Maurice was a well-known conductor, composer, educator, and friend of Duke Ellington. Paul will discuss his own meeting Duke Ellington on several occasions, and his work with his father Ellington’s “Black Brown and Beige” with his father. He’ll also touch on work we did together in NY, where I arranged some of Paul’s music, and various music concepts important to him as a drummer/composer. For summer reading, check out how Maurice traces the roots of the intersection of jazz and classical music from the mid 19th century on, and recounts much of his multi-faceted career in his book “Dvorak to Duke Ellington”. Highly recommended.
Free coffee and lots of hang time, done by 12:30. See you there!
About Paul Peress:
“A MUST SEE ARTIST AND MASTER DRUMMER” – The Los Angeles Times
Paul Peress is a Grammy nominated drummer, bandleader, producer, and songwriter, newly based out of Los Angeles. He has worked as music director/drummer with Chaka Khan, Brenda Russell, Moby, The B-52’s, Mary Wilson, Deniece Williams, Regina Belle, Tom Scott, Bobby Kimball, Stephen Bishop, Jeff Golub… His band, The Paul Peress Project, has performed in over 20 countries, including appearances at The Heineken Jazz Festival, Jamaica Jazz & Blues Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, South Africa’s Joy of Jazz Festival, BET’s Jazz St. Lucia…
Class Materials 5/5/18
“A LOVE SUPREME” sketch (is this authentic?):
Ellington’s auspicious Carnegie Hall debut in 1943 gave us the masterpiece “Black, Brown and Beige”, arguably the first long form, extended “legit” concert jazz work. Contemporary critics and aficionados were skeptical that Duke, or anyone for that matter, could pull off such a feat. Seriously, given that jazz is an improvised art form, how it be “composed” enough for the deadly serious concert stage? How can an a jazz artist sustain interest and craft a meaningful jazz work longer than the a few sides of a 78 rpm record? In the last class we spent some time on the first movement, of “Black, Brown and Beige” using a few contrasting recordings. We’ll continue on from where we left off.
A few decades later with Miles’ “Bitches Brew”, the line between written and improvised sound had grown opaque and the process multi-dimensional. Plus there remained no doubt that even the freest sounding jazz can be composed and legit. Concepts like exploiting musicians’ individuality, evolved common practice techniques, free improvisation, electronics, rock and R n B influences, and modern production all coalesced for Miles and the “Bitches Brew” band. Last month we took a hard look at “Pharaoh’s Dance”, I want to continue on and look at the rest of the record. Also I’ve been waiting to introduce Sun Ra to the group, maybe now’s the time? We also might check out a bit of Trane’s “A Love Supreme”.
After a short break I’ll introduce our guest speaker, five-time Grammy Award winner Mervyn Warren, a highly accomplished film and television composer, record producer, arranger, songwriter, lyricist, pianist, and vocalist. Mervyn is equally adept at many styles, his work spans the genres from film score, pop, R&B, jazz, orchestral, classical, vocal, country, and more. His filmography includes The Wedding Planner, A Walk To Remember, The Preacher’s Wife, and A Raisin In The Sun. His artist roster includes Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Queen Latifah, Boyz II Men, Barbra Streisand, Dolly Parton, Rascal Flatts, Chicago, Michael Bublé, Al Jarreau, & many more.
Mervyn will be joining us to shine the light on the recently completed project by legendary jazz vocal group The Manhattan Transfer. It’s been almost a decade since their last studio album (2009’s The Chick Corea Songbook), and their new 2018 album, The Junction, sets the group on a new course with hybrid elements of jazz, swing, hip hop, and more. We’ll be playing tracks from the new album and talking to Mervyn about his arranging, the recording process, and more.
Hey! Great news…er…”Black Brown and Beige” full score of the full suite as performed in 1943 is now available on ejazzlines.com – FOR $500 – that’s right, the PDF score (and parts) is $500 – no study score is offered. Oh well.
Pharaoh’s Dance – ZAWINUL CHART FROM THE INTERNET
Link to “Black Brown and Beige” arranged by Maurice Peress 1970, download is unavailable:
Pharaoh’s Dance – Zawinul’s original chart (? from the interwebs – authenticity is not established)
Pharaoh’s Dance transcription/sketch by Scott Healy
“A LOVE SUPREME” sketch (is this authentic?):
SATURDAY, MARCH 24TH, 2018 – 10am – 12:30pm
On March 24th I want to start talking about a composer’s intent – how a writer’s vision is carried forward and realized. This will be the first in more than a few installments of this broad topic – we’re doing more than analyzing the music, we’ll be trying to “decode” it. Even improvised “free” jazz can have strict form and recognizable intent.
We’ll look at three contrasting works: “Black, Brown and Beige” by Duke Ellington, “Pharaoh’s Dance” by Joe Zawinul from Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, and “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane. Despite their obvious stylistic differences, these three works share an evolved sense of “composed” performance. Duke, Miles and Coltrane were composers and instrumentalists. They all played like writers and wrote like players. How does being a player affect one’s intent in composing? Let’s see if we can decode some of these great recordings’ magic.
The premiere 1943 Carnegie Hall Concert of “Black, Brown and Beige” was just the beginning. The piece has been chopped up, reworked, rerecorded and orchestrated, both by Duke himself and others. We’ll check out the original, and compare it to an interesting and evocative symphonic treatment of the work by the late conductor Maurice Peress with the Buffalo Phil. We’ll hear how both versions really lean on the players to make the magic happen – the score is just a point of departure.
Miles was playing and composing, calling the shots, and even arranging and “recomposing” others’ original tunes when he recorded the seminal Bitches Brew in 1968. A lot of it sounds like free blowing, but there is definite structure and intent.
Trane’s 1965 masterpiece “A Love Supreme”, well, what can I say…
Then after a short break I’ll bring to the stage our guest speaker, guitar virtuoso and Emmy-nominated composer Mr. Grant Geissman. Grant has had a long and prolific career, and we’re going to hear all about it. Let’s try and decode him while we’re at it!
You’re definitely going to get your money’s worth on Saturday. And there will be free food and … oh yes, coffee. See you there. Scott
Cover charge: $15 includes continental breakfast
Purchase tickets in advance on Eventbright or at the door.
Vitello’s E-Spot Lounge – 4349 Tujunga Ave Studio City, CA 91604
About Grant Geissman
Grant Geissman is a guitarist and composer with fourteen albums released under his own name, the latest being the jazz trilogy of Say That!, Cool Man Cool, and BOP! BANG! BOOM!, for which he wrote and arranged all of the songs (Futurism Records). Geissman also co-wrote the music for all twelve seasons of the hit CBS-TV series Two and a Half Men and all six seasons of Mike & Molly. He was nominated for an Emmy Award in 2004 for co-writing the Two and a Half Men theme (“Men, men, men, men, manly men”). His other TV credits include playing the Django Reinhart-style acoustic guitar solo on the theme of the hit sitcom Monk.
Geissman recorded the now-iconic electric guitar solo on Chuck Mangione’s 1978 mega-hit “Feels So Good.” Over the years, the versatile guitarist has recorded with such artists as Burt Bacharach, Inara George, Joanna Newsom, Lorraine Feather, Julio Iglesias, Quincy Jones, Gordon Goodwin’s Big Phat Band, David Benoit, Van Dyke Parks, and Ringo Starr.