Thursday, July 9, 2009

AccuJazz News: Roll-Out Continues With "Nothin' But the Blues"

This week's new channel is a unique one: the common element among its hundreds of songs is not a style, decade, region, instrument, age range (Emerging Voices), gender (Women of Jazz), or inclusion in a famous photo (A Great Day in Harlem), but a chord progression. Not just any chord progression, but the end-all-be-all of jazz chord progressions: the 12-bar blues.

Granted, not every "jazz" version of a blues song has the exact same chord progression, but the basic underlying structure is the same, and it's amazing how much variation there is to be heard in the hundreds of tunes playing on our channel. There's early New Orleans jazz (King Oliver's "West End Blues," for instance), fiery bebop (Bird's "Au Privave," "Bloomdido" or "Relaxin' at the Camarillo") and all sorts of post-bop blues compositions, like Wayne Shorter's enduring "Footprints," George Russell's "Stratusphunk," and any number of more modern and adventurous blues-based creations from musicians like Brad Mehldau, Anat Cohen, Conrad Herwig, Dave Holland, Jason Moran and John Scofield.

The aforementioned Stratusphunk is not actually playing on our channel (yet) but was introduced to me via Twitter by the extremely talented composer/band leader Darcy James Argue and I found a great video of the harmonically adventurous George Russell tune on youtube.

Please let me know what your favorite blues heads are, and I'll try to make sure we're playing them. Mine are: Blue 7 (Sonny Rollins), Turnaround (Ornette Coleman), Blues In Blueprint (Duke Ellington), Bolivar Blues (Thelonious Monk), Footprints (Wayne Shorter), All Blues (Miles Davis), Isotope (Joe Henderson), Misterioso (Monk, again) and Sandu (Clifford Brown). Check out the channel right now and listen for these and literally hundreds more.

More Good News:

On the heels of yesterday's good jazz news post, I came across another good news story happening right here in Chicago. A non-profit organization called Urban Aspirations has been putting on weekly jam sessions at a southside restaurant called Sikia, and they're presenting a fundraiser concert Wednesday to raise money for another year of sessions. The concert will feature young trumpet phenom Corey Wilkes [pictured] (whose Cries From tha Ghetto is currently spinning on many AccuJazz channels) and local legend, pianist Ken Chaney.

The more I read about these jam sessions, the more intrigued I am and the more I want them to keep going on. Read this blog post and this news report about the last session and you'll get an idea of how big an impact this sort of thing can have in local kids' lives. There really are zero opportunities for young south side musicians to go jam, so this place is offering an essential service that will could very well launch some potentially important careers. If you want to attend Wednesday's fundraiser, hurry up and buy tickets here now, because tickets are only on sale through tomorrow, July 10.

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