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Jazz Cello

The violoncello or cello is the tenor voice in the string family. While shaped like a violin, the cello is much larger and is held between the player’s knees. Because it can produce beautiful sounds from its lowest to its highest notes, it is a popular instrument.

By 1529 a 3-stringed instrument was made, probably in Italy. About a century later it was called "violincello", which is Italian for "small double bass". That is what we get the word "cello" from. Late in the 1600’s, composers began writing music for the cello. It played the bass in the early days of the string quartet, only occasionally taking the melody. It became distinct in symphony orchestras and in chamber music in the 1700’s and 1800’s. The cello was used for many years to strengthen the bass section of church choirs.

The cello is the second largest of the string section. It is the tenor or baritone of the string family. The notes have a deep, warm tone. Of all the strings, the rich, singing sound of the cello make it sound the most like a human voice. Some people believe it is the most expressive instrument in the orchestra. In string quartets the cello usually plays the lowest notes. The cello is played with a bow or plucked (pizzicato). It is about 4 feet tall, approximately 1-1/2 feet across, and weighs 22 pounds. The thicker and longer strings of the cello make it a whole octave deeper than the viola.


Erik Friedlander Jazz Cello Lessons
Erik Friedlander is one of the world' most accomplished cellists who has hypnotized audiences with his astonishing solo recitals.
A virtuosic veteran of New York’s downtown scene, Friedlander is a composer and an improviser, a classical musician and a jazz lover. He has always worked to stake out new ground for the cello in both his compositional choices and his dynamic improvising style.
He is a member of Masada and ongoing collaborator with John Zorn, Laurie Anderson and many others. He has released a series of acclaimed releases on Tzadik including Volac: Booking of Angels. His latest release is the stunning Black Ice and Propane (Brassland). He also leads the groups Topaz, Broken Arm and Grains of Paradise.

Master bass player Ray Brown turned his attention to the cello on this 1960 recording. "I think it's a wonderful means of expression because it contains the lower range of a guitar and and the higher range of a bass," Brown said of his second instrument, "It allows you to create elaborately and fast." This album showcases a rarely heard aspect of Ray Brown's artistry






Ron Carter The epitome of class and elegance, though not stuffy, Ron Carter has been a world class bassist and cellist since the '60s. He's among the greatest accompanists of all time, but has also done many albums exhibiting his prodigious technique. He's a brilliant rhythmic and melodic player, who uses everything in the bass and cello arsenal; walking lines, thick, full, prominent notes and tones, drones and strumming effects, and melody snippets. His bowed solos are almost as impressive as those done with his fingers. Carter has been featured in clothing, instrument, and pipe advertisements; he's close to being the bass equivalent of a Duke Ellington in his mix of musical and extra-musical interests. Carter's nearly as accomplished in classical music as jazz, and has performed with symphony orchestras all over the world. He's almost exclusively an acoustic player; he did play electric for a short time in the late '60s and early '70s, but hasn't used it in many, many years. Carter began playing cello at ten. But when his family moved from Ferndale, MI, to Detroit, Carter ran into problems with racial stereotypes regarding the cello and switched to bass. He played in the Eastman School's Philharmonic Orchestra, and gained his degree in 1959. He moved to New York and played in Chico Hamilton's quintet with Eric Dolphy, while also enrolling at the Manhattan School of Music. Carter earned his master's degree in 1961. After Hamiliton returned to the West Coast in 1960, Carter stayed in New York and played with Dolphy and Don Ellis, cutting his first records with them. He worked with Randy Weston and Thelonious Monk, while playing and recording with Jaki Byard in the early '60s. Carter also toured and recorded with Bobby Timmons' trio, and played with Cannonball Adderley. He joined Art Farmer's group for a short time in 1963, before he was tapped to become a member of Miles Davis' band. Carter remained with Davis until 1968, appearing on every crucial mid-'60s recording and teaming with Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams to craft a new, freer rhythm section sound. The high profile job led to the reputation that's seen Carter become possibly the most recorded bassist in jazz history. He's been heard on an unprecedented number of recordings; some sources claim 500, others have estimated it to be as many as 1,000. The list of people he's played with is simply too great to be accurately and completely cited. Carter's been a member of New York Jazz Sextet and New York Jazz Quartet, V.S.O.P. Tour, Milestone Jazzstars,and was in one of the groups featured in the film Round Midnight in 1986. He's led his own bands at various intervals since 1972, using a second bassist to keep time and establish harmony so he's free to provide solos. Carter even invented his own instrument, a piccolo bass. Carter's also contributed many arrangements and compositions to both his groups and other bands. He's done duo recordings with either Cedar Walton or Jim Hall. Carter's recorded for Embryo/Atlantic, CTI, Milestone, Timeless, EmArcy, Galaxy, Elektra, and Concord, eventually landing at Blue Note for LPs including 1997's The Bass and I, 1998's So What?, and 1999's Orfeu. When Skies Are Grey surfaced in early 2001.

