Saturday, September 26, 2009

Early Autumn in the Park

Today was the first jazz workshop of autumn, astronomically speaking. Despite the almost-seasonal weather outside today, it was hot in the McRae Park building today. Not the temperature, the music. We had a great turnout of 14 musicians that just "clicked" today and the music was great. We started out with four guitarists (!), two of them first-timers (Kevin and Dave), one returning from his first visit last week (Chris) and an old hand (Tim). There were two drummers, too- Gene and Ken (who was here for his first time). On saxes we had Ira (alto), Wes (tenor) and Peter on bari sax. On bass and trumpet we had Sam and on upright bass we had Margo. Vocalism was handled by Annie, Toria and Dick.

To break in the new folks gently we started out the instrumental hour with "'Round Midnight" before getting to the advanced stuff. I'm kidding. We started with "Blue Bossa" but we did do a Monk tune later on at the instigation of Ira. Other songs included "A Foggy Day," "Early Autumn," Autumn Leaves," "Autumn in New York," "'Tis Autumn," "September Song-" there was obviously a seasonal theme- "I Thought About You," "Let's Cool One," "I Should Care," "I Could Write a Book," "Peri's Scope," and "St. Thomas." There might have been a few others. Kevin took notes of the songs we played and e-mailed me the list he kept. Thanks!

Every so often in life you get to have so much fun that your face is kind of sore from smiling afterwards. I felt like that today! Next week (October 3rd) we'll have fun all over again. Hope you can be there!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

So Little Time, Too Many Things

Due to a schedule conflict I wasn't able to go to the workshop on 9/19/09 and have no real idea what happened. Sam was also planning to not be there, Chris the guitarist was hoping to be there. Hiroto the sax player left a comment about wanting to come to the workshop, too. If anyone was there and wants to send in a report, that'd be great!

Addendum- It was mentioned to me that Christian (piano), Chris (guitar), Hiroto (sax), Gene (drums), Annie (vocals) and Toria (vocals) at least were there and maybe a couple other folks too.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Early Autumn

Today was the first Saturday Jazz Workshop of the fall season. We started out the the instrumental hour with Gene (drums), Ira (alto sax) and Tim (guitar). Ira had to leave early, about the same time that the workshoppers had to move to a different room due to a scheduling conflict at the park building. Once we got set up in the other room, we also got together with the vocalists (Annie, Toria, Dick and Sheila) and reinforcements arrived in the form of Steve (trumpet and cornet) and Norman (piano).

Songs played today included "Day by Day," "Early Autumn," "Triste," "Meditation," "At Last," "Try A Little Tenderness," "I Cover the Waterfront," "So What," "The More I See You," "Where Are You," "It's Only a Paper Moon," "If You Never Come To Me" and "Recycling Day," an original by Tim. There were some other songs, too, but the titles escape me.

So, the Jazz Workshop is back in the Saturday groove!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

First Saturday Workshop of the Season

On 9/12/09 the Jazz Workshop will start meeting on Saturdays. We meet from 12:00-1:00PM to concentrate on instrumentals and from 1:00-3:45 with the vocalists in the mix.

The Jazz Workshop in the Park at McRae Park in South Minneapolis has been helping people develop the ability to play jazz for three decades. We meet every Saturday (from 12:00-3:45PM) between Labor Day and Memorial Day. The Jazz Workshop has been happening since about 1978, giving aspiring jazz musicians an opportunity to hone their chops and learn the craft of playing fine music. Musicians of all ages are welcome and there is no cost. We mostly play songs from the Real Book(s) and other Great American Song Book standards (and we'll try to play almost whatever jazz charts you bring). The basic skills you need are some facility in playing in all 12 keys, knowing some scales (major, minor and pentatonic are helpful), and being able to read a lead sheet reasonably well (perfect sight reading not required). It's a workshop, so we figure it's likely that you'll need to develop your skills rather than coming in with smoking chops ready to take the jazz world by storm. Instruction is informal- this is mainly learning by doing. If you have questions, ask!

If you play piano, we have an upright provided by the park (but the tuning is unreliable as the weather changes); we also have a small drum kit (bring your own sticks and brushes, and you might want to bring your cymbals in case you don't like ours). If you're a singer and you want something in a different key than the various "Real Books" provide, please bring at least a half-dozen copies of charts in the key you desire; transposed charts for Bb and Eb instruments are really appreciated.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Jazz Workshop in the Minnesota Guitar Society newsletter

A month or so ago Tim met with Paul Hintz, professional jazz guitarist and teacher, to discuss the Jazz Workshop. Paul edits the Minnesota Guitar Society newsletter and asked for an article on the Workshop. It appears in the September/October newsletter. Thanks to Paul and the Minnesota Guitar Society for thinking of us!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The last Monday Jazz Workshop for 2009

The Jazz Workshop had its last Monday evening session for the year on 8/31. It was a slightly strange evening as a number of the regulars were also involved in the Minneapolis Community and Technical College jazz ensemble class which started on Monday evenings a couple weeks ago; those folks arrived late to the Workshop (but troupers they were- playing from 5:00-7:00 at MCTC and then joining us for the last 90 minutes). We started out with a drums-guitar duet with Gene and Tim, playing "When Sunny Gets Blue" and "All Blues" to get started. John arrived about 6:30 and sang several tunes, including "Night and Day" and "'Round Midnight," followed by Norman arriving and getting out the piano to round things out. We even took a stab at Frank Zappa's "Blessed Relief," a jazz waltz recorded on the "Grand Wazoo" album about 40 years ago. Vicki came shortly after this and sang some songs, with Wes (tenor sax) and then Sam (bass and trumpet) arriving after the MCTC ensemble ended. It ended up being a very relaxed and enjoyable evening, if a bit nontraditional in terms of instrumentation at times. Other songs included "Ornithology," "The Nearness of You," "A Foggy Day" and about a dozen others which slip my aging mind.

After Labor Day we will switch back to the Saturday schedule, with instrumentals from 12:00-1:00PM and then with the vocalists from 1:00-4:00PM. We won't meet the weekend of Labor Day and the next Jazz Workshop will be on Saturday 9/12/09. These longer sessions allow us to get through a lot of songs and really help with the development of jazz musicianship. Hope to see you there!