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Getting into the swing of things: a beginner’s guide to jazz


The Heartland Trio is a jazz group that includes bassist and vocalist Hannah Marks, tenor saxophonist Barclay Moffitt and drummer Rocky Martin. April is Jazz Appreciation Month. Courtesy Photo

April is Jazz Appreciation Month, or JAM, and the Indiana Daily Student put together this guide for listeners of all genres to get into jazz.

JAM was created by the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian in 2001 with the goal of celebrating jazz and educating more people about its music and history.

Members of local jazz group Heartland Trio, comprised of bassist and vocalist Hannah Marks, tenor saxophonist Barclay Moffitt and drummer Rocky Martin, said that jazz means more than music to them.

“Jazz has always been about community and humanity to me,” Moffitt said.

Jazz is collaborative, meaning players depend on each other and not just their individual musicianship.

“The world of music as a whole and my understanding of it keeps widening and expanding and I keep realizing that it’s a thing that’s infinitely bigger than just me and my own thoughts,” Martin said.

The following artists and albums don’t necessarily reflect popularity among jazz fans or commercial success, but rather what the average music fan might enjoy at first listen.

Cécile McLorin Salvant, “Dreams and Daggers”

On this album, Salvant performs 23 Broadway classics, jazz standards and turn-of-the-century blues tunes. The collection was released in 2017 and is comprised of both live and studio recordings. It won the 2017 Grammy Award for Best Vocal Jazz Album.

Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett, “Cheek to Cheek”

Most pop music fans are familiar with Lady Gaga, but might not have heard her turn at the lounge mic with vocal jazz legend Tony Bennett.

Heartland Trio, “Year One”

The Bloomington-based Heartland Trio is next on our list. The trio released an album in 2018 called "Year One," which is a great introduction to the local jazz scene.

The Bill Evans Trio, “The Complete Village Vanguard Recordings”

Perhaps the most recognizable live jazz album, the Village Vanguard recordings of the Bill Evans Trio features pianist Bill Evans, bassist Scott LaFaro and drummer Paul Motian. Evans, who died in 1980, is regarded as one of the best jazz pianists of all time.

Nina Simone, “Little Girl Blue”

Nina Simone was trained as a classical pianist, but after being rejected from the Curtis Institute of Music, she started performing jazz in bars and clubs. Simone attributed her rejection to racial discrimination and went on to become a civil rights activist.

If you want to get into the artists and albums listed above, give this Spotify playlist a listen:

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