Posts Tagged music

All That Jazz @ the Library

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

Celebrate International Jazz Day this April 30. In 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), designated April 30 as International Jazz Day. Its purpose was to bring communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts from all over the world together to celebrate and learn about jazz. This year’s global host city for International Jazz Day is Washington, D.C.

But you don’t have to travel to D.C. to learn about and experience jazz. Manhattan Public Library has an extensive collection of jazz music cds, as well as books and dvds, and thousands of items in the genre for streaming.

Experience jazz through film by checking out “Jazz,” by documentary filmmaker, Ken Burns. The ten dvd set presents the history of jazz from its birth in New Orleans, through the Big Band era, modern jazz, and the fusion of jazz and rock and roll. Along the way, you’ll hear selections from about 500 pieces of music. “Jazz: a History of America’s Music,” by Geoffrey C. Ward, is the companion volume to Burns’ film.

In the same vein, “Jazz,” by music critic Gary Giddings and historian Scott Deveaux has traced the development of jazz from its nineteenth-century precursors to the present. The authors present the story of jazz in the broader cultural, political, social, and economic factors of the times. The book includes a detailed glossary, as well as a list of recommended jazz recordings and jazz-related motion pictures and documentaries.

Don’t know your be bop from your downbeat? Beginners to the world of America’s quintessential music will benefit from reading “The NPR Curious Listener’s Guide to Jazz,” by Loren Schoenberg. This is a concise history of jazz highlighting noteworthy composers and musicians, including a list of the most influential jazz recordings. Also a complete guide to jazz terminology.

If you need something a little simpler, there is always “Jazz for Dummies,” by Dirk Sutro. An informative reference to the music and its musicians, it also includes tips for building your own jazz collection and a list of more than 100 recommended recordings.

When we think of jazz, certain American cities come to mind. New Orleans, the birthplace of jazz; Chicago, where Louis Armstrong and Bix Beiderbecke set the standard in the 1920s; New York, where bebop was born in the 1940s; Los Angeles and San Francisco, with the development of the West Coast sound; and, of course, Kansas City.

“Kansas City Jazz,” by Frank Driggs and Chuck Haddix, gives the history of Kaycee jazz from ragtime to bebop. The Kansas City style of jazz developed during the 1930s, and marked the transition from big band orchestration to the improvisation of bebop. Kansas City is considered one of the “cradles of jazz.” Considered one of the most influential jazz saxophone players of all time, Charlie Parker, the Bird, was born in Kansas City. Future band leader, Count Basie played in Kansas City for several years, influencing the development of jazz.

Kansas City is also home to the American Jazz Museum. “Kansas City and All That’s Jazz,” published by the museum is full of historical photographs, and includes several articles about Kansas City jazz in its heyday.

The library has a diverse collection of jazz music cds available for checkout. But you don’t even have to leave your living room to access the more than 14,000 jazz recordings available for streaming through the library’s hoopla service. All you need to access the hoopla collection is a library card. Click the Digital Library link on the library’s web page, go to, or ask a librarian.

For more information about International Jazz Day, go to For all things jazz, visit the All about Jazz website at Next time you’re in the Kansas City area, don’t forget to visit the American Jazz Museum. Go to for more information.

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column, News

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Celebrate George Handel’s Birthday

handelMany of us have listened to recordings or live performances of The Messiah filled with awe at the beauty of the composition and with wonder at the composer’s ability to create such a magnificent piece of music. George Frideric Handel, it’s composer, was born in Germany on this day in 1685. He was one of the greatest composers of the Baroque era.  He  moved from Germany to Italy, eventually settling in London. Besides The Messiah, he wrote many operas, oratorios, anthems and organ concertos. Some of his other works include Water Music, Music for the Royal Fireworks and Coronation Anthems, composed for the coronation of George II. Manhattan Public Library has several CD’s with recordings of Handel’s works. Check them out!!messiah

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults

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Municipal Band Concert Schedule

Manhattan’s Municipal Band is truly a city treasure, now in its 94th  summer season. The band performs weekly through June and July, with an extra performance on the 4th  of July. Performances are in City Park’s open-air Norvell Band Shelter and are free of charge. Musical selections cover a wide range, from patriotic marches to classical selections to Broadway tunes, regional folk music, inspiring hymns, and more. For the full 2014 summer schedule of the Municipal Band, go to

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Arts in the Park begins tonight!

