Posts Tagged With: jazz

Jazz apprenticeship of the divine nature

My one-year apprenticeship studying jazz piano with Jay Flippin ended in July. Jay and I went out with a bang with a joint, two-piano concert June 13 at Natasha’s Bistro in Lexington, Ky. One of my friends described the event as an apotheosis, a Greek word meaning “elevation to divine status.”  That night I certainly experienced a period of elation and excitement, possibly bordering on the divine, after a celebratory glass of wine when it was over.

Playing Charlie Parker’s “Yardbird Suite” with Jay on one piano and me on the other was as good as it gets. But this pinnacle celebration could not have taken place without an intense and arduous year of disciplined practice and hard work on my part, along with Jay’s generosity and willingness to share his treasure trove of piano experience and knowledge. So I think this combination of intense study and working toward a goal of playing jazz for an audience, and then actually doing it, was the fruition of a realized dream called an apotheosis. The Kentucky Arts Council Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program allowed me the unparalleled opportunity to devote myself to this task.

I have always wanted to play jazz, and have been a piano jazz fan and dabbler for many years.  I started studying with Jay a year before my apprenticeship began, which was the year I retired from my job of many years teaching art. So I know a good teacher when I see one. Because there were no grades, no pressure except what I placed upon myself, and no deadlines except a faraway collaboration of some sort, Jay’s lessons were always inspiring.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Jay is a fountain of knowledge about jazz theory, history, jazz players and traditions. Born in a small mountain town, Jay learned jazz the way traditional musicians almost always learn their art. He learned by watching and listening to artists he admired, practicing hours and hours, imitating what he heard and learned, and then taking a risk and going out and playing in public! Most of all, Jay is one of the best jazz piano players around, having won five Emmys for original composition. Not only does he know how to play, but he knows how to tell you exactly what he is playing in terms of jazz theory. That is indeed a rare combination.

I have played the piano almost all of my life. Now I play for contra and swing dances, belong to the Reel World String Band, and have done all kinds of ensemble and solo piano work over the years. All of my piano work is now informed and changed by what I have learned during this apprenticeship. Because I was a teacher for many years, I also know what it’s like to be a good student. Jay said he appreciated me because I actually would do what he told me to do. I would follow his instructions. I taped all my lessons, so I could work with these recordings when I got home. You can’t really cram for a piano performance, so what you do is a result of what you have done, but the practicing definitely got more intense closer to the end of the apprenticeship.

At the beginning of my study with Jay, I was sure I knew what jazz sounded like, but that I would never be able to play it.  Now I know what is involved. I still think that, as Jay and others have said, that it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill. I know that I am on my way. I have the tools to do it, and it is a matter of refining my skills through practice, interacting with other musicians, and performance.

What I have gained from the apprenticeship and from Jay is the confidence and the desire to share jazz music with other players and listeners. I learned that you don’t have to be perfect to get out there and play, you just have to do it. It is perfectly legitimate to learn from your mistakes, as anyone will tell you. Now when I play, I also have the desire and the ability to educate people about some facet of jazz based on my own experience of the medium. I did not have this knowledge and experience of jazz before the apprenticeship. I thank the Kentucky Arts Council for giving me this opportunity to be a successful student, for acknowledging that jazz is a traditional Kentucky art form, and for creating such a valuable program to connect and showcase master artists and their aspiring students.

Elise Melrood, pianist, Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program participant

Categories: Arts Education, Folk and Traditional Arts, Performing Arts | Tags: , , ,

Tempt Your Senses: Hear

With over 200 exhibitors working in wood, paint, silver, wool, chocolate, clay, silk and much more, Kentucky Crafted: The Market is a sense explosion. That’s why we chose “tempt your senses” as this year’s theme. We dare you to come to the Lexington Convention Center on March 2 – 3 and be tempted by all of the music, textures, smells, sights and tastes offered by Kentucky’s best artists and crafts people.  It will be impossible to walk away empty handed.

