Tuesday, August 21, 2007

School Days, School Days...

The USF Jazz Blog has been conspicuously silent for a while. I, personally, have been blogging at my blog and Tampa Jazz Scene all summer. USF's jazz department hasn't slowed down, though. There was a farewell concert and trip to Europe (I was at the Aebersold Camps instead) and plans for this year.

The Jazz Grad Students will be getting together tomorrow and I anticipate to introduce you to all of us. Tampa Jazz co-conspirator Rich Van Voorst is among them (returning for a second MM!).

Look for announcements about the Jazz Masterworks Series and Monday Night Jazz Series shortly - I can tell you it's gonna be a good year!

Until then, check out this video of Jack Wilkins and USF alumnus Corey Christiansen playing Tenor Madness at the Aebersold Camps (shot by yours truly - with a digital still camera):

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Much thanks to Belgian be.jazz for recommending the USF Jazz Blog while Darcy James Argue has gone on un-observed hiatus.

Please take a moment to explore this very well laid out, informative jazz blog.

US Army Blues Band at USF

The US Army Blues Septet is on the campus of USF today for a 1:00pm masterclass and 8:00pm concert. The band arrived yesterday and assisted in rehearsals as well a conducting an open rehearsal for this evening's concert. Additionally, the band hosted an open jam session at the CVPA last night.

There has been a lot going on this week. Look for reviews and pictures shortly.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Taste of the Arts

100_0329Today was (reportedly) the last Taste of the Arts event hosted by the College of Visual and Performing Arts at USF. Taste of the Arts is an afternoon of free food and entertainment from the CVPA designed to bring students and staff from across the campus into the CVPA.

Local Restaurants offered free food from 12:00-1:00 while the Herd of Thunder Marching Band and members of the USF Jazz department played. Students from Theater, Visual Arts, and Dance provided entertainment as well.


Friday, March 2, 2007

USF Monday Night Jazz|Ben Jaffe

tbs 161
Bassist and Director of New Orleans' Preservation Hall, Ben Jaffe, appeared at the USF Monday Night Jazz Series on Monday 24 February 2007. Every Monday Night Jazz program this year has been excellent, but this one was by far the best for a multitude of reasons.

Being a bass player, I was excited to have a bass player come to do MNJ and give a masterclass after the semester of trumpets. I wasn't, however, entirely sold on the idea of a MNJ devoted to New Orleans Jazz. I am not into trad jazz of any sort and, though I understand its importance in developing my jazz world view and that the music I tend to play wouldn't exist without it, I just don't really enjoy listening to it; it's not my typical choice for "cruise" music.

tbs 146I picked Ben up from the hotel Monday morning so he could get acquainted with his bass-for-a-day. Right off the bat, I was sold. Ben is much younger than my preconceived notions of a Preservation Hall guy and has far-reaching interests (musical and otherwise) that reminded me that we can only pigeon-hole ourselves. Not only that, but he's also a gut player. I had just put wound gut (Pirastro Olives) on my bass last week, an old set that I had removed from another bass years ago, and was experimenting with that sound. Ben didn't travel with his bass, but asked, instead, for any old bass, as long as it has adjusters. For most people, bridge adjusters are used to ensure the action is low enough to make a bass comfortable to play. For Ben, it was to ensure he could get his action high enough!
Ben put and unwound G and D on one of the University's old Juzeks and kept tuning it for the next several minutes while we talked. He left them almost a third above pitch and, by the masterclass half an hour later, they had dropped well over a fifth! I can see why steel strings were welcomed by the bass community with open arms.
The masterclass centered around a combo that had prepared some music specifically for this event. Ben talked about the differences between Dixieland and New Orleans Jazz and about the roots of the music, about Jazz Funerals and Mardi Gras. His father had played tuba in the band, a mantle which Ben was plenty capable of taking on himself. He worked with USF bassist John Shea on slap technique and drummer Mark Feinman on the timbres native to this NOJ tradition.

tbs 138The evening's concert was the first in a series of programs the Univeristy is doing for the Looking at Jazz Series. The concert was opened by the same combo from the day's masterclass performing at USF Theatre II during the serving of light hors d'ouvres and cocktail tables decorated in a 1920's theme.

During this time and throughout the concert, videos of early jazz were being projected behind the band. After the combo went on, Ben provided commentary on some of the videos he had brought from his personal collection. These were extraordinary videos about Preservation Hall and Jazz Funerals.

The main event featured the faculty jazz combo with the exception of drummer Steve Davis, whose spot was covered by USF alumnus Ian Goodman. They covered Do You Know What it Means to Miss New Orleans?" and other classic New Orleans tunes. The highlight for me was Jaffe and Wilkin's statement on Gershwin's I Got Rhythm, a recreation of the famous Don Byas|Slam Stewart Town Hall recording.

I found this MNJ concert and Ben Jaffe to be extremely inspiring and have decided to devote a portion of my study/practice to understanding more traditional forms of bass playing. To that end, I will be using the school Juzek ) and have ordered How Low Can You Go?, a three-disc collection chronicling the double bass in early music.


