jazz and improvised music


Cool for school - teachers resources

A unique music education program for everyone who wants to know more about jazz

early jazz

In the Territory Band tradition of Kansas City, Chicago and New Orleans, New York soprano and alto saxophonist
Phillip Johnston leads The Greasy Chicken Orchestra. Expect classic jazz of the 20's & 30's, early Duke Ellington and Jelly Roll Morton.

Esteemed musician, composer and music educator, Phillip Johnston's credits include an extensive list of live and festival performances world-wide and musical scores for film, theatre and dance productions. Phillip now splits his time between the US and Australia.

Pianist Judy Bailey has had a long and illustrious career as a performer, composer and educator. Expect boogie-woogie and stride style jazz piano.

A founding member of The Sydney Conservatorium, trail-blazer Judy has gained several prestigious awards, including the inaugural APRA Award for ‘Jazz Composition’, an Australian Entertainment Industry ‘MO’ for ‘Jazz Performance’ and in 2004 an OAM (Order of Australia Medal) awarded by the Australian Government for ‘Services to Music and Education’.

The Program 

Judy will play the first set, in a program of classic and original pieces in the early jazz piano style. The early era of jazz piano is incredibly rich, featuring a diversity of styles including ragtime, boogie-woogie, stride, and blues. She will play classic tunes of the era and demonstrate the effect of different piano styles, including the use of the left hand and how familiar tunes (including ‘Waltzing Matilda’ and Scott Joplin’s ‘The Entertainer’) can be interpreted in different early jazz styles.

The Greasy Chicken Orchestra will play sextet arrangements of tunes from the first 30 years of jazz history by Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, and New Orleans jazz standards. They will focus on the structure of the tunes, showing how different sections of the arrangements are constructed and reflect funeral and parade music, ragtime, and popular songs of the time. In addition, they will demonstrate the roles of different instruments, and how the contrapuntal ‘trad’ style of improvisation is constructed.


There are amazing resources today, in which rare films and recordings of jazz performers of every era are available on Youtube.com. Here are some examples that will be useful in preparing students and giving them some context for this month’s concert:

Early Jazz Piano

Here is an audio recording of Jelly Roll Morton’s ‘King Porter Stomp’, which Judy Bailey will perform at the concert:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h8_2ISGOIjU

This clip features Boogie-Woogie great Meade Lux Lewis, in a short film simply called ‘Boogie Woogie’ featuring the Harlem dance styles of the time as well. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U0UudZ746nI 

From the 1943 film ‘Stormy Weather’ Fats Waller plays and sings one of his most famous compositions ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ in his inimitable style. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSNPpssruFY He was a great entertainer: or more of his technical expertise, try this audio recording of his ‘Handful of Keys’.


Here, Jan Preston, the Australian Queen of Boogie Woogie plays the ‘Black and White Rag’.


Early Jazz Bands

Louis Armstrong’s ‘Hot 5’s and Hot 7’s are the standard against which all early jazz performance are measured. Here he is in Copenhagen in 1933 performing the standard ‘Dinah’ and doing some of his trademark scat singing. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxxPP8VMk44 

Closer to the classic New Orleans early jazz style is George Lewis with his New Orleans Jazz Band playing Mahogany Hall Stomp. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCdWvCblaW8

The Duke Ellington Orchestra plays Old Man Blues in this 1930 film clip. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ih97QJmkgUo 

Here is a recording of the Australian jazz great Graeme Bell and his band performing one of Duke Ellington’s class tunes, Black and Tan Fantasy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avcJrK53_lU

Cool for School artists

Judy Bailey’s Jazz Connection Band plays ‘I’m Shoutin’ Again’ by Count Basie’s Orchestra.


