News & Updates

The Banjo in Jazz

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 | 11:12 am by Jazz at Lincoln Center

When you listen to a number of early Jazz recordings of the late 1910s and the early-to-mid 1920s, you don’t hear a rhythm guitar; rather, you hear a banjo.

The banjo, often in counterpoint with a tuba’s bass lines, provided a high amount of volume in bands, and could be picked up by early recording technology. As the music moved from small ensembles to big bands, however, the banjo began to disappear in favor of the acoustic archtop guitar.

If you’re playing …

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Ear Training with Ingrid Jensen

Saturday, October 10, 2015 | 1:42 pm by Jazz at Lincoln Center

(Trumpeter Ingrid Jensen, Photo: Angela Jimenez)

Training your ears to hear pitches–and to recognize their relationship to other pitches–can be a daunting task, but trumpet master Ingrid Jensen offers a different strategy for hearing and feeling pitch. In the lesson below, she utilizes a shruti box to create a drone, and builds her ear by playing around the drone.

It’s a unique and interesting approach to ear training, and can also be turned into a fun practice routine game. Check it out …

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Happy Birthday Jo Jones

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 | 11:51 am by Jazz at Lincoln Center

The fire in Count Basie’s legendary “All American” rhythm section, “Papa” Jo Jones revolutionized jazz drumming, through his use of the ride cymbal as a time keeper, and through his highly musical–rhythmically varied and timbrally diverse–use of the drum’s hi-hat.

Jones was an inspiration to many budding drummers, and paved the way for the generations to come. A protege of his, Michael Carvin, remembers meeting him in this wonderful video.


Creating a Lyrical Line

Tuesday, October 6, 2015 | 8:36 am by Jazz at Lincoln Center

(Todd Williams, Photo courtesy of the artist)

As a beginning or intermediate player, you are slowly building up your repertoire of standards. While you do that, don’t forget to remember melodic considerations, and to keep a lyrical line in your head as you improvise on melodies.

Master saxophonist Todd Williams breaks this down further, giving you some insight into how to approach melody, embellishments, and variations. Sometimes, simple exercises from your practice routine, paired with careful listening of the original recordings of …

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Albert “Tootie” Heath

Monday, October 5, 2015 | 11:40 am by Jazz at Lincoln Center

(Albert “Tootie” Heath; Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

2015 marked the 80th birthday of the legendary drummer Albert “Tootie” Heath. Part of a highly musical family (his brothers–Jimmy Heath and Percy Heath–have been some of the most influential artists in Jazz on saxophone and bass respectively), Tootie has graced some of the art form’s most esteemed records, and has worked with a veritable Who’s Who of Jazz.

Earlier, he joined us for an in-depth oral history, in which we discussed his life and music. …

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What Is Scat Singing?

Saturday, October 3, 2015 | 9:00 am by Jazz at Lincoln Center

(Marion Cowings, photo courtesy of the artist)

Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Jon Hendricks, Betty Carter, and many more of Jazz’s legendary vocalists were noted for their ability to sing scat vocals. The use of wordless syllables and sounds enabled vocalists to take instrument-like solos and stretch out their vocal capabilities in some of the most extroardinary improvisations put to record.

But what is scat singing, and how do you practice it?

For what scat singing is, we start with the wonderful vocalists Michael …

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Auditioning for a Conservatory

Friday, October 2, 2015 | 8:30 am by Jazz at Lincoln Center

(Saxophonist Gary Bartz; Photo: Bob Travis)

Are you considering applying to a conservatory to continue your musical training? How do you practice for that, and what should you be preparing?

Saxophone legend Gary Bartz, who teaches at Oberlin College, shares some advice with you in this Jazz Academy talk. Check it out!

For more thoughts, check out this video with saxophonist (and Juilliard alumna) Erica von Kleist:


Essentially Ellington registration open!

Thursday, October 1, 2015 | 11:53 am by Jazz at Lincoln Center

Be sure to sign your school up for this year’s Essentially Ellington! Registration has opened today.

It is free to sign up, and participating gets you 8 free charts of music by Duke Ellington and by Fletcher Henderson. It also gets you a variety of classroom and teaching tools, including interactive video lessons via our Tutti app, performance notes, and online coaching. You can also stay up to date on regional festivals coming to your area, and can also submit to …

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RIP Phil Woods

Wednesday, September 30, 2015 | 10:15 am by Jazz at Lincoln Center

Phil Woods in 1978 (Photo: Tom Marcello)

Yesterday, the great alto master Phil Woods passed away. Within the pop music world, he was known for his classic solo on Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are.” Within Jazz, he’s remembered as one of the greatest alto players this music has produced.

Amassing an extraordinary discographical resume, Woods soon became one of the most influential post-Bird altoists, and also became a crucial advocate for the music, helping to found the Delaware Water Gap …

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How to Play Rhythm Guitar

Tuesday, September 29, 2015 | 11:48 am by Jazz at Lincoln Center

(James Chirillo, Photo: Frank Stewart)

If you’ve checked out our playlist on YouTube about how to approach rhythm section techniques, you may notice that the rhythm guitarist is getting a clean, high-intensity sound followed by quick decay. This was a necessary component of playing acoustic rhythm guitar in a big band, and to learn more, you can check out some of James Chirillo’s guitar set-up lessons on our site here.

But once your guitar is set up, how do you approach playing …

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