I had a class today on jazz pianists.

We learned that early ragtime was based on the same song structure as Sousa.  Ragtime isn't considered jazz because there was no improvisation.  The left hand played rhythm and the right hand did everything else. Stride piano was the same, except it allowed the right hand to improvise.

Scott Joplin, died penniless.  Hardly got anything from his songs.

Fats Waller, a real character. Wrote "Aint Misbehavin" and other hits.  He would sell the same song several times over on Tin Pan Alley.  If you can watch one of his shorts on Youtube, he was very entertaining.

Click to view Fats

Art Tatum,  amazingly fast. Almost blind,  learned everything by ear.  Would get into "cutting contests" of pianists outplaying each other.  most of his competition would throw up their hands and give up!  When he walked into a place where Fats Waller was playing,  Fats Waller said "I am only a piano player.  God is in the house".  

Charlie Parker worked as a dishwasher for 9 weeks at a club where Art Tatum was playing.
"Third Stream" was a combination of main stream and symphonic.Also called West Coast Jazz.

Bebop was developed during a musicians strike over musicians not getting any cut of recorded music profits. They refused to record during this period.  So we have no history of how it really developed. But swing musicians were getting tired of playing only stuff that dancers could dance to when bebop started.

Dave Brubeck had a small integrated jazz combo in the military in WW2, and that kept him from having to participate in some of the worst of the war.  He was asked to stay behind the lines and lift the morale of the soldiers coming over.

Time was doing a piece on Duke Ellington and him when they were touring together.  When the issue came out, it had Dave Brubeck on the cover, much to the chagrin of Dave Brubeck.  

His Time Out album was the best selling jazz album to date.  He incorporated improvisation in time signatures that he learned from all over the world, like Blue Rondo a la Turk.  

When he was given a Kennedy Center honor in 20101, on his birthday,  his kids (with whom he had toured for several years) told him they had a gig and they couldn't make it.  So when they appeared on stage at the honors,  you can see him mouthing "son of a bitch". 

All the groups onstage played a medley of Take Five, Blue Rondo a la Turk, and Happy Birthday. You can watch it on Youtube.  At the after party, the honorees (big names) were all gathered around Dave.  

I never had heard the song "Audrey" before, written by someone with a crush on Audrey Hepburn.  Good tune.

Click to view:


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