4 Years Majoring in Jazz Writing at WordPress U

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! 

It has been about six months since I wrote the last update on my scholastic activities; the intervening months have been fruitful but exhausting. I feel like I’m on the tail end of a particularly grueling regimen of academic hoop-jumping, which has left me with less energy to write than what I’ve grown accustomed to since I began this blogging journey in 2009. Fortunately, the seminars that have been demanding most of my attention have been tremendously valuable: Grant Writing, Practice Theory, Composition, and Improvisation in the Baroque Era.

Even though writing has been sporadic, I have been inundated with opportunities to try new things, and rethink old ideas in new ways. This has included some exciting new musical endeavors: learning to play sackbut for the Baroque Improv seminar, and joining the Music of Bali ensemble (turns out I strike a mean gong!) It also included my first return trip to Latin America in five years, when the Charles Mingus Ensemble performed in Mexico City as a part of the Encuentro de Musica y Danza Global held at CENIDIM in November:


This work has also involved a lot of conversation — I’ve learned a lot about how I process ideas verbally, and it wasn’t just the seminars that gave me space to make that happen. Also in November, the Jazz Journalists Association invited me to share my thoughts for their webinar on jazz blogging, and last month I joined an esteemed cohort of LA-based jazz writers to talk about the state of the scene today for the Break the Mold Podcast, produced by Alex Sadnik. I also experimented with a more verbal style in the improvised concert review of Tigran Hamasyan’s solo piano show in February at blue whale.

And thank goodness for the great music that I have been able to enjoy this year! Tigran’s hit was a welcome reprieve from an intensely busy winter quarter grind; last week’s double-bill at Royce Hall featuring Brad Mehldau and The Bad Plus was similarly impressive. The Bad Plus, joined by saxophonist Joshua Redman, gave perhaps the most spellbinding live performance that I’ve ever heard — Chris Barton summed it up well for the LA Times.

I’ve also enjoyed working as the new Managing Editor for the open-access ethnomusicology journal Ethnomusicology Review. In particular, I’ve been working on the new Sounding Board page, which features more frequent updates than the annually-produced journal, and includes a page called “Space is the Place,” which is dedicated to the overlaps between ethnomusicology and jazz studies. In March, I published an interview with Dr. Mark Lomanno at the site, in which he talks about his experiences writing about jazz with an ear for the ethnomusicological and his new blog, The Rhythm of Study. If you’re reading this and think that you’d have something to contribute to the page, please don’t hesitate to pitch me something!

Reflecting on these past few months — indeed, the past four years that I have had the immense privilege to write and talk about the music that I love — keeps leading me back to a tremendous sense of gratitude. To everyone who has visited Lubricity over the past four years: thank you for reading, listening, commenting, arguing, disagreeing, sharing, encouraging, and everything else. Here’s to four more years!

About Alex Rodríguez

Writer, Organizer, Trombonist
This entry was posted in Education, Ethnomusicology, Links. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to 4 Years Majoring in Jazz Writing at WordPress U

  1. Andrew J. Sammut says:

    Congratulations on four years, and here’s to many more.

  2. Pingback: My Dad, The Poet Who Didn’t Even Know It | Lubricity

  3. Pingback: Listening Back To My Last Year In LA | Alex W. Rodriguez

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