It Don't Mean a Thing

by Dan Wallach

This coming Sunday, Dec 2, 2012 we'll be doing,“It Don’t Mean A Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing),” a jazz standard composed by Duke Ellington in 1931 with lyrics written by his long time collaborator, Irving Mills. The title of the tune is a saying that Bubber Miley former Ellington trumpeter often repeated. The original recording featured Ivie Anderson on vocals. I encourage all players to listen to the original recording to hear phrasing and improvisational ideas from Johnny Hodges, the Alto Saxophone soloist.


The tune is a 32-bar AABA form. The A section starts out in g minor then the 5th bar suggests a move to Bb major the relative major. The final bar of the “A” section 1st time through, sets-up a strong cadence going back to g minor. Players should not be lead astray by the Eb7 in the third bar as it is a tritone substitution for the two chord. More experienced players should experiment with the descending line created through the suggested bass notes in the first three bars.

The first four bars of the bridge are a straight forward 2-5-1 progression to Bb major. The next three bars sets-up a false cadence to “F” but resolves to “F7” spinning us back to g minor in the final A section.

Please remember that a good solo starts with knowing the melody, and slowly embellishing the tune based on the information from the chord.

Spoken Word Meets Jazz: Rob Dz and the New Breed Quartet

Concert Info (below)

IMW will follow the MMC/MTL "Jazz on a Sunday" Concert December 2, 2012 from 6-7pm

This time in the invite goes out to all spoken word artists as well as musicians who want to interact and better understand the relationship with Spoken Word and Jazz Improvisation. Come out and learn, experiment and enjoy this form of jazz.

Jazz meets hip hop as Madison’s most celebrated spoken word poet, Rob Dz, joins forces with the New Breed Quartet, one of Madison’s top jazz bands.   

 Jamming at The Cardinal and at the Isthmus Jazz Festival have led them to prepare a full-length program for:  "Jazz on a Sunday," Sunday, December 2, 2012 at Madison’s Brink Lounge, 701 E. Washington Avenue

Concert 3:30-5:30 p.m.

Improvisational Music Workshop at 6 -7 p.m.

For concert information, including a link to The Brink website for ticket purchases, see:



Madison’s celebrated spoken word poet Rob Dz has been jamming lately with the New Breed, on occasional Tuesday nights at The Cardinal and most recently at the Isthmus Jazz Festival.  Like a jazz artist, Mr. Dz composes spontaneously using words instead of music, and his collaboration with the New Breed for the Music Collective will create original material that draws on contemporary characteristics of each genre while allowing generous space for improvisation.

For a taste of Mr. Dz’ work in this marriage of genres, see the YouTUBE videos of his collaboration with ex-Madisonian Joel Adams’ big band at Chicago’s legendary Green Mill jazz club here (in which Mr. Dz comes in around the 2’40” mark) and here (in which he comes in shortly after the 4-minute mark).



Keyboardist/composer Paul Hastil is active in the Madison area as both a performer and teacher.  He is an annual participant in the Isthmus Jazz Festival, in the “Jazz at Five” series, and has performed throughout the Midwest as a leader and sideman.  In addition to being a member of the New Breed, Paul is the music director for vocalist Gerri DiMaggio.  He has performed with her with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra, at the Telluride Jazz Festival, and at the 2008 Montova Music Festival in Montova, Italy.  He also works with other vocalists including Kelly DeHaven, Lynette Margulis, Michelle Duvall and Marilyn Fisher.  He has performed with jazz legends Archie Shepp, Sheila Jordan and Frank Morgan.

Hastil’s stunningly expressive piano style makes him a perfect complementary voice for female singers, which has been his forte for a number of years.” - Kevin Lynch, Wisconsin State Journal



Louka Patenaude has been teaching music (guitar, bass, piano, songwriting, improvisation, jazz theory, and studio production/composition) in Madison since 1998. As a 12 year old Van Halen fan who had thoroughly mastered the art of air guitar in 5 years of jumping around in the basement, he quickly took to practicing his new obsession. While in high school playing rock n' roll drums influenced by his older brother he studied jazz guitar with guitar master Roger Brotherhood and started playing in local clubs at 16. While at UW Madison Louka joined Richard Davis' Black Music Ensemble and began earning a reputation as a guitarist in the Madison music scene. Since then he's played with Ben Sidran (at home and in Europe), Natty Nation (regionally and Japan/Guam/Marshal islands), Blake Thomas and Josh Harty, Tony Castaneda's Latin Jazz Band and most jazz musicians in Madison (was a founding member of the New Breed Quintet whose Jam Session has been a mainstay for budding musicians since 2000) as well as the center of his original groups, The Optimistic, and The Fingers (in which he is also producer and engineer). Educated at the University of Wisconsin - Madison with a B.S. in Anthropology he has a wide understanding of the fundamental functions of music in society. In 2009 he won the Madison Area Music Award for Best Guitarist. These days Louka is building a little fleet to explore the geography better. Currently he is promoting a country record, The Very Best of the Fingers which is due early 2012, and recording new songs for their sophomore effort "Second to Last".



