jazz

For many people, Jools Holland sounds like something familiar, and when they manage to trace it to something people usually remembers “Later With Jools Holland” which is a TV show from the UK hosted by Jools Holland, and focuses on bringing different artists and bands at the same time to perform live.

It’s a concept which is has managed to remain fresh since 1992, it features around five bands and an audience of around 300 people.

Young Holland

However Jools Holland is also a very succesful and talented musician. Before the show, Jools Holland or Julian Miles Holland already made a career as a pianist, playing from the age of 8.

In 1974, Holland joined Squeeze as their keyboardist, and released their first EP in 1977 (Packet of Three), and their first LP the next year. The band was very succesful, with hits such as “Take Me I’m Yours” and “Bang Bang”. Both songs were composed by Chris Difford and Glenn Tilbrook.

That year, Holland released an EP called Boogie Woogie ’78, which showed a side of him that focused more on R&B, and jazz. After that his solo career flourished and eventually left the band. He occasionally came back to the band but his solo career was very well established as well as his career as a TV host, first in “The Tube”, and then “Later With Jules Holland”.

Holland

Music and Shows

In an interview with “ukmusicreviews” Jools Holland spoke about his career and the show:

If I had to push you what has been the highlight of your career so far?

Well I suppose that would have to be this moment now we are chatting (laughter). A friend of mine once told me that the great gurus always say that if this does this and that does that then tomorrow will be the best day ever. However, I always think that paradise is now. I also get a great feeling whenever we play next. I suppose that if I was to look back and pick out one thing it would most probably be a small moment on stage when I feel totally connected with the audience at that one moment in time. It’s great when you see that they are feeling the music as you are and they are tapping their feet and moving in time to the music that you are playing.

That is the highlight for me. Being at one with a load of people who are getting the music that you are playing. You can’t ask people to love the music that you are playing unless you love the music yourself. That oneness with the people has been the highlight for me. That was a rather longwinded answer I’m afraid Kevin but I’m sure that you will understand what I am saying. If you can put that into one sentence, well done (laughter).

Later… with Jools Holland has now been on the TV for forty-two series. When you aired the very first series could you ever imagine yourself still doing it in 2016?

No not at all. If you had said to me when you and I bumped into one another backstage at Milton Keynes Bowl when I was trying to settle the argument between Sting and Tom trying to get Tom’s quid back with the help of UB40; if you had appeared to me in a strange veil informing me that you could show me the future and then have taken me into a tent, and you had told me that I would be running a big band consisting of twenty people that would tour all over the world and I would also have this TV show, I would have thought that’s not what I am planning. As they always say if you want to make God laugh then tell him your plans. Things just happen sometimes.

I am really pleased with the way that things have turned out and I am really pleased because I love what I do. I love the music we play but I would never have dreamed that would be the way that things were going to turn out for me. That also goes for Later…I presented The Tube for five years and that seemed forever when I was twenty. After that we started doing Later…and I thought that it was fun and that it would probably last for three series. The longer that it stays on TV it gets harder to believe. I also think that we have been fortunate to have some of the greatest artists in the world, sometimes at the beginning of their careers and sometimes at their last performances.

There is a very interesting aspect about how music can work in unexpected ways, even if there are connections with a show’s host and a performer, it’s a bit strange to be a musician and later find out that you’ll be very well known TV host because of that same musician side.

In the end Jools Holland is a musician, and every now and then he play the piano with his guests and manages to make the experience even greater with his talent.

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In an age of tight schedules and fast paced days of work, many people have learnt to see the world as a giant machine made of cogs and levers, even when it comes to music with specialists operating it, if you are not a specialist you will be seen as the one that is not doing what you are supposed to. Now this may seem over the top, however this has some truth to it. This machine changes, with each passing year every person has to apply to a different set of skills and mindset which will determine the standard or desired usefulness, to play the role that is, above anything else, safe.

There was a time when musicians filled this role, and it offered a certain stability and status, with time this has become more complex, one of this complexities come from a series of cultural movements and events which defined the way some people express themselves, but also disturbed the status as specialists in the giant machine.

