I love listening to jazz, but I also love reading about jazz. I’ll read just about any jazz biography I can get my hands on, and I can’t get enough of Do The Math. One type of jazz writing I like the best is the ‘Blindfold Test’, where musicians are asked to listen to a piece of music and guess who is playing. The challenge aspect of the test is fun, but mostly I just enjoy hearing musicians talk about music and finding out which parts of a piece of music grab their attention. I especially love it when they comment on a piece of music I know, but which I’ve overlooked, and it gets me to go back and listen again from a new perspective.
For the first time, at this year’s Steel City Jazz Festival we are offering two opportunities to engage with jazz music outside of a concert setting, in the form of a series of artist talks. The first, on October 28th, features trumpeter Brownman Ali talking about the music of Miles Davis. On November 5th, our 2015 Smordin Law Artist-in-Residence will be giving a talk entitled ‘What Do You Hear? Improvisation, Composition and the Importance of Listening.’ Both talks are a great chance to get to know jazz music in a new way, to learn something new or to hear it from a new perspective!
Here’s festival performer, organizer, and Brownman Ali bandmate Brad Cheeseman on Brownman Ali:
The spirit of Miles Davis runs deep in the music of Brownman Ali. When he’s not busy performing his original music with his many ensembles, the Trinidad-born, New York-schooled trumpeter frequently takes time to honour the music of one of the most influential figures in the history of jazz. Here are just a few examples: for a number of years, Brownman produced, arranged and performed the Five Weeks for Miles concert series which explored five different eras of the legendary musician (a single concert version titled Miles Davis: Eras was held in Burlington last year); the Brownman Electryc Trio’s Gravitation album featured several pieces previously recorded by Miles Davis; that same ensemble has performed several special Miles Davis tributes (including live performances of the Bill Laswell-constructed Panthalassa record); and each Halloween sees Brownman adopt Miles’ career-long penchant for reimagining contemporary pop tunes with an exciting tribute to the music of Michael Jackson
Brownman’s talk is at 6:30pm at the Hamilton Audio Visual Node (HAVN, 26 Barton St E). Brownman and Brad perform later that night at the Corktown Pub, so there’s plenty of time to attend the talk before heading out to a show later that night!
Mike Malone’s talk, on November 5th at 3pm, is one of the events at this year’s festival that I am most looking forward to. In it, he’ll be talking about the similarities and differences between improvisation and composition, and how the ability to follow the promptings of your inner ear is key to both. I know from the reaction we’ve received about featuring Mike as Artist-in-Residence that he is very highly respected not just for his playing but his composition, arranging and work as an educator. This talk is an opportunity to experience those sides of Mike in addition to seeing him perform. If you are a musician or music student then this talk is perfect for you, but I also strongly encourage our non-musician listeners to attend. The talk offers a unique opportunity to get inside the head of a jazz musician and maybe even to broaden your own outlook on how you listen to jazz!
Brownman Ali gives a talk on the Music of Miles Davis October 28th at 6:30pm and Mike Malone delivers ‘What Do You Hear? Improvisation, Composition and the Importance of Listening’ November 5th at 3pm. Admission to both talks is on a Pay-What-You-Can basis, with a suggested donation to the speakers of $10. The talks take place at the Hamilton Audio Visual Node at 26 Barton St E, in between James N and Hughson.