Posts Tagged ‘Jazz’

THE SUBJECT IS MUSIC

July 28, 2019

Let’s Discuss

Chapter 5

My Popular Music

Each generation, it appears, has its own popular music. For mine, it is what is now called The Great American Songbook, or Standards. I was born in 1930. The number one hit that year was “Happy Days Are Here Again,” which was adopted by the Democratic Party and played at the 1932 Democratic National Convention that nominated Franklin Delano Roosevelt for President. Americans were looking for happy days to return, and FDR promised them “a new deal.”
Some of the other hits of 1930 were “Ten Cents a Dance,” ”On the Sunny Side of the Street,” “Body and Soul,” “St. Louis Blues,” “Georgia on My Mind,” “Puttin’ on the Ritz,” “Embraceable You,” and “Three Little Words.”

Big Bands were still popular when I was the drummer for the Teen Tavern Tooters in the late 1940’s. Teen Tavern was a teen club for Columbus, Jordan, and Baker High Schools that was operated by the Columbus Recreation Department when World War II ended. The above photo was taken in 1947.

By 1930, big bands were beginning their dominance of the popular music scene because dance music was very much in demand. Swing was becoming the thing. The fox trot, jitterbug, and Lindy Hop were gaining popularity in the ballrooms. By 1936, the big bands had become dominant. There were a few vocalists whose names topped their accompanying orchestras on record labels. The number one hit of 1936 was “Pennies from Heaven” sung by Bing Crosby. However, the vast majority of hits featured big bands such as Tommy Dorsey, Shep Fields, Jimmy Dorsey, Jan Garber, Eddy Duchin, Guy Lombardo, Hal Kemp, and Jimmie Lunceford.

Then, in 1938 Glenn Miller started his climb to the top. Wikipedia reports he was the best-selling recording artist from 1939 to 1943. In 1942, he and his orchestra were given the first gold record by RCA Victor for “Chattanooga Choo-Choo.” It was a big hit with 11-year-old me at the time. Another favorite of mine was “Tuxedo Junction,” which was recorded in 1940. It sold 115,000 copies in the first week. When the Bradley Theater opened in downtown Columbus in 1940, it featured an organist from Atlanta whose Hammond organ was hooked up to the theater’s sound system. After the feature film finished, he would play a short concert. He sat on a sofa in the lobby reading a book between concerts. He was a friendly young man and he would take requests. I asked him to play “Tuxedo Junction.” I was thrilled when he played it. Unfortunately, he and his organ were gone in a few weeks. If you wanted to enjoy a live organ performance after that, you had to go to the Fabulous Fox in Atlanta, which was something I wouldn’t experience until six years late, when I was 15 years old.

Since it’s generally accepted that a generation is about 25 years, we can say that my generation began in 1930 and ended 25 years later in 1955. 1955 was the beginning of the ascendance of Rock and Roll music, and the ending of the reign of Swing. Bill Haley and His Comets multi-million selling recording “Rock Around the Clock” was played over the credits of the film “Blackboard Jungle.” Elvis Presley started his career in 1954 at Sun Records in Memphis. Little Richard recorded “Tutti Frutti” in 1955. At the time, I thought Rock and Roll was a fad that would not last. Swing never entirely went away but was rapidly eclipsed by Rock and Roll which is still the dominant form of popular music.

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The Icredible Doc

September 11, 2015
Doc Severensin autographing CDs at River Center, Columbus, GA

Doc Severinsen autographing CDs at River Center, Columbus, GA

Doc Severinsen and his big band brought the house down in the Bill Heard Theater at the River Center last night. At age 88, he can still hit the really high notes on his trumpet, and energetically lead his band and emcee the concert from start to finish. The concert featured the great big band and jazz classic songs of the swing era. It was encouraging to see a lot of young folks there, some with their grand parents and some Schwob School of Music students.

I asked one of the CSU Jazz Band students what he thought of the concert. He thought it was great and said, “I’m going to have to practice more.” Doc had taught aMaster Class for Schwob students before the concert.

The line of fans wanting to buy autographed CDs was the longest I have ever seen.

It was truly an enjoyable evening, especially for audience members who, like me, enjoyed Severensin and his band on the Johnny Carson Tonight Show on NBC for thirty years.

Thanks to the Columbus Jazz Society for sponsoring the event.

 

Columbus Gets a Local Radio Station for Intellectuals?

July 3, 2015

There is good reason to think that is the case. The sophisticated jazz music I’m listening to right now is a good start.  Here’s the news release published by CSU University Relations yesterday.


COLUMBUS, Ga. – Columbus State University went live today with its first radio station, thanks to a local contribution. Just after midnight, 88.5 WCUG-FM Cougar Radio signed on and inaugurated a new era in student broadcasting opportunities for CSU.

Housed in CSU’s Department of Communication on the RiverPark campus and operated by students under the direction of department faculty and staff, WCUG-FM enables university faculty and students to produce and broadcast original content over the 22,000-watt station, 24 hours a day. In addition to original content, the station will offer a broadcast schedule of music and other programming to fit diverse tastes and interests.

“The CSU Department of Communication is growing in number of majors and in classroom and community opportunities for students to gain practical experience in many areas of the industry said Danna Gibson, chair of the department. “We are excited to launch the station and provide opportunities for communication students to learn all aspects of running a radio station. We are grateful for this gift that will enhance not only our communication studies, public relations and integrated media concentrations but also will open opportunities for all CSU students.”

For now, the music on 88.5 will not change much. But that will change soon. The station plans a limited schedule of programming in the first few months of operation, according to Gibson. The schedule will expand in fall with additional original programming and news, as well as music and sports. “We look to faculty and students to tell us what they want to hear on WCUG,” she said. “This is a great learning lab for our students, but it also is a new alternative in radio listening for our university and the community. I invite you to listen to us as we grow,” she adde

Appreciating Great Music

September 29, 2014

 

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How do you  get  people to  learn to appreciate and  enjoy really great symphonic, classical, and jazz music?

First of all, you have to expose them to it, preferably at a young age.

The Columbus State University Schwob School of Music is playing a major role in doing that in our area.  A prime example is the free concert for children held at  the National Infantry Museum Sunday afternoon.  The children and their parents and grandparents got to hear some extraordinary piano, cello, vocal and jazz combo performances by CSU faculty and student musicians, including some very young ones.  Schwob offers courses to young children as well as college students. The concert selections were all done in an entertaining way that young children could enjoy,  introduced by a female student in a “Pianosaurus” costume. Judging by the reaction of the children in the audience, it worked. They loved it.  

There will be many more free concerts for children of all ages by these extraordinarily talented Schwob students.  The school’s website tells you where and when.  Just click on this link.

 

 

And the Classical Beat Goes On

April 13, 2014

Schwob School of Music’s Kaleidoscope again Showcases Brilliant Student Musicians

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Statue of Oscar Peterson at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa, Canada. Wikipedia says, “It was unveiled in June 2010 by the reigning sovereign of Canada, Queen Elizabeth II.” (Photo by Skeezix1000)

The late Oscar Peterson, who garnered 8 Grammy Awards as best Jazz Pianist, was considered by many musicians to be the greatest jazz pianist in the world. He had been classically trained. He advised his jazz students to learn to play the music of Johann Sebastian Bach in order to play jazz well. 

The Bill Heard Theater was full of classically trained musicians – some who played some swinging jazz – Saturday night, students of the Columbus State University Schwob School of Music, performing the school’s annual Kaleidoscope Concert. Those young people are brilliant college musicians who are being taught by world-class classical instructors, who  are also internationally recognized virtuosos themselves.   They demonstrated those facts for a large, appreciative audience. The different ensembles and soloists sang and played on the main stage, in front of it, and in the boxes, going from one number to the next without applause. The audience had been asked not to applaud until the end of the concert. Once they could applaud, they did so thunderously.

It’s really encouraging that Columbus is giving such moral and financial support to the Schwob School of Music. Columbus has been supportive of serious music since 1855, when the country’s second symphonic orchestra was formed by Mendelssohn’s student Herman S. Saroni . The first one was the New York Philharmonic. Thankfully, that tradition continues.

 

Jazz and the Fiscal Cliff

November 12, 2012

They don’t really have anything to  do with one another, but it’s Monday and that means I need a new post since I said I would try to have a new one on Mondays.  Since I can’t seem to settle on one subject, I guess I’ll do a stream of consciousness thing.

