Miles Davis was not yet a household name in jazz in 1955 when he first appeared at the Newport Jazz Festival. In fact he wasn’t even scheduled to play. But history has now told of the incredible influence and wide reach of his trumpet playing and musical experimentation that led into all the different folds of jazz. This year’s program celebrates the 60th anniversary of the late jazz legend’s historic debut. But who put the jazz onto this stage and made it the internationally renowned music venue it is today? The name is George Wein, the founder of the Newport Jazz Festival.
Without George Wein there would not have been the Newport Jazz Festival or a launching point for many jazz musicians, with an opportunity to feature their talents to a wider audience. He was not only passionate about jazz, playing professionally in his early career in Boston, but he loved the musicians and the “beautiful sound” they made in the variations of their instruments. His belief and love of this form of genuinely American music, during the 1950’s particularly, when jazz was still waiting to come-out to a larger audience, helped create a central venue for hosting what is now a 60th year tradition in Newport, Rhode Island.
Today in 1972, Alice Cooper was at No.1 on the UK singles chart with ‘School’s Out’. Here he reflects on what this song meant to him as we go ‘Behind the Song’ with Alice Cooper.
What inspired you to write this song?
What’s the greatest three minutes of your life? There’s two times during the year. One is Christmas morning, the next one is the last three minutes of the last day of school.
How did you feel about it when it was ready to be released?
Out of the 14 Top 40 songs we’ve had, ‘School’s Out’ was the only song I was ever sure of. I said ‘If this isn’t a hit, I don’t belong in this business.’ It had every element — it was released right when school was letting out, it was a summer song, it had that hook, it had the lyric and I would have been shocked if that wasn’t a hit.
What was your experience with school?
Essentially I was Ferris Bueller, and I basically ran the school. We had girlfriends doing our homework, and the teachers loved us because we made them laugh. So school was like a piece of cake for me. Not that I ever did anything, I was just the class clown. When I wrote the song, I was like, ‘Jeez, this doesn’t apply to me at all! I love high school, I’d spend the rest of my life here!
Words of wisdom for those still in school…
I think many students graduating today wish they could stay in school, too – but for different reasons. It is a hard job market and I have watched my own son struggle within it – after graduating college with honours.
So I say start wherever you can and be the best you can be. Specialized skills are more valuable than general knowledge. Make yourself indispensable… If you’re in the general work pool, you’re gonna get lost – even if you’ve got a degree. You have got to be the guy or the gal.
And I say make some noise, will ya? Someone I once knew used to say ‘The squeaky wheel gets the oil.’
Nobody knows that better than you Alice and your noise and colour is playing on today. Catch him on the road in a city near you with Motley Crue / All Bad Things Tour throughout 2015.
Do what you love, love what you do and enjoy every minute of it. Bringing soulful songs and lyrics from the heart Jenni Alpert is living proof that dreams are made possible if you try. Always the best part of what we do, discovering new music and good people behind it.
“I write songs and I sing them from the deepest part of my existence and I hope they connect with the deepest part of yours.”
– Jenni Alpert
Name: Jenni Alpert
Where are you writing this: At the moment, I am writing this from my West Coast Home located in Los Angeles, CA.
Home is where your story begins, please tell us about yours
For the first three and a half years of my life I was in the foster care system in Los Angeles County where the fate of my future was being determined for me. It was in one of those homes that I first discovered music and the piano and I believe a very important part of how I have come to be my self and become an artist both musically and artistically spooking (I paint and take photos as well as write and record music with equal fervor). I would say that those early years shaped my ability to be committed to growth, resilient to change, and free spirited impassioned by creativity, freedom, and honesty. I started composing music and writing songs by the time I was ten, picked up a guitar at 14, and continued to develop my skills in musicianship, songwriting, and performance at UCLA under the wing of Kenny Burrell and his then newly founded four year Jazz program. Since then, I have recorded and released 6 independent albums, 1 vinyl record with a team of people out of Italy, toured and performed worldwide in over 14 countries, have had a few songs placed in TV shows such as Castle and CSI Miami, and continue to pen songs and perform them in US cities often as I can.
How did music find you
The second I was introduced to a piano at the age of almost 3, music and I became fast life long friends.
Best describe your musical style
Eclectic soulful jazzy pop singer songwriter
What is the song writing process like for you
When I am constructing songs, I feel that I myself am an instrument in the process where music and lyric tend to unfold simultaneously. I make efforts to stay present, open, and aware enough to sense that a song is about to develop, and I often feel that I myself am a witness to the creation. In listening to all types of music, especially world music for education and inspiration, this maintains my writing skills.
Tell us about the inspiration behind your album ‘Take It All’
Take It All was a conglomeration of songs partly co-written partly self penned over the course of a six month period when I was going through a cathartic personal growth spurt. The songs were like moments of healing for me, discovering meanings of relationships, coming of age, healing, and shedding parts of ourselves that we wish to outgrow while discovering the wonders of love in the world. It was recorded mostly live over the course of a three day period with producer Mikal Blue and polished over another week or so with overdubs from some of my favorite session musicians. Take It All was me exploring my pop side of songwriting and I am very proud of that body of work.
Which are your favorite lyrics thus far and tell us the story behind them
Most all of them.
Such rich history, what was it like recording at Sun Studios in Memphis
Amazing every moment. Google and I became fast friends that day. My most excited moment was standing on the x where Elvis sang wondering if the acoustic in the room were the same as back then. It was a very special opportunity to get to record there and experience working with Matt Ross-Spang.