The moment you walk into the Market – even before you purchase your pass – you will notice that art is everywhere. Although buying and selling visual art is the Market’s main purpose, it’s not the sole purpose. The arts council uses this versatile venue to create all kinds of arts experiences: literary art, folk and traditional arts and performing arts. The Kentucky Stage, located in the atrium of the convention center, features a full schedule of diverse musicians from across the state. Not only can we we boast the Commonwealth’s finest art and craft, we also present Kentucky’s most accomplished live performers for the price of your admission. If you like what you hear, you can step over to the Marketplace and purchase CDs.

Hog Operation – Saturday, March 2, 2 p.m.

Hog Operation uses bluegrass instrumentation to explore a variety of American musical styles from reels to rock ‘n’ roll. They play original music as well as country standards and bluegrass arrangements of popular songs. Audiences can expect to hear their favorite bluegrass sounds but should also be prepared for pleasant surprises. Each musician – Larry Raley, Mike Schroeder, John Hawkins and Steve Cooley – is accomplished in his own right. When they play together the sound can be described simply as “tight.” Come early to hear Steve Cooley discuss how he keeps the stringed instruments – that are so vital to the unique bluegrass sound – playing the sweetest possible notes. At 1 p.m., the Kentucky Stage will feature a live interview with Steve, Donna Lamb, Art Mize, Arthur Hatfield and Walter Lay – all Kentucky luthiers who make or repair banjos, fiddles, guitars, mandolins and more.

Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers  Saturday, March 2, 3 p.m.

It began 25 years ago in Covington’s Ninth Street Baptist Church when Ric Jennings formed an a capella quartet from members of their men’s choir. The Northern Kentucky Brotherhood Singers earned most of their chops in the church and some on the street corners, and the result is uniquely northern Kentucky.  Although they have performed all over the United States and Europe, they are true to the sound created in their community and play local churches,  song services, sacred music events and even anniversaries. In addition to their gospel repertoire, they also sing R&B favorites and other popular tunes. They take the Kentucky Stage on Saturday afternoon, but it may feel like Sunday morning as they “inspire feelings of fellowship and recreate the jubilant atmosphere of their home church.”

Appalatin  Saturday, March 2, 5 p.m.

The name Appalatin (as you may have guessed) is a portmanteau of Appalachian and Latin. True to their name, they blend the music of their home regions to create a sound that is – above all other labels and definitions – music of the world and 21st century Kentucky. Appalatin is artistic proof that no matter our culture of origin, our ways of expression have much in common. Old-time string, blues, bluegrass, Spanish-style guitar, bachata, cumbia – it all has roots. Their sound obviously speaks to more than just Appalachians and Latinos. With a musical mission “to bring a message of a fair and just world, one of hope, joy and love,” Appalatin have a popular sound and a strong following that can be seen in the results of their recent Kickstarter campaign to produce their new album. To date, they have made 150 percent of their goal with donors pledging as much as $1,500. Their campaign doesn’t even end until March 10, 2013. Now that is real listener buy-in!

Real World String Band – Sunday, March 3, 1 p.m.

Reel World String Band

Reel World String Band

Trouble in Mind

Early in their careers, this “all-girl act” was considered a novelty in mainstream music. But people who knew better saw that they were just darn good musicians. Lily May Ledford once said of the band, “You don’t see many people up on stage who’ve got fire. But you girls have got it. Lord, you girls are good!” This so-called novelty has thrived for over 35 years, and Kentucky is truly fortunate to have the members of the Reel World String Band as  native daughters. With rousing harmonies, the band makes music rooted in the Appalachian tradition while representing and championing Kentuckians through their songs. They are each masters of their instruments and treasures born of Kentucky’s arts and cultural heritage.

These are just a few of the performers you can experience on the Kentucky Stage. For a complete listing, look at the lineup in the Market program.

Market Program

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Are your sense tempted yet? For more peeks and previews, check out our titillating Pinterest board.

Categories: Other, Performing Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

%d bloggers like this: