“In The Tradition” By Tree Palmedo

Tree Palmedo (Brubeck Fellow 2011-12) is featured this month as a guest contributor to the BI Blog. Check out Tree’s essay entitled “In The Tradition”

In The Tradition By Tree Palmedo

I recently read an essay by art critic Leo Steinberg entitled, “Contemporary Art and the Plight of its Public.” Steinberg, simultaneously appalled and fascinated by the strange progression of visual art, expertly describes the “shock of discomfort” that the average person experiences when encountering something drastically new. Indeed, works now considered classics—everything from Van Gogh’s sunflowers to Andy Warhol’s soup cans—were at one point derided by critics and fans alike; only with the passage of time did these works become recognized for their creative ingenuity.

The jazz world has seen its own tense standoff between the camps of “tradition” and “innovation,” though things have perhaps been even more heated due to the art form’s deep roots in a specific cultural tradition. As a young jazz musician, especially one a bit removed from that context, it’s easy to see those swinging away in the style of Pops or Bird as old fogies, or dinosaurs clinging desperately to a style no longer relevant. It can be easy, from the jazz student’s perspective, to dismiss traditionalist players and educators as a stubborn minority bound to be extinct soon anyway.

Yet Steinberg’s point is that objection to the new is only natural, often based in the noble desire to preserve an art form’s value. The blues, swing, and bebop are indeed valuable institutions and their disappearance would be undeniably tragic. And it’s not ludicrous to want students of the music to learn about—or even learn to replicate—its storied past.

Still, jazz has always been about self-expression; each great artist who has made a mark has done so with his or her own sound, and in doing so has altered the music permanently. Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, and Dave Brubeck are icons not for the traditions they upheld, but for the indelible personal stamp each one put on the music. A jazz education system that truly wants its students to become the next Parkers or Brubecks should keep this in mind. Students should be trained with clear, informed self-expression as the goal, not the perfect emulation of a specific style. The way I see it, educators don’t even necessarily have to like the music their students produce. In fact, not liking it might be natural; what matters is that students hone the tools necessary to produce the music they hear, informed by exposure to what’s already out there.

My extremely fun and fulfilling year at the Brubeck Institute epitomized for me what jazz education should be. We learned about influential artists, periods and standards in jazz history, and I picked up a few new favorites and gained newfound respect for some artists in the process. We also learned time-tested musical concepts and techniques that are universally applicable. Guest artists showed us up close what jazz looks like today. And in between, there was ample time for performance, with almost complete artistic control over our material and programming. My co-fellows and I were interested in sounds ranging from Wayne Shorter to free jazz to indie folk, and the Institute gave us the time and support to combine these interests into something I’ll always consider special.

All this is not to say that swing and the blues need make way for something new. I’ve met plenty of young players who live and breathe Lester Young, and more power to them. But I do hope the Brubeck Institute will serve as a guiding light to centers of jazz education. Their model gives hope that when the new tradition inevitably gains acceptance into the jazz canon, it’ll be just as strong and singular as the old.

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Tree Palmedo is a 19-year old Trumpeter and Composer from Portland, Oregon, currently living in Cambridge, Massachussetts. Tree is a product of the fertile jazz education scene of Portland, having studied with such local luminaries as Randy Porter, Alan Jones, Thara Memory, Derek Sims, Paul Mazzio, Ben MacDonald and Ed Higgins. Coming up through high school, Tree was fortunate enough to be able to play with many of his mentors as well as with Mel Brown, Darrell Grant, Ben Darwish, Andrew Oliver, Ezra Weiss, Todd Strait, Javier Nero, Hailey Niswanger, and more. He spent the 2011-12 school year attending the Brubeck Institute in Stockton, CA, where he was part of the 2012 “Origins” album release. He now attends Harvard College (Class of 2016) in a joint program with the New England Conservatory, where he studies with John McNeil and Laurie Frink.

