Saturday, 16 February 2013


Here at History Homeroom, musical education and the exposure of obscure records are recurrent motifs.  But what of obscure records in the vein of musical education?

Doubly thematic. Doubly thrilling.

Coincidentally, I picked up both of the following records on the same day.  

The first album is McGill Jazz Band, which as the name would suggest was released by the Montreal university as a showcase publication for its music program.  Gerald Danovitch, who joined McGill's faculty in 1964 as the chair of woodwinds and later founded the jazz program in 1968, conducts throughout the record.  The focal point of this collection is undoubtedly intented to be the original composition "Jazium Opus Unum Rapidum, Lentum, Vivum" penned by fellow faculty member and pianist Kelsey Jones.  However, it's upstaged by a brass and synthesizer jazz-funk cover of the Richard Evan's piece "First Thing I Do In the Morning."  Evans was briefly a member of Sun Ra's Arkestra during the 50s and produced and arranged at Cadet Records in 60s, where he established fruitful relationships with Dorothy Ashby and Ahmad Jamal.  Rare groove collectors will recognize this composition from the coveted Joyce Williams version.

McGill Jazz Band - "First Thing I Do," McGill University Records, 1979

The second record is Jamey Aebersold's Movin' On.  Much like Shin'ichi Suzuki or the amalgamated personality Hal Leonard, Aebersold was a musical educator and publisher of teaching aids.  His popular "play-a-long" record series, of which Movin' On belongs, features jazz standards and original compositions designed to teach chord progressions and scales.  Other records are songbooks devoted to revered jazzmen, such as Charlie Bird, Sonny Rollins, Herbie Hancock and Miles Davis.  Of particular note is the stereo channeling of each of Aebersold's records.  The rhythm section is contained to one channel and the featured melody instrument to the other.  So depending on what part the student is practicing, he or she can cut out part of the recording and accompany the album.  As for the soul jazz and fusion compositions from Movin' On, I'm particularly fond of "Once Remembered."

Jamey Aebersold - "Once Remembered," Movin' On, 1978

Discogs: Movin' On

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