April is Jazz Appreciation Month!

April is Jazz Appreciation Month!


How applicable is it that JAM is the acronym for April’s Jazz Appreciation Month? It was created by Smithsonian’s Nationwide Museum of American Historical past curator and jazz afficionado John Edward Hasse in 2001 and acknowledges jamming–slang for when musicians play collectively in a looser, improvisational fashion.

Jazz is polyrhythmic, at all times evolving, defined MJ “Willie” Williams, a 75-year-old jazz vocalist and musician primarily based out of Helena who in 2016 obtained the Montana Arts Council Governor’s award.

As a buddy of mine says, ‘While you’re listening to improv, you’re getting each course of and product.’”

Jamming is essential to understanding jazz, a uniquely American artwork type that simply spans 100 years from Dixieland to bebop to up to date stylings. This 12 months the Museum has stepped up efforts to acknowledge feminine jazz vocalists like Billie Holliday, Ella Fitzgerald, and Nina Simone, in addition to jazz musicians and bandleaders, which prompted us to do the identical.

Williams remembers listening to vocal powerhouse Sarah Vaughan since she was in seventh grade, just some years previous to her becoming a member of her musician father on stage on the age of 16. She’s been performing and recording ever since, together with selling the humanities by means of innovation.

Williams co-founded the Montana Artists Refuge in Basin, which supplied greater than 300 artist-in-residencies throughout its 8-year run. And he or she additionally created a popup efficiency known as Sound Gallery in Helena’s 1+1=1 artwork gallery.

Though she hasn’t been taking part in in public this previous 12 months, Williams has been loads busy specializing in the piano with Bozeman-based musician, Ann Tappan, considered one of her Sound Gallery collaborators (together with bassist Rob Kohler).

A veteran of enormous and small venues—Seattle’s Bumbershoot, New York Metropolis’s Ladies in Jazz and each Le Sept Lezards jazz membership and the Atelier de la Essential d’Or in Paris, France—Williams is eager to share her music in smaller venues the place the viewers is there to not dine or drink, however moderately to hearken to the music.

For north Idaho’s Sandra Marlowe, “a scorching little jazz membership on the Large Island, Hawaii” known as Gertrude’s could be her go-to for dwell efficiency since COVID closed venues.

“Dwell music is witnessing the creation of one thing into sonic type that didn’t exist earlier than these moments, and experiencing the trade of energies between musician and viewers,” mentioned Marlowe. “Vibration and sound waves have an effect on us—bodily, emotionally, spiritually.”

Marlowe’s background contains vocal teaching by Judy Davis (whose shoppers included Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra), research on the Jazz Conservatory in Berkeley, California, songwriting, and greater than 30 years performing, in addition to educating.

Jazz is one thing she feels she graduated to, mentioned Marlowe.

“I’ve at all times had an improvisational really feel for music and rhythms, and deciphering a music in a approach that tells the story,” she mentioned, “however my early coaching—each piano and vocal—was of a extra classical nature, in addition to operatic coaching, the place you actually don’t sing or play what’s not on the web page.”

The pandemic didn’t cease her from finishing The Heart Always Remembers, a mixture of originals, normal covers and reimagined classic tunes, mentioned Marlowe, who’s in her early ‘60s. And when it was time to launch it, they did a “drive-in” launch, charging a per automobile ticket worth for motor sure listeners.

“Individuals had been keen to simply go away their homes and have one thing enjoyable to do. ISI

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