Saturday, February 10, 2007

Drum 'n' Bass

Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Feinman_Arenas Recital 02.07.07 008
The joint Junior Recital of USF Jazz Studies juniors Alejandro Arenas and Mark Feinman presented attendees with a well-conceived showcase for drums and double bass. A considerable crowd turned out to hear this duo, accompanied by jazz piano student John O'Leary and recent Graduate Studies graduate Rich Van Voorst on tenor sax.

The program opened with Charles Mingus' Hatian Fight Song. After stating the theme, Van Voorst and O'Leary each took a turn soloing, followed by traded choruses between Arenas and Feinman. Someday My Prince Will Come followed, with excellent solos by Arenas and VanVoorst, followed by a re-statement of the head and Feinman's solo.

Feinman_Arenas Recital 02.07.07 015Next was a transcription of performing Oscar Pettiford's Tricotism, replete with moving double-stops and sinewy double-time passages. I have heard Alejandro play this piece several times before and he plays it with more confidence and conviction every time.

Feinman_Arenas Recital 02.07.07 023
The next several tunes were performed by the rhythm section only. Bud Powell's burning Tempus Fugit (with which, I am embarrased to say, I was not familiar until this evening) was followed by John Patitucci's arrangement of Santamaria's Afro Blue. This Arenas/Feinman duo was an excellent showcase for Feinman's afro-cuban chops. The next tune was an Arenas original, We'll See, which he dedicated to his parents. Hearing this made me wish I was able to take Dave Stamps' Jazz Comp classes. Ray Brown's arrangement (sense a pattern here?) of Ellington & Tizol's Caravan provided the penultimate work of the evening. This arrangement required Arenas to perform the A sections of the head arco and perform an uncomfortably fast switch to pizz. for the B section. O'Leary and Feinman soloed on this tune.

Feinman_Arenas Recital 02.07.07 025The closer, Van Voorst's Ray's Blues, was a funky romp that brought Van Voorst back on stage and moved O'leary to the Fender Rhodes. This exhuberant tune provided one of the biggest surprises of the evening when a false ending led into Black Sabbath's Iron Man!

In all, an excellent evening and one of the most creative instrumental recital programs I've had the pleasure to enjoy.
Feinman_Arenas Recital 02.07.07 026

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Upcoming Events at USF Jazz

During the month of February, USF will be host to some of the top names in jazz performance and education by way of concerts and masterclasses. If you get a chance, come see the following:

February 10-12|Bob Mintzer and Russ Ferrante
Bob Mintzer and Russ Ferrante will be at USF to participate in the Center for Jazz Composition's Jazz Masterworks Series. The name of the concert is Old School|New Lessons, which also happens to be the title of Mintzer's most recent recording. Mintzer and Ferrante will join Chuck Owen and The Jazz Surge for two concerts:
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Palladium Theater 7:30 pm

Monday, February 12, 2007
Tampa Theatre 8:00 pm

There will also be masterclasses at USF:
Russ Ferrante
Monday, February 12, 2007
11:00 am

Bob Mintzer
Monday, February 12, 2007
1:00 pm

February 26|Ben Jaffe
Ben is the son of Allan and Sandra Jaffe, co-founders of Preservation Hall. He will be performing as a part of the USF Monday Night Jazz Series.

Ben Jaffe|Monday Night Jazz
Monday, February 26, 2007
USF Theater II 8:00 pm

Mr. Jaffe will be giving a masterclass as well.

Ben Jaffe Masterclass
Monday, February 26, 2007
1:00 pm

For additional information, call (813) 974-2311.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

USF Monday Night Jazz Series with Dan Haerle

Dan Haerle Masterclass Dan Haerle presented a masterclass and concert on Monday, Jan 29, 2007 as a part of the USF Monday Night Jazz Series. I was fortunate enough to be playing in a combo right before the masterclass, which meant Mr. Haerle was able to coach our combo for a short time.

The masterclass was a primer on the process of creating greater and greater interest in solos by progressing from the most basic form of the tune to more complex ways of bringing out its unique qualities. In this case, the tune was Blue Bossa and Haerle showed how, in its most basic form, the tune could be played with a C Melodic Minor Scale and a Db Major scale. He pointed out that the modulation to the b9 Maj was probably the most interesting feature of the tune and how, by using scales other than the modes of the tonic (Db for the four bars in question), he could create sounds that were interesting while remaining diatonic.

USF Jazz Faculty ensemble with Dan HaerleThe highlight of Mr. Haerle's visit was the evening concert of Haerle originals with Jack Wilkins, T Sax; Mark Neuenschwander, Bass; and Steve Davis, Drums. Hearle's originals were evocative and full of unexpected surprises. The rhythm section rarely laid out a 4-to-the-bar swing, relying instead on rhythmic interplay. Hearle's deadpan humor elicited more than a few chuckles between numbers and he was careful to provide program notes (for the students in the audience, he said) for every piece.

Haerle's appearance is the first of three Monday Night Jazz offerings this semester. Ben Jaffe of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and Dick Hyman will be at USF in February and March Respectively. More information about the Series can be found here.