Week 1: What is Jazz?

Piano-Based Jazz Appreciation

CRN: 999 (Spring 2018)
Course Dates: 7 weeks: (No class April 20)
March 30, April 6, 13, 27, May 4, 11, 18
Times: Fridays, 9-11 a.m.
Location: Reuter Center 102A
Instructor(s): Michael Ruiz
Course Catalogs: 2018 Spring

Enjoy the origins of jazz piano from its black roots to its universal appeal. Your instructor will perform original arrangements, improvisations and his own music to demonstrate the richness and originality of jazz. The course will focus on the contributions of Art Tatum, Oscar Peterson, Erroll Garner, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck and Bill Evans, with live performances of their works. In order to enhance the experience of all participants, no tablets, cellular phones, beepers or other electronic devices will be permitted in class.

Pianist and composer Michael Ruiz (ruiz@unca.edu) is a seasoned teacher in the College for Seniors. Michael studied classical piano with Stewart Gordon and jazz with Ron Elliston at the University of Maryland. His "day job" is professor of physics at UNC Asheville.

Week 1: What is Jazz?

"Race in Black and White" is Theme for OLLI at UNC Asheville
Spring 2018 Courses, Workshops and Panels

Monday, February 5th, 2018

"Race in Black and White" will be a core theme for many courses, workshops and panel discussions to be held in the spring 2018 term at OLLI, the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.

In addition to its courses on a broad range of academic and cultural interests, OLLI's renowned College for Seniors will present more than 20 courses relating to the special theme, and these will be complemented by a series of freestanding discussions, films and workshops on contemporary and historical issues.

"OLLI's spring term on race is designed to invite our community into a conversation through a variety of disciplines. By agreeing to focus on challenging subjects together, we hope to overcome the temptation to avoid them, and we hope that by starting these conversations we will spark positive change in the OLLI community and deeper connections within our wider community. We recognize that learning is richer when we see things from many different points of view," said Catherine Frank, OLLI's executive director, ...

What is Music?

  • 1 a: the science or art of ordering tones or sounds in succession, in combination, and in temporal relationships to produce a composition having unity and continuity
  • 1 b: vocal, instrumental, or mechanical sounds having rhythm, melody, or harmony

  • 2 a: an agreeable sound
  • her voice was music to my ears

"The Music Triangle Inspired by the Photography Triangle"

"Primary Colors of Music"

Courtesy Jon Pontrello

Jon Pontrello: "One of my music teachers used to say that musical tones were like colors, and that making music was like painting. This metaphor has stayed with me, as a musician and a teacher. ... I have come up with my own primary colors of music which are rhythm, melody and harmony."

Western vs Non-Western Music

Source: BBC Magazine

  • Becoming vs Being
  • Written vs Improvised
  • Manuscript vs Oral Tradition
  • Concert vs Communal Function
  • Outer vs Inner

Musical Parents of Jazz

  • Yesterday by Paul McCartney (1965)
    • Classic Period (c. 1750 - 1800), Mozart - Simplicity
    • Romantic Period (c. 1800 - 1900), Liszt - Excess
    • Modern Period (c. 1900 - 1950) - Dissonance
    • Baroque Period (c. 1600 - 1750), Bach
      • Mind - Intellectual Challenge (Independent Left Hand)
      • Body - Motion, Meter, Dance, Exercise
      • Soul - The Heart, Harmonic Beauty, Circle of Fifths
    • Jazz Version by Steve Hill
      • Improvisation (Non-Western Tradition)
      • Written Down (Western Tradition)

What is Jazz?

  • a type of music of black American origin characterized by improvisation, syncopation, and usually a regular or forceful rhythm, emerging at the beginning of the 20th century
  • syncopation - musical rhythm in which stress is given to the weak beats instead of the strong beats

"Primary Colors of Jazz"

Art Tatum "Cherokee" (Ray Noble)

Surprise Me! (See Red Arrow for a Rhythmic Surprise)
Swing Me! (Improvised Melody Line - DO NOT PLAY AS WRITTEN)
Give Me a Seventh! (Harmony - See G7 and C7)

Make it Swing!

Piano Teacher Mildred Morrell (1912-2015)


Below is a Major Triad Chord

Harmony = a Chord

Extended Chords Part 1

The Language of Jazz Harmony

Extended Chords Part 2

The Language of Jazz Harmony

The Fakebook

Melody and Chords. You do the rest!

Improvisation Book

Ron Elliston (1937-2015)

My Jazz Piano Teacher
University of Maryland
Studied under him c. 1975.

From the Improvisation Book

Assignment: Add the accompaniment.

From the Improvisation Book

Assignment: Add the accompaniment.

Also in the Improvisation Book

Also in the Improvisation Book

Classifying Jazz Works

  1. Blues (12-bar formula)
  2. Standards (e.g., Laura) as Basis
  3. Original Composition



Ron Elliston

After playing for our class one day in the 1970s:
"I borrowed your energy."

Stewart Gordon (My Classical Teacher, University of Maryland)

Adele Marcus (1906-1995)

Juilliard Faculty (1954-1990)

Why focus on these jazz artists specifically?

Adele Marcus (1906-1995)

  • There is too much piano literature to play in a lifetime.
  • Choose works that suit your temprament.
  • That is what I did in selecting Scott Joplin and my "Big 6".

Scott Joplin (c. 1868-1917)

King of Ragtime

A Movie Introduces Scott Joplin
to the Public at Large (1973)

Courtesy amazon.com

Note the Negative Racial Stereotyping

A Recent Cover (Without the Stereotype)

From Spotify, Image May be Copyrighted