Saturday, December 1, 2007

birth of the cool trumpeter

Do you love listening to that smooth, toe-tapping music we call jazz? Do you love to dance with your significant other to the sounds of Fats Domino, Louis Armstrong, or Duke Ellington?

While it's undoubtedly cool to use words like 'Swing', 'Bebop' or 'Bossa Nova' when describing a jazz style, not very many people really know the difference between Hot Jazz, Classic Jazz or Afro-Cuban Jazz. If you don't know the difference between one style of jazz and another, this article is for you. Read on if you want to up your cool quotient while discussing Hot Jazz:

Classic Jazz: More popularly called 'New Orleans jazz' because of its origins, classic jazz originated in the late 1800's - early 1900's with brass bands performing for dances and parties using an assortment of musical instruments including the trombone, saxophone, tuba, clarinet, cornet, guitar, bass, drums and cornet. At the time, musical arrangements varied significantly from one performance to another.

Hot Jazz: Pioneered by Louis Armstrong, hot jazz was characterized by improvised solos that built up to an emotional and 'hot' crescendo that was supported by bass, drums and guitar or banjo.

Chicago Style Jazz: If New Orleans was the birth place of jazz, Chicago was the breeding ground. Several young, dynamic players including Bud Freeman, Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa and Eddie Condon significantly furthered jazz improvisations with a combination of high technical ability and harmonic, innovative arrangements.

Swing: During the classic 1930's, most Jazz groups were Big Bands who played a robust and invigorating version of Classic Jazz. More popularly called Swing, for the first time jazz was used as dance music. Many of the most famous musicians the world has every heard were swing jazz musicians. The famous jazz swing players include people such as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, The Dorsey Brothers, Glenn Miller, and Louis Armstrong, to name a few. Of course, the genre of ballroom dance called swing grew out of jazz swing music.

Bebop: Immortalized by trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie and alto saxophonist Charlie Parker who engaged in chordal improvisations, Bebop was a complete deviation from mainstream jazz that was typically derived from the melodic line.

Bossa Nova: Initiated as "Brazilian jazz" by Brazilian's Antonio Carlos Jobim and Joao Gilberto, Bossa Nova is a blend of seductive Brazilian samba rhythms, classical European harmonies and West Coast cool. Adopting the Bossa Nova style, West Coast saxophonist Stan Getz and guitarist Charlie Byrd gave this jazz form a huge boost in the United States around 1962.

Afro-Cuban Jazz: Also known as Latin jazz, Afro-Cuban jazz can be traced back to percussionist Chano Pozo and trumpeter- arranger Mario Bauza. Characterized by its highly infectious rhythms combined with Jazz improvisations, Afro-Cuban jazz is typically played using rhythm instruments including bongo, timbale, conga along with assorted Latin percussion instruments and is often accompanied by guitar or piano and joined by vocals or horns.

Now that you know what the different types of jazz music are, you can speak intelligently about the music that you love! So get out there and have some great jazzy fun!

1949, trumpeter Miles Davis' album "Birth of the Cool" profoundly altered the world of jazz. Nearly two decades later, Earl Monroe gave birth to a rhythmic cool that helped change the landscape of professional basketball.

Monroe's style, in fact, has been compared to jazz ― creative, free-form and spontaneous. And, of course, very cool, with a nickname to match. Earl the Pearl was the template, the prototype for the modern NBA, in which flair and showmanship, scorned at one time, would become desired and marketable commodities.

"Earl Monroe brought playground basketball to the NBA at a time they didn't respect it, and he made them like it," said Monroe's lifelong friend and mentor, Sonny Hill.

Said Monroe: "I was aware that my style was different ― just by the fact they called me a hot dog and what-not."

Denied by a coin flip the player they wanted, guard Jimmy Walker of Providence, the Baltimore Bullets in 1967 took Monroe with the second pick of the draft out of tiny Winston-Salem State, where he scored 41.5 points a game and led his team to the NCAA Division II championship his senior year. Except for NBA types and those who caught his act in college and on the playgrounds of Philadelphia and New York, few had seen him in-person. Yet he still was famous. Long before cable TV and the Internet, word had spread about this nearly mythic figure.

He wasn't a myth. Monroe played 13 seasons in the NBA but only four with the Bullets ― now the Washington Wizards ― before he was traded to the rival New York Knicks in 1971 after an acrimonious holdout. Despite his short time in Baltimore, his legend is so intact, his place in history so entrenched and all the wounds sufficiently healed that the Wizards will retire his No. 10 tomorrow night at Verizon Center.

"He had a great impact on two franchises, two cities, and I would say it's even more than that," said Wizards president of basketball operations Ernie Grunfeld, who grew up in New York and rooted against the Bullets and Monroe, then embraced him when he joined the Knicks.

"He had an impact on the whole nation," Grunfeld said. "People watched him play, and they wanted to be like him. Very few players in the history of the game have had that type of impact, where people tried to emulate the things that he did."


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