Head on down to the Larry Norvell Band Shell at City Park tonight for the kick off of Arts in the Park! Beginning at 8:00 p.m., the talented teens from the MHS Pops Choir will be performing, along with the Thundering Cats Big Band. Check out the schedule for the summer –there are lots of great, free music programs planned to entertain you!

Posted in: Adult Services, For Adults, For Teens, News

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Stephen Wade’s “The Beautiful Music All Around Us”

Reviewed by Marcia Allen, Technical Services & Collections Manager
In the early 1930s, the Library of Congress initiated a project that was destined to continue until 1942.  Staff traveled through the South, as well as the Great Plains, making field recordings of traditional songs and original compositions.  The selected musicians were not famous performers; in fact, most were ordinary singers who simply enjoyed tinkering with their instruments and setting words to chords.  The recordings themselves were made in churches, in homes, and on porches, so background noise and distortion run throughout.  The result is an astounding expression of feeling that remains a historic American treasure.
Author Stephen Wade sought to discover the backgrounds of some of those musicians.  “The Beautiful Music All Around Us” is the result of decades of interviews with those who knew the original musicians, as well as a careful scrutiny of public records.  He learned that some of those original musicians never recorded beyond that Library of Congress project, while others went on to other public performances.  He uncovered a wealth of material about the lives of the artists, and so wrote this wonderful book, a compilation of brief biographies of thirteen of the performers.
The book opens with the story of Bill Stepp.  Born in 1875, the illegitimate son of a half-Indian mother and local landowner, Bill spent the first few years of his life living in a cave along a Kentucky River.  He was later taken in as a foster child and became fascinated with a step-uncle’s fiddle playing.  A natural talent for playing led Bill to local performances at dances and at weddings.
Why is Bill included in the book?  Because of “Bonaparte’s Retreat,” a fiddle tune that Bill embellished and made his own.  Bill was recorded playing his now-famous tune at the request of Library of Congress staff in 1937.   Bill’s version became a part of Aaron Copeland’s famous score for the ballet “Rodeo” in l942, and it was more recently incorporated for the recent beef growers’ television commercial soundtrack.
Another chapter recalls the careers of sisters Christine and Katherine Shipp.  The girls were taught music in Mississippi by their mother, Mary, who only allowed religious music in the home.  Mary would compose vocal tunes based on ballads her pastor husband had purchased.  She then taught each of her children different parts so that they could all accompany Dad in his pastoring.  Mary explained her rare talent as an ability to “scale” or “call” the songs that were appropriate for church music.
Christine and Katherine were recorded in 1939 as they harmonized on “Sea Lion Woman.”  The song originated as a fiddle tune the girls’ grandfather had played before the Civil War.  As the tune was passed down to later generations, the fiddle arrangement vanished, and the tune was altered to include melodic repetition, clapping and dancing.  To the girls, the music was a fun game that helped them pass the time.
There are other equally talented musicians throughout the book.  Vera Hall was recorded in 1940, performing her version of “Another Man Done Gone.”  That emotionally charged rendition later drew compliments from Carl Sandburg, Johnny Cash, and John Mayall.  Jess Morris, a classically trained violinist who attended Valparaiso, joined the other artists with his field recording of “Goodbye, Old Paint,” during which he combined classical violin techniques with cowboy harmonies.  This nostalgic piece probably recalled his days as a predator controller (or wolf hunter) on a Texas ranch, but it had its origins in Britain and in the Appalachian Mountains.
Why read this book?  It is both a valuable snapshot of American music culture and a terrific collection of biographical sketches of those historic creators.  As there was no studio enhancement of their music, each recorded piece is unique.  You have only to listen to the included CD to experience the originality and freshness of those early recordings.  You are bound to recognize familiar tunes in a new way.

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So simple yet fun musical instrument

At a music workshop presented by Parent to Parent at our library on October 12, they ended with a simple, fun craft.  Each child got a paper plate that had been folded in half, filled with beans, and stapled around the edges.  The children were all preschool age, even some babies, and they were able to decorate the plate using markers, paper and blue, or stickers.  Then they shook them all the way home.  You can fill the plate with other things you might have on hand – rice, beads, buttons, jingle bells, etc.  The key is to make sure your staples are side by side so that the plate is tightly closed and the little things inside cannot escape.  It might not last forever, but you can always make a new one.

