Miles Davis was the coolest of the cool. So cool he invented a style of jazz
called cool! He wore sunglasses indoors and sometimes ignored the audience
by playing with his back turned. It was hard to impress Miles Davis but listen
to his band try to prove their coolness. Can you figure out what instruments
play the “So What” part? What makes Miles Davis’s trumpet
sound cool? Learn more about Miles Davis by listening to the Eddie Jefferson
version of So What.
Jefferson was an amazing jazz singer. He invented
vocalese, which just meant putting words to an improvised
solo an instrumentalist had already recorded. Eddie
Jefferson learned the Miles Davis solo on So What
and figured out words to tell a story about Miles
Davis and John Coltrane (the saxophone player on
So What). Now go back and listen to MIles Davis play
So What and imagine you are in the audience watching
his group play So What. How would you feel if Miles
left the stage when his solo was over before the
song ended? Is that cool? Or not?
is a new version of So What by electric bass player
Marcus Miller. Compare it with the Miles Davis version
and see how many things you hear that are similar
and how many you hear that are different. Do you
think it still sounds like cool jazz? If not, what
type of music would you call this version?
player Dizzy Gillespie hung out with musicians from
Cuba and fell in love with the musical style called
Afro-Cuban jazz. Today we think of Salsa music when
we hear exciting music with brass instruments and
all sorts of Latin percussion. This is where that
music comes from. Dizzy Gillespie figured out how
to combine Afro-Cuban music with bebop jazz. Listen
for the conga drums in Gillespie’s great Afro-Cuban
jazz composition called Manteca.
Gillespie was a famous trumpet player who along with
Charlie Parker and others invented a new style of
jazz called bebop. The word “bebop” might
have come from scat singers using the word “be-bop” in
their solos, or it might have come from the fast
solos that Dizzy and Charlie played that often ended
in phrases that sounded like the word “be-bop.” Listen
to Dizzy and Charlie play improvised solos and see
if you can hear their instruments sounding like the
word “be-bop” as they finish phrases.
See if you can join in on the words “salt peanuts.”
musicians like music that grooves and is fun to improvise
to. Sometimes they like to play jazz with a Latin
groove. This music is called Afro-Cuban jazz and
great musicians from Cuba helped to bring new sounds
to jazz in the 1940s. Tito Puente was one of the
most popular of these musicians. His music is exciting
and for dancing. What makes this song sound exciting?
Armstrong and other jazz musicians were very upset
by the way some whites were treating African Americans.
In the 1950s, when this song was recorded, it was
brave of blacks to sing about racism. Because he
was so loved by people all over the world, Armstrong
was able to sing this song and encourage people to
think about the message of this song and whether
it was fair to judge people by the color of their
skin. Listen to his soulful trumpet solo. Musicians
try to communicate their feelings through their instruments
was very hard for young jazz musicians to get their
start. Very few musicians made much money and they
worried about affording food and a place to live.
Many jazz musicians call working hard to make it
as a jazz musician “paying your dues.” What
do you think “paying your dues” might
involve? What do you think “making it” as
a jazz musician means?
Fitzgerald was one of the greatest jazz singers of
all time. Instrumentalists loved to play with her
because she not only could really swing but she could
also scat sing as good as any horn player. Listen
to her improvise the first solo and then you will
hear six trumpet players each play short solos. The
first trumpet player is Clark Terry, and he is followed
by Shorty Baker, Willie Cook, Cat Anderson, Dizzy
Gillespie, and Ray Nance. Can hear the trumpet players
change? Count 1,2,3,4 four times and if you listen
really close you will hear them change. Ella comes
back in and scats some more. She loved to imitate
horns. What instrument do you think she might have
been aiming for sounding like?
jazz is in 4/4 time, which just means 4 steady beats
that repeat. Jazz musicians improvised in different
meters, most of the time in 4 but sometimes in other
meters. A waltz is in 3⁄4, which means 3 steady
beats repeating. Duke Ellington usually played his
famous theme song in 4 but sometimes for fun would
play it as a waltz and then change it back to 4.
Listen to him start out in 3 and then switch to 4.
Can you tell where that happens?
cool jazz group, the Dave Brubeck Quartet had a big
hit with the recording, Take Five. This was in 5.
Can you hear 1,2,3,4,5? It helps to listen for the
bass; it plays on counts 1 and 4. Listen for it and
then see if you can count all five beats. The cool-sounding
saxophone is played by Paul Desmond, who also composed
Monk was an American original. He played music that
sometimes sounded strange. Some people thought he
played a lot of wrong notes, but he liked those weird-sounding
notes. He liked to wear crazy hats, too. Sometimes
he might show up in a hat that no one would ever
be caught dead wearing. Sometimes when musicians
in his band were playing great solos he would get
so happy that he’d get up and start dancing.
As you listen to his song Misterioso, think about
how Monk makes his song sound mysterious.
does he do that? Bobby McFerrin can imitate instruments
better than anyone and does it in a way that sounds
like he is a whole band by himself! In this recording,
there are no instruments playing or other singers
helping him out. How do you think he gets those sounds
and what instruments is he trying to sound like?
Listen and see if you can hear him thumping himself
on the chest to sound like drums. Can you figure
out how to make up a song and sound like you are
singing with a group of instruments?
might recognize this song from the famous Christmas
ballet called The Nutcracker. Duke Ellington loved
to play around with taking music someone else wrote
and changing it; people who do that are called arrangers.
Tchaikovsky, a Russian composer who had never heard
jazz, composed The Nutcracker. He wrote the Waltz
of the Flowers to be danced in 3 but Ellington thought
it would be fun to change it around and make it in
4. It was no longer a waltz and so he named it Dance
of the Floreadores. Your teacher might have a recording
of the Tchaikovsky’s Waltz of the Flowers and
it might be fun to compare this Ellington arrangement
to it. What things do you hear that sound the same
and what things are different?
happens when jazz meets hip-hop? Can you hear jazz
and hip-hop in this recording? What do you hear that
makes it sound like hip-hop and what do you hear
that makes it sound like jazz? You can mix up styles
of music and come up with a whole new kind.