I didn’t really care for jazz. Or maybe I just didn’t get it. Could be as simple as that, but the truth is that I suppose it just kind of sounded the same to me and tended to go on for a long time.
Then someone taught me how to listen to Jelly-Roll Morton and Bill Evans; how the players each take turns with their own version of the song, and how the audience applauds after each solo. Then I started getting into it.
Dubbed by Congress a “National Treasure,” the public persona of jazz may be that it’s out of the mainstream, and even out of the loop. But this year’s new series of panel discussions at the Long Island Winterfest aims to put that illusion to rest.
Catering to jazz neophytes and aficionado alike, “Inside the ‘Out’ side of Jazz” is a three-event series of one-hour talks presented by the East End Arts Council at locations in Greenport, Southampton and Riverhead. Topics ranging from John Coltrane and Duke Ellington to social media, aesthetic realism, YouTube and Kickstarter.com will orbit around the general theme of the “relevance of jazz music in today’s world.
The series launches at 1 p.m. Saturday at Brecknock Hall in Greenport with internationally renowned saxophonist David Liebman and author, scholar and pianist Dr. Lewis Porter. Hosted by trombonist Ray Anderson, these heavyweights will discuss the recorded artistry of the great John Coltrane in “Trane’s Travels: Giant Steps to Ascension.” In addition, Dr. Porter and Mr. Liebman (who has performed and recorded with Miles Davis, Elvin Jones and Chick Corea, among others) will also demonstrate musical examples by performing them in the spectacular surroundings of Brecknock Hall’s Victorian mansion.
Dr. Edward Green is an award-winning composer and Fulbright Specialist in American Music. Dr. Green’s presentation on the value of the aesthetic realism method for the future of musicology is at Southampton Cultural Center on Feb. 26 at 1 p.m. This event, “Ellington, Jazz, the Opposites — and You!” will examine the creative process and sociology of music as they relate to our everyday lives. Dr. Green will also use recorded examples and his own demonstration at the piano.
The third event, “Reaching the Audience: Jazz in the Digital Age,” is a three-speaker panel discussion at Vail-Leavitt Music Hall in Riverhead on March 12 at 1 p.m. Featured speakers are NPR writer and Princeton University Professor Lara Pellegrinelli; Adam Schatz, concert promoter and founder of Search and Restore; and Ken Druker, general manager, Jazz at Lincoln Center Media. Sharing thoughts on jazz through the ages and the impact of digital technology and social media on traditional and modern improvised music, this panel is moderated by Vail-Leavitt president and jazz enthusiast Bob Barta.
For many listeners, experiencing jazz from the outside has left them wondering what all the fuss is about. The goal of this series is to shed new light on the subject from the inside and to reveal its role and relevance in our time. Newcomers and experts alike are invited to enjoy these entertaining and informative discussions.