Rupture

There was a rupture, academic music became its own thing and every other genre another, to put it in another way a man wore a suit and tie, and another ripped jean and a big t-shirt. This could just mean that everyone is different and there are different ways to express yourself, but there is more to it than that. While some genres like Jazz and in some degree Blues, still manage to stay in between these two forms of music, other such as rock, pop, hip hop and techno are all part of a movement that established some prejudices and labels that don’t necessarily go with them.

To know how these came to be it would be helpful to explore the origins of these genres and what is the difference between the man with the suit and tie and the man with ripped jeans and big t-shirt.

Most of these big changes occurred in the late 20th century, as people embraced the modern world, which paved the way for incredible technological advancement, and social rights, but also gave birth to large scale wars and conflicts involving those same rights.

Throughout all these changes music played a very important role. In the late 19th century and the 20th century this rupture occurred with Jazz, this became a very important moment in history not only because of the music itself as a new genre, but all it implied.

Jazz

For starters Jazz was very much black music, by black Americans that not only invented a genre, it took the best of European music and African rhythms, which made it a place of reconciliation and to be free.

While it still retained many of the complicated techniques that made classical academic music such an incredible experience, it’s as if the man with a suit and a tie, took of the tie, threw his jacket and rolled up its sleeves to just let go and improvise. This is also the boom of musical improvisation, where while there is a structure, feelings don’t, and Jazz follows this sort of mantra which would otherwise be inconceivable on an academic environment.

Rock became a thing in the 50s, going through Psychedelic music in the 70s, Punk and electronica in the 80s, and the world just blew up, leaving behind a trail of beautiful disasters, and capturing the feeling became the most important thing thus, connecting with others.

Education

This is often taken for granted in music education, as if the individual inspirations don’t matter inside of the classroom or session, once the class starts, everyone trains to be an academic music interpreter.

This may not always be the case, but it is uncommon to find an approach that inspires a student to student connection through their different points of view of music while still incorporating the theory and knowledge that forms discipline and improves the way we structure music in our heads, to perform better and compose with better understanding of music overall. It shouldn’t feel like teachers are ignoring a part of history, music is music and everyone has its own alignments and freedom to use their knowledge as they see fit, and a music class should encourage that whether it is in a classroom or online.

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blue river6 fun pieces for intermediate to advanced pianists

When I was a teenager, I innocently asked my piano teacher one day if I could possibly learn some pop songs in my lessons. I will never forget his reaction!

Well, the colour drained from his ancient, wrinkly face and I could tell it was all he could do to withhold the rage clearly brewing deep within him!

“Why would you want to learn such rubbish?!?” he finally exploded.

“But it’s fun! And nobody has heard of the pieces I play” I grumbled, for he kept me on a strict diet of scales and Bach! I was tired of the same old routine and desperately wanted some excitement.

“Could I then just learn some jazz and blues?…What about some Scott Joplin even?” His cheeks were starting to puff uncontrollably and he gripped his chair for support. I could tell this was going nowhere!

I dropped my shoulders is resignation. The situation was hopeless. In fact I resorted to learning to play the “Maple Leaf Rag” in “secret,” dreaming of one day playing some cool popular music. The local music shop was just as disappointing carrying an antiquated stock in their so-called “popular music” section.

Now fast forward twenty or more years on and what a different world we live in! Exciting music is easily available from all over the world with the click of a mouse (or a poke of an iPad)!

Take one such book that I recently stumbled upon…

“Blue River” by Elena Cobb. A collection of six original pieces for the immediate to advanced pianist (grade 6+). Now had such a book been available for me as a teenager, I would have loved it! And to have shown it to my old teacher…now that would have been cruel but funny!!!

Full of bluesy, jazzy pieces and even some latin thrown in for good measure, this is an exciting collection which some of my advanced piano students are really enjoying at the moment. It’s challenging them but they are having lots of fun.

Cloud Seven, Latin. This was the first piece that caught my attention. It has a classic Cuban style groove, so perfect for  [···]

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