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What is Jazz?





III. Jazz Recordings

A. Brief Listening Examples


Play a portion (30-90 seconds each) of the following six recordings from The Instrumental History of Jazz (IHJ)1 or the Jazz in America website (Web)2. Announce the tune title and artist only. Ask students to write down impressions (anything at all) about each recording.

  1. "Birdland," Weather Report (IHJ) or "Chameleon," Herbie Hancock (Web)
  2. "Maple Leaf Rag," Scott Joplin (IHJ) or “The Entertainer,” Scott Joplin (Web)
  3. "Shaw ‘Nuff," Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker (IHJ) or “How High the Moon,” Ella Fitzgerald (Web)
  4. "Full Force," Art Ensemble of Chicago (IHJ) or “Lonely Woman,” Ornette Coleman (Web)
  5. "Mister Magic," Grover Washington (IHJ) or “Take Five,” Dave Brubeck Quartet (Web)
  6. "One O'clock Jump," Count Basie Orchestra (IHJ) or “Main Stem,” Duke Ellington Orchestra (Web)

Audio Snippets

speakerspacer Chameleon - Herbie Hancock
speakerspacer How High The Moon - Ella Fitzgerald
speakerspacer Lonely Woman - Ornette Coleman
speakerspacer Main Stem - Duke Ellington
speakerspacer Take Five - The Dave Brubeck Quartet
speakerspacer The Entertainer - John Arpin

B. Discussion


Discuss with the students what they heard (e.g., different instruments, rhythms, emotions, likes and dislikes, etc.).

  1. All of the tunes are SO different yet share something in common -- just like all Americans.
  2. What do all these diverse tunes have in common? They’re all jazz. They all reflect America: partly planned, partly spontaneous. 

Video Clips

videospacer Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five
videospacer Duke Ellington - Take the A Train
videospacer Ella Fitzgerald - How High the Moon
videospacer Herbie Hancock - Chameleon
videospacer Ornette Coleman - Lonely Woman
videospacer Scott Joplin - The Entertainer performed by Paul Barton
the Herbie Hancock institute of jazz
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