Sunday, 29 November 2009

Jazz Fest 2009 - The Top Jazz Festivals Throughout the US

Jacksonville Jazz Festival

What started out as a one-day, free event in Florida in 1980 has turned into an impressive festival, one of the country's largest, almost 30 years later.

More than just strictly a jazz festival, this event also boasts the Great American Jazz Piano competition, which takes place at the start of the fest. The winner of that gets to play a featured set at the festival, held yearly in Jacksonville's Metropolitan Park.

Wine lovers also have the rare opportunity to not only sample some of the more than 50 featured wines at the Jacksonville Jazz Festival, but also speak with representatives from the highlighted wineries. That makes it a double-bonus weekend for devotees of jazz and wine - always a winning combination, anyway. In addition to good drink and good music, good food is served as well at the festival's traditional Sunday morning brunch.

The Jacksonville Jazz Festivals has spotlighted a variety of categories from straight-up jazz - the Ramsey Lewis Trio and Chick Corea - to the smoother side of things with David Sanborn and Chris Botti.

Mt. Hood Jazz Festival

Now in its 28th year, the Mt. Hood Jazz Festival offers jazz lovers a premier reason to travel to the beautiful state of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.

Not too far out of Portland, the base of majestic Mt. Hood serves as setting for the festival, located in Gresham, Oregon, on the campus of Mt. Hood Community College.

Held in mid-August, the Mt. Hood Jazz festival has certainly seen its share of jazz legends take the stage. Those that have performed at the event that first started back in 1982 include: Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, The Crusaders and Buddy Rich, among others.

The Mt. Hood Adventures in Jazz series also brings in musicians from outside the region to play at various venues in Portland throughout the year.

Telluride Jazz Celebration

Talk about your scenic backdrops.

Located in the middle of the breath-taking San Juan Mountains, the Telluride Jazz Celebration cannot be matched in the landscaping department.

Mountain range above, gorgeous Beer Creek and San Miguel River below - that makes for an amazing setting to listen to jazz.

As such, this festival is definitely for the nature lover. Camping spots are available for those who really want to take advantage of all Telluride, now in its 33rd year of hosting a jazz fest, has to offer. Early June is usually when the Telluride Jazz Celebration is held. A jam-friendly jazz festival, Telluride welcomes an eclectic roster, featuring bands like Licorice, Ozomalti, Benvento-Russo Duo, Rebirth Brass Band and the Jimmy Herring Band.

The festival's Jazz after Dark series takes over the nearby Sheridan Opera House and Nugget Theater.

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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Jazz Piano

Jazz piano is one of the most vibrant, energetic, specialized types of music. Famous jazz artists you may want to listen to are Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarret, Bill Evans, to name but a few. To learn jazz piano you need to take some time to listen to jazz CD's and maybe watch DVD's as well. To learn jazz piano, one needs to be very patient and dedicated to practicing the genre.

Jazz piano is characterized by a lot of improvisation. A jazz musician can be given a fake music sheet or chord chart and he can improvise on the spot over those chord progressions. It is recommended that a jazz musician know or have standard songs in their repertoire. Standard songs include songs like "Willow Weep for Me," "Summertime," and "Georgia on My Mind" to name but a few. Standard songs are songs that have been covered by many recording artists in the past, usually every year. For example one may consider the gospel song "Amazing Grace" a standard gospel song because a lot of artists have covered the song throughout the years.

Knowledge of scales and chords are essential tools needed to be a good jazz musician, let alone the technique needed to play this genre. As a jazz musician you will need to practice different types of scales, chords, arpeggios, staccato playing, legato playing, playing chords on the left hand while playing scales in the right hand at the same time.

To learn jazz you need to start with the basics: minor and major scales and minor and major chords. Once you master these then you can go forth to learning advanced chords(jazz chords) and scales. These chords include diminished, dominant, major nine, tritone chords, etc. Advanced scales will entail learning lydian, diminished, chromatic, melodic minor scales, for example.

You must remember that when it comes to playing the piano, it is not how you play but how you play is very essential as well. This is the reason why you need technique: how hard or soft do you play the notes, how you sit at the piano, breathing, how you position your hands and fingers on the piano, playing chords and scales, etc.

You will definitely need resources to play the piano, someone to hold you by the hand. The key to mastering jazz piano is to learn (get as much information as possible), patience and practice!practice!practice!

For more free information on how to play piano please visit: free piano lessons for beginners.

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Sunday, 15 November 2009

Adding a Jazz Flavor to Your Piano Playing

If you know your piano chords well, try this next step. Say the song you are playing asks for a C7 chord. That is called a dominant seventh. Here's what you do. With your left hand, play just the root and seventh of the chord, so that would be C with your pinky and Bb with your thumb.

Now for the right hand. Go up one half step from the C7 and play a minor chord. This would bring you to C#minor. The notes in a C#minor chord are C#-E-G#. By playing the C and Bb in the left hand, and the C#, E and G# in your right hand, you will be adding a flatted 9th and sharp 5th to the chord. Those chord alterations are very common in jazz and will add a beautiful sound to your chord - lots of flavor for sure!

Here is another way to jazz up a chord. When the required chord is a C, again, play the C and Bb in the left hand. Now with the right hand, go down one whole step from the C and you get Bb. Build a Bb major chord on the Bb. So in the right hand, you will now be playing Bb-D-F. What are those notes in the key of C? They are the 7th, 9th and 11th. Very dissonant but beautiful.

When you put one chord in the right hand and another in the left to achieve these tensions, these are called upper structure chords. Use them wisely. They won't always work for every chord in every song. It's a matter of taste so listen carefully and have fun with it!

Debbie Gruber is the author of many instructional piano CDs, books and DVDs. She operates a private teaching studio in Burlington, MA and holds a Master of Music degree. She is the Creator of and she teaches at many Adult Education Centers in Massachusetts.

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