April is Jazz Appreciation Month! To celebrate, we asked our resident jazz aficionado–Artistic Director, Gary Draper–to let us in on his favorites. 

After some wine last night I listened to some of my Jazz favorites. Three of them are:

  • Art Blakey’s Split Kick with Clifford Brown on trumpet
  • Fats Navarro’s Eb Pob with Fats on trumpet
  • John Coltrane’s Giant Steps.

Oh, and Ella Fitzgerald singing Get Happy.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwoPlRR9J_k&w=260&h=176]

Those are but a few of my favorites. (Head over to Spotify to listen to my playlist.)

What drives my love of Jazz?

When in Los Angeles as a child my grandmother frequently played Mozart and Bach as she made dresses for her clients.  I have fond memories of playing under her table, as she worked at her sewing machine, as one of Mozart’s operas filled the room with energy and feelings of joy and drama.  When I was a teen I was introduced to Jazz and and once again fell in love.

The rich variations and improvisational structure of Jazz reminded me of Bach and Mozart.  I can feel and I’m moved by the connection between Bach’s Goldberg Variations and Mingus improvisational pieces.    In an odd way, I owe my love of Jazz to my grandmother, Mozart, Bach and to the hum and beat of my grandmothers Singer sewing machine.