writing assignment



This assignment has 3 parts:

Part 1:

  1. Read the assigned reviews by noted Jazz critics found in: Week 7 Introduction to Jazz Reviews
  2. Pay attention to how the reviewers describe:
    1. musical elements of the recordings
    2. specific performance aspects
    3. musical events they are talking about (often using personal reactions to the music)

Part 2: Choose a selection from Approved Jazz Recordings for the Jazz Review Assignment (below)

  1. Pick a track you enjoy, that moves you emotionally and that you can hear and understand what is going on musically (from what you have learned in this class).
  1. Listen to the recording a number of times so you can really know the music and things that happen within the performance.
  2. Write your own review of the performance you choose.
    1. musical elements you hear, and how they indicate the style of jazz being performed.
    2. commentary about specific musical events heard in the recording you are reviewing.
    3. descriptions of the musical events that move you, referring to common human experiences that can relate the musical performance to a reader that is not a music expert.
    4. descriptions of musicians performing and the musical elements and events heard on the recording. Use the professional reviews you read as models for your review
    1. Be familiar with important aspects of the recording such as instrumentation, names and instruments of artists (you need to look up the album that the track comes from), who plays solos, aspects of the arrangement, etc….
    2. Find creative ways to describe HOW the musical affects you emotionally or inspires a reaction or comparison to another human experience is an important component of this style of writing. This type of writing can use words which could also describe “taste”, “feel”, or emotional reactions which compare to other types of human experiences. For example: “The saxophone sound is full bodied” (like a wine.) ”His solo explorations have a searching quality” (like an explorer) ..”Her singing style is relaxed and confident, even as she engages in fast, athletic runs of notes..” (like a highly trained athlete)
    3. Include personal observations and descriptions of the musical activity and the musician’s performances.
    4. Make sure the following elements are included in your review:
  1. Format
    1. As you saw in the example reviews: list the album information: – title, artist, record label (company) and album #, and a listing of musicians performing including their instruments (look up the album that the track comes from.)
    2. First paragraph: Describe the artist/group and the project in the first paragraph, with any important information that is related to the whole project.
    3. Middle Paragraphs (2 or 3): Should include the descriptions of the individual track and musical events that move the writer (solos, group interactions, etc
    4. Final Paragraph: Your conclusion and reaction.


Reviews need to be written in a professional style, following basic standards for grammar, sentence structure, citations (if used), and other considerations for a Research Paper style assignment. Your review should follow the format listed above (#4) and include the musical elements and personal observations and reactions listed in #3 above.

Approved Jazz Recordings for the Jazz Review Assignment

  • Black Bottom Stomp – Jelly Roll Morton
  • Struttin w some BBQ – Louis Armstrong
  • Singin the Blues – Frankie Trumbauer with Bix Beiderbecke
  • Stampede – Fletcher Henderson
  • Wrappin it Up – Fletcher Henderson
  • Body and Soul – Coleman Hawkins
  • Taxi War Dance- Count Basie
  • Lester Leaps In – Count Basie
  • Strange Fruit – Billie Holiday
  • Willow Weep for Me – Art Tatum
  • Seven come Eleven – 2:44 – Charlie Christian w Benny Goodman
  • Shaw ‘Nuff – Charlie Parker/Dizzy Gillespie Misterioso – THELONIUS MONK
  • Line for Lyons – Chet Baker/ Gerry Mulligan
  • Django – Modern Jazz Quartet
  • Artistry in Rhythm – Kenton
  • Moanin’ – Art Blakey
  • Song for My Father – Horace Silver
  • Pent Up House – Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, Max Roach
  • Four on Six – Wes Montgomery
  • Giant Steps- John Coltrane
  • Blue in Green – Bill Evans Trio
  • Fables of Faubus – Charles Mingus
  • Red Clay – Freddie Hubbard 12:09– from CTI album
  • Lonely Woman – Ornette Coleman
  • Air – Cecil Taylor
  • So What (live) Miles Davis 1964
  • Black Market (live) – Weather Report
  • Spain – Chick Corea
  • Tumbleweed – Michael Brecker
  • Black Codes– Wynton Marsalis