Fred Katz
Fred Katz's cello playing with the Chico Hamilton Quintet during 1955-1958 was largely responsible for the popular cool jazz group's unique sound and atmospheric style. Katz was classically trained (he had studied with Pablo Casals) and worked in orchestras, but also played piano. In the early '50s, he accompanied several singers, including Lena Horne and Tony Bennett. While with Hamilton, Katz also recorded several albums of his own for Pacific Jazz, Decca, and Warner Bros. (1956-1958). After leaving Chico (with whom he recorded one final set in 1959), Katz mostly worked outside of jazz, both in classical music and as a professor in anthropology. In 1989, he was part of a Chico Hamilton Quintet reunion, recording for Soul Note and showing that he was still a masterful musician.

Lucio Amanti - Jazz Cello  Born in Montreal Canada, he grew up and begun his studies in Cello and Composition in Italy and France. After a few years of orchestra and chamber music experience, he won a scholarship in 2004 that allowed him to enter the studio of the legendary cellist Janos Starker at Indiana University in Bloomington for a Performer Diploma degree.  After two years of study he decided to explore different approaches to cello playing, improving his already strong classical preparation with two years of studies in the Jazz field with another musical legend: Doctor David N. Baker, becoming the first cellist at Indiana University ever to achieve a Master degree in Jazz studies.

After finishing his studies he decided to dedicate his time to finding a personal balance between musical tradition and experimental approaches. Mr. Amanti has recently finished his first commercial album that has been in the I-tunes top ten sellers in the jazz category in Italy. In this Album, the cello keeps the classical and jazz inspirations constantly in balance using improvisation and the use of electronics to create the illusion of a string ensemble, a percussion ensemble or a rhythm section. He is also writing and recording film scores and designing a series of shows that will feature the synergy between Cello/Electronics and images projected and edited live during the performance.

He has performed and collaborated with: Luis Bacalov, David N. Baker, Aldo Ciccolini, David Sanchez, Ricardo Lorenz, Roberto De Simone and others.
Some have said about him:
I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to work with this fine young man. (Dr. David N. Baker)
He is a serious, dedicated musician and I am convinced of his potential to succeed. I strongly support his quest. (Dr. Janos Starker)

[…] He marks a very interesting path to discover the enormous potential of an instrument typically classical, very well used also into the Jazz (Marco Losavio www.jazzitalia.net)


James Hesford - UK Jazz Cellist 
began performing in his early teens as a blues and soul guitarist, touring the UK and Europe.
At the age of 19 he moved from South Yorkshire to London where he established himself as a leading jazz musician. In 1980 he won the Young Jazz Musician of the Year Award with his own Quartet Channel 9 (Pete Jacobson - piano, Steve Shone – bass, Colin Wilkinson – drums) and soon after moved to New York. In the two years that followed he performed all styles of jazz from bebop to free atonal improvisation as well as becoming involved in the loft scene and playing in punk bands.
It was here that he developed his own voice as a composer/performer and a chance meeting with producer John Leckie resulted in James returning to England to record an album at EMI's Abbey Road Studios.
The project evolved into "Out Bar" (a nine piece ensemble) known for James' innovative compositions and brass arrangement.
After a period of experimenting with new ideas for the cello James formed Cellorhythmics (cello quartet and percussion) with the leading classical cellist Alfia Nakipbekova (Bekova).
His vision for the Instrument as a jazz/ non-classical/improvising medium is fully explored in this context












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Last modified: 18/02/2012