Duke Ellington’s jazz and classical music in Amsterdam church

This video from the Netherlands says about itself:

When Amsterdam expanded in western direction in the beginning of the 17th century, new churches were needed. One of these new churches was the Westerkerk (The Western church), built between 1620-1638. The initial designer of the Westerkerk was Hendrick de Keyser, whose son Pieter took over after his father died in 1621.

On 15 November 2015, there was a concert in the Westerkerk in Amsterdam. This church is not far from the Anne Frank House. Anne Frank could see the church’s tower from her window in the secret annexe during World War II.

The big church was full of people for the concert. There ware many people on stage as well. The Nationaal Symfonisch Kamerorkest this time, besides their usual classical music instruments, had jazz instruments like drums and saxophones as well.

There was also a big choir. Really, a merger for this concert of two Amsterdam choirs: GrootNoord, from the north of the city. And Singi Nanga Firi, a Surinamese name for a multicultural Christian choir.

Westerkerk concert flyer

The music was by Michael Tippett, a British classical composer, inspired by African American music in the ‘Five Negro Spirituals’ in his work A Child Of Our Time. After Tippett came the Sacred Concert, by famous United States jazz musician Duke Ellington, with classical music influences as well. This was the first time ever for Ellington’s Sacred Concert in the Netherlands, as one needs many people to perform it. Tippett’s Spirituals had been performed only rarely in the Netherlands.

This music video, recorded in Hong Kong in 2007, is called Michael Tippett: Go Down, Moses.

The five spirituals, performed in Amsterdam, were: Steal away to Jesus; Nobody knows the trouble; Go down, Moses; By and by; and Deep river.

While they are Christian religious songs, based on the Bible, there is an undertone of the struggle for freedom in African American history, against slavery and discrimination. Eg, in parallels with the Bible story of ancient Israelites escaping from slavery in Egypt, led by Moses.

This undertone of secular opposition to oppression within religious music is also present in Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts. They frequently have the word ‘freedom’, sometimes in many languages. The Christian right in the USA did not like that, claiming that Ellington had ‘polluted’ religion with jazz.

This music video, recorded on 17 March 2013 in San Marino, is called Duke Ellington’s Sacred Concerts (Full Concert).

Duke Ellington wrote three Sacred Concerts. In 1993, a compilation of these three was arranged by John Hoybye and Peder Pedersen. The Amsterdam performance was based on that compilation.

There was much applause after the music stopped.

Beyoncé’s jazz saxophonist Tia Fuller

This music video shows saxophone player Tia Fuller from the USA, at the Beyoncé experience, live 2007.

By Chris Searle in Britain:

Beyonce‘s saxophonist dazzles with her own jazz band

Tuesday 13th October 2015

Tia Fuller
Decisive Steps and Angelic Warrior

For the seething altosaxophonist Tia Fuller, who plays in the all-woman band which accompanies Beyoncé, as well as in regular jazz formations, “playing in front of 16,000 people or 60 people it’s the same, because it’s all about people, transferring energy, uplifting and encouraging spirits and sharing the love of music.”

Born in Aurora, Colorado in 1976, the daughter of teachers in the Denver school system who were also musicians, her girlhood was full of the sounds of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, as well as the piano of her sister, Shamie. Starting from the flute, she grew into the saxophone and by 1998 she had graduated in Music from Spelman College in Atlanta.

This video from the USA says about itself:

Tia Fuller – Touring with Beyoncé

30 November 2011

RockJazz caught Tia Fuller and her band recently in Chicago, where she discussed touring with Beyoncé, and the lessons she learned from the mega-shows Beyoncé stages.

The Chris Searle article continues:

In 2001 she moved into the jazz scene in New York, playing in stellar company with Jimmy Heath, Ralph Peterson, Don Byron and Jon Faddis, among many others, but it was in 2006 that another way beckoned when she became a featured horn in Beyoncé’s band, and thus began a strange coupling of jazz and superstar pop, while she also established a high reputation for teaching, both in Aurora state schools and at prestigious college level.

Her 201[0] album Decisive Steps has sister Shamie on piano and her drummate in Beyoncé’s band, Kim Thompson, with bassist Miriam Sullivan forming a central quartet, and male guests in Christian McBride (bass), Sean Jones (trumpet), vibesman Warren Wolf and tap dancer Maurice Chestnut.

