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A Look at the Performer in Me March 1, 2011

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When I perform this jazz music, I look to get through everything that’s brought be down over a period of time. I’m not sure why this works so well for me, but it’s because that I can feel nothing in life to be motivated to over time.

Why does jazz seem to be the medium of the tortured artist? You have many artists who have died due to addiction to many things, be it drugs, sex, or other things, but the question is what is my addiction?

Perhaps my addiction is to general malaise, the fear of almost succeeding at the end of something is really what destroys our search of pure art. But maybe it is in art which we find the flaws and imperfections in one’s self. And this no greater than a look at jazz. Screw up a chord everyone just laughs and moves on throw in a wrong note, hey man that’s just jazz in action.

It’s also a terrible way to live, going through it, with a fear of doing something right and more or less taking the laid back approach of the medium and just rolling with the punches. It is an inherent flaw in my personality, my way of living and it’s something I have to change, like a terrible chord going to a simpler one to work around.


Who’s Got Next? February 8, 2011

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It’s an interesting question above, who is jazz’s next breakout star? Some will look for some obscure European you’ve never heard of, others will look to a established name who just hasn’t gotten their due yet. But I feel as if have found the man who I think can change jazz and take it into the next 30 or so years.

May I present to you Troy Andrews, or as he’s known on the scene, Trombone Shorty.

But Ryan, you’re a sax player and trumpet players like Miles Davis are the ones who get remembered, why a trombonist? Well, I’m happy you asked that question. You see, the trombone doesn’t really have a superstar the same way the sax, trumpet, piano, drums and bass do. Sure, J.J. Johnson is great, Glenn Miller is a legend, but there is no one name that you can say and have people know them without having to identify the type of instrument to the casual music fan.

People know who Coltrane is, people know of Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock. Heck, Charlie Parker got a movie made about him!

Trombone Shorty is the next in the line of those kind of musicians. He plays both trombone and trumpet at a virtuosic level as well as being one hell of a signer as well. He comes from New Orleans, the cradle of the genre is uses modern sounds like amps and rock productions techniques to blend his style into some funk/jazz/rock hybrid. He knows the roots of his music and he knows where he wants to take it.

But most importantly, Andrews is one of the most entertaining figures in jazz. The man was a born entertainer switching between instruments, singing and the showmanship of very few musical acts before him, and there is only other jazz frontman I can compare him to and that is Andrews’ idol Louis Armstrong.

His stage shows are nothing short of a party. If you’ve never been to New Orleans this is the closest you can get without living your state. I got the chance to see him live last summer and I tell you that if you ever get the chance to see him, drop whatever you are doing and go. Don’t believe me, well check out this video of him performing “Backatown” from his new album of the same name at the Louisiana Music Factory.

Don’t worry jazz aficionado, with the genre in the hands of Trombone Shorty we will make it into the 21st century just fine.

Jump, Jive and Blog! February 1, 2011

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Well, I’d like to welcome everyone to this experiment in blogging. My name is Ryan Bergman and I’ll be your tour guide on this crazy trip through Jazz’s past, present, and future.

The focus of this blog is to discuss the shape of jazz’s future. 52 years ago Ornette Coleman released “The Shape of Jazz To Come” and became the pioneer of the free jazz movement. But now in 2011 we have come no closer to the realization of what that shape will be. I hope to look at the upcoming artists, the new releases and the forms and styles that those who look to shepherd this music through the 21st century are using and how they reflect on jazz’s past and show the way for it’s future.

As someone who performs the music while learning the history and getting my own thoughts, I am wondering how jazz will exist as I enter the prime years of my life.

The simple truth is that jazz isn’t dead but there is little doubt in my mind that jazz is evolving into something else, a combination of art forms. It has been said that change is good and I think for any form of music this is true.

The ultimate improvisation art form has continued to change over the years and will no doubt change in the future and for that we should all be thankful.

~Ryan Bergman