Thursday, April 16, 2020

Message to Jazz Ensemble I on April 16 re: EE and HJCJ

Hello All,

Looking forward to a zoom call next Tuesday to discuss all of this news. 
1) this weekend would have been Big Band Dance ... I regret that we aren't able to uphold this long running tradition.  Preparing for the dance is a special learning opportunity as the audience is listening in a different way than our typical high-stakes contests.  Dancing is such a great way to work on your time feel. This idea is supported by most of the top musicians of all genres.
I found a  new podcast which is really really great.  It's called You'll Hear It and its hosted by 2 pro piano players.... so much amazing free content and it's inspiring to me.  Check it out?

2) Hot Java has officially been cancelled ... go watch the videos?  We will have a more official message regarding ticket refunds and Starbuck's donation by next Tuesday. I talked with the directors and we're all sad you didn't get to show your stuff this year at the 25th Hot Java Cool Jazz event. The videos are especially poignant at this time.

3) EE results are in and full of great feedback.  We scored very well and I'm proud of your hard work and dedication to your art form. Check out these remarks from Tatum Greenblatt and Erika Von Kleist.  They make great remarks, some interesting oversights and sometimes contradict each other (music evaluation is still subjective). Notice that one judge gave a 6/10 for soloing on one piece while the other gave us 10/10 on the same selection. I'm attaching a link to the recordings too so you might  refresh your memory and/or keep them for your portfolio.
Some big take-aways (learning) for me include that we can still improve our solo abilities and scores in this category.  Social distancing is all about playing solo ... keep up the good work here.  Now that we know we didn't get to go and all we have is the recording, I am glad I chose to feature so many soloists on songs 1 and 3 as it makes for a nice momento of our great albeit short season as EWHS Jazz Ensemble I for 2019-20. Still didn't get to feature enough of you and all your colorful uniqueness. This has been a really great band!
Dear Jake Bergevin and Edmonds-Woodway High School,
Thank you for submitting an application for the 25th Annual Essentially Ellington Competition & Festival! For the 2019-2020 school year so far, we have sent music and materials to over 6,700 schools in the United States, Canada, and abroad. For the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Competition & Festival, we received 106 applications.
Each recording was initially evaluated in a blind screening process by two of our four judges: Chad Eby, Steve Fidyk, Tatum Greenblatt, and Erica Von Kleist, all Jazz at Lincoln Center consultants, musicians and educators; their comments on your submission are below. The top recordings from each pair of judges were advanced to a second round of adjudication where all four judges met in New York for another blind screening process to select the top 18 bands. Our judges scored the recordings in accordance with the EE adjudication rubric. 
It is clear that your band spent many hours preparing this music, and we congratulate you for your diligence, hard work, and talent. We also would like to thank you for all the time and effort you put into your application. The educational experiences you and your band attributed to Essentially Ellington are by far the most important aspect of this program, and we encourage you to continue to play and celebrate this great music in your school and community.
Essentially Ellington is not over! We encourage you and your band to stay tuned for future announcements regarding the 25th Annual Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Festival. Follow us on our Facebook page  and visit our new website: to gain access to all of the online activities we are offering globally, for free. We hope these programs, concerts, and discussions bring you solace, comfort, and community during this challenging, unprecedented time. 
Stay healthy and socially distant,
-The EE Team

Reviewer A Comments

Reviewer A: Tatum Greenblatt

Submission Repertoire Selection #1 Title: Feet bone

A: Soulfulness Section #1: 8

A: Rhythm Selection #1: 8

A: Soloing/Improvisation Selection #1: 6

A: Interpretation Selection #1: 7

A: Basic Musicianship/Technique Selection #1: 8

A: Total Selection #1: 37

A: Selection #1 Comments: Rhythm section is swinging and the horns play with a good group sound and nice expression. Bone section sounds very strong as a unit. Big sound, lots of good feeling. And the band as a whole plays very well together, Not a lot of dynamic variation in the ensemble sections here, it kind of all grooves along at the same level. Look for ways in which to incorporate some drama in here. While the desire to let a lot of eager students play on a blues is understood, the effect runs the risk of becoming a jam session, which usually isn't to the most interesting thing to listen to. On a live gig in a normal concert setting, this is probably fine, but within this context, brevity is a noble quality. The honest assessment here is that while the soloists are fairly good for their age group, they are not as strong in a musical sense as the ensemble is in playing the written arrangement. Featuring a string of players then diminishes from the strength of the total presentation of the piece.