Tia says that the fist altoist that she ever transcribed was Cannonball Adderley, and there is something of his fleeting brilliance in the album’s title tune opener, with Shamie’s pacy solo following her notes. These four women fly, their sonic union levitates, as it does on Windsoar, where Jones’s soft-toned trumpet joins the swooping, swallow-like sound.

Thompson’s emphatic drumbeat and McBride’s electric bass ground Tia’s dug-in notes in Ebb and Flow, where she sounds full of the earth before Jones’s soaring chorus. The old standard I Can’t Get Started gets a soulful unaccompanied intro by Tia before McBride’s acoustic bass throbs out into its heart and Wolf’s mallets put it into a new age. Kissed by the Sun has some groovy Shamie and a beautifully filigreeing soprano saxophone chorus from her sister, while Night Glow, written by Shamie’s husband Rudy Royston, gives Sullivan her moment, her bass sound ancestral but still palpitating.

Wolf’s lucid vibes match Tia’s luminous clarity and McBridge’s cavernous notes in Clear Mind, and in My Shining Hour it is the quartet pulsating out with a vibrant sisterly swing, Tia’s saxophone song full of verve.

In 2012 she released the album Angelic Warrior with Royston on drums. On the opener, Royston Rumble, Shamie and she set up a rapid pace before Tia’s alto comes leaping in and guest John Patitucci’s piccolo bass is also sprinting. The more sultry Ralphie’s Groove (dedicated to Peterson) features Tia’s lithe soprano and another virtuoso drummer, Terri Lyne Carrington, guests on the title tune, her complex drum patterns scattering under Tia’s melodic lead. The saxophone test-piece ballad, Body and Soul, is given a bass-emphatic performance in honour of Tia’s bass-playing father, while Dianne Reeves’s expressive vocal is a tribute to her singing mother. Tia’s horn bleeds with feeling, and in Descend to Barbados, a tribute to her bass player Mimi Jones and her Barbadian parents, her cadences fall like Caribbean rain.

Back to urban reality in Simpli-City, her horn, full of the streets, struts over Jones’s walking bass, and she ends with her salute to Beyonce, Ode to B, showing that her artistry finds no barriers between the very different genres that she plays within — “beyond category,” as Ellington used to say. And as Tia herself declares: “I think musicians are taking a step forward on both sides; we’re moving forward with combining all forms, and more people are accepting that concept, because it’s all interconnected. We, as people, are taking decisive steps.”

This music video from California in the USA says about itself:

12 January 2012

The Tia Fuller Quartet play the Vanderhoef Studio Theatre Cabaret at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on the UC Davis Campus.

Tia Fuller Quartet: Tia Fuller, Alto and Soprano Saxophones; Mimi Jones, Bass; Rudy Royston, Drum; Rachel Eckroth, Piano.

United States jazz musician Jeremy Pelt on Eric Garner’s death

This music video says about itself:

1 November 2012

Jeremy Pelt Quintet in “We’ll Be Together Again” (Fischer-Laine), Live al Duc des Lombards – Paris

Jeremy Pelt trumpet, Roxy Coss sax, David Bryant piano, Dwayne Burno bass, Jonathan Barber drums.

By Chris Searle in Britain:

Art, protest and restless humanity, never quelled

Tuesday 21st July 2015

Trumpeter Jeremy Pelt echoes a nation’s grief as US police continue to target, hurt and kill innocent black men, writes CHRIS SEARLE

Tales, Musings and Other Reveries
(High Note HCD 7270)
Jeremy Pelt

IT WAS July 17 2014 on a busy shopping street in Staten Island, New York City. A 43-year-old African-American ex-horticulturalist from the New York Parks and Recreation Department, Eric Garner, was confronted by some police officers, accused of selling “loosies” — single cigarettes from unlicensed and untaxed packs.

An argument ensued, with an officer — one Daniel Pantaleo — putting Garner into a 15-second chokehold and forcing him face down onto the pavement.

Garner spluttered: “I can’t breathe!” 11 times while his head was held down. An ambulance was called, and by the time it arrived at the hospital an hour later, Garner was dead.

After a grand jury decided not to charge Pantaleo for murder, there were nationwide protests and demonstrations at yet another fatal police attack on an African-American, and the mass indignation spread into popular culture too. No more efficaciously than in the new album by the southern Californian-born trumpeter Jeremy Pelt, Tales, Musings and Other Reveries.

