Thinking Forward (Blog 17)

by Paul Read, ISJAC Artist Blog Curator

This month’s blog is a blog about blogging (say that three times very fast)… and the ISJAC blog in particular. This is our 17th entry… can you believe how tempus fugit?

A little background to start with:

When asked to curate the ISJAC Artist Blog a year and half ago, I agreed because I am of the opinion that composing and arranging involve life-long learning. And having a place on this site where jazz composers/arrangers might share ideas, experiences, or muse/opine about anything at all seemed (and still seems) like a terrific idea to me. I’ve been composing and arranging music in a variety of genres and styles since I was about 16 or 17 (I turn 70 next February…Yikes!!) I have had wonderful teachers over the years (there’s a list in my Mar 1/17 article), and like most music creators, I find I am constantly learning – by doing, by studying scores, by listening, improvising, experimenting, and so on. Thus, I’m sure you will understand why I have really enjoyed the blogs that have been posted so far and have found them both  inspirational and informative.

The first thing I did back in mid-2016, was to draw up an initial wish-list of potential contributors – an obvious first step. Then I started to look for contact info and/or emails for those that I didn’t have on hand. The first iteration of the list was chock full of highly accomplished, skilled and knowledgeable musicians – all of them personal musical ‘heros’. The list is long and I keep amending it and appending to it. It will be some time before I have made contact with everyone. But in the past 16 months it has been tremendous to have so many great musicians agree to contribute – and some have written more than once. Scroll down to see a list of the 16 contributors we have had since John La Barbera posted our first entry on July 1, 2016. We trust you have been enjoying what they have had to say and also the many resources accompanying the articles – many include scores, excerpts, links to video and audio files.

We invite your comments:

So now we have arrived at month 17 and are wondering how the blog is being received by our members and other readers. We don’t have any clear picture, as there has been very little (as in, almost no) feedback so far. As a result, we thought it might be a good idea to ask for a little help from you and to ask you to tell us briefly what you think of it so far.  I expect that this will be very helpful as ISJAC has quite a few members now so we expect the feedback will indicate many different points of view. Please consider leaving a short comment at the bottom of this article, or any previous blog.  Or, send an email and let us know what you think about the directions we are taking. If you have suggestions that would make this blog stronger or of greater interest to you, please include those as well. Your note doesn’t have to be more than one sentence or can even be point form.

Why you may find the blog helpful:

I know I’m not alone when I say that, when composing, I sometimes experience a sense of not knowing what the heck I am doing. Being an habitual deconstructionist, I used to find this bothersome. But somewhere along the line, I learned through experience, and from other composers, with skills far superior to mine, that this state of mind is not unusual at all – in fact, when it occurs, it best be embraced. We know that music theory is something that is created through close examination of what composers write. Not the other way around. As I am sure is the case with you, I study and analyze scores and recordings so I can find out as much as I can about why and how the music works so well. Man, there is so much to learn. That may be why I value this blog so much.

Before Closing:

The 16 previous articles have been stellar and, in my opinion, they make for great reading and offer helpful information and insights. We feel they provide valuable resources for anyone involved in this great art form. Some of the past blogs have been ‘how-to articles’ while others have been more personal, historical, analytical or general in scope. Some bloggers have offered individual accounts of their unique writing processes. As curator, I am very lucky to be able to see them before anyone else does J. We are looking forward to future entries and hope you will check back to see the December 1 article (blogger TBA).

In the meantime, I hope you might contact me at pread@isjac.org. I hope to hear from you soon.

We would appreciate your passing along our website address to friends and colleagues. It might be good to mention that membership in ISJAC is free!!

OK, here is a list of our previous ISJAC blogs:

Enjoy!

Paul

7/1/16 John La Barbera On Arranging – Part 1
8/1/16 John La Barbera On Arranging – Part 2
9/1/16 Adam Benjamin on Jazz Composition
10/1/16 David Berger’s Answers to Common Jazz Arranging Questions
11/1/16 Rick Lawn: Remembering Manny Albam
12/1/16 Bill Dobbins and Concerto for Jazz Orchestra: the Use of a Twelve-Tone Row in a Large Scale Jazz Composition
1/1/17 Rick Lawn: Lessons I’ve Learned
2/1/17 Florian Ross: Cooking & Eggs
3/1/17 Paul Read: Minor and Major Seconds, 1959, Transcribing, Score Study and other Reflections
4/1/17 Terry Promane: Give Me 5
5/1/17 Asuka Kakitani: My personal perspective on composing
6/1/17 Fred Hersch: A Composition Exercise to Try Today
7/1/17 Bob Mintzer: The Ever Evolving Writing Process
8/1/17 Adam Benjamin: Some Thoughts on Listening
9/1/17 Ryan Keberle: Eight Things I’ve Learned About Jazz Composition and Arranging as a Freelance Trombonist
10/1/17 Scott Robinson: Following the Music

 

About the Author:

PAUL READ (pianist, composer, arranger) lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Currently he curates the blog for the International Society of Jazz Arrangers and Composers. He was a member of the Humber College Music Faculty in Toronto from 1979 to 1991, Program Coordinator there from 1982 to 1987, and Director of Music from 1987 to 1991. In 1991, he founded degree programs in jazz studies at the University of Toronto (Mus. Bac., M. Mus. and DMA) where he was Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies and following that, Director of Graduate Jazz Studies. He was Canada’s Representative on the Board of the International Association for Jazz Education (IAJE) from 2002-2008, and was the founding Director of the National Music Camp (NMC) Jazz Program (1987 to 2006). He has also taught in the summers at the Ken Kistner Jazz Camp (Fort Qu’Appelle, Saskatchewan) and the Prairielands Jazz Camp (Regina, Saskatchewan). He is now retired from education.

Selected Recordings:

The Dance Never Ends – with Trish Colter (1998, At Long Last Love  – Trish Colter (2002), The Heart of Summer – Paul Read Quartet featuring Scott Robinson (2004) Now available on cdbaby, and Arc-en-ciel  (Addo Records) - Paul Read Orchestra (2013) Now available on cdbaby.

Awards:

2017 Inducted into the MusicFest Canada Hall of Fame, 2015 Muriel Sherrin Award for International Achievement in Music (Toronto Arts Foundation), 2008 Paul Read Orchestra (PRO) nominated for a Canadian National Jazz Award, 2007-2008 Awarded a Canada Council for the Arts Recording Grant, 1993 Awarded the University of Toronto Senior Alumni Award for Innovation in Teaching and finally, 1972 Winner of the Rob McConnell/Gordon Delamont Arranging & Composition Award.

Paul's Website: www.paulread.ca

  • alexcassanyes

    Good job on this blog Paul, it is very very interesting.

    The content is very generous and helpful, obviously with these contributors.

    But, sometimes I don’t know when the blog is updated with a new post, maybe you could create a newsletter with a kind of subscription.

    Best,

    Alex

    • Paul Read

      Good suggestion, Alex. I think some sort of notice that goes out to members that a new blog is available makes sense. Will look into how that might be done. FYI we have published consistently on the first day of each month, so that is a good time to check the site. Many thanks for your response! – Paul

  • Paul Read

    Thanks to Alex for the comment. Feel free to include your website address or links to recordings or videos on YouTube of your work. This might help our members to find each other and find common ground….maybe a collaborative work will come out of this…