Submission Repertoire Selection #2 Title: I Got It Bad (and that ain't good)

A: Soulfulness Selection #2: 9

A: Rhythm Selection #2: 9

A: Soloing/Improvisation Selection #2: 9

A: Interpretation Selection #2: 9

A: Basic Musicianship/Technique Selection #2: 9

A: Total Selection: 45

A: Selection 2 Comments: All in all this is a great rendition. Vocalist sings with tremendous maturity in their feel and phrasing. Beautiful tone and comfort within the style, and the inflections on the melody are tasteful and appropriate. Alto melody lead at the beginning and end of the tune plays with wonderful style and expression. Ensemble as a whole does great work supporting the vocalist. Good use of dynamics and very warm playing throughout. Balance in the muted trumpets is a bit top heavy, whenever they have their eight note response phrase at the end of an A section, the lead is coming out, but the inner parts are not supporting enough. Ending can be more confident in the saxes, their last entrance felt stumbled upon and and unsure.

Submission Repertoire Selection #3: Perdido

A: Soulfulness Selection #3: 9

A: Rhythm Selection #3: 8

A: Soloing/Improvisation Selection #3: 7

A: Interpretation Selection #3: 8

A: Basic Musicianship/Technique Selection #3: 8

A: Total Selection #3: 40

A: Selection #3 Comments: The band plays with a ton of energy and feeling in this one, and they really get roaring throughout the chart, however, the tempo feels too fast for the ensemble, and leads to some indicative issues. Time is not settled at the beginning, pianist is not keeping up with the tempo in their eighth note lines. Tenor soli is not completely together, notes still need to be worked out, and the time isn't locked in between the two horns. In the ensemble as a whole there's a bit of a frantic energy to the sound, like everyone is trying hard to keep up, and doesn't feel relaxed at this speed. It's showing up in the execution of eighth note lines, and in the clarity of syncopated rhythms. Behind the tenor solos, for example, the brass hits aren't as crisp and together as they could be. Soloists are struggling with clarity of their lines as well. In the tenors, they both do well enough within the key center, but more time is needed to be spent developing vocabulary and language. Alto and trumpet both display a lot of vocabulary, but are struggling to keep up with the time, and sound very rushed in their playing. In the ensemble choruses that comes next, again, clarity of the rhythms is lost. Trombones have a beautiful sound and blend in their melodic section, but they rhythms aren't all together. When the saxes come in, they and the trumpets are both rushing. Rhythm section seems to respond in kind, because things really pick up going to the bridge. Brass should put vibrato on those swells behind the tenor solo reprise. Big and dramatic here, with strong szfp attack and a lot of sizzle. Drums should wait to come down until the end of the tenors. Don't telegraph the upcoming soft chorus in the band, let it be a dramatic and sudden moment. This chart lays well about 10% slower, and the performance at that tempo for this ensemble will likely be much cleaner and more comfortable.

A: Additional Comments: This group feels like they're on the cusp of being scary good. The ensemble work is generally very strong, as is shown in Feet Bone and the control they display on Got It Bad. The big issue with Perdido is just that it's a bit fast for them, and though it probably is a great live concert barnburner, the recording exposes a lot of flaws in the performance. Soloists should continue to develop their understanding of the language, particularly in the development of vocabulary and their sense of timefeel.