In his sleeve notes, Pelt remembers “witnessing Los Angeles go up in flames” after the broadcasting of footage showing police beating black taxi driver Rodney King following a high-speed car chase though the city’s streets in 1991, and the subsequent acquittal of the police officers.

In the track Ruminations on Eric Garner, the twin brutalities against King and Garner are brought together in Pelt’s powerful hornplay and the two sets of pulsating drums of Virginian Billy Drummind and Victor Lewis of Omaha, Nebraska.

Pianist Simona Premazzi and bassist Ben Allison are there in the introduction and fading finale, but all the rest is Pelt, Drummond and Lewis creating an incensed colloquy of brass, skin and cymbal, with the trumpeter’s high-pitched runs and soaring, defiant notes calling out like a clamour for justice, and the two drummers pitched in the earth of wronged and savaged humanity.

I Only Miss Her When I Think of Her, which follows, is very different, with Pelt’s beautifully bent notes and burnished tone singing of love and tenderness. Nephthys is songlike and full of rapture, with the drums and Allison’s throbbing bass dancing below Pelt’s high horn trajectory. Premazzi seems to love the two drummers beside her too, and her keys jump off their sound.

Pelt writes that the blues piece The Old Soul of the Modern Day Wayfarer is about him and “the soujourner in myself” as if the nomadic musical life and the perennial touring has in some way defined his sound. His note-perfect delivery brings into strange unity the form of Art Farmer and the fierce passion of Freddie Hubbard: quite a fusion of excellence and tradition.

The hard bop classic Glass Bead Games, written by the tenor saxophonist Clifford Jordan, is transformed into a brass rhapsody by Pelt, flying above Lewis’s and Drummond’s pounding drums. Premazzi’s solo enriches the artistry before the drummers have their own palaver, loving their togetherness, prefacing Pelt’s final flourish as a salute to their union. Then there is Vonetta, written by another great tenorist, the survivor Wayne Shorter, for the 1967 Miles Davis album The Sorcerer. Pelt’s long, anguished notes reveal an unexpected tenderness in the heart of enchantment.

Pelt’s own Harlem Thoroughfare is a quasi-Ellingtonian title for another side of New York, and its village of black achievement. Premazzi’s solo is racked with complexities and Pelt is the griot and historian of his own dwelling place.

Pelt blows with a tender lucidity and Allison’s bass palpitates all through Everything You Can Imagine is Real, a dictum attributed to Picasso, whose Guernica is close to Pelt’s home, there in the New York Museum of Modern Art. The man who painted that would have understood Pelt’s artistry and his Ruminations on Eric Garner, that’s for sure. They come from the same soul of art, protest and restless humanity, never to be quelled or silenced.

Jazz musician Ornette Coleman, RIP

This video from the USA, about music recorded in 1959, is called Ornette ColemanLonely Woman.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Ornette Coleman, Jazz Innovator, Dies at 85


JUNE 11, 2015

Ornette Coleman, the alto saxophonist and composer who was one of the most powerful and contentious innovators in the history of jazz, died on Thursday morning in Manhattan. He was 85.

The cause was cardiac arrest, a representative of the family said.

Mr. Coleman widened the options in jazz and helped change its course. Partly through his example in the late 1950s and early ’60s, jazz became less beholden to the rules of harmony and rhythm, and gained more distance from the American songbook repertoire. His own music, then and later, became a new form of highly informed folk song: deceptively simple melodies for small groups with an intuitive, collective language, and a strategy for playing without preconceived chord sequences.

Though his early work— a kind of personal answer to his fellow alto saxophonist and innovator Charlie Parker— lay right within jazz — and generated a handful of standards among jazz musicians of the last half-century — he later challenged assumptions about jazz from top to bottom, bringing in his own ideas about instrumentation, process and technical expertise.

See also here.

New jazz music on 18th century Scottish history

This music video is called Scottish National Jazz Orchestra with Bobby Wellins at The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh on Friday 28 October 2011 playing ‘Epilogue’ from ‘The Culloden Moor Suite’.

By Chris Searle in Britain:

Meditation on a fateful slaughter at Culloden

Tuesday 2nd December 2014

Culloden Moor Suite, by Bobby Wellins and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (Spartacus Records)

From Drogheda in Ireland to Morant Bay in Jamaica, from the Kitchener-led bloodshed in the Sudan to the massacre at Amritsar, what cruelties and ferocity have British armies wrought on the people they sought to colonise and oppress?

