Thursday, August 28, 2008

Quick, to the TV! A Take 6 Sighting!

Here's a photo of Take 6 doing a soundcheck for tonight's performance with Stevie Wonder at the Democratic National Convention.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Two Diverse Articles on Classical Music and Jazz

Lately, I've been enjoying a lot of classical and jazz music. Right now my favorite classical piece is William Banfield's "Essay for Orchestra." Snag yourself a copy of African Heritage Symphony, Vol. 3, and see if Banfield's composition doesn't make you feel like you can fly. Works of The Chicago Sinfonietta and Imani Winds are also among my current classical favorites, and a couple of months ago I found an album of Arias performed by Leontyne Price that I've been playing a lot.

When it comes to jazz, I'm familiarizing myself with the works of Sir Duke, and looking forward to Take 6's upcoming release of jazz standards. (By "looking," I mean "checking the mail every day for my review copy." But my faithful readers knew that.)

I have a longtime interest in issues of diversity related to higher education. The last couple of issues of Diverse Issues In Higher Education featured articles that combine those issues with significant developments in classical music and jazz:

Bringing Diversity to the World of Classical Music
The Sphinx Organization provides opportunities for young musicians of color to showcase their talents.

This article highlights violinist Aaron Dworkin's efforts to found and cultivate the Sphinx Organization, which provides music education and competitions to encourage young minority musicians to pursue classical music.

Keeping the Tradition Alive
The relatively low percentage of Black students in jazz studies programs remains a topic of interest as scholars want to ensure that the musical culture of an earlier generation of African Americans lives on.

Garry Boulard's report includes this particularly interesting quote from Carl Allen, the artistic director of jazz studies at the Juilliard School:
"A good deal of jazz came up from gospel music and playing in the church. Now
we are seeing another shift where jazz is influencing other genres of music that
may not be readily apparent to the ear or to those who are not musicians."
If I were interviewing Allen, I would not have been able to resist the desire to ask for some examples. Although I'm sure the response wouldn't necessarily fit into this story, I bet it would become a fascinating tangent that could lead to a different piece altogether.

Boulard also interviewed Bobby Watson, the saxophonist/composer who is director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri's Conservatory of Music. Watson offered some intriguing thoughts about the importance of band music courses in urban schools:

"It's no wonder so many of the younger kids, both African-American and
White, got away from this kind of music. Hip-hop became popular because many
students in urban areas like Kansas City didn't have any instruments to
play. And without an instrument, it's hard to play jazz."

Watson's theory would make for a challenging cultural studies-related essay or paper. In the meantime, Blogosphere, I'm interested in hearing your responses to Watson's specific thought as well as to this more general question: How are people's cultural tastes shaped by socioeconomic status?