A: Grand Total: 122

Reviewer B Comments

Reviewer B: Erica von Kleist

Submission Repertoire Selection #1 Title: Feet bone

B: Soulfulness Selection #1: 9

B: Rhythm Selection #1: 9

B: Soloing/Improvisation Selection #1: 10

B: Interpretation Selection #1: 9

B: Basic Musicianship/Technique Selection #1: 8

B: Total Selection #1: 45

B: Selection #1 Comments: Very nice piano intro, soulful. Drums and bass, nice lock right off the bat. Trombones - clean up your articulation when you come in. You're not all attacking the phrase the same way. You can also bite these phrases off more. Be more emphatic with your articulations. Saxes, nice job with the soli, good energy and articulation. Trumpets - be sure you're all articulating the same way. Support everything with more air. Drums - you can interact with the trumpets during their moment as well. Guitar soloist - nice job! Vibes soloist - good job as well. Bari soloist - really solid solo, nice job phrasing and building the solo. It had a lot of character in it, which is indicative to the overall vibe of the piece. Alto - nice job as well! Trumpets and saxes - you can make more of those long crescendos after the alto solo. Rhythm section, good job keeping the energy going throughout the tune - it's a long blow and it felt good the whole way through.

Submission Repertoire Selection #2 Title: I Got It Bad (and that ain't good)

B: Soulfulness Selection #2: 8

B: Rhythm Selection #2: 8

B: Soloing/Improvisation Selection #2: 9

B: Interpretation Selection #2: 9

B: Basic Musicianship/Technique Selection #2: 8

B: Total Selection #2: 42

B: Selection #2 Comments: Alto melody - very soulful, great tone! Vocalist - beautiful voice! Don't be afraid to sing out more. Really tell your story. This song is about unrequited love, very mournful. Trumpets - clean up your intonation during the bridge. Listen across the section to hear who has your unison and really lock in with them. Rhythm section - you can do more to help shape the overall piece. It was one dynamic most of the way through and the same feel as well. Good performance, it just needed more with regards to dynamics and shaping. Brass - make more of your sound. Your parts are like cries in the background, and you're a part of the story as well. Sing it out!

Submission Repertoire Selection #3 Title: Perdido

B: Soulfulness Selection #3: 8

B: Rhythm Selection #3: 9

B: Soloing/Improvisation Selection #3: 9

B: Interpretation Selection #3: 9

B: Total Selection #3: 43

B: Selection #3 Comments: Good energy right off the bat rhythm section. Piano - loosen up your swing a bit. Don't feel like you have to say everything in 8 bars. Drums - when the horns come in you need to change dynamics right away, not two bars into their section. Saxes, relax on the feel of the solo. Think of it like a bebop soli. Lighten up on it and articulate the tops of phrases more. Brass - tighten up your articulation and really be sure you're all attacking the phrases the same way. Tenor soloists - nice job trading. Rhythm section - good job negotiating who was going to comp behind the tenor solo. Overall, this performance was good, but it started really big and had to end bigger. There wasn't really anywhere to go. When you have such a long blow like this chart, be sure you set yourself up with somewhere to go.

B: Additional Comments: Really solid band! Playing at a professional level overall. Good energy in these performances, and solid soloists across the board. The devil is in the details. Brass, you need to be articulating the same way. It's obvious that you all are great players, but when you're not together it takes away from the great music you're making. In these big band charts, you need to over exaggerate the crispness of the phrases, especially because there are so many voices in the mix. Rhythm section, really nice job. Know that you have way more power when it comes to shaping a performance. Don't be afraid to do more with dynamics and "drive the bus" so to speak.

B: Grand Total: 130
As always, feel free to email me with questions or concerns?  

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

April 13-17 - student leadership during COVID-19 closure

Moving ahead with online assignments this week including:

4) zoom meetings

In addition to my canvas and remind messages, I've invited the band president to play a role in the communications and he's coming up with these informational videos. I think this system might engage kids more than emails from me. He is taking on the role of reading my messages or just riffing motivational and encouraging ideas.

Something to consider?

older Zabala video ... Lean on me