We Can All Bop: Lessons from the Preschool Set

We Can All Bop: Lessons from the Preschool Set

I recently signed my four-year-old up for WeBop jazz classes, an early childhood education program developed by Jazz at Lincoln Center. I wanted to share my love of jazz with my son, with the hope that someday soon he’ll want to tag along as I go to concerts and clubs. So right now, he’s learning the fundamentals of jazz—blues form, improvisation, scat singing, and time—while singing, dancing, and drumming his way through a collection of jazz standards.

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Happy Birthday Sassy!

Happy Birthday Sassy!

Today Sarah Vaughan, who was born on March 27, 1924, would have been 90 years old. Of course, Sarah didn’t make it to 90 and passed away far too soon, almost 24 years ago at the age of 66. But it feels as if this vibrant artist is still very much alive and well. That her voice, legacy, and, in many respects, her soul live on.

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Women in Jazz Festivals. Do We Need Them?

Women in Jazz Festivals. Do We Need Them?

Valentine’s Day weekend marked the second annual Seattle Women in Jazz Festival, and once again, founder Jessica Davis put on a wonderful community-building event. It was the first of three similar festivals scheduled to take place this spring. This “mini-season” of women in jazz fests has gotten me thinking again about festivals dedicated to female performers. Do we still need them? Do they help or hurt the larger cause of women trying to make it in the male-dominated world of jazz? Which leads to the larger, most pressing question: How do we cultivate more female talent and build audiences for their concerts?

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A Jazz Horn Wins the Sarah Vaughan Vocal Competiton

A Jazz Horn Wins the Sarah Vaughan Vocal Competiton

It seems only fitting that a singer named Jazzmeia Horn would take home top honors at the second annual Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition. Horn, along with four other finalists, performed last night at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, Vaughan’s hometown, with the goal of becoming the next Divine One.

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A modest tribute to Eydie Gormé (1928-2013)

A modest tribute to Eydie Gormé (1928-2013)

It always saddens me to learn that an artist I enjoy and admire passed away, and the death of Eydie Gormé last weekend was no exception. She was a wonderful vocalist – a true embodiment of American pop music during the 1950s and 1960s. With her passing a little bit of history has been lost.

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I’m Irresistible You Fool. Give In. Part 3: We LOVE YOU Sarah!

I’m Irresistible You Fool. Give In. Part 3: We LOVE YOU Sarah!

I love fan art. It gives the amateurs amongst us a chance to put our own creative spin on an existing work while paying tribute to an artist that we admire. It’s interactive. It’s a form of homage. It helps Vaughan’s legacy live on. And Vaughan’s cover of “Whatever Lola Wants” has spawned a lot of fan art. Some of it is a lot of fun. Some less so. Some, quite, frankly, a little weird.

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I’m Irresistible You Fool. Give In. Part 2: Buy This!

I’m Irresistible You Fool. Give In. Part 2: Buy This!

Last time I talked about Sarah Vaughan’s still popular cover of “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets” and the power of music to enact real cultural and social change. This post I’d like to discuss another form of cultural work done by music: selling stuff! In particular, how “Whatever Lola Wants” has been used in advertising.

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I’m Irresistible You Fool. Give in.

I’m Irresistible You Fool. Give in.

One of my very favorite Sarah Vaughan songs is “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets” (1955). She nails her role as the seductive temptress and performs a Lola that is hip and sexy with a dash of humor. It’s as if Vaughan is winking at the listener, saying: come here, this is serious business, but not really. And her voice is stunning: full, rich, and sensuous, yet agile as she effortlessly infuses the lyric with her trademark bends and turns.

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An Ode to the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival

An Ode to the Mary Lou Williams Women in Jazz Festival

Friday afternoon as I eased into my long, holiday weekend, I ran across Abby Johnston’s thoughtful piece for Salon, “No women allowed: Summer music festivals are dudefests, again.” Ugh. Disappointing but not surprising. Then as I wrapped up my weekend I saw an advertisement for “The Women’s Concert for Change.” The ad was upbeat and promised an uplifting celebration of women. But, as it turns out, the concert, to be aired June 2, is part of headliner Beyonce’s new campaign to raise funds and awareness for female empowerment around the world. This is serious, more disheartening business.

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"There is nothing more fun in the world than singing, moving your feet in time, and playing clave."

"There is nothing more fun in the world than singing, moving your feet in time, and playing clave."

Today I’m excited to present an interview with Seattle-based vocalist, composer, and musical activist Elspeth Savani.

For the past decade she has been the co-leader of the Cuban big band orchestra Zarabanda, which regularly performs the salsa rhythms of old Havana throughout the Pacific Northwest. And in recent years she has applied her love of Cuban music to a more intimate, small ensemble jazz setting.

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