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Nathan Bohach, Jazz Vibraphone
Zack Arbagast, piano
Nick Vassar, guitar
Tyler Stewart, drums and marimba
Colin Milum, bass
This recital is presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Music Performance. Mr. Bohach is a student in the studio of Dr. Ben Miller and Mr. Steve Hall.
Joe Locke (b. 1959)
Signing is the title track to Locke's 2012 album with the Geoffrey Keezer Group. Locke contributed four compositions/arrangements to this project one of them being Signing. Locke says, "It's called Signing, because it's about the desire to make direct contact. Sometimes we fall short and we don't find each other in the effort to communicate, but we're out there trying to be heard and trying to listen, sending signs. That's what it's all about." One can tell through Locke's compositions that he has a deep connection with music. Signing is a more contemporary jazz tune in that it has some urban influences incorporated with the sophistication of jazz.
Charlie (Bird) Parker (1920-1955)
Parker was playing Confirmation as early as 1945, however, some scholars believe the tune could have been written five years earlier. This tune is in the bebop style and is characteristic of Charlie Parker's writing style such as reducing melodies to their essentials, more attention put on the solos, and complex harmonic ideas. The singer Sheila Jordan wrote lyrics for the song and sang it on one of her albums. She admits that she was probably one of the very few to sing this composition with words.
Dave Samuels (b.1948) and Dave Friedman (b.1944)
In 1977 Dave Samuels and Dave Friedman formed a mallet percussion duo called Double Image. Both of them play either vibraphone or marimba in this group. When one plays marimba the other performer plays the other. This duo composed their own pieces and performed them. Since both of these musicians were jazz musicians their compositions were just a sketch of what was to happen with the majority of the work being improvised and was never the same twice. They later decided to publish sheet music of some of their works and wrote down a very detailed arrangement of their compositions, down to the solos. Tyler Stewart and I are going to use their arrangement as our sketch as we deviate from the page and improvise in the moment like Double Image did.
Charlie (Bird) Parker (1920-1955)
The opening motif of Ornithology can be found at the beginning phrase from The Jumping Blues, which Charlie Parker recorded in 1942 as a member of the Jay McShann Band. This may not have been a Charlie Parker original thought because a similar likeness can be found in a recording of Lester Young called Shoe Shine Boy in 1936. It is thought that Parker, who was normally ahead of his time, wrote this more in the style of his Kansas City Jazz roots. The chord changes mimic the changes of a Broadway (and jazz) standard entitled How High the Moon. Bebop composers of the time relied a great deal on borrowed chord progressions from Broadway, which was not considered stealing. The title Ornithology means the study of birds. Since Charlie Parker's nickname was Bird, short for Yardbird, one could see why he named this tune the way he did. Legend has it that Charlie Parker gained his nickname in the early 1940s for one of two possible reasons: (1) he was a free spirit, or (2) while driving on tour he accidentally hit a chicken.
Johnny Green (1908-1989)
Body and Soul
This Johnny Green 1930 jazz standard almost did not become a jazz standard. Johnny Green, who worked as a stockbroker and had an economics degree, casually played the piano, but was not a professional pianist. British actress Gertrude Lawrence commissioned Body and Soul on a tight recording deadline. However, Lawrence never recorded the song she commissioned and paid for. Later, after the piece was copyrighted, NBC radio had a big issue with the title and would not announce the name of the song because they thought that the word "body" was too edgy. The jazz artist who brought this song to the forefront was a saxophonist Coleman Hawkins. Hawkins played the song all the time and verbally fought for its importance as a jazz tune. A young Charlie Parker heard Hawkins play Body and Soul live and a few months later recorded it in Kansas City. Body and Soul has remained part of the standard repertoire through the rise of bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, and other styles of Jazz’
Nathan Bohach (b.1992) and Mycah Pemberton (b.1993)
I wrote this tune while studying the music of contemporary composer Robert Glasper, who fuses Jazz, funk, rock, R&B, soul, and hip-hop and fits into the Neo-Soul genre. I was studying Robert Glasper s song F.T.B at the time New Song was composed. I sketched a rough draft for my recital and upon suggestion of a friend, decided to add a singer and lyrics. I asked Mycah Pemberton, another Jazz major, to help compose the melody and lyrics. Mycah Pemberton is quoted as saying I've always really connected with this particular style and setting out to write a melody for this piece was a breeze once I had heard what Nate had already mapped out." The first time the two of us sat down to work on the melody, it was magic, but something was still missing. While touring graduate schools m the New York City area, I sat through a clinic at one of the schools and the clinic happened to be about arranging tunes of one's own or standard tunes. I then knew exactly what to do because the clinician made his composition more through composed. Pemberton had her own break through with her part. She said, "I had a really hard time picking a theme for this song. A few days after we sat down and charted out the format and melody, Nate handed me a mix cd with the demo on it. He had listed it as 'New Song'. That was all it took to spark the idea and I had it all written down in 15 minutes." This is only the second time this has been performed for an audience.
Ray Noble (1903-1978)
Cherokee has a deeper history than just a showoff tune for the bebop musicians. The song was influenced by the sounds of Native American music. Ray Noble composed the song for his 1938 work called Indian Suite. One most often hears this song without lyrics due to the fast tempo that jazz musicians play it. The lyrics do not fit a fast context because it is about a deep passion for a sweet Indian maiden.
Milt (Bags) Jackson (1923-1999) (Arranged: Gary Burton)
Milt Jackson is known best as the first bebop vibraphonist and for his work with the Modem Jazz Quartet (MJQ). The Modern Jazz Quartet was more of a chamber ensemble mixing classical and jazz music (third stream music). Jackson's background is heavily rooted in the blues tradition and a lot of his fans liked to hear him on a jam tune where he could stretch out and show his roots. Bags' Groove, a 12-bar blues, did just that. Milt Jackson wrote Bags' Groove before joining the MJQ, but the song became a staple in their repertoire due to the fans' desires. Jackson's nickname Bags comes from the bags he had under his eyes in his twenties from late night and liquor lifestyle. A signature song like Bags' Groove usually disappears from the standard repertoire after the composer's death or retirement, but this piece continued to find its way into the jazz standards. It has remained a standard because Miles Davis recorded it with Jackson, and because vibraphonists often play this as a tribute to Milt Jackson. In 2000 Gary Burton released a vibraphonist tribute album with an arrangement of Bags' Groove, and this is the version being played tonight. I transcribed the arrangement from the record.
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Bohach, Nathan, "Marshall University Music Department Presents a Senior Recital, Nathan Bohach, Jazz Vibraphone" (2014). All Performances. 619.