Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor

     March 23, 2011 was a sad day for film fans because of the loss of Elizabeth Taylor. Elizabeth Taylor was born in England in 1932, and became known as an American actress who lived a glamorous lifestyle, and was known for her beauty. Elizabeth Taylor is also known for her eight marriages, but I chose to remember Liz Taylor for her social activism in Aids awareness, research, and cure. Taylor was also an activist for Jewish causes.

     Elizabeth Taylor was a two time  academy award winner in BUtterfield 8 in 1960, and in 1966 for the film Who`s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I have to say there are three Elizabeth Taylor films that I enjoy from her filmography:
1. Giant (1956), with Rock Hudson, and James Dean.
2. Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958), with Paul Newman, and Burl Ives; written by Tennessee Williams.
3. Who`s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966), with Richard Burton, and George Segal.

Of the three my favorite is Who`s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? This film has powerful acting between Taylor and Richard Burton, with George Segal and Sandy Dennis contributing greatly to the films` tension. Taylor and Burton portray an aging alcoholic couple with anger and pain directed against each other. Burton and Taylor play George and Martha respectively, and they give us a couple that are a true definition of codependency.

     I have a question for you. What is your favorite Elizabeth Taylor film, and why? After you answer that question, I have a trivia question for you, and that question is - when talking under the large tree in Who`s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?, what kind of drink does George pour into Nick`s (George Segal) glass?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Finding Info on American Band Instrument Tenor Saxophone

     Responding to an on-line friend by-way of Twitter I stumbled upon a fellow saxophonist asking about his Indiana Band Instrument tenor saxophone. He gave the all important serial number, and then I went to work. My friend of the tenor saxophone you have a vintage instrument that was made in 1919 by the Indiana Band Instrument Company. You will never find Indiana Band Instrument Company tenor saxophone - #17255 looking under Indiana Band Instrument, but you will find it by searching Martin Band Instruments.

     Without going into the complete history of Martin Band Instruments, and generally speaking, Martin took controlling interest in Indiana Band Instrument Company in 1928. Indiana Band Instrument Company operated separately until 1942. Indiana Band Instrument Company produced Martin stencils. Stencils are saxophones built by a saxophone maker for another company. That purchasing company places their stencil and engraving on the saxophone.

     It appears you have an original Indiana Band Instrument Company tenor saxophone with the serial number #17255 that was made before Indiana Band Instrument Company was bought-out by Martin. Sounds like you were given a valuable gift.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Can You Learn To Play Jazz From A Book?

     I was reading a thread from the discussion forum of the North American Saxophone Alliance, which I am a proud member, and I came across a thread promoting a jazz method book. I will not mention the name of the method, or author, but I am sure the method is an excellent resource. As I was reading through the review of the book and  testimonials I began thinking about my jazz education, and the jazz education of my peers. Our jazz education came from playing with jazz musicians, while studying our instruments and music with proven studies.
     My first experience with jazz comes from my family. I remember as a child listening to John Coltrane, Miles Davis, Yusef Lateef, and other jazz and blues artist, while also listening to Motown, James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, the Stylistics, and so many others. When I started playing saxophone in high school I learn to play jazz by being in the Northwestern H.S. stage band; New Detroit Jazz Development Workshop under the direction of Marcus Belgraves; the RAPA House jam sessions led by my music teacher Mr. Ernest Rodgers, and having the opportunity to play with other musicians and young student musicians such as Kenny Garrett . After graduating from Northwestern H.S. I attended Oakland University as a music education major. Oakland`s jazz program was led by Marvin "Doc" Holiday who directed the jazz program with arrangements from Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Foster, and other jazz masters. Doc Holiday also brought-on practicing jazz artist from Detroit to provide us with applied lessons and improvisation. My teacher was Sam Sanders. Sam taught orally, and you would have to write-out the studies yourself.

     Learning jazz comes from a life style; you have to live it. Jazz musicians love jazz because we are apart of a community that supports each other, and passes down the art to the young from an oral African tradition. Of course we use music and arrangements, but older musicians transmit jazz by sharing their knowledge of the art at jam session; correcting and giving advise to younger musicians, and sharing with the young their stories of jazz musicians, clubs, the history of jazz, and their lives as jazz artist.

     Can you learn to play jazz from a book? yes, but to learn JAZZ is a way of life, and a life one has to commit too, especially if you want to play as an authentic jazz artist.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Keith Gamble - Woodwind Music Lessons 2011 Spring Recital

Keith Gamble - Woodwind Music Lessons 2011 Spring Recital is scheduled for June 5, 2011. Host Oliver Newell; adult student of flute and jazz/improvisation studies has scheduled our recital for Sunday, June 5, 2011, at 3:00pm, at Christ The King Catholic Chruch, in Detroit. Christ The King Catholic Chruch is located at 20800 Grand River, Detroit, MI 48219.