Nick Moran debuted in the Madison, WI music scene in 1993 while in the 10th grade, and has continued to make music professionally ever since. Moran studied double bass under Dr. James Klute of the Minnesota Symphony Orchestra at UW-Eau Claire. He also studied the tumbao with Orlando ‘Chachaito’ Lopez of the Buena Vista Social Club. Nick completed his studies at UW-Madison with a Bachelor of Arts in 2004.  Nick Moran has performed and recorded with a diverse collection of national and international acts, including Roberto Vizcaino Guillot (2001 Grammy winner), Ben Sidran, Clyde Stubbelfield, Lee 'Scratch' Perry and Hip Hop legend DJ Kool Herc. Currently he lives in Madison, WI and performs regularly with El Clan Destino, dumate, Phat Phunktion, and Madisalsa.



It's all about being creative with like-minded individuals, taking chances and pushing boundaries, says Michael Brenneis, an in demand drummer on the Madison scene. In addition to working with an eclectic spectrum of bands and artists, Michael leads his own groups Tomato Box, The Ten Sleeps Trio and Post Consumer Gnarl, for which he is also principal composer. Michael spent his formative time at the Berklee College of Music and studying privately with the late Alan Dawson. Michael is currently finishing an EP of political songs with the collective songwriting rock band Centime, entitled Occupied, and due for release in early 2012. You can check in with him at



Madison Music Collective’s 2012 Fall Series is made possible by grants from the Dane County Cultural Affairs Commission (with additional funds from the W. Jerome Frautschi Foundation), the Madison Arts Commission (with additional funds from the Wisconsin Arts Board), the Mary Lou Williams Centennial Committee, the Arts Midwest Touring Fund (with support from the National Endowment for the Arts), The Evjue Foundation, Inc., charitable arm of The Capital Times, the MGE Foundation, and the Madison Jazz Society, with additional support from the Wisconsin Union Theater Endowment Fund, Presenting Sponsors Ward-Brodt Music and Liliana’s Restaurant, Tri-Unity Wellife, Janus Galleries, the Cardinal Bar, the Sheraton Madison Hotel, Drums ‘n’ Moore, Heid Music, the UPS Store-Fitchburg, and promotional support from Isthmus, WORT-89.9 FM, UMOJA magazine, and the Capital City Hues.

Luke Polipnick and Friends - November 2012

Luke Polipnick and Friends... was a post I forgot to even include in the IMW line up. SORRY ...but here's what went down just to record it as a significant contribution to the IMW Blog.

On Nov 4th the Madison Music Collective presented the Luke Polipnick and friends for the "Jazz on a Sunday" series at the Brink Lounge. Luke and his amazing line up of players presented the premier performance of many of Luke's original and high intricate pieces of music. Though this performance involved A LOT of "free" improvising and would be classified as avant-garde jazz, it also was VERY demanding music written to be performed with accurate precision. During the IMW I asked the band questions about how they approach this project and what went into learning these very detailed songs and then how they interacted to create such a cohesive sound when improvising. The responses were genuine and insightful to everyone in the room. Several musicians joined in the music making and created more intelligent and creative improvisation.


Guitarist-composer-producer Luke Polipnick returns to Madison with a special group of top improvisers from New York City (drummer Mike Pride) and the TwinCities (saxophonist Brandon Wozniak and bassist Adam Linz) to kick off a Fall Midwestern tour.  Luke and his band-mates exemplify the eclectic approach that many of our younger creative musicians are taking today, moving with great skill and confidence as they cross and integrate musical genres, while infusing their music with the improvisational spirit and masterful technique so central to good jazz.  For “Jazz on a Sunday,” Luke’s group will be performing new music that he composed for the group’s Fall tour.  He describes it as featuring “thematic material from folksy to rocking but rooted in jazz, appealing to fans of “post rock,” folk, reggae, free improvisation and mainstream jazz.”