Read Tree’s entire bio and catch up with all the great work that Tree is involved with at his website www.treepalmedo.wordpress.com

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Former Brubeck Fellow gets a nice review in JazzTimes

Tree Palmedo recently took part in a recording project that got a great review in JazzTimes. Click Here to read the review from JazzTimes. Tree was a Brubeck Fellow and member of the BIJQ from 2011-2012. Tree is now studying at Harvard College (Class of 2016) in a joint program with the New England Conservatory, where he studies with John McNeil and Laurie Frink.

Tree Palmedo

Jazz and the Fight Against Segregation: BIJQ presenting a concert/lecture at the Crocker Art Museum

Concert: Jazz and the Fight Against Segregation

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Thursday, February 21
7 PM

The recent passing of legendary jazz musician Dave Brubeck has reminded us all of his great contributions to jazz and society. The renowned Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet presents how jazz blazed a trail for integration in the United States and beyond through the music of Brubeck, Duke Ellington, and other jazz mavericks. Presented in collaboration with the University of the Pacific, this concert is also part of the UC Davis Campus Community Book Project. Space is limited.

$6 Members
$10 College students and youth 17 and under
$12 Nonmembers

Purchase tickets now, at the Museum Admission Desk, or by calling 916.808.1182. Limited tickets may be available at the Admission Desk the day of the concert.

Downtown Stockton Art Contest concert with the BIJQ

The Brubeck Institute and the Bob Hope Theatre welcomed nearly 2,000 children from throughout SUSD and Stockton charter schools to enjoy some live jazz!

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This event was the start of the Downtown Stockton Art Contest “Music of Dave Brubeck Inspires My Imagination”

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The best way to introduce Dave Brubeck is through his music. So, over 2,000 students from Stockton Unified School District get that experience Tuesday. Along with students from downtown charter schools, they’ll listen to an hour of the late jazz master’s music – played by University of the Pacific’s Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet. Then they’ll use their imaginations, creating paintings reflecting impressions of Brubeck and his music. “We’re hoping, for many of them who probably haven’t heard jazz live or on recordings, that it gives many of them a first taste,” said Simon Rowe, the Brubeck Institute’s director. “And Dave’s music is a good exemplar. “We were looking for a way to get kids involved. We thought of an art contest.” The concert is part of “Music of Dave Brubeck Inspires My Imagination,” a collaboration among Pacific, the Downtown Stockton Alliance, Delta College and Stockton Unified. The musically motivated art contest is designed to inspire and educate students as a preliminary to the March 18 to 23 Brubeck Festival. “The music of Dave Brubeck is just phenomenal,” said Pheon Davison, Stockton Unified’s administrator of visual and performing arts and physical education. “It’s important for them (students) to experience all different types of music. This will be great.” The Stockton Unified students – third-, fourth- and sixth-graders – will transfer their visual interpretations into paintings. The winning entries at each grade level will be combined into a mural that’ll be placed on the boarded-up downtown Main Hotel’s exterior.

Click here for the complete article from the RecordNet

Adam Kolker visits the Brubeck Institute

Here are some highlights from Adam Kolker’s visit to the Brubeck Institute. During his time at the Brubeck Institute, Adam performed with the BIJQ, the UOP Jazz Ensemble, presented several masterclasses, and taught private lessons.

Here is a clip of Adam and the Brubeck Institute Jazz Quintet performing at the Take 5 Jazz Club.

Adam also performed with the University of the Pacific’s Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Patrick Langham.

Here is a clip of Adam and Brubeck Fellow, Paul Bloom, performing an original of Paul’s entitled “Empty City”. It was Paul’s birthday that night so as a treat Paul got to play a duo with Adam.

Adam Kolker is a multi-talented performer, composer and arranger. He performed and recorded with latin-jazz artist Ray Barretto from 1994 through 2002 (with whom he received two GRAMMY nominations). He also appears in New York City with groups including the Village Vanguard OrchestraFred Hersch’s “My Coma Dreams,” the Maria Schneider Orchestra, Bruce Barth, Judi Silvano, Lucia Pulido, and his own groups with John Abercombie and Billy Hart. He has recorded with Bruce Barth, John Hébert, Marty Ehrlich, The Story, Allan Chase, Bobby Previte, Gunther Schuller, Bruce Saunders, Frank Carlberg, among others.

