Exploring Jazz Class at Villa Chanticleer

SSU Extended Education Sonoma State University’s extended education program at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) begins its second term at the “Healdsburg Campus” in January with three classes beginning the week of January 21, 2013. One of these is of particular interest to the Healdsburg Jazz community – the “Exploring Jazz” class meeting on Thursdays, from Jan. 24 – Feb. 28, at Villa Chanticleer.  See  below for more information.

Jazz is… Not Free

You’ve all heard the saying “free jazz.” Or maybe you’ve heard some discordant, hard-to-follow music in a seeming flurry of notes, and said, “Is this what they mean by ‘free jazz’?” It is and it isn’t. Free Jazz was a genuine phenomenon in the music, spearheaded by players like Ornette Coleman, Archie Shepp, Cecil Taylor, Albert Alyer and Pharaoh Sanders, exemplified by John Coltrane’s “sheet of sound” technique as well

Jazz is… a Gift

The ability to play jazz, to create spontaneous melodies and variations on a song’s structure and themes, is more than a talent – it’s a gift. Like any gift, it’s best when shared. And jazz musicians – standing on stage at Carnegie Hall or in a smoky basement club – share their gift with the audience, giving them the gift of their talent. Sure, you can take music lessons to

Jazz is… Ageless

Just last week, James Moody left us. The saxophonist and flute player had a long career that spanned from the Army “Negro bands” in the Second World War to his recordings with the Blue Note label in 1948, his 1949 hit “Moody’s Mood for Love,” to his appearance in 2009 at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. In between he managed to squeeze in two influential stints with Dizzy Gillespie, acted in

Jazz is… Creative

Jazz is a lot of things, such as international, improvisational, diverse and creative. But there are also creative ways of helping jazz, as you’ll read in this posting. Jazz fans have to become creative listeners. Like theater-goers, we enter into a state of suspended disbelief — we defer our expectations of where the song is going next, yet bear in mind its building blocks: chords, melody, themes, rhythms. As you

Jazz is… International

You’ve probably heard this before: Jazz is American music. Or, as the mission statement of the Healdsburg Jazz Festival puts it, “an indigenous American art form.” No, not “American” as in pine nut flour or Thanksgiving, but in the sense of an art that could only arise in the unique interaction of European and African cultures in the fertile ground of a New World. But over the course of the

Jazz is… a Party!

The reason that jazz is constantly evolving, and changing, is built into its DNA, so to speak – it’s a living music that breathes, grows and changes with every instrumentalist or vocalist who joins in. So new songs, new techniques, new riffs, new rhythms, new directions are embraced in jazz as in few other forms of music. Its strength is its wide embrace.

Jazz is… Improvisation

We’ve all had the experience – a jazz band is playing one of our favorites, “I Got Rhythm” or “My Favorite Things” or even “Moondance” – and halfway through the song we say, “Wait – what song is this again?” It’s taken off in an entirely new direction, and suddenly sounds nothing like Gershwin, or Van Morrison for that matter. In part, that’s because that’s what Jazz Is: Improvisation. From

Jazz is… Diversity

Jazz is an important part of our national story, and how it’s often been music that has brought people together, in spite of their differences in race, gender, national origin and more. In essence, diversity is what the Healdsburg Jazz Festival stands for: promoting the “awareness and appreciation of jazz by facilitating cross-cultural interaction, providing performance opportunities, and educating young people and adults about the important role of jazz as

Jazz is… American music

Nearly everyone agrees that jazz came from the African-American culture, most probably around New Orleans at the end of the 19th century. But did you know there’s also a connection to baseball — and Sonoma County — in the earliest reportage on jazz? It’s universally recognized that jazz is America’s defining contribution to world music. In fact, even the US Congress noted this — in 1987, the 100th Congress passed

Step Up, Sign Up, Show Up!

Summer’s coming to an end – with a heat wave, of course, after a cooler-than-usual year. It’s been an unusual season in a number of ways, especially at the Healdsburg Jazz Festival. Normally, this is a quiet time of year for us, before the planning for the education programs and the annual summer Healdsburg Jazz Festival really gets going. But this is not a normal year. When people ask, How