None so close as the Scots at Culloden Moor in 1746. “One Englishman is better than three of them!” declared the “Butcher” Duke of Cumberland, commanding the British forces, and up to 2,000 Scots supporting the restoration of the Stuart monarchy were killed or maimed during the battle, with the Scottish wounded given no quarter on the battlefield.

This video is the film Culloden (1964), by Peter Watkins.

Now the Glaswegian septuagenarian tenor saxophonist Bobby Wellins has combined with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra to record the Culloden Moor Suite. It was composed by Wellins some 50 years ago around the time he was recording the landmark Under Milk Wood suite as part of the Stan Tracey Quartet, based on the work by Dylan Thomas.

The Culloden Suite is comparable to two other masterworks of a sustained anti-war theme in jazz. The first is the Mike Westbrook Orchestra‘s Marching Song of 1969, written, performed and recorded to provoke deep reflection of the 50th anniversary of the final acts of World War I. The other is Sing Me a Song of Songmy, Freddie Hubbard’s 1971 album to set into memory the massacre unleashed by the US Army on the people of My Lai village in Vietnam in March 1968.

Wellins’ powerful melodism begins the suite movement, Gathering, the mournful preface drawn by the ominous notes and pianist Steve Hamilton’s elegaic sound as the Scots rally, family by family, clan by clan, to the backward Jacobean cause. Wellins’ horn gives a narrative of the blues-as-premonition, a forewarning of a disastrous encounter.

As the Scottish armies move into England in the second movement, March, it is Alyn Cosker’s ironic drums and Brodie Jarvie’s springing bass that give the undertow to an illusory sense of optimism running through Wellins’s solo, that the Scottish armies’ southern movement will bring victory.

As they withdraw and march northwards to the highlands, with Cosker’s drums still signalling the route after Tom McNiven’s searing trumpet solo peals out like a grim soothsayer, as if the naked edge of his auguring horn is ringing out its message of calamity. Cosker’s battle-promising snares are everywhere in the music, rattling a harbinger of agony.

The third movement tells the story of the slaughter on the moor, when the Highlanders charged disastrously and directly into the cannons, muskets, grapeshot and lines of British bayonets, with the survivors pursued and slain by Cumberland’s dragoons in a barbarous ritual of chauvinist hatred.

It begins with an orchestral onslaught, the collective horns ablaze before Wellins’s saxophone tells its tragic story with a howling timbre, brief stop-time phrases and notes in piles, unaccompanied except for Cosker’s comradely drums.

Then the ensemble bleeds back into life behind Wellins in a call and response motif, an onrush of horns and a wild charge of sound. There is a pause, and Hamilton’s piano carries the narrative onwards, forlorn and naked.

Cumberland’s retributive savagery heralded an era of violent military and cultural repression of the Highland peoples, leading to forced land removals, of raw poverty and an age of almost compulsory migration.

Strangely ironic too that a form of music born in the streets of New Orleans a century and a half later, in a continent that became the eventual home of thousands of these migrants, should become the medium to express the pain and truth of that history.

For the profound grief of a Scottish blues radiates from the Aftermath and Epilogue movements, with Wellins’s wavering notes over Hamilton’s repeated scales and the full orchestra’s summative sound.

Wellins’s solo lament for the fateful, misled rebellion at the end of the Aftermath is deeply moving and the return to the suite’s opening melody in Epilogue first by Wellins, then the four trombones is both beautiful and engrossing.

History compellingly told in music – its lessons ingrained in our ears, in our brains.

Birds and musicians, video

This video from the USA says about itself:

Birds Got Swing: A Musical Experiment

8 July 2014

What happens when a jazz composer challenges a vocal virtuoso to match the voices of some of her favorite birds? Serious fun. Join Grammy recognized artists Maria Schneider and Theo Bleckmann in their musical experiment to help us tune in to nature’s music—from the melodious to the downright weird. You’ll never think of a sparrow or a toilet plunger in the same way again.

Then explore our Birds Got Swing playlist from the Macaulay Library archive.

Theo’s music at http://theobleckmann.com.

Maria’s music at http://mariaschneider.com.

Brought to you by the All About Bird Biology team at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.