Jazz Education Network Conference 2013

 The Jazz Education Network is and organization that rose out of the ashes of IAJE, the International Association of Jazz Educators, when it went down in flames a few years ago. I don't know the real story as far as the reasons for the flame out of IAJE, but I've heard people say that hookers and piles of blow had something to do with it. It's always hookers and blow, isn't it?

This year I'm planning to go to the JEN conference in Atlanta. I have been invited to take part in a panel discussion on Jazz blogging with Earl MacDonald and George Colligan, both of whom have great Jazz blogs. The panel is titled 'Blogging with a Purpose- Educating and Building the Jazz Audience Base' and is with be happening on Saturday, Jan.5th at 1:00pm, at the Learning Center- Atrium Tower, Lower Level 1.

 I am looking forward to seeing old friends, checking out new gear and educational materials, seeing some interesting workshops and getting into some soul food. If you happen to be attending the JEN conference this year please stop by and say hello, or email me at: casavaldez@comcast.net if you want to meet for coffee.


The Pedagogy of Jazz Improvisation- Charlie Banacos

Charlie Banacos is once of the most influential Jazz teachers of the 20th century. When I was in school in Boston he was legendary, and had a two year waiting list to study with him. Anders Bostrom, my housemate in Boston, studied with him and I would hear the types of things that Charlie had assigned each week. Everything that Anders was working on was more more advanced than anything that I was getting at Berklee.

 For years I have just heard the results of his teaching in the playing of the students that spent time studying with him, but never really had a clear understanding of his pedagogy. Charlie also taught correspondence lessons to students all across the country, and there must be many of his written lessons floating around out there. I have never run across any myself, though not for a lack of trying. I will not even make an attempt to write about the profound effect that this educator had on his students. My good friend and pianist Kerry Politzer studied with Charlie for seven years and if you even mention his name around her she gets visibly upset, reminded of the great loss of his passing. Charlie inspired a such high level of devotion in his students that many of them speak about him more as a father figure or spiritual teacher than a Jazz educator. The influential players/educators who studied with Banacos reads like a who's who of Jazz: Gary Dial (for over 40 years), Randy & Michael Brecker, Mike Stern, Bill Frisell, Joey Calderazzo, Danilo Perez, Jeff Berlin, Kenny Werner, George Garzone and Bill Pierce, and many more.

Regular CV blog reader Stephan van Briel recently sent me a link to a former Bancacos student's (Lefteris Kordis) New England Conservatory doctorate dissertation. The dissertation details much of Charlie's teaching methods and concepts, something that I have been curious about for many years. There is some great material in there that is worthy of serious study for any Jazz educator or student.

From a letter from the Banacos family:

"As we approach what would have been Charlie's 66th birthday next month, his family would like to express their deep gratitude and appreciation to a number of individuals who have kept his legacy alive. There is a newly published dissertation by Lefteris Kordis at the New England Conservatory of Music on Charlie's pedagogy (appropriately named "Top Speed and in All Keys: Charlie Banacos's Pedagogy of Jazz Improvisation"). Lefteris' tireless research - including helpful interviews from dozens of students - resulted in an exciting and wonderfully comprehensive assessment of Charlie's teaching methods.  "
Charlie's daughter Barbara still offers correspondence courses, faithfully following Charlie's teaching methods.
 Top Speed in all Keys- Pedagogy of Charlie Banacos

Charlie Banacos: Recollections of a Legend (All About Jazz)
Charlie Banacos: The Zen Master of Improvisation
Charlie Banacos Wiki page


Rhythm Changes Matrix- keys of Bb & G (A sections)

Rhythm changes takes a lot of work to master and it seems to me like the only way to play stuff that is really interesting is to devote some time learning different harmonic approaches to the changes. There are many typical sets of reharms that are commonly used and when a soloist starts to go into one of them a good rhythm section will usually follow along. You will end up discovering a few sets of changes that you will favor.

  I asked a student of mine to take some of the sets of changes from Jamey Aebersold's Rhythm Changes Vol.47 and put them into Sibelius. He got most of the A sections, the B sections will be posted soon. I suck at Sibelius, so only two keys were done, which are the key of Bb and the key of G.

Rhythm Changes Variations in Bb & G


Richie Beirach compositions & reharms

Regular blog reader Stephan van Briels sent me some nice compositions & reharms by Richie Beirach. Beirach worked with Stan Getz and Chet Baker, his musical partnership with Dave Liebman spanned 30 years and he has recorded 37 albums as a lead. Richie may not be a household name, but his influence on many of today's Jazz pianists is not insignificant. Beirach has a unique harmonic approach and is known for his extensive use of poly-chords.

Richie Beirach compositions & reharms

Richie Beirach's web site
Richie Beirach's published compositions (Advance Music)