Last night, 92Y’s Jazz in July festival kicked-off with a Jazz Piano Master Class featuring Bill Charlap, Ted Rosenthal, a student from LaGuardia High School and another from the Manhattan School of Music. A special feature of the performance is a camera on the keyboards that’s projected onto a giant screen so that the audience can watch the dazzling finger action. More photos here.
In a way, jazz is America’s classical music. And you can’t get a greater teacher than Billy Taylor. His book goes through different periods and different pianists. Because he was there, he could talk about the “cutting contests” Fats Waller and other stride pianists had with each other: “What’s wrong? Is your left hand broken?” It was like a meeting of jazz gladiators.
You can also see Bill talking with NY1’s Kristen Shaughnessy about Jazz in July.
Pianist Bill Charlap spoke with JazzWax about the legendary Bill Evans (pictured):
JW: Is Evans’ music daunting to interpret, given his cult-like status among audiences?
BC: To be honest, the romantic view of Bill as a brooding artist is important, but there’s so much more. There will certainly be a Bill Evans flavor and mood to what we’re performing, but we’re not attempting to sound exactly like Bill. That would be foolish. We’re interpreting his original music, and hopefully the audience will have a new, spiritual awareness of his compositional skills.
JW: How do you explain the duality of Evans—his musical intensity and his obvious fondness for the common man?
BC: Bill reached so far into himself—becoming deeply introspective, if you will—that an opposite outward result occurred. By reaching so deep inside, his music wound up connecting with a wide number of people on a human level. In other words, the music doesn’t end up being introspective at all. Bill always kept his audience in mind, no matter what he played.
Charlap is the artistic director of 92Y’s Jazz in July festival and he’s dedicating a night to the music of Bill Evans. Hear more about the festival in a conversation between Charlap and WBGO’s Rhonda Hamilton.
“It bugs me when people try to analyze jazz as an intellectual theorem. It’s not. It’s feeling.” -Bill Evans
Tickets to the “Jazz in July” series of concerts at New York’s 92Y are going fast—especially Time Remembered: The Music of Bill Evans, Messengers of Jazz: The Legacy of Art Blakey and Basie Roars Again. For more information about the concerts and tickets, go here.
Go there! $25 tickets for ages 35 and under are available.
Cory Weaver shoots a beautiful photo of the incomparable Bucky Pizzarelli on stage at 92nd Street Y last night for Jazz in July, with fantastic lighting by the 92Y backstage crew.
Jazz in July continues tonight with The Key Players, when four of today’s top jazz pianists join Peter Washington on bass and Willie Jones III on drums.
On this day in 1768, the Boston Gazette published “Liberty Song,” America’s first patriotic song.
Above is a copy of the “Liberty Song,” as seen in the Boston Chronicle on August 29, 1768.
Does that count as column? Probably not, but we could run it by John Avalon, Jesse Angelo and Errol Louis when they come to 92YTribeca on September 27 to discuss some of the best newspaper columns ever written.
And speaking of the U.S.’s first patriotic song, Jazz in July salutes Irving Berlin on July 28, no slouch in the patriotic song department.
92Y Video: A Conversation with Jimmy Heath
Jimmy Heath was here on June 19 with Joseph McLaren, co-author of I Walked with Giants: The Autobiography of Jimmy Heath. The video clip above features Mr. Heath speaking about his parents and grandparents, and growing up in Philly. What’s more, Jonathan Chimene submitted a question for Mr. Heath via the 92Y Concerts Facebook page, and Mr. McLaren submitted this during the Q&A. “In your incredible career,” Chimene asked, “it seems as if you’ve had the opportunity to play with all of the greats. Is there anyone who was active during your lifetime who you didn’t get to play with and wish that you could have?” Watch the video to hear Jimmy Heath’s answer.
Related: Jazz in July is right around the corner. Find out more.