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A Marriage for Jazz

East Coast/West Coast partnership promises great music in L.A.

June 01, 1997

Oh, yes, what music will be made. The Washington-based Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz, in recognition of the contributions of West Coast jazz, is establishing a partnership with the Music Center of Los Angeles. That's great news for both coasts and for all jazz aficionados, but the topper is the future this union promises for the quintessentially American art form.

Starting in September, performances by musicians from the Monk Institute--three major concerts and a history-of-jazz performance/lecture among them--will be presented at the Music Center. Educational programs, including an expansion of the institute's existing Jazz Sports LA program in public schools, will deepen the exposure to jazz. They will feature a variety of seminars, lectures and symposiums.

Heading the overall program will be pianist-composer Herbie Hancock, a celebrated product of the West Coast jazz scene in its golden age, the 1950s and '60s.

Jazz draws its inspirations from early in the century, from the band and honky-tonk music of New Orleans. Spreading north and east and eventually west, the Afro-American musical idiom that would become jazz was shaped by legendary pioneers like King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton and Louis Armstrong, "Satchmo," who took jazz around the world.

Duke Ellington and Count Basie gave jazz a big-band dimension, and in more recent decades Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Miles Davis gave it new life through their improvisational patterns.

At the end of World War II musicians like Gerry Mulligan, Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond and Shelly Manne made California their home, creating a new sound in a region already grounded in traditional jazz.

What's next? We don't know, but this musical partnership joining east and west promises to kick up a riff or two. And that's jazz.

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