Sunday, March 6, 2016

Play it again, Wynton

I was raised listening to all sorts of music: Salsa, big band, pop, rock, and classical. The latter played in our home most often because my dad loved it and my sister played it on the piano. She was one of those piano prodigies and listening to her play was amazing. I was lucky that she would cater the music to me like when she played the Tom & Jerry song (Hungarian Rhapsody) and she would either slow down or speed up the tempo while I raced back and forth down the hallway (I was 3).

My dad would play Chopin and I remember imagining that it sounded like a train going up a hill (Polonaise). He found that the piano was the most beautiful musical instrument. Additionally, he introduced me to the Glenn Miller and Count Basie (he would chat with the Count when he would visit the hotel my dad was managing in Miami Beach) Orchestra. That all stuck with me and til this day, I still listen to a variety of music but mostly the classics.

Moving to Chicago, I knew I wanted to expose my son to what I call real music; not just the Wiggles. Jazz was something I got into later in life and I love it. When I would play it on the radio, my son liked to listen to it. He liked the classics too but he leaned toward Jazz. I heard that the Count Basie Orchestra was playing with Wynton Marsalis and the Lincoln Center Orchestra at the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO). Hence my lesson.

This is a simple lesson that focuses on immersing the student in the arts.

Book- Moving to Higher Ground by Wynton Marsalis
CD- Blood on the Fields by Wynton Marsalis
CD- The Best of Count Basie Orchestra
DVD- Marsalis on Music
Wikipedia- Wynton Marsalis & Count Basie
Tickets to show

Utilizing Wikipedia, we learned about the lives of Marsalis & Count Basie. Additionally, we learned that Marsalis is the only Jazz musician to win a Pulitzer Prize (as well as many other awards) for his CD Blood on the Fields. Furthermore, I found information on an educational series he created called Marsalis on Music.

I love public libraries. I requested the CD Blood on the Fields, the educational series, a book Marsalis authored called Moving to Higher Ground and a CD on Count Basie music.

While I waited for these items to become available, we went to see the bands play at the CSO. It was a phenomenal performance. I explained to my son that he was listening to jazz played by legends. Vincent plays the trumpet so he watched how Marsalis played it and knew that what he was doing with ease was really hard. Great show!

We watched From Souza to Satchmo: The Wind Band & the Jazz Band from Chapter 3 of the series. You can choose to watch all of the chapters or one. Depends on your kid. We learned about the history of Jazz from Marsalis himself, the different beats compared to the Wind Band, and the meaning of Jazz music.

I played on occasion the music CDs and we would talk about it. Did you like that song? Why or why not? We learned that Jazz is a conversation between instruments on the same subject. Blood on the Fields, we discussed, was a conversation about slavery, hardship, and struggle. It was not something you tap your feet to or dance. Count Basie was more upbeat and happy.

I read Moving to Higher Ground and discussed what I was reading with Vincent about Marsalis' life and love for Jazz music.

Finally, we reviewed everything we learned about Jazz and he narrated it to me because he would later present it to his dad.

Additional Materials:
Squeak, Rumble, Whomp! Whomp! Whomp!
Jazz ABZ: An A to Z collection of Jazz Portraits
To a Young Jazz Musician: Letters from the Road


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