The most recent thing that impressed me was the performance of the Atlanta 17 at the Columbus Jazz Society gathering at St. Thomas Episcopal Church yesterday. Wonderful big-band jazz played by Atlanta area businessmen and professionals.  The drummer is a retired chiropractor, for instance,  The crowd, including me, loved it.  The crowd, however should have been larger. I guess the Jazz Society needs better publicity.

The other thing rising to my cognitive surface is what Congress and the president are going to do  about cutting spending and raising taxes.  Like the  guy says, “I don’t want the federal government messing with my Medicare.” I understand somebody really said that.  While we’re at it, I don’t want it messing with my Social Security, either.

I don’t want my taxes going up, either; however, I do want a few things like improved roads, bridges, rapid transit, and schools, and a balanced budget!

CSU Music Students Dazzle the Kaleidoscope Audience Again

April 15, 2012

KALEIDOSCOPE

CSU's Schwob School of Music Kaleidoscope kept things moving again this year as musical units played in the different parts of the Bill Heard Theater, going from one selection to another with short pauses in between. While it proved very effective again, it would have been even more effective if the pauses had been much shorter.

Schwob School of Music Interim Director Ron Wirt asked the audience at the annual Kaleidoscope concert to hold all applause until the very last selection in the concert was played.  And for the most part they did, but some of the performances were so spectacular, some folks just had to  applaud.  But most followed the rule and waited until the CSU Philharmonic Orchestra played the finale, Manuel de Falla’s Jota, from The Three Cornered Hat.  After holding off that long, which was hard to do because of the incredibly brilliant performances by the students, the audience gave a thundering, prolonged standing ovation.  The students and their instructors deserved it. If you missed it this year, do your self a favor and don’t miss it next year.

The CSU Philharmonic, always impressive, provided an exciting and beautiful ending to this year's Kaleidoscope. Maybe one year all of the different units including the University Singers, soloists, CSU Jazz Band, CSU Women's Ensemble, could all perform from all over the theater one grand finale together.

Alex Pershounin Jazz Quartet Packs the Liberty Theater Cultural Center

April 12, 2010

The Liberty Theater Cultural Center was wall to wall with people Sunday evening for the Columbus Jazz Society’s monthly concert and jam session.  They came to enjoy the music of the Alex Pershounin Quartet, and  four Columbus State student musicians, one of whom was awarded a thousand-dollar scholarship, and the various musicians who took took part in the jam session.

Jack Meisburg, Columbus State University music major, won this year's Columbus Jazz Society's $1,000 scholarship

CSU music major and sophomore Jack Meisburg, of Alpharetta, Georgia, who plays bass, won the scholarship.

Starting with Dixieland and coming up to today’s jazz, the Pershounin Jazz Quartet gave the Jazz Society members and guests a jazz history lesson.  The quartet is led by Columbus State  Director of Jazz Studies Dr. Alex Pershounin who plays dazzling jazz bass.  He has quite a resume, playing with such greats at Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and Ray Charles, and he has recored several commercially released CD albums and music to four full-length motion pictures.

The other three members of the quartet are also college instructors. Saxaphonist Amy Griffths, teaches saxaphone at CSU.  Dr. Paul Viallancourt teaches percussion at CSU, and guitarist Robert Orr is Professor of Guitar at Auburn University.

I don’t claim to be a music critic, but I do have some background in music, having been a percussionist in high school, college, and Army bands. In 1955-56, I played in a jazz combo that toured U.S. Army posts in Bavaria, Germany, so I guess I have some idea of when jazz is played well.  It was played extremely well Sunday evening at the Liberty. Judging from the thunderous applause they gave, I would say that the rest of the audience completely agreed with me.  If you like jazz, you’ll love the Columbus Jazz Society sessions. The next one is on May 9th.

For Great Music You Don’t Have to Go Anywhere Else

March 5, 2010

YOU CAN GET IT RIGHT HERE IN COLUMBUS, GA

It is amazing that a city the size of Columbus has such an abundance of quality, live, sophisticated music available.  No, I am not talking about the stuff you hear on American Idol. That is anything but sophisticated.  Most of it , to me, is primal noise. I am talking about classical music by the great composers,  standards from the “American song book,”  jazz that requires expert musicianship, the kind played by the Columbus State University Jazz Ensemble, and the kind you get at the Columbus Jazz Society’s monthly sessions.  Not only is it available in Columbus, it is available in quanity as well as quality. 