Luke is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds for production of his first jazz CD, with the band that he’ll be bringing to “Jazz on a Sunday.”  To find out more about the project, and to contribute, visit

LUKE POLIPNICK: Before moving to Omaha, NE this past summer, Luke Polipnick had established himself as a major force in Greater Madison’s jazz, experimental, reggae and folk music scenes, especially through his leadership of the production group Surrounded by Reality, a “free jazz” and new music promotion group that presented such iconoclastic musicians as Peter Brotzmann and Hamid Drake.

Luke’s resume includes performances as a solo guitarist at the 2006 Chicago Vision Festival, and as part of the electro-acoustic new music ensemble “Shelf Life” at the 2007 Sonic Circuits Festival in Washington, DC.  He has toured the United   States three times, and has played with many notable contemporary improvisers and jazz musicians in dozens of American cities, including the renowned Japanese percussionist Tatsuya Nakatani, Dave King’s Trucking Company, Fareed Haque’s Flat Earth Ensemble, and Anthony Cox’s Regional Jazz Trio, as well as members of Branford Marsalis’ Grammy-winning quartet.

During his Madison years, Luke was a busy free-lance guitarist, working in small groups with saxophonist Patrick Breiner and with reggae stalwarts Natty Nation, among others, and also led the “free jazz” group Glacier in its weekly gigs at the Dragonfly Lounge where the band hosted an eclectic roster of guest artists ranging from multi-instrumentalist Hanah Jon Taylor to members of the local klezmer band Yid Vicious.

Luke’s compositional aesthetic synthesizes elements of minimal electronica, modern jazz, 20th century classical, and pop music.  His electronic piece, “The Eyes of the Soul Will Never Betray the Truth of Innocence,” received critical acclaim on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” and in the Washington Post, and appeared on David Matisyak’s “Telephono” compilation sponsored by the Bemis Arts Center of Omaha, NE.  His electro-acoustic composition, “Descriptive Data” was performed at the 2009 Spark Festival of Electronic Arts in Minneapolis.

Luke received his Bachelor of Music degree in Music Composition from the University of Nebraska, and a Master’s in Jazz Studies from NorthernIllinoisUniversity. 

MIKE PRIDE:Percussionist-composer-bandleader Mike Pride is a leader in New York   City’s vital underground improvised music community.  Mike constantly challenges himself with new situations, breaking down barriers between different scenes, intermingling avant-rock, avant-jazz, free improv, blues, and heavy metal in a countless stream of new projects.  Over the years, he has performed with legendary composer and jazz educator David Baker as well as Anthony Braxton, William Parker, Mary Halvorson, Vijay Iyer, Nels Cline, John Zorn, Eugene Chadbourne, Chris Speed, Milford Graves, Mark Helias, George Lewis, Frank Lowe, Tony Malaby, Butch Morris, Sonny Simmons and many other contemporary improvisers of the highest quality, while also having toured with punk legends MDC and produced experimental, shock-rockers Ned Muffleburger and the DSL’s.  He has also studied with leading contemporary drummer Matt Wilson and the legendary percussionist/healer/teacher, Milford Graves. Since moving to New York City in 2000, Mike has performed and recorded throughout North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia, and has been featured on over 40 recordings, on many of which he is a leader, co-leader or composer.  The 2010 CD (“Betweenwhile”) by his jazz quartet, From Bacteria to Boys, received a 4-star review in Downbeat.  His voluminous festival performances include the Block Island Music Fest 2002 (Rhode Island), CMJ Music Festival 2002 and 2005 (NYC), Improvised & Otherwise 2002-2004 (Brooklyn, NY), Now Now Jazz Festival 2003 (Sydney, Australia), Vision Festival 2003 (NYC), Spring Scream 2003-2006 (Kentig, Taiwan), Shi Mo Tsu Ki 2003 (Brooklyn, NY), Bud Fest 2003 (Prague), North By Northeast 2003 (Toronto), K-Town Festival 2003 (Copenhagen), Holidays In The Sun 2003 and 2004 (UK), Angry Fish Music Festival 2004 (Windham, ME), Future Of Experimental Rock Festival 2005 (NYC), Foo Fest 2006 (Providence, RI), Frequencies 2007 (NYC), Spring Reverb 2007 (San Diego), Stoner/Doom Fest 2007 (Portland, ME), and Kitchen Block Party 2007 (NYC), among many others.  His “Jazz on a Sunday” performance with Luke Polipnick will be his first in Madison.

