The Touch of Your Lips: The Colors of Jazz Piano

“Technique is a matter of training the fingertips to attack and leave the keys under the absolute discipline of the brain. Touch has a much broader and wider significance. It is touch that reveals the soul of the player.”1 [italics added]    Ossip Gabrilowitsch, concert pianist/conductor (and Mark Twain’s son-in-law) The idea that pianists are able to […]

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Hot Fusion II: U.K.’s First Album “U.K.”

Prologue: In the second part of this series, I laid out my criteria for what would constitute a fusion of jazz and rock that remained true to both styles, which, in my definition, means that the resultant music would have to appeal to both rock and jazz fans, which is not an easy task. Steely […]

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We’re All Minimalists Now: The Ghost of the Monastery that Haunts the Modern World

A Brief History of the Minimalist Aesthetic Minimalism is defined by Merriam-Webster as “a style or technique (as in music, literature, or design) that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity.”  Musically speaking, this translates to a few characteristics common to most pieces: Slow-moving or static harmony, Small number of repetitive and simple rhythmic figures, […]

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Hot Fusion I: Steely Dan’s Aja

Hot Fusion I: Steely Dan’s Aja I ended the first part of this series with the question that prompted these articles: “Why is there so little music that genuinely fuses two styles together and does so in a way that maintains the integrity of the stylistic contributors?” I could have phrased in differently by asking […]

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Cold Fusion: The Search for the Jazz/Rock Unicorn

Part I: A Brief Stylistic History The fusion of different styles of music has been an explicit goal of many musicians in the 20C. In the early part of the 20C, many classical composers like Bela Bartok, Aaron Copland, Maurice Ravel, and Claude Debussy were interested in incorporating early jazz and ethnic folk music into […]

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New Rock Vistas: The Gaze of Future’s Past

Rock is Dead? Long live the Hip-Hop King? Not so fast—while it is true that Hip-Hop/R&B have surpassed Rock in sales in the US, sales are probably not the best measure for the health of an art form. Sales figures measure popularity and revenue, which occasionally, but not often, coincide with innovative artistry. Perhaps it […]

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FraK on “All About Jazz”

Happy to announce that some of my articles are now being published at “All About Jazz,” which is one of the finest jazz resources on the web. It’s been a “go to” for me for many years, so really an honor for me to be a contributor there. Here are the first articles: Cold Fusion […]

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New Rock Vistas: MCC, Part II, Interview with Martin Persner

Martin Persner kindly agreed to an interview for this article, which follows as Part II of a two part series on MCC. ASF: What is the musical background and training of the members? MP: Most of us are self-taught but we were brought up in more or less musical homes. Me and Arvid (my kid brother) […]

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Fake Muse? The Revenge of Milli Vanilli

Musicking (verb): To music is to take part, in any capacity, in a musical performance, whether by performing, by listening, by rehearsing or practicing, by providing material for performance (what is called composition), or by dancing. From “Musicking: The Meanings of Performance and Listening” by Christopher Small It’s been almost 20 years since Rob Pilatus, […]

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Ghosts in the Machine, Part V: “Jazz in Academia”

This is the fifth and final article on jazz musicians in popular music and the study of jazz in higher education. Ghosts in the Machine, Part V: Ghosts in the Education Machine Jazz musicians have, I think, always been acutely aware of the “byproduct” of becoming proficient in jazz—jazz training, even if rudimentary, provides the […]

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Ghosts in the Machine, Part IV: Jazz in the Trenches

This is the fourth in a series of articles on jazz musicians in popular music and jazz and popular music as fields of study in higher education. In my previous articles, I detailed the enormous influence that jazz musicians have had on popular music since the 1960s. This may, early on, have been a matter […]

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Ghosts in the Machine, Part III: The Ghosts

This is the third in a series of articles on jazz musicians in popular music and jazz and popular music as fields of study in higher education. Ghosts in the Machine, Part III: The Ghosts In a recent essay in Commentary, Terry Teachout, arts and culture critic for the Wall Street Journal, makes an argument for […]

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Ghosts in the Machine, Part II: “The Machinery”

This is the second in a series of articles on jazz musicians in popular music and jazz and popular music as fields of study in higher education. Part II: The Machinery Jazz musicians have played an important role in the development of popular music from the 1960s until today (we should also remember that jazz actually […]

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Ghosts in the Machine, Part I: “Jazz Musicians and Popular Music”

Part I: The Machine(s) Jazz and classical musicians have long had a troubled relationship with pop music. (By “pop music,” I mean all styles outside of classical and jazz—country, rock, hip-hop, rap, etc.—any style that enjoys a double-digit market share is properly called “popular”, as opposed to the dismal 4-6% (combined) that is shared by […]

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Tuition in Wonderland: Higher Education Funding in the United States and Europe

College tuition and student loans have been in the news a great deal in recent years, largely because of the alarming amount of student debt in the United States. Currently, student debt is more than $1.2 Trillion dollars, higher than both credit card debt and auto loans. This debt is no longer held by private […]

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