For more info on Adam Kolker and his music click here……….

Glenn Zaleski remembers Dave Brubeck

Remembering Dave Brubeck – Five Great Records

I first heard Dave Brubeck in 2000 when I was in the 8th grade. His quartet was playing in Worcester, MA at Mechanics Hall. (This was the band with Bobby Militello, John Dankworth, and Randy Jones). The concert was magic, with an explosive energy and focus. I was captivated throughout the whole concert in a way that I had never felt before. From that moment I was completely hooked on Dave’s music: I bought every record that I could find, bought every LP that wasn’t yet re-released on CD, learned every tune I heard him play. I really became a “superfan”.

In 2005, after five years of study and practice inspired by Dave’s music, I was honored to be selected as a Brubeck Institute Fellow. While studying at the Brubeck Institute I met the musicians who would become my best friends and strongest musical inspirations, I studied with the most amazing musicians currently on the scene, and I had international performance opportunities, and even got to know and work with Dave himself. My time spent there was honestly a dream come true.

Dave’s music represents an unwavering commitment to personal creativity, but also balanced with an endearment that touched millions of people across the globe. Anyone could listen to the music of Dave Brubeck and feel the heart in it. This is what I felt at my first Dave Brubeck concert experience in 2000, what inspired me and thousands of others to pursue their creative passion, and what will continue to inspire listeners for years to come.

Here are five records of Dave’s that are particularly inspiring to me:

Brubeck Plays Brubeck (1956)

Dave wrote nine tunes, recorded solo piano versions of them in his house, and released it on Columbia Records in 1956 as “Brubeck Plays Brubeck”. The result is one of the great solo piano records: every tune is original, but every tune feels like a classic. (Of course “In Your Own Sweet Way” and “The Duke” did go on to become classics, but their original recordings appear here.) Dave’s solo playing is crystal clear, often blurring the line between “melody” and “improvisation”. Every track listens like an entirely composed piece, but also maintains a casual, “just playing in your living room” sentiment. Check out the re-harminiaztions of the last “A” section of the in head of “In Your Own Sweet Way”, and the slow stride on “One Moment Worth Years”.

Jazz Impressions of the U.S.A. (1957)

This is my personal favorite of the “Jazz Impressions” series that Dave recorded for Columbia Records. The compositions stand out among Dave’s strongest for the quartet. Here is the original recording of “Summer Song”. Also “Plain Song” is one of the wildest minor blues heads you would ever hear. And to close this record is “Home At Last”, which is another solo piano classic that Dave recorded in his California home. (This track was basically a textbook for jazz piano harmony for me, with drop 2’s, walking tenths, upper structure triads, and inner voices…) Fortunately this classic record recently became available on CD/iTunes!

Dave Digs Disney (1957)

One of the first jazz records to explore Disney music (which wasn’t that old then!), Dave’s quartet captures the joyful energy of these beautiful melodies in a way that no other quartet could. And some of Dave’s solo playing on this record is absolute magic: the piano intro on “Someday My Prince Will Come”, and the outro on “When You Wish Upon a Star” are some of Dave’s best recorded playing, absolutely virtuosic.

At Carnegie Hall (1963)

Although the classic DBQ is known for its “cool” records of the late 50’s and 60’s, this record captures the explosive energy that they would produce in a live concert. “Southern Scene” is particularly beautiful, and one of Dave’s lesser known tunes. And “Blue Rondo a la Turk” is unforgettable. Paul’s solo is as classic as his “Time Out” take, and Dave’s solo takes its time, building into an amazing double time. This is a must- hear.

The Duets (1975)

The chemistry between Paul Desmond and Dave Brubeck is felt on this record in a more personal way than almost any other.  Dave and Paul are basking in each other’s sounds, working together to create a duo sound that could only result from years of experience together.  “Koto Song” is one of my favorites on this record, a rare example of Dave and Paul exploring more open improvisation.

Thank you Dave!

Glenn Zaleski