Shout out to your favorite band or artist at the moment
I don’t pick favorites in this category for I love songs and to many to single one out, so for all you songwriters out there…. keep em comin!
What does a lazy Sunday look like to you
Not lazy. Probably like any other Monday in London.
The greatest book ever written is…
The one with the least amount of pages? Just kidding. I love to read and haven’t picked a favorite, but I notice that I am inspired by true stories.
My all time favorite movie is…
Tough call between: The Big Lebowski, As Good As It Gets, Buffalo 66, and The Notebook
Aside from communication, while on the road what is the one thing you can not live without
Coffee and humor
Jenni Alpert is hosting a dinner party!
Album on replay
Nick Drake – Pink Moon
Skirt Steak, collard greens, sweet corn, corn bread with honey, a large dark green salad with goat cheese, fresh strawberries, red onions, tomatoes, and cucumbers, and dark chocolate peanut butter bars for dessert.
4 people past or present on the guestlist that would make for stimulating conversation
Steve Jobs, Einstein, Marie Curie, and Lou Adler.
Which game would you play
Taboo – hands down.
Your most memorable musical moment thus far
I choose to live in the moment as often as I can so any opportunity to perform and connect with music listeners is really what I consider memorable.
The prettiest thing I have ever seen…
Sunsets over the ocean
Being a young woman in a sometimes plastic world do you feel a sense of responsibility or example for the girls coming behind you
Be honest, have integrity, learn yourself, observe others, and never compromise your values to get ahead anywhere. Do your best and be realistic and as you build it, it ill become.
Your dream marquee would read…
Let them all think you are nuts, yet while they are distracted, create the best damn peanut butter known to man. – Peanut Butter, the best thing since sliced bread.
One quote or piece of advice that always goes with you
“The way I see it, if you want a rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain” #Dolly Parton
True Love is…
The willingness to listen, be patient, give forgiveness, and have understanding even if another’s point of view isn’t clear yet with the ability and willingness to take care of one’s self.
What can we look forward to with Jenni Alpert over the coming year
A batch of fresh honest self penned soulful songs recorded on a new album with a tour in Europe to boot.
” Jim Morrison returns but with all the character he was lacking in his haze. Far beyond his 20 years Jesse Kinch a real ‘thinker’ shows his generation the best of the old and the new. Watch him go… ” – Fresh Independence
Home is where your story begins, please tell us a little about yours.
I consider myself really fortunate…I grew up in a very loving, musical, and free spirited household. I never felt any pressure to be something I wasn’t. It was always what I wanted to be that mattered and I’m always grateful for that. My parents were always very supportive of my musical dreams. I have to say that my fondest memories in my home are the ones that involve music. There was always music playing every single day…everything from 60’s to 90’s rock…and other than rock, there were many other kinds of music being played like soft ballads from Sarah Brightman or Andrea Bocelli. When I was a child, I always remember waking up to music and closing my eyes to music…I was introduced to one great song after another. I also recall watching a lot of concerts on T.V. with my family. A few I can think of off the top of my head are Stevie Nicks live at red rocks, Yanni, Jimi at Monterey, Fleetwood Mac’s “The Dance”, and Rage against the Machine live in Mexico City. Those were my favorites! Growing up in my home was the reason I was exposed to so many different artists at such a young age. When I think about it, the word “home” is very special to me. I don’t feel that it has just one superficial meaning. It is where I heard my first song, played my first note, sang my first song, wrote my first song, and most importantly, it was a place I always felt most secure and creative.
How do you best describe your musical style?
I feel that many things coincide with each other to make up my musical style. Every song I’ve ever loved, every lyric and voice that has touched my soul, every experience that sits in my memory… I think that all subconsciously comes out of me when I perform and write. It all makes up who I am. When I perform, I put absolutely all my energy into my vocal and playing. I always found myself attracted to the singers who would belt out a song with every ounce of passion they have in their soul. Every song I sing on stage seems to stir up certain emotions and feelings that I never express or show in person…so I let it all out right there in that moment…and naturally just lose myself in the music. Even when I record, I make sure I put that same passion and energy into the song just as I do on stage. When it comes to my songs…I feel my style is something melodic, driving, and kind of dark…I think in general that’s the type of music I’ve always listened to. Dynamically, I think a lot of my songs start off softer, then gradually build into something heavier…I can also completely transition from singing something driving and intense to singing a soft ballad. I absolutely love ballads…Since I was little I could listen to something so soft and beautiful and then put on a rock song. I think it is so important to have a ballad or two in the mix of an album or a show…It adds to the dynamics and… really….I would feel one dimensional without listening or singing ballads.
Tell us a little about how the song writing process works for you.
I’ll sit in my sanctuary…my music room…alone…free…just me and my guitar…strum a few open chords and I’ll hum a melody. If that melody catches my ear, it’s a song. Usually after that, I start to sing syllables, then syllables turn into words, which turns into a lyric that makes sense and means something to me. For some reason music and melody always come first, but I always feel that if you come up with something really melodic, you need a strong lyric to compliment the music and melody. It’s the icing on the cake, you know? Sure…the boxer by Simon and Garfunkel has a nice melody and guitar pick, but what would it be without “I am just a poor boy though my story’s seldom told…I have squandered my resistance for a pocket full of mumbles such are promises”. Also like I said before…I feel that everything I listen to subconsciously comes out of me when I write. Usually the night before I come up with something, I listen to a lot of my favorite records. As a writer, listening to music and lyrics is some of the best inspiration I can have.