When classical musicians talk about the history of music they talk about form: polyphony, fugue, sonata form, twelve-tone serialism, and all the rest of it. Liken it to jazz musicians and you hear a list of names of legendary performers: Miles Davis, Art Tatum, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson, and on and on.
Why is that?
Largely it’s in the nature of jazz itself, a music based on improvisation, individual temperament and above all style as a subjective rather than rigorous discipline.
Mabern, now 77, lived through the golden age of modern jazz. Born in Memphis Tennessee, he moved to New York in 1959 and landed in the middle of the important blossoming of post-war American jazz. Between 1968 and 2012 he has made twenty records as leader, and participated as sideman in an astonishing 78 additional recordings.
The Penguin Guide to Jazz describes Mabern as “one of the great post-bop artists.” If you’re wondering what “post-bop” means, it is a term coined fairly recently to refer to jazz from the mid-sixties to the mid-seventies and often associated with the name of Miles Davis.
Regardless of terminology and regardless of names and personalities, Mabern is an amazing artist. His piano technique is described as “aggressive, very positive … warming up and down the keyboard with huge, whooping bursts of action.”
Mabern has said his favourite instrument is “naturally the Steinway D, but if you can’t get a D, any Steinway.” So he should be right at home on ArtSpring’s excellent Steinway B.
Cory Weeds’ trio from Vancouver is an excellent group of musicians to accompany Mabern. Weeds is a great saxophone player and, as owner of The Cellar Jazz Club, one of the key movers of the BC jazz scene.
Tickets for the September 30 performance are available from the ArtSpring Box Office 537-2102 or online at www.tickets.artspring.ca.