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Friedman Leads Jazz 101 Class with Style

The real subject of the class is music, and listening; the audience is part of the performance, says Bennett Friedman

Last Wednesday the “Jazz for Everyone” class began at the music room, led by Santa Rosa Junior College instructor Bennett Friedman.

Last week’s class began not with roll-taking (it’s not that kind of class) but an extended saxophone solo by Friedman, who seemed to find playing music at least as satisfying as talking about it.

From the basic 12-bar structure of the blues that underlies much of jazz and other American music, including rock, to more complicated song structures, Friedman led the 40-strong group of jazz-curious in listening exercises and toe-tapping, hand-clapping counting of the bars (no one calls them “measures,” he said) behind a jazz song’s performance.

When the moment moved him, he turned down the lights so we could listen to Shirley Horne sing a ballad, or listen to Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis and John Coltrane and their different approaches to improvisation.

But nowhere was Louis Armstrong, though the schedule suggested we’d explore the “emergence of the music’s most influential star, Louis Armstrong, who radically shifted jazz’s focus from group improvisation to a soloist’s art form.” Instead, Friedman promised we’d get to Louis this week.

The class, sponsored by the continues with part 2 tonight, from 7 to 8 pm in the same location (see below for directions). Although the class schedule says tonight will focus on the “Swing to Bop” era, roughly the 1930s through 1940s, it’s no more likely to be limited to that period than the first class was solely about “foundations,” as advertised.

If you’re planning on going, please email your intentions to the Healdsburg Jazz Festival.

NOTE: Unless you were a student at HHS you may not know the location of the Music Room. Just enter the driveway to the High School at the corner of Johnson and Powell, drive past the poarking lot and continue past the administration building and classrooms (watch the speed bumps, you know how kids are).

At the very end there's a round-about, you should be able to find parking here. The Music Room is just to the right (east) of the buiding facing the parking lot, the former Media Center (Access Healdsburg TV).

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