BRANDON WOZNIAK: Regarded as one of Minnesota’s most exciting saxophonists, Brandon Wozniak is a member of Bad Plus drummer Dave King’s Trucking Company.  Over the years, Brandon has performed with such a diverse group of artists as singer Nellie McKay, the Tommy Dorsey Jazz Orchestra, and the Four Tops, and toured Germany for a year as part of rock group Zweibel Zweibel Hurra. Based in the Twin Cities, he is in high demand as a freelance player, performing regularly with local jazz scene stalwarts such as Monk in Motian, Atlantis Quartet, Dean Magraw, Jay Epstein, Katie Gearty, and the Bryan Nichols Quintet.  Brandon is a thoughtful improviser with a deep concept of harmony and swing.  Jazz Improv magazine describes him as a player who “… demonstrates impeccable articulation as he explores the possibilities throughout the range of the saxophone.”

ADAM LINZ: is bassist for Dave King’s Trucking Company, Fat Kid Wednesdays, and several other modern jazz groups in the Twin Cities.  Adam performs regularly in Europe with both of these bands, is currently coordinator of the Jazz program at the prestigious McPhailCenter for the Arts in Minneapolis.  He graduated from WilliamPattersonUniversity with a degree in bass performance, and  freelanced in New York City during his college years, subbing regularly in the celebrated Mingus Big Band.  As his influences on bass, Adam cites “… those players that kind of blurred the lines between playing a lot of different stuff … like Gary Peacock, Henry Grimes, Charlie Haden, and Dave Holland.”  He is also a devotee of Andy Simpkins, bassist with the Three Sounds, and Israel Crosby, long-time bassist for legendary mainstream jazz pianist Ahmad Jamal.


Madison is "Fuller" with love for jazz: October 2012

After a multi-day residency and impressive concert, Madison is "Fuller" with love for jazz.

Tia Fuller had 2 outreach events directed at the some of the African American youth in our city. Arriving in Madison, she the ground running on Wednesday, Oct 1o, performing several of her own compositions and led an interactive workshop at the Boys and Girls at Allied Drive. Thursday Wright Middle School hosted a clinic for high school saxophone players from all over the city followed by another concert and interactive time with the artist for Middle School kids from Wright, Hamilton and Cherokee. After only a short time Fuller’s out-going and charismatic personality had boys and girls hugging her and in line for autographs. The young people heard music that was cutting edge jazz and could relate to it and enjoy it. Over 400 students participated in creating art listening to Tia Fuller’s music. This art was on display before and during a free concert given by Tia and her amazing band from NYC, SHAMIE ROYSTON – piano, OTIS BROWN III – drums, and MIMI JONES – bass performing at the Sett in Union South, on the UW campus. Thursday night Ms. Fuller joined with Mt. Zion Baptist musicians and gave a presentation on The Mind, Body and Spirit of the Sax and Jazz Improv. It was a night filled with warmth and joy as the Mt. Zion musicians filled out the band performing Ms. Fuller's music. Lastly she gave an impressive solo performance and Women in Jazz History lecture for a Saturday brunch, Oct. 13. Our own Linda Marty Schmitz and John Fortier gave out a warm welcome to Ms. Fuller and shared their researched resources for more info on “women in jazz.”

Softly As in a Morning Sunrise

by Bob Kerwin

Get ready for another great jam session this coming Sunday. Johannes is back on piano, John Mesoloras on bass, and another new UW music professor, Todd Hammes joins us on drums. Dan is also back on sax and as our educator.

The tune of the week for our jam this Sunday is Softly in a Morning Sunrise. It is usually done in Cmin and either swung or in a latin style. Two good sources for more information on this song are Jazz Standards and Learn Jazz Standards. The last site has several good YouTube versions to check out, including Coltrane's famous modal version.

The A section consists of  Cmin followed by a 2-5 leading back to Cmin. This pattern is repeated throughout the A section. A quick listen to Coltrane's version suggests the A section is simplified to Cmin and he plays primarily pentatonic patterns/ideas over this tonality.

Coltrane was a master of playing changes so his was clearly an artistic choice, but breaking down the changes to their basics can be useful when first learning a tune, if the tempo is blazing, or if your goal is to free yourself up to focus on creating melodies.

Let's look at the changes to "Softly" and see how they can be broken down to their basics. Here are the changes from one reference:

The form is AABA. The A section can be approached as written or as alternating Cmin - G7, or as alternating Cmin - Dmin7b5, or simply as all Cmin. Practicing all 3 ways gives you the most options.

The B section moves to the relative major, Eb, and at the most basic level can be thought of as Eb for 4 bars moving up a step to F for 4 bars.  Making the 2-5 change into the F and the 2-5 back to the A section add more options to create interest.

Lastly, here's a latinized version to check out just in case we decide to do it that way.