Charlie Chaplin as "The Tramp"

If I had to pick the most entertaining of all of the movies, plays, and concerts of the past 12 months, it would be the Columbus Symphony Orchestra’s City Lights performance on Valentine’s Day.

The audience at the Bill Heard Theater roared in laughter at the antics of the great silent movie comedian Charlie Chaplin, and it marveled at the score that Chaplin wrote being beautifully played by the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.  Just before the movie started, CSO Conductor George Del Gobbo introduced it by calling Chaplin a genius.  I agree. He was.  It was a night to remember. I hope the symphony will continue with more novel nights.  Maybe it will help increase audience size.  The Bill Heard Theater had a lot of empty seats for that special presentation.  It’s a problem all over the country.  The audience for symphony concerts has been in decline for a number of years. That, to me, is a shame.  I love the sound of a live 60 to 80 piece symphony orchestra.  As good as audio technology has become, it still can’t replace the live sound of a fine orchestra, and we do have a fine orchestra in Columbus.

We’ll get another chance to enjoy it tomorrow night, March 6, 2010, at the Bill Heard Theater when the Hamman Sisters play Ravel, Poulenc, and Debussy ina program called “French Impressions.”  See you there.

“Mr. Music,” George Corradino, Says MCSD Music Program Needs a Supervisor

November 24, 2008

  

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Dr. George Corradino playing with Columbus Community Orchestra (Courtesy: Joey Cumming)

 Dr. George Corradino, as only he could, used the occasion of being featured soloist of the Columbus Community Orchestra, to issue a call to action in support of school music in the Muscogee County School District. He had just finished playing “Georgia On My Mind,” with the orchestra, and he added an unaccompanied solo of Italian music his mother loved, both crowd pleasers that got him a big hand, when he launched into an appeal for everyone there to lobby the school board to hire a supervisor of music. That’s the job from which he retired. The system hasn’t had one for years, now, and he thinks it shows.

  “We are about to get a new superintendent of schools so now is a good time to push for an emphasis on school music and hiring a supervisor of music, ” he told the crowd.

  Afterwards, as we were walking out to ours cars, I said, “George, I guess the reason we don’t have a supervisor of music is because of the money.”

  “It’s not the money, Dick. They would save money by having a supervisor.”

  “Then what is it?”

   “I don’t know, but it’s not the money.  By having a central office for the school music program they could save money in ordering supplies, for one thing. And how about hiring music teachers? Principals are hiring them now for each school.  Music is not their speciality. They don’t have the qualifications for hiring band directors and other music teachers.”

  Over all, he thinks the music program in the schools has gone down. It appears to me that he is right. For instance, over all, the high school bands are nowhere nearly as impressive as they were for many years, years when the superintendent and school board ardently supported the program.  That support started when Dr. William Henry Shaw became superintendent after World War II and it increased over the years. But, where is it now?  

  The strange thing is that Columbus is a music city. The Schowb School of Music at Columbus State University is one of the best in the country. The school’s Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and Wind Ensemble are both outstanding.  The Columbus Symphony is a fine orchestra. And we have community groups such as the Bob Barr Community Band, the Cavaliers big band, and the Columbus Community Orchestra, providing not only music for all of us to enjoy, but giving an outlet to adult amateur musicians. But, what has happened to the Muscogee County School District’s music program?  

  George was getting really hot about it because he, like me, knows how far reaching a good music program can be. He knows that music students usually make good overall students and learn self-discipline which helps them all through life.  Have you ever noticed how many physcians are musicians? The first violinist of the Community Band is Dr. Ken Goldman, a Columbus surgeon. Dr. Mary Schley, a retired pediatrician, plays viola. My late cousin, Dr. Billy Dodd of Macon,  loved to play the piano, and had his own dance and jazz bands.

Joey Cumming)

Dr. Ken Goldman, surgeon, first violinist of the Columbus Community Orchestra (Courtesy: Joey Cumming)

  Yes, music is very important in life.  Let’s hope the new superintendent and the school board realize that and act accordingly.  If they don’t, beleive me, George will be after them because he has the energy to do it. Though my age, 78, he still goes full steam, giving his time to lead the Cavaliers Big Band, the Bob Barr Community Band and play for all sorts of occasions.

Joey Cumming)

Columbus Community Orchestra, william E. Fry, Conductor, James B Mallard III, Assistant Conductor (Courtesy: Joey Cumming)