April showers bring May flowers, and Jazz Jazz Jazz

Shelby Snigar, Staff Writer

It's Jazz Appreciation Month.

Jazz Appreciation Month, also called JAM, has been held in April by The National Museum of American History since 2002.  The museum encourages everyone to join in the culture of Jazz music through concerts, recordings, lectures, books and so much more.  This year, Benny Carter is the representative of JAM.

Benny Carter is an African American who represented every aspect of jazz. He was born in 1907 and died in 2003 at the age of 95.

Many of the instruments that represent jazz are pianos, saxophones, trombones, trumpets and sometimes clarinets.  Carter was successful with each of these instruments, especially saxophone.  It was Carter who help shaped the use of Saxophone in the culture.

Benny Carter, along with other great jazz composers, created the version of Jazz music called swing.  One largely famous song Carter produced in Hollywood studios was, “Cow Cow Boogie,” which was played greatly during World War II.

In the 1940s, Carter became quite the composer for many famous singers like Ray Charles, Billy Holiday and Louis Armstrong.  He also arranged pieces for movies and TV shows, starting with “Stormy Weather.”

Edward Berger wrote a biography of Benny Carter for The National Museum of American History.  According to Berger, “Beginning in 2000, Benny Carter donated a large portion of his musical scores to the Smithsonian. This priceless collection provides the basis for our performances this year for Jazz Appreciation and for future research for years to come.”

Charlie Parker (right), JR Ryans (middle) and Lachune Boyd (left), practicing for the Jazz Band Concert. Photo courtesy of Shelby Snigar.

Charlie Parker (right), JR Ryans (middle) and Lachune Boyd (left), practicing for the Jazz Band Concert. Photo courtesy of Shelby Snigar.

According to the official website for National Awareness Days, one form of jazz originated in the south of United States in the 1800s.  This led to major forms of jazz like the blues, ragtime and swing.

As another way of celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month, the JazzApril project was created.  This project came about in 2012 by the Jazz Journalists Association (JJA) to promote JAM and International Jazz Day (IJD) through local jazz organizations.  Click here to get involved with JJA and their JazzApril project.

Celebrate with North Greenville University

As for North Greenville University, there’s a Jazz Band and Jazz Appreciation class. The Jazz Appreciation class is dedicated to teaching students about jazz history.  At the end of the course, a student shall have learned the historical background of jazz, know and recognize important people that contributed to the jazz era, recognize the many different styles of jazz, know the terminology of jazz and lastly, critically discuss and review musical pieces.

Coming soon, on April 26th, the Jazz Band will be preforming its annual concert.

There will be around 10 to 12 songs played within an hour, and "Groovin' Hard," "Flightline," "The Best of Earth, Wind, and Fire" and "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag," are just some of the songs that will be played that night.

The Jazz Band is made up of about 15 students ranging from freshmen to seniors.

Freshman Wayne Mason gave reason for participating in Jazz Band when he said, “I plan on, in my graduate studies, going for jazz studies.”

Senior Lachune Boyd commented, “We have an awesome teacher.  If you want to learn about Jazz, he’s the person you need to be connected to on campus.”

The Jazz Band practicing for their upcoming concert on April 26th.  Photo courtesy of Shelby Snigar.

The Jazz Band practicing for their upcoming concert on April 26th.  Photo courtesy of Shelby Snigar.

Some North Greenville University students give an insight as to why they like jazz music and how they will be celebrating Jazz Appreciation Month.

Freshman Caleb Cabe said, “I like jazz because of the complexity of the instrumentation and compositions. Also jazz is the form of music which began all other types of popular music in western culture.”

Freshman Shyanne White said, “I love jazz because, one it was born here in America and two it shows soul like no other music can."

Freshman Julia Babayan said, “I love jazz because I grew up listening to it. In high school my best friends played jazz too. I believe all students should appreciate and celebrate it because jazz was an important part of American history. Also, people should try listening to different genres of music.”

Freshman Elizabeth Nelson said, “I like jazz because my dad's family is from Louisiana. Louisiana is like the birth place of jazz. Also I like how it sounds. It puts me in the mood for crawfish, shrimp and all things Louisiana food. My dad would play music like that all the time. I’m also a music person; I love any kind of music, including jazz.”

Boyd said, “Jazz is one of those things where you can train and work hard and study it.  But at the same time, it’s like you can break the rules with it.  That’s why I like it."

Boyd continued, "It's American music.  American musicians were looking for their own style and sound, and [Antonín Dvořáka Czech composer of the 19th century] said you will find it through the jazz of African Americans and Native American.”

The Jazz Band concentrates on Charlie Parker's conducting to practice for perfection for the upcoming concert. Photo courtesy of Shelby Snigar.

The Jazz Band concentrates on Charlie Parker's conducting to practice for perfection for the upcoming concert. Photo courtesy of Shelby Snigar.

Lastly, Mr. Charlie Parker, director of the North Greenville University Jazz Band, related his love for jazz and how it became his passion in a career.

“I started playing jazz while I was in school.  When I was in 8th grade, I went to the library one day and saw this thing that said ‘five albums for $.99 cents’ and so I bought them."

He continued, "When they came in, I learned how to play by listening to the albums.  I could read music because my mother was a music teacher but I picked this up by ear.  A lot of jazz playing is done by ear. Then I just started playing in bands.  My passion continues to grow.  The better students we get, the better my passion gets.”