Swing University Single Classes

Can’t commit to a full course? Single classes are now available at Swing University for $35 each (fees may apply).

Jazz 101

Taught by Seton Hawkins

Do you love jazz and want to learn more about it? Join us for one of today’s best introductions to our nation’s greatest art form! In Jazz 101, we’ll help you to develop your ears to hear the many details and intricacies that make this music so endlessly fascinating, and guide you through the history and development of the styles. Instructor and Swing University curator Seton Hawkins will provide your introduction to jazz; no musical knowledge is required.

Jazz 101 Week One – The Building Blocks of Jazz (Wednesday, February 8, 2017)
Swing University’s Jazz 101 opens with a short overview of the development of Jazz, and its progression. We’ll also go into the building blocks of Jazz: what is Swing, what are the Blues, and what is Improvisation? In this class, we’ll help you to hear song form, and also help you hear how Jazz musicians approach their solos! Closing out, we’ll begin on the history of the music and cultural movements that helped create the conditions necessary to engender Jazz’s birth in New Orleans.
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Jazz 101 Week Two – New Orleans and The Great Migration (Wednesday, February 15, 2017)
We say that Jazz was born in New Orleans, but why? What was special about that city, and the people in it? During this class, we will explore the cultural make-up, the unique diversity, and the interplay of cultures you find in New Orleans. We’ll also listen to some of the earliest musical styles to come out of there, and we’ll give you insight into what the very earliest forms of Jazz might have sounded like. As we move along, we’ll get into the era of recordings, and hear some of the first jazz records, and trace the development of Jazz’s solos and structures.
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Jazz 101 Week Three – The Jazz Age (Wednesday, February 22, 2017)
Jazz may have been born in New Orleans, but it quickly moves into cities around the nation and takes root. In its earliest days, one of the most crucial cities for Jazz’s development was Chicago, as masters like King Oliver and Louis Armstrong set up shop in the Windy City and set the world alight with their music. At the same time, Jazz musicians see the rising ballroom dance craze, and get on the bandwagon by form dance orchestras heralding the birth of the big bands! Join us as we explore this crucial turning point in Jazz’s history.
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Jazz 101 Week Four – The Swing Era (Wednesday, March 1, 2017)
The Swing Era heralded Jazz’s place as the pop music of the day, and some of its finest artists—Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman, and more—were also its megastars. But what was the music they were creating? How was it different from earlier styles of Jazz? And how did it change throughout the 1930s? In this class, we’ll explore the greatest artists of the day and listen to how they changed the music.
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Jazz 101 Week Five – BeBop (Wednesday, March 8, 2017)
Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, and more built up a new style called BeBop, bringing a new rhythmic vitality and virtuosity to the music. As the big band wave was just beginning to break, BeBop arrived on the scene as an exciting and controversial new approach to Jazz. Its performance style would radically alter the face of the music, and would fundamentally change the way we play it, hear it, and think about it.
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Jazz 101 Week Six – Cool Jazz, Hard Bop, Modal Jazz, Free Jazz (Wednesday, March 15, 2017)
As the 1940s gave way to the 1950s, Jazz developed many new offshoot styles. Cool Jazz arrived, seeking a marriage of BeBop and Swing Era music. Hard Bop sought to infuse bop with Blues and Gospel roots. Modal Jazz wanted to rebuild the music’s harmonic system completely, while Free Jazz sought to uproot many (and sometimes all!) of our preconceptions of what this music should sound like! Join us as we explore these many styles, and the innovators who created them.
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Jazz 101 Week Seven – Fusions: Latin Jazz, Third Stream, and Jazz-Rock Fusion (Wednesday, March 22, 2017)

From its very beginnings, Jazz was always a fusion of musical styles. However, as the century progressed, Jazz began to work even more closely with other genres, giving birth to many new and exciting styles. Latin Jazz emerged, fusing Jazz vocabulary with Afro-Cuban musical traditions. Third Stream sought to marry Jazz and Classical music, while Fusion looked to the burgeoning rock scene for inspiration. In this class, we’ll cover how these styles emerged, and how they came to reshape Jazz.
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Jazz 101 Week Eight – Jazz Today: How the Music Reached the 21st Century (Wednesday, March 29, 2017)
As the 1970s gave way to the 1980s and beyond, many styles recycled and re-emerged, while other styles sprung onto the scene in new and exciting ways. At the cusp of the 21st Century, artists like Wynton Marsalis, James Carter, Amina Claudine Myers, John Scofield, and more were offering unique visions for the future of Jazz, while stalwarts like Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock continued a tradition of relentless questing and innovation in music. In our final Jazz 101 session, we’ll examine how styles continued to develop and evolve in the decades leading up to the 2000s.
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Jazz 201

Taught by Ben Young

Jazz 201 Week One – The Fusions: Latin Jazz, Third Stream, and Fusion
The Roots of Jazz, New Orleans Jazz, Hearing the Blues, King Oliver, and Jelly Roll Morton (January 23, 2017)

Jazz 201 opens with a deep dive into the early pre-Jazz roots of this music, then moving onto explore how the disparate elements of music fused together to create New Orleans Jazz. We’ll also dive into the musical contributions of early geniuses like King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton.

