Greg Henry Waters Newsletter
 November 2006 Number Two

 

Three Concerts in One at Manhattanville College Purchase, New York

 

This school was founded in 1841 maybe long before jazz was invented in the late 1800.

This was a faculty concert presented by the music school.  The concert presented three different styles and three different types of presentations from the 30’s and 40’s era to the 1990’s.  Featuring Jay Azzolina’s group, Lyn Christie’s Group and Nancy Kennedy’s Group!  The concert was in a beautiful 1700 century room, or so, all wood paneling which was once a library. 

 

I had a conversation with Lyn Christie before the concert and he said that William Blake’s paintings were first presented in this room.  So it has a lot of history and since I am a promoter of the spiritual life it was very interesting to be in this room.  It was like being in a church really. Lyn is very a funny man and has lots of humor in his conversation and a very serious musician.  He has a bass that was made special for him and fits his body to a tee. He really got a nice classical tone out of his bass and was presenting the bow technique in his solos and melodies.  I was telling him about Al Hall, a tall big man who had a huge bass, was one of the first bass players  with Duke and Benny Goodman (we worked together for a time) and Lyn's Bass was really small, but got a big sound and clear. Lyn said it fits me.

 

I asked Lyn what is the future of jazz? He said, “It is in the same place it always has been with musicians keeping it alive, not the public”.  We also talked about the technology revolution and how machines are taking over the musician’s life.  Non-musicians now can create music and the standard of music will deteriorate even more.  But these musicians at the college are trying to create great music and keeping the spirit of jazz a live on all levels and in all venues.  I say trying to create because all music can be improved, music is not a perfect science but a human factor and physical factor of the room and instruments is always involved.

 

I was reading Lyn’s resume and he performed with Yehudi Menuhin my all time favorite performing artist.  I love the violin and composed two violin concertos, plus many chamber music pieces and sonatas for the violin.  For me the violin concerto is the essence of a jazz solo, but written out to perfection. Yehudi Menuhin DVD about life and music is great.  He tells us about the true essence of music which for me is forgotten by many people in the music business.  In fact, Yehudi moved to England because he did not like the politics in this country.  I do not like it either.  For me musicians are not free to create.  For the creative side of music is not respected or supported. 

 

I am a ‘BMI Composer’ and the Composers Organization said that jazz is whatever you want it to be.  But music schools get into this educational thing and tell their students what is jazz.  So all these students come out playing ‘copy cat’ like classical musicians do.  But the difference with classical musicians is that they are not the creative force the composers are.  So for me jazz education is creating musicians that become groupies and create musical collective performing groups, which are to me means that they play all the same harmony, rhythms and solos.  Anyway, this is a problem I have with the music business.

 

I won the mid-west Jazz Festival outstanding woodwind reward and all the judges came from Berkeley College in Boston.  I had a trio and was playing strictly eastern modal music with no cymbals with guitar and reeds.  They were judging my music from a 50’s jazz point of view and not seeing what I was really doing.  This is when I decided that this music school was not a creative school, but a place to learn what others have done in jazz.  Not what a creative person wants to do in jazz.  So, for me there are so many groupies in jazz just playing the traditions of jazz not creating new music with a personal identity.  Anyway, I did not go to Berkeley with their scholarship offer.  You see, I had a master’s degree with a double major in theory and music composition.  So I thought this effort would hurt my creativity not help it.

 

Anyway, Yehudi Menuhin said that jazz was an equal art form to classical music.  Do I need to say more?

 

Lyn’s group with Sarah Jane Cion, Piano and Scott Latzky, drums!

 

Anyway, the artistry of Lyn Christie and Sarah Jane is really refreshing because both these artists are trying to develop a new concept in jazz.  As Sarah said, “I am tired of playing the same old thing.”  And Lyn composing and performing on the bass with him playing the lead voice and bowed jazz solos like a jazz violin would do.  In my entire career I never saw a performance like this. (45 years) I am 63 now.

 

But I must say this is not easy to get the public to accept this kind of concert because remember J.S Bach.  It took 250 years to get his music out there and they used his music manuscripts for toilet paper because they thought it was worthless. Who is worthless is my question?

 

Sarah has such a soft touch on the piano and makes a percussive instrument into a melody instrument.  I am sure this is why Lyn likes Sarah’s playing because her sound is so classical like Lyn’s sound is. Lyn said, " I think Sarah is one of the foremost jazz pianists on today's scene."   What a nice thing to say about Sarah.

What hurt Lyn’s concert was that there wasn't a rug under the drum set and it covered up both Sarah’s performance and Lyn’s performance.  As I walked around the room I noticed that the sound changed from place to place.  So with bass lead the sound presentation ads a more difficult situation for the audience to hear what is really going on.  Well, like I said, music is never perfect.  I think great music is sometimes an accident waiting to happen.

 

The Lyn Christie Jazz group is not afraid to present something new. For me this is what jazz or creative music is all about! Five Stars for this group!

 

The Nancy Kennedy Duo presented traditional jazz from the 30’s and 40’s.  This was a very nice group from this era of music with a great vocal solo by Barry Bryson and traditional piano solos from Nancy..

 

The Jay Azzolina Trio was a great group presenting a guitar trio with the flavor of the organ trio without the organ.  They had a blend and balance that made it very easy to listen too.  All of the group, the musicians were performing with great technique and ability to perform in this style.  Guitarist should buy his albums to learn from him.  Jay has a lot to offer the young jazz musician alone with Mike McGuirk on Bass and Ron Vincent on drums.

 

Being a woodwind player I would hope they would ad a horn. You know jazz started with the trumpet and band music.  But because of the economic situation we have duo’s, trio’s, both piano and guitar without horns.  It is too bad that pianist and guitarist are sick of playing with horn players.  Everyone wants to be a star? I am sure this is my bias opinion, sorry about that.

 

Sincerely, Greg Henry Waters

 

I always remember this when I met Steve from Montana.  The first thing he said to me was, “I hate saxophone players because they play such long solos.” (I am a woodwind performer not a saxophone player. ha) Now is this the way to start a friendship? Ha ha We are still friends. I did not take it personally.  I know they do that.  They have done that in my own concerts! Well, my readers, I hope you enjoyed this article about Jay Azzolina, Lyn Christie and Nancy Kennedy Groups.

 

Please take the time to reflect on music so you can understand it better and I do not mean popular music, which hits you in the face with subjective stupidity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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