Phillip Johnston’s Transparent Quartet plays Raymond Scott’s ‘Sleepwalker’


Internet Resources

Here is a very good brief succinct summary of early jazz piano styles:


The Red Hot Jazz Archive is wonderful resource for information, further reading, early recordings and film. http://www.redhotjazz.com/

New Orleans Online places the music in some interesting  historical context:


Jazz.com has some wonderful primary source resources (photos, sheet music), and historical context of all ealry jazz, not just New Orleans.



classic jazz: bebop & The piano trio

New Zealand-born pianist Mike Nock has been at the forefront of Australasia jazz, and throughout the world, since the early 1960s. His first piano trio CD was released in 1960-61, and he has continued to work in that format since (along with many other variations); his current trio features bassist Ben Waples and drummer James Waples.

He has performed and recorded with Americans Yusef Lateef, John Klemmer, Bennie Maupin, and the ground-breaking Fourth Way, as well as Australian greats of several generations. As a composer, he has written both jazz and classical music, and his music ranges from solo piano to contemporary chamber ensembles. He currently lives in Sydney and teaches at the Sydney Conservatorium.

Like Mike Nock, saxophonist Dale Barlow has had an illustrious career both in Australia and overseas. He has played with international artists, including Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers, Cedar Walton, Sonny Stitt, Chet Baker, Benny Golson and Lee Konitz, and in Australia with Paul Grabowski, Vince Jones, Roger Frampton and Daryl Pratt.

He is a multi-instrumentalist who is equally at home on a number of instruments, and in a variety of styles, playing both class jazz and bebop, and his own original compositions.

The program

Mike will play first with his trio with Ben & James Waples, demonstrating the depth and breadth of the piano trio format. He will play his own compositions and works from the classic jazz canon of standards and bebop. In this performance students will have the opportunity to observe the way in which Mike develops a melody in different ways, though solos, variations, re-invention, and re-harmonisation they will see how the members of trio each contribute to the overall sound of the group, and how three people can sound like many more.

Dale Barlow’s group will play tunes from the classic bebop era, but in their own more contemporary style. They will demonstrate how the members of a quartet take on different roles at different times in the same piece, and how different improvising techniques work with different tunes.


The Classic Piano Trio

Here is a live recording of one of the greatest swing era piano trios The Teddy Wilson Trio performing Fats Waller’s Honeysuckle Rose at a blazing tempo:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5NqUoM-WZo

 This clip features Bebop era great Bud Powell, in his rendition of Thelonious Monk’s Round Midnight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYd6ftWE_rM

 This recording of the theme from ‘Peanuts’ by the Vince Guaraldi Trio is actually a

Classic example of 60s postbop groove era jazz piano trio: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=80ojk1dwbos

For a more boppish version, try this version of Bobby  Timmons’ Dat Dere recorded live at the Village Vanguard http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBE2S1cnnSk 

And here is a version of the Mike Nock Trio performing one of his own compositions:



Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie were considered the apotheosis of bebop virtuosity. Here he performs his Donna Lee, a line of the changes of Back Home In Indiana (albeit with Miles Davis on trumpet)


 Thelonious Monk was dubbed by Time Magazine “The High Priest of Bebop”. Here he performs a live version of one of his most famous tunes, Blue Monk: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jCdWvCblaW8

 Here is a more modern version of the bebop canon, Paul Motian and his Electric Bebop band, playing Monk’s Brilliant Corners: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x3l3whhatk

 Here is Dale Barlow, with the American pianist Cedar Walton, playing Charlie Parker’s Relaxin’ At Camarillo : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=avcJrK53_lU

Mike Nock’s web site:


Dale Barlow’s web site:


Internet Resources

Here is a pretty good round-up of the stylistic attributes of bebop:


This is an Internet radio station devoted exclusively to music of the Bebop era:


Here is an extensive treatise on the jazz piano trio:


And similar internet radio source for piano trio music:


What students gain:

• The opportunity to listen to the music of key professional practising musicians

• Increased understanding and appreciation of Australian contemporary jazz 

• The chance to participate in a Q&A session with musicians and bandleaders where they can focus on the music generally or ask about jazz as a career – including tertiary studies, forming a band, mentorships and awards, starting out, performing at festivals, performing overseas, etc.

• The opportunity to experience some of the things they are learning about in practice: chords, tonality, harmony, melody, composition, interaction between musicians, improvisations