Jazz and the American Musical Identity


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Lecturer/Pianist, Dr. Gil Harel
Thursday, February 21
3:30 pm

For casual listeners and historians alike, jazz is perhaps the defining musical idiom of the 20th century American soundscape. But after the Second World War, the identity of jazz itself began to change at a rapid pace. Gone were the large swing bands, replaced by smaller, tight-knit ensembles playing strange and virtuosic music. Carnegie Hall, host to Benny Goodman’s band in the late 1930s, was supplanted by future jazz meccas such as Minton’s Playhouse, the Onyx Club, and Birdland. Amidst a sea of tumultuous race relations, a steadily evolving record industry, and swiftly changing musical styles, one thing remained constant – the impulse to create. Gil Harel (PhD, Brandeis University) is a musicologist and music theorist whose interests include styles ranging from classical repertoire to jazz and popular music, as well as opera, medieval, and renaissance music. Previously, he has served on the faculty at CUNY Baruch College, where he was awarded the prestigious "Presidential Excellence Award for Distinguished Teaching", as well as the Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu, China. Currently, he teaches at Naugatuck Valley Community College, where he was recently presented with the coveted "Merit Award for Exemplary Service to the College." At NVCC, Dr. Harel conducts the college chorale, teaches music history and theory, and serves as musical director of theater productions. His commitment to community-oriented lecturing spans many years. In addition to regularly leading seminars for Brandeis University's BOLLI program, he has been hosted as a featured speaker at many learning-oriented events in Connecticut, New York, as well as Massachusetts. Outside of teaching, he enjoys staying active as a pianist and vocalist. The fee for the lecture is $15 in advance and $20 at the door.  Seating is limited - advanced registration is recommended.

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