I am very excited about this recital. We have two students who did not perform for the 2010 Christmas Recital, and a new piano student who has joined the Keith Gamble Music community that will be performing. Clarinetist Kenseye Fort is planning an exciting duet performance, and we will have another performance from our saxophone duet. Keith Gamble - Woodwind Music Lessons is instituting a new teaching strategy to better enhance music instructions, and I will present my new teaching strategy to students and families at this recital.

I am looking forward to seeing all my students in performance, and having the opportunity to meet everyone who attends. See you at our June 5 recital.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

North American Saxophone Alliance Region 5 Conference

     On Friday and Saturday of February 25 and 26, I had the opportunity of attending my second saxophone conference. Held at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, the NASA conference presented some of the most interesting works to be found in the concert saxophone repertoire. If I have to make a general statement I would say some of the music and performances I liked, and some I did not.

     I bill myself as a post-bop/avant-garde jazz saxophonist, which means I enjoy avant-garde music. I discovered I enjoy avant-garde jazz, but not avant-garde concert music. I found many of the 20th and 21st century pieces to be artistic repetitions; sounding the same. Christian Lauba`s composition entitled HARD, and performed by soprano and tenor saxophonist Geoffrey Deibel was in my opinion an assault to my sensibilities, especially when Geoffrey began kicking-over music stands on-stage. There were many performances and presentations I greatly enjoyed, such as Thomas Liley`s presentation on The Saxophone in the Orchestra, and The Cleveland Duo & James Umble.

     The Region 5 Conference ended with a final recital in the auditorium, and if I had to describe that recital, I would say - WOW! NASA - Region 5 organizers saved the best for last. This final show could truly be enjoyed by everyone in the audience; not just serious saxophonist, but the lay-person who does not play an instrument. Outstanding performances from the Northwestern University Saxophone Ensemble, under the direction of Frederick Hemke; tenor saxophonist James Bunte, and Thomas Haines on guitar, playing the works of Thomas Haines; Farrell Vernon; Otis Murphy playing soprano, alto, and tenor saxophones, being accompanied by his wife Haruko Murphy on piano performing the works of Roberto Molinelli; Debra Richtmeyer; Chicago Saxophone Quarter, and closing the conference with Sousa`s Stars and Stripes Forever, performed by the Northwestern University Saxophone Ensemble.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Bolivar Blues, by Thelonious Monk

     I love my friends on facebook because I get the chance to come across some great stuff, like the 1963 youtube of Thelonious Monk`s 1963 Japanese performance of Bolivar Blues. Charlie Rouse firmly establishes the piece with his Texas tenor tone, and relax interpretation of the melody. Rouses` solo is blusey and well crafted. If you get a chance, also check-out drummer Frankie Dunlops` solo. Dunlop plays a drum solo that is melodic, as he takes his time and develops a meaningful solo that speaks.

     You can find this gem on youtube, and it is time well spent.

Friday, March 11, 2011

My thoughts on What Ever Happen to Baby Jane?

     What Ever Happen to Baby Jane? is the disturbing 1962 film directed by Robert Aldrich that borrows from the Sunset Blvd and Psycho play-book. This film spot-lights two of the greats; Betty Davis, and Joan Crawford. Both Davis and Crawford play the Hudson sisters.

      Aldrich sets-up wonderful narration throughout the film to establish character motivation. Baby Jane at the beginning of the film is exploited, and spoiled by her father, who cashes in on his favorite little girl by parading her on stage, and selling Baby Jane dolls in the image of Baby Jane. As time goes on, Baby Jane strives for stardom in Hollywood, but she is basically rejected while her sister Blanche Hudson (Joan Crawford) becomes the recognized film star. At the height of her career we see Blanche Hudson purposefully run down by her car; crippling Blanche for life, and setting-up the cruelty Baby Jane dishes out.

     Betty Davis brings-it on at every turn as it is hard to watch Baby Jane torture Blanche, and murder Elvira Stitt ( played by Maidie Norman).

     The narration happens throughout What Ever Happen to Baby Jane? and sets us up for the big discover and supprise at the end of the film. The supprise end is eye-opening, but the real excitement is the tension between Baby Jane and Blanche. I for one appreciate the complexity in which Crawford plays the narcissistic, but reasonable Blanche.

     This film is dark, creepy, and disturbing. I enjoyed seeing this film for the first time from start to finish. What Ever Happen to Baby Jane? goes into this saxophonist film scrap book.