Posted in: Children's Dept, For Kids, Parents

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Grammy Nominated Music Available at Your Library

Although many of us are rushing around getting ready for theholidays right now, this is also the time of the year for awards nominations,including the Grammy nominations which were announced last week.   For your listening pleasure, we have a goodcollection of the nominated titles available for you at Manhattan PublicLibrary.
The two most prominent performers that you’ll be hearingabout are Adele and Bruno Mars.  Adele isa British singer classified as Pop, although her album 21 exhibits influencefrom blues, gospel and even country. Also classified as Pop, Mars’ album doo-wops & hooligans carriesstrains of Reggae, R&B, soul, and hip hop.
The Best Pop Duo category has some genre-crossing songs, aswell.  “Pumped Up Kicks” by Foster thePeople is on the album Torches which is also nominated in the BestAlternative Album category.  A tributealbum called Rave On Buddy Holly includes “Dearest” performed by The BlackKeys.  Other nominated Pop albums you cangrab at the library are Teenage Dream by Katy Perry, Born This Way by LadyGaga, Loud by Rihanna, The Road From Memphis by Booker T. Jones, and The Gift by Susan Boyle who rose to world-wide fame after a TV appearance on “Britain’s GotTalent.”
For those who want their music a bit more on the edge, checkout Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons, a London indie rock quartet that strives tomake “music that matters, without taking themselves too seriously.”  Recorded entirely on analog, Wasting Lightby the Foo Fighters brings in 4 nominations.
If you like Rock, you might like this royal roundup: The King is Dead by The Decemberists, The King of Limbs by Radiohead, and Come Around Sundown by the Kings of Leon. You might also enjoy the Alternative category nominations Codes and Keys by Death Cab for Cutie and Circuital by My Morning Jacket.
The highlighted R&B albums are Love Letter by R.Kelly, which pays tribute to Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke and F.A.M.E. by ChrisBrown, which includes collaborations with Justin Bieber, Lil Wayne andothers.  Also in the R&B category is theBob Marley cover “Is This Love” from Corinne Bailey Rae’s album The Love EP,Raphael Saadiq’s “Good Man” from his album Stone Rollin’, and El DeBarge’s Second Chance, which he describes as his “spiritual memoir”.
Moving into rap, we have Lasers by Lupe Fiasco, which hecalls “an album with a mission.”  WizKhalifa’s debut album, Rolling Papers has songs that were nominated for bothBest Rap Performance and Best Rap Song. A nomination for Best Rap/Sung collaboration comes from the ever-popularBeyoncé along with André on her album 4.
Going in a completely different direction, the Countrynominations are led by recent Country Stampede performer Blake Shelton’s Red River Blue and Taylor Swift’s entirely self-composed album, Speak Now withnominations also for My Kinda Party by Jason Aldean, Play On by CarrieUnderwood, Blessed by Lucinda Williams and Own the Night by LadyAntebellum.  The group Civil Wars appearsin both Country and Folk categories for their album Barton Hollow.  In other Folk nominations, we have SteveEarle’s tribute to Townes Van Zandt entitled I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive, Helplessness Blues by the Fleet Foxes, and The Harrow & the Harvest by Gillian Welch.  InBluegrass we have Paper Airplane by Alison Krauss and Rare Bird Alert bySteve Martin, yes that SteveMartin.  Remember the banjo he often usedin his comedy?  Now we get to hear thefull range of his talents.
Starting off our Blues category is husband/wife teamTedeschi Trucks Band with their album Revelator, followed by Gregg Allman’s Low Country Blues and Warren Haynes’ Man in Motion.  Rounding things out with a bit of Jazz is Bird Songs by Us Five.
Quite a list and there’s still time to listen before theawards are given!  Stop by and we’ll behappy to assist you.  Or you can alwayscheck our online catalog to see what’s  available or to place a hold on an itemthat’s currently checked-out.  If youjust like to see what new music we have, there is always a list on the frontpage, “Library Info” tab, of the catalog.

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