Summer Reading List 2020

Music is My Mistress,
Duke Ellington

The celebrated memoir in the words of Duke himself. Ellington’s flowery and sophisticated use of language draws a direct parallel to his music. This is a delightful read containing stories of travels around the world and colorful depictions of the many characters in Duke’s band over the years.

The Everyday Language of White Racism,
Jane H. Hill

This book explores racist language from the perspective of a linguist. Dr. Hill illustrates some of the ways our language can uphold racist beliefs. I found this to be a very insightful read from a point of view I have not encountered before.

Early Jazz: Its Roots and Musical Development,
Gunther Schuller

Early Jazz was among the first books of its kind, delving into the complicated origins of Jazz. While some of the language and evaluations in the book are dated, the book is well-researched and contains numerous transcriptions of historic solos and arrangements.

All About Love,
bell hooks

bell hooks shares powerful explorations on the topic of love, its power and why we may lack it in many aspects of our lives. These essays are moving and are a catalyst for self-reflection. In reading the book, I came across several moments that were profound to me. I shared one of these during #wisdomwednesday a few weeks ago:

Louis Armstrong & Paul Whiteman: Two Kings of Jazz,
Joshua Berrett (in progress)

Louis Armstrong – as a musician and person – has served as a vital source of inspiration in my life. While Paul Whiteman’s music is not as familiar to me, I have begun exploring it because of Gunther Schuller’s deep interest in Whiteman’s music and contributions to Jazz. Back when libraries were still open, I was perplexed when I came across a book juxtaposing Armstrong and Whiteman’s careers. The book is an informative and page-turning read.

June 2020 Newsletter

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Dear friends,

My heart is so heavy for this country. I am horrified by the recent murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery, and the continued oppression and brutality our black brothers and sisters continue to face. We need to do better.

It is not lost on me that I owe a great debt to black artists for their contributions to American music. I must credit my late mentor Bobby Jackson for teaching me that “jazz” (this is not a unanimously accepted word to describe the music) was not created in a vacuum. It is of its time, reflecting the conditions under which it was created. Because of Bobby’s teachings, I began prioritized learning the history (they don’t teach you in school) surrounding the creation and development of “jazz” and reading the memoirs of its innovators. I still have much to learn.

I encourage you to find a way to take action. I have started each morning finding a new petition to sign and a new elected official’s email or phone number to voice my concerns. Here are some causes I have supported and the resources I have been using to learn more about the history of racism in the United States.

After some soul searching, I decided to follow through with releasing my EP, The New Groove, on Bandcamp tomorrow as planned. It is an uncomfortable time to be promoting and releasing new music. I do not want my music to detract from the important work that needs to be done to make this country live up to its ideals for all who live here. I already announced the wrong release date once and I feel strange about postponing the release again. Also, I want to be able to move forward from this project and start working on new music for you all. I hope The New Groove brings you comfort during this uncertain time.

I am thinking of you all during these trying times. Let’s build a better future with compassion and music.

With hope,

Featured Sounds

The Henry Godfrey Jazz Orchestra performs Snarky Puppy’s “Bad Kids To The Back” (arr. Henry Godfrey)

Sheet Music For Sale

Original compositions and arrangements for a variety of ensembles available on Noteflight Marketplace and Sheet Music Plus!

Latest From the Blog

Sneak peeks for future posts available on Patreon 

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  • Encountering Gunther: Reminiscing in Tempo – It was surprising to read about this groundbreaking piece that, after many years of being a devout Ellington fan and earning a degree in jazz composition, I never encountered before … [Read More]
  • Miss My Blog? – I miss it, too! Just when I felt like I was getting in a groove, the world got turned on its head …. [Read More]