Robert Greenberg

Historian, Composer, Pianist, Speaker, Author

Archive for Jazz – Page 2

Robert Greenberg Recommends — Chick Corea

It’s a standard question in a literary interview to ask an author “what books are on your bedside table.” We humans are, by our nature, voyeurs, and we can’t resist knowing what authors are themselves reading. (What we’ d REALLY like to know is what’s in their medicine cabinets and sock drawers, but that’s a question that – sadly – rarely comes up in interviews). The equivalent question for a musician would be “what music is in your car CD player/MP3player/iPod/iPhone/iPad/8-track cartridge/turntable (vinyl phreaks unite!)/gramophone (78 r.p.m. crazies unite!), or Edison cylinder Dictaphone (crazies!)”? Let’s make this personal. “Bob, dude, what’s is in your car CD player?” The answer: over the last year, way more often than not, it is the music of Chick Corea. Armando Anthony “Chick” Corea was born in Chelsea, Massachusetts on June 12, 1941, making him – today – a sprightly 72 years-old. As is so often the case with jazz musicians, Corea – unlike a concert pianist – did not hone his skills under the watchful eyes and ears of a particular set of mentors/teachers. Jazz is an oral tradition, and the only way to “learn it” is to live it: by listening to jazz […]

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New Jazz Appreciation Series

As a young’un, I played the usual instructional piano stuff, starting with the then ubiquitous pedagogic set by John Thompson, red-covered piano books beginning with a series called “Teaching Little Fingers to Play” and then moved on to “John Thompson’s Modern Course for the Piano.” By the time I was fourteen I could play a handful of Beethoven Sonatas, Bach’s Two and Three-Part Inventions, some Chopin and Schubert, a batch of Romantic fluff, and blah blah blah. Truth be told, I was bored with the “classics”, and while I spent a good bit of time writing my own, primarily rock ‘n’ roll flavored ditties, I stopped practicing the piano. And then I was hit by the bolt from the blue, my epiphany, my life changer: at the age of 14, I discovered jazz. Here was a music with all the rhythmic intensity of rock ‘n’ roll but magnified – to my ear, a gazillion fold – by the polyrhythmic magic that is swing. I was gob-smacked by the harmonic complexity of jazz , by its melodic sophistication, its discipline, its conversational nature and its freedom from the printed page. I began practicing the piano again and by the time I […]

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