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A Short History of Jazz

A Short History of Jazz
Sundays 10 - 31 August at 2pm
Museum of Wellington City & Sea
Queens Wharf
Entry by koha


The Museum of Wellington City & Sea turns the spotlight on the history of jazz this August, with a focus on the music of the ‘20s, ‘30s ‘40s & ‘50s. A Short History of Jazz takes place over four Sundays from 10 to 31 August at 2pm. It features a collection of New Zealand’s top jazz exponents, with sessions being led by Lex French, Ben Wilcock, Nick Tipping and Norman Meehan.

The four-part series guides listeners on a historical path, tracing the evolution of jazz from its beginnings in the early 1900s, through to the 1950s. Speakers will present the story of jazz, explain some its technical mysteries and give insights into the social context behind the music. Interwoven among the discussion, a jazz quintet will perform examples of works from the era.

Event organiser Andrew Laking says, “The Wellington jazz scene has become increasingly popular over the years. Wellington is a vessel for the increasing talent and knowledge of jazz musicians. We’re thrilled to have some of New Zealand’s jazz best and brightest on board to discuss the historical progression of this popular genre.”

The series is being recorded by Radio New Zealand National, with introductions by John Pilley.

Series structure.

Sunday 10 August at 2pm: 1920s (Dixieland) - Lex French

The 1920s was the decade where jazz took shape (now referred to as the Jazz Age). The session includes discussion around popular artists of the time such as, Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke, Jelly Roll Morton and Sidney Bechet.

Sunday 17 August at 2pm: 1930s (Swing) – Ben Wilcock & The Jelly Rolls

The ‘30s developed new sophistication in improvisation. New chordal structures were developed, including now ubiquitous progressions such as “Rhythm Changes”. The session will look into the music made by Count Basie, Benny Goodman, Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt.

Sunday 24 August at 2pm: 1940s (Bebop) - Nick Tipping

The ‘40s was the era of bebop, also known at the time as “modern jazz”. This session will focus on the social context of post-WWII New York, and the effect of the Great Depression on jazz. We look at artists such as Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Stitt and Bud Powell.

Sunday 31 August at 2pm: 1950s (Cool Jazz & Beyond) - Norman Meehan

Cool jazz is a style of modern jazz music that arose following the Second World War. It is characterized by its relaxed tempos and lighter tone. Modal jazz, Bossa nova and other styles will also be featured during the session.

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