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Playing Duke Ellington’s “In a Sentimental Mood” to my beautiful bride Marina.
Photo by Greg Cohen

The last time I posted here, over six months ago, I wrote:

Next up: I’m flying to Chile on Thursday to start a month of fieldwork in South America. Wish me luck on the next step of this adventure—and let’s hope that it generates lots more writing in the near future!

I’ll say! But more than just writing, I have been incredibly fortunate to start this new chapter in my life with projects that incorporate many aspects of what I enjoy, including writing but also music, teaching, improvising, reading, making new friends, and—most important of all—the love of my life, Marina.  Read the rest of this entry »

brainkiller

Brainkiller, whose recent album “Colourless Green Superheroes” is pretty great.

 

I’ve been writing at a decent clip this month, with pieces now online at the IASPM-US website and the Ethnomusicology Review Sounding Board. Check ‘em out:

Music Scenes: Creating Space for Creative Music at LA’s Blue Whale for IASPM-US

CD Review: Book of Omens and Colourless Green Superheroes and

Book Review: People Get Ready: The Future of Jazz is Now! for the Ethnomusicology Review Sounding Board

Next up: I’m flying to Chile on Thursday to start a month of fieldwork in South America. Wish me luck on the next step of this adventure—and let’s hope that it generates lots more writing in the near future!

 

Photo courtesy of reddit, dottylemon

Photo courtesy of reddit, dottylemon

When I logged into my WordPress account for the first time in a few weeks this morning, I was greeted by a cheerful note:

Happy Anniversary with WordPress.com! You registered on WordPress.com 4 years ago! Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!

Wow — not only is that a lot of exclamation points, but four years is, like, a really long time. For those keeping score at home, that’s one seventh of my life, and the same amount of time that I spent pursuing my B.A. It also reminded me that this blog has roughly coincided with my return to academia as a graduate student — in fact, my first post was also a paper that I wrote for my first class at Rutgers (and later became the introduction to my MA thesis.) I’m not sure quite what to make of the milestone, but I’ve been meaning to put up a stuff-I’ve-been-up-to-recently post anyway, so here it is!  Read the rest of this entry »

Image

In MLK Days past, I have shared a famous quote that outlines Martin Luther King, Jr.’s love of jazz, a passage that has been something of a mantra for me ever since I first came across it in 2009.

Today, I’ve linked to it again but also want to share another, perhaps less-well-known quotation that ought to resonate with what jazz can mean for our continued struggle against racism in the United States and around the world.

I first got hip to this quote via the prolific and oftentimes hilarious antiracist advocate John Randolph, aka Jay Smooth. Here’s his video of ten OTHER things MLK said:  Read the rest of this entry »

The first UCLA cohort of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock

The first UCLA cohort of the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Performance with new UCLA professors Wayne Shorter (bottom left) and Herbie Hancock (bottom right)

A Brief History of Jazz Education: Part 1 and Part 2

By Alex W. Rodriguez for A Blog Supreme/NPR Jazz

The second half of my latest contribution to A Blog Supreme is now online — part one was posted in November — and I learned a lot from putting this together. It turned out that part two went up on the same day that UCLA announced the appointment of Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter as Professors of Music there — auspicious times for jazz education, indeed!

Kid Ory

As the quarter gets underway again here at UCLA, I have added a new wrinkle to my academic grind: being a Teaching Associate for the Department of Ethnomusicology’s undergraduate survey course, Jazz in American Culture.

In fact, this is the first time that I have actually sat in on an old-school undergraduate jazz history survey, so I am learning a lot about how certain stories about jazz are told and retold. The real fun, though, lies in being able to supplement the text with some of my own perspectives during the two discussion sections that I lead on Fridays. As an experiment, I have been posting links and outlines on the course website, which are also viewable to the public. Tomorrow, the topic is early jazz in Los Angeles:

Read the rest of this entry »

Hitomi Oba, Dominic Thiroux, and Jessica Jones at Blue Whale

Jessica Jones, Hitomi Oba — Blue Whale — 7/24/12

By Alex W. Rodriguez for LA Weekly West Coast Sound

This was is my first piece for LA Weekly — and what a great set to review! Jones and Oba, her former student, brought all original music and sounded fantastic. It also featured a cameo from Ambrose Akinmusire, another former student of Jones, who sounded amazing even as a last-minute addition.

In Los Angeles, An Immigrant’s Dream Becomes a Jazz Hub

By Alex W. Rodriguez for A Blog Supreme/NPR Jazz

This piece is a part of the Jazz Journalists Association’s Jazz Day Blogathon, celebrating jazz in local communities in honor of “Jazz Day.” Click the link for updates from all over the world!

Behold: A white piano trio that is not full of shit

This morning, I finally caught up with the jazz internet hoopla surrounding the Toronto-based trio Badbadnotgood (BBNG). I will not link to any of their music here, because they have received plenty of attention already.

I will, however, link to Peter Hum’s excellent take.

Read that, and then come back to see why I even bothered weighing in: because this group exposes the racist underbelly that haunts today’s systems of music distribution and consumption, something that many jazz musicians have been diligently and intelligently resisting for decades.  Read the rest of this entry »

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Mary Lou Williams and Jack Teagarden, hanging

I’m taking a quick break from my finals week bonanza (this quarter system really takes some getting used to) with a link for those of you who might be curious to take a look at what I’ll be presenting next week at the EMP Pop Conference in New York. It’s a preview of my paper, “Deconstructing the Hang: Urban Spaces as Cross-Cultural Contexts for Jazz Improvisation.”

If you’ll pardon the slightly cumbersome academic prose, I’d love to hear what any of you think about the idea — that “the hang” as it is conceived of in the jazz community has something to offer those engaging in ethnographic fieldwork more generally. Again, the link is here — thanks for taking a look, and if you’re in New York next week, I hope to see you there on Saturday from 4-6 p.m.

Clearly, it’s worth checking out, because even Stephen Colbert is jealous that he won’t be presenting on an awesome panel with David Adler, Nate Chinen and Phil Freeman!

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