Tag Archives: Miles Davis

Summertime

I was driving with my wife Diana to the studio to record an album in the 90s and a thought came into my head.  I realized “Summertime” could work perfectly in the format of “All Blues” from the historic Miles Davis album “Kind of Blue”.  When I arrived at the studio I told the Rhythm section you play “All Blues” and i will play “Summertime” and it will all work out.  No arrangement or rehearsal and this was the result which became the title tune.  It’s great when things happen spontaneous like that which is what jazz is all about.  Glenn

Summertime :

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My Personal Approach To Vintage Jazz

Glenn Zottola
I have been urged through the years to put my thoughts down on jazz possibly to help the aspiring student or just as a matter of interest so I thought I would get started.
I have found there is a common denominator that runs through all the jazz masters that emulate the “Golden Age of Jazz” of what I refer to as the “vintage period” of jazz starting with Louis Armstrong and ending with Charlie Parker, the two names Miles Davis used to sum up jazz and I agree. I have included 3 things below in my basic instruction to the student in the Music Minus One albums I recently completed without being fully aware of their importance because it was so natural to me through the years and was what always drew me to this music.

As stated in the liner notes when you play :

1. Try to tell a story

2. Make it swing

3. Create beauty.

Three seemingly very simple things but if done well you will enter a very special “club” of jazz artists and hopefully find much joy as I have. To give the student an idea of what I am talking about regarding the 3 principles above, below are a few of my own actual private practice sessions done in my home (not record quality sound wise) with extended soloing in a relaxed tempo and groove of which I will add more tracks in the future.  This is the way i have practiced jazz since I was 9 years old when I first discovered the original Music Minus One play along records. The point I would like to make is whether I am practicing jazz or performing jazz my goal is always the same, to make music rather than just playing meaningless notes or patterns. Also I record myself when I practice jazz and then listen from the viewpoint as if I was in the audience listening to a performance which makes it real. Note these practice sessions are solos that are much longer than I would do in an actual performance but the value to that from a practice point of view is to see if you can keep the “creative flow” going while adhering to the 3 basic points above. When I was “coming up” in my career one did more playing on the bandstand in real situations, some of them very intense because of who was on the bandstand than in the practice room so you had no choice other than to make music or at least try. Unfortunately that environment doesn’t exist any longer for the aspiring student so it is even more important to include the discipline to always strive for making music as part of your goal and practice routine to avoid a sterile clinical approach to jazz which may work techically but not necessarily artistically and is contrary to what jazz is all about in my opinion and what was handed down by the great masters of jazz. The good news is there are a lot more materials and play along tools available like the ones I used recently to record the Music Minus One albums and also Jamey Abersold play along tracks some of which I used below all wonderful for the student to practice with in lieu of actual jam sessions. There is much more to my personal approach to jazz and scroll up to see my thoughts.

Glenn Zottola

Falling in Love with Love (tenor) :

I got Rhythm (alto) :

Second Time Around (tenor) :

Wine and Roses (trumpet) :

Softly As a Mornings Sunrise (tenor):

My Ideal :

New Release And Time Travel To 52nd Street

This Tenor Album is something I have been wanting to do for quite awhile and there is a story behind it as you will see in the liner notes. This All Star Rhythm section was originally recorded in 1952 by Irv Kratka which launched the historic Music Minus One series and included jazz greats Kenny Clarke, Osie Johnson, Bobby Donaldson, Oscar Pettiford, Milt Hinton, Wilbur Ware, Jimmy Raney, Mundell Lowe, Barry Galbraith, Nat Pierce and Don Abney all who are on this album and were the players that were playing every night with legends like Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Coleman Hawkins, Lester Young and Stan Getz on what was called “The Street”.  When I was 9 years old being an “ear player” and having an aversion to practicing out of books I just wanted to make the music I already heard in my head and these records helped me shape my jazz style.  I took these same tracks from 1952  and recorded my tenor in Dec 2011 taking my own 55 year “time travel” journey.  I wanted the listener to experience a taste of the sound and spirit of 52nd street in NYC during the “Golden Age of Jazz”.  I want to thank Les Silver of RS Berkeley Instruments for providing me with the Virtuoso Vintage Tenor and Stan Getz Legend Mouthpiece both a joy to play for this album and Bev Getz for keeping her Dad’s legacy alive.  Check out these tracks from the upcoming album release and enjoy ! Glenn

Too Marvelous For Words

Three Little Words

Encounter With Miles Davis

miles

It was 1961 and i had just finished the Ted Mack show (see video) and my dad took me to the famous jazz club in NYC Birdland.  Those days if you were under age you could sit in a section called the bleachers and watch the shows and they didn’t serve alchohol. At the time my dad was working with Maynard Ferguson making him a mouthpiece and he was performing that night with his famous 1961 big band. Also headlining was the classic Miles Davis Sextet above with Cannonball Adderly and John Coltrane in the front line with Miles. After Miles finished his set i went over to the bandstand to take a look at his horn from a distance. As i was looking this head pops out from behind the courtain (Miles) and he says in that voice “what are are you doing”.  I reply “i am a trumpet player and i am just looking at your horn”.  Miles says “alright” and dissapears and i never saw him again !   After Maynard saw my performance on Ted Mack he asked my dad if he could take me out on the road as his protege in which my dad politely said “thankyou but i would like him to have a normal childhood”.  Amazing times !  Glenn