Written by Nicole Miao
For me, jazz was a very abstract concept because I had only heard some blues music but never seen any jazz performances, nor had I had the opportunity to learn more about jazz. As a result, I was greatly curious about the performance when I attended KCPA.
After probably listening to one song, I noticed the difference between jazz and common pop music. Jazz used a large number of split notes and triplets, which changed the position of the accent to temporarily change the original inherent rhythm to form a very distinctive one. The split rhythm was not static but rather complicated. Sometimes the the original rhythm was shifted by whole bar, causing a sense of erratic movement.
To my surprise, piano was not only the king in classical music but also in jazz. Since I’ve played piano for fourteen year, I paid more attention to it and found that the characteristics of jazz piano could be roughly divided into several types. The first is to use continuous big jumps in the left hand to form the large-span bass. The second is to play the fixed bass continuously in the left hand to set off the complex melody played in the right hand. The third is to use relatively complete chords to add some cuts on the basis of two-point or longer values, reflecting the relaxation of slow jazz.
During the performance, I often heard fast upward legatos because the trumpet could freely play the beat of various intervals within octaves, while at the same time playing the upward legato much more freely than the descending legato. I have also observed that performers would use mute to change the tone of trumpet, sometimes husky and slightly metallic, and sometimes close to woodwind. Sax was also one of the most commonly used instruments in jazz. During the performance, saxophone played the main theme, and saxophones of different tunes formed the saxophone group to play different parts.
One of my favorite works was “mah na mah na”. The singer improvised with meaningless words, forming a unique style of jazz singing. Since this was a song for children, the rhythm was more changeable and cheerful, while the use of trombone was reduced.
This was my first exposure to jazz. Although I haven’t really understood it yet, I could feel that jazz was not only passionate and wild, but also soft and subtle, which were perfectly combined. Everyone in the jazz ensemble was the main body, including the singer, who was equivalent to a vocal instrument just like other instruments. Jazz taught me to establish a good sense of cooperation, and through cooperation, I can better reflect my value.
If you want to learn more about Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra With Wynton Marsalis, visit this website: https://www.jazz.org/JLCO/wynton-marsalis/