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Jazz 201 Week Two
The Young Musical Style Is Radically Overhauled and Expanded: The Birth of the Solo, The Birth of the Big Band, The National Growth of Jazz (January 30, 2017)

In Week Two, we look at how Jazz moved from a local style of New Orleans into a national phenomenon, and how other cities came to help define and develop the growth of this music. As we look at how Jazz grew and developed, we’ll also look at some of the artists who helped drive that, including Louis Armstrong, Sidney Bechet, Bix Beiderbecke, Don Redman, and many more.

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Jazz 201 Week Three
The Swing Era and The Emergence of the Jazz Industry (February 6, 2017)

The Jazz Orchestra emerges in the 1920s, but undergoes a massive transformation in size, rhythmic feel, and overall aesthetic as the 1930s continue. Masters like Count Basie, Benny Carter, Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and others helped redefine the sound of big bands, while soloists like Charlie Christian, Roy Eldridge, Billie Holiday, Lester Young, and many others helped blaze new trails for individual expression.

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Jazz 201 Week Four
BeBop, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker (February 13, 2017)

BeBop develops as a new, exciting, controversial, and even avant-garde sound in the 1940s, driven by two great geniuses: Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker. What made it different from its predecessors, and how do you approach listening to it? Tonight we’ll cover its rhythmic, harmonic, and melodic revolutions, and trace its development and influence.

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Jazz 201 Week Five
Jazz’s Economic Life: Looking at Jazz Through Its Economic Ebb and Flow 1946-2017 (February 27, 2017)

In the Swing Era, Jazz became the popular music of the day, reaching a level of popularity it had not seen prior to, or since, that moment. What happened to Jazz’s popularity after the Swing Era? Did it thrive again, and in leaner periods, how did it survive? We’ll address Jazz’s economic highs and lows from the 1940s to present day.

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Jazz 201 Week Six

Cool Jazz, Hard Bop, Modal Jazz, and Free Jazz (March 6, 2017)

Just like Latin serves as the root of many modern languages, BeBop serves as the root of many Jazz styles to follow. Tonight we’ll look at descendents of BeBop, notably Cool Jazz, Hard Bop, Modal Jazz, and Free Jazz, and look at the innovators (Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Clifford Brown, Horace Silver, Bill Evans, Ornette Coleman, and many more) who helped to develop these new styles.

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Jazz 201 Week Seven

The Fusions: Latin Jazz, Third Stream, and Fusion (March 13, 2017)

Since its origins, Jazz has fused with other styles and aesthetics. As it progressed, three specific “fusion” styles emerged and become highly influential. Latin Jazz sought to combine Jazz with a variety of Afro-Latin styles, Third Stream found a new language by combining Jazz and Classical music, while Fusion sought to fuse Jazz with Rock. Master artists like Mario Bauza, John Lewis, Joe Zawinul, Miles Davis, and many others helped to drive these developments along, and tonight we’ll look at how it all happened.

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Jazz 201 Week Eight
Class’ Choice: Covering Artists In Greater Depth
(March 20, 2017)

After seven weeks of classes, certain artists may have triggered your interest, and you may want to do a deeper dive into their lives and music. For this night, it is the classes’ choice as to who gets covered.

We’ll cover one artist from each of these two groupings – email swingu@jazz.org and pick one artist from each group

Group #1: John Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk (pick one)

Group #2: Baby Dodds, Jo Jones, Max Roach (pick one)

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Charles Mingus

Taught by Jack Walrath

Week One:  Why We Love Charles Mingus (February 18, 2017)

We open our first session by exploring the hooks of Mingus’ music, and analyzing how they have led to his longstanding appeal, his stature amongst Jazz fans, and his ongoing legacy. Through original records, CDs, and video footage—some of which are private recordings of Jack’s and cannot be heard anywhere else—Jack Walrath will uncover the magic in Mingus’ music that show his originality and his mastery of forms.

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Week Two: The Early Work of Charles Mingus (February 25, 2017)

In the second session of the Charles Mingus class, Jack Walrath will look at Mingus’ early career as a sideman and a budding composer, and will explore the first recordings he made while also looking at the music that influenced and inspired him. In doing so, Jack will share some of the stories and anecdotes that Mingus shared with him, and link how these early concepts formed into the modern Jazz master and composer that we now know him to be.

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Week Three:  Charles Mingus the Innovator (March 4, 2017)

In the third class, Jack will share from his personal experiences the lessons he learned from Mingus, exploring his new compositional tools, arranging techniques, and overall philosophy of music and society. Pulling from classic records, private recordings, and video footage, Jack will explore the depth of Mingus’ musical innovation in this class.

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Week Four:  Charles Mingus’ Last Lessons (March 11, 2017)

As the 1970s progressed, the effects of ALS took their toll and Mingus was no longer able to perform. However, his creative spirit continued, and some of his last pieces and works are some of his most beautiful. Jack will explore these final works of Mingus, and will also describe Mingus’ ongoing legacy in the Mingus Dynasty and Big Band. Bringing CDs of posthumously realized compositions of Mingus, Jack will look at the opportunities and challenges he has encountered in carrying the torch of this Jazz master, and explore why Mingus’ music and lessons are more needed today than ever.

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