Jazz at the Rialto Center
February 12, 2008
Insider Edition met at lunchtime on Tuesday, February 12 at the Rialto Center for the Arts. The first goal of Insider Edition is to be a social event where our Cornerstone members (a donation of $1,000 or more per year) and their guests can meet and enjoy each other’s company. The second goal is to get an Insider view of upcoming shows and events from both WABE 90.1 and PBA 30 and other cultural events around Atlanta.
The following members and guests attended the event: Massoud Besharat, Billie Brown, Barbara Bruner, Mary Ann Busby, Brent Burkholder, John Busby, Mona Cascino, Ingrid Chafee, Melinda Clark, Joan Cooper, Bob Cooper, Stuart Culpepper, Jacob Culpepper, Reginald Dancer, Gail Dykstra, TP Hall, Nancy Hall, Kelly Hopkins, Harriet Hoskyns-Abrahall, Cynthia Jeness, Mauri Kalnitz, Sydell Kalnitz, Rene Lindsay, Douglas Magruder, RoseMarie Mason, Nancy Mingo, Perry Mitchell, Jack Nolen, Suzy O’Neal, Scott Pyron, Herman Reese, Joe Robinson, Ann Schoenberg, Jerry Shure, Margie Shure, Geri Staden, and John Weatherford.
Our special guest was Dr. Gordon J. Vernick who is associate professor of music and coordinator of Jazz Studies at Georgia State University.
Dr. Vernick spoke about jazz as a wholly American music, formed from a mélange of West African and European cultures and musical traditions. He brought two colleagues with him, a pianist and a bassist. He discussed the history of jazz starting from it’s earliest roots through the middle of the twentieth century. Apart from being a wonderful horn player, he is also a fascinating historian and obviously has an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject.
One of Dr. Vernick’s most interesting points was that jazz made a pivotal shift from popular music to art music in the 1940s when the music became abstract and instrumentally conceived, and in many cases the pieces were driven by solo performances.
Throughout the presentation the trio played samples from several different jazz eras: Ragtime, Big Band, and Be-bop to name a few. He ended with a great story about the great writing duo Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn. Two years after they first met, Strayhorn finally took Ellington up on his offer to visit him in New York from his home in Pennsylvania. Strayhorn knew that when he arrived at Ellington’s place he needed to bring him a gift, so he put Ellington’s directions to music. “Take the ‘A’ Train” was born. As a finale to his presentation the trio gave us a magnificent performance of “Take the ‘A’ Train.”
What a treat to hear live jazz in the middle of the day in the middle of the work week!