News & Updates

What Is Collective Improvisation?

Monday, September 28, 2015 | 2:52 pm by Jazz at Lincoln Center

(Evan Christopher, Photo: Eric Hartman)

If you’ve listened to very early recordings of Jazz (for example, the first instances of recorded Jazz, played by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band), you’ll notice something unusual: the solo is missing. The solo – an artist stepping to the front to improvise on the melody and chord changes while backed by the rest of the band – is such a staple of Jazz that it’s very odd not to hear it in these first recordings.

What …

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Introduction to Jazz Guitar Chords

Thursday, September 24, 2015 | 11:14 am by Jazz at Lincoln Center

(Tom Dempsey, Photo Courtesy of the Artist)

When you start playing Jazz Guitar, you may find that the chords you learn in a chord book sound too heavy and too bulky. You might also find that it’s too difficult to move about the fingerboard smoothly when you’re voicing such large chords. However, there’s good news: you don’t have to do those voicings. In fact, with a full rhythm section, you can focus on much sparser outlines of chords for your playing …

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Happy Birthday, John Coltrane!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 | 12:12 pm by Jazz at Lincoln Center

(John Coltrane in 1963, Photo: Hugo van Gelderen. Courtesy of Wikipedia)

Today marks what would have been the 89th birthday of the legendary saxophonist, composer, and bandleader John Coltrane!

In celebration, we’ve curated a short playlist on Spotify that plays highlights from his incredibly varied and trailblazing career, from some of his earliest hard bop work, his modal work with Miles Davis, to his groundbreaking quartet, to his ecstatic Free Jazz work that marks his later career.

Click here to listen!


How To Play Free Jazz

Tuesday, September 22, 2015 | 1:04 pm by Jazz at Lincoln Center

(Matthew Shipp, Photo: Frank Stewart)

If you’re accustomed to playing standards, approaching a freely improvised performance can be a bit daunting. How do you approach playing with others in the absence of chord changes? How do you even begin?

If you’re not familiar with Free Jazz, we posted an intro video on our YouTube page. Additionally, we invited the guitarist Mary Halvorson to offer insights into how to begin working in free improvisation, posted here.

But once you start play with other artists, …

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How Do You Start Improvising?

Sunday, September 20, 2015 | 10:35 pm by Jazz at Lincoln Center

Many beginning Jazz students ask this question: how do you begin to improvise, and how do you practice it?

It can be a daunting challenge, but one way to start is to make a game of it and set sound boundaries for yourself to work around.

Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra saxophonist Walter Blanding offers some insights in this Jazz Academy lesson on developing improv games for your practice sessions. Check them out, and give it a try.

Want another practice technique? Check …

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What Are Long Tones?

Saturday, September 19, 2015 | 11:27 am by Jazz at Lincoln Center

Ask any woodwind or brass player what one of the most important practice techniques is, and they’ll almost certainly point you to long tones. What are they, and why are they so important?

Long tones are exactly what they sound like: you play a note into your horn and hold it at a steady volume and pitch for as long as your breath will allow. Then you go up or down and half step and repeat, ultimately going through the full …

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The Music of Dave Brubeck

Friday, September 18, 2015 | 2:47 pm by Jazz at Lincoln Center

On YouTube, Jazz at Lincoln Center just posted a full concert video of its program The Life and Music of Dave Brubeck, which you can see here, or watch below:

The concert offered fresh big band arrangements of classic pieces associated with Brubeck. Earlier, we also created a companion set of videos in which a Jazz quartet performed and discussed great music of the Brubeck Quartet. Find the full playlist here.

Want to learn more? A great piece to start with is …

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Remembering Papa Jo Jones

Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 2:26 pm by Jazz at Lincoln Center

Papa Jo Jones was without a doubt one of the most influential figures in Jazz drumming. A member of Count Basie’s All-American Rhythm Section, he helped guide jazz drums towards incorporating brushes, keeping time with the hi-hat, and much, much more.

Modern Drummer did a nice feature on him, which you can read here. Additionally, when master drummer Michael Carvin came by our studios to record his wonderful series on the 26 rudiments of drumming, he took a brief break to …

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Eric Reed Celebrates Thelonious Monk’s Birthday

Friday, October 10, 2014 | 8:10 am by Jazz at Lincoln Center

Today marks the birthday of the legendary Thelonious Monk!

A few years ago, pianist Eric Reed helped us mark Monk’s birthday by sharing some of his favorite Monk albums, tunes, sidemen, and more. We’re re-posting them here, as Reed picked out some wonderful selections. Enjoy!

Pianist Eric Reed

Top 5 Favorite Monk Albums
1. Thelonious Monk Trio, (Prestige, 1952)
2. Monk, (Prestige, 1954)
3. The Prophet, (Vogue, 1954)
4. Two Hours With Thelonious, (Riverside, 1961)
5. Mulligan Meets Monk, (Riverside, 1957)

Thelonious Monk, 1947 (Photo: William Gottlieb)

Top …

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Summer Jazz Academy – Apply!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014 | 4:32 pm by Jazz at Lincoln Center

Beginning in the summer of 2015, Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra will begin a new summer residency in Castleton, Virginia, home of Lorin Maazel and the Castleton Festival. This two-week program, designed and instructed by Wynton Marsalis and a select team of faculty, will serve as a rigorous training institute for 42 of the most advanced and dedicated high school jazz students (grades 9-12). Students will apply by audition and participate in one of two big …

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