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Learning the language of jazz

Published Sep 2, 2021

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JAZZ artist and vocal teacher, Natalie Rungan, has released a new album aimed at developing skills in children.

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Rangan said she wanted to help students to grow by learning the language of jazz step by step.

“People seem to believe that jazz is something they can’t understand. I wanted to create simple versions of well-known songs to help change this mindset.”

Natalie Rungan: Jazz Standards Volume 1 (a suggested Grade 3 level for singing students) is her seventh album created to help develop skills in children.

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“The other albums are all so different in content and style. What I think they help anyone wanting to learn how to develop their skills, is songwriting. All the songs on my previous albums are originals. If you trace the albums from the first to the sixth, there is growth in writing and also maturity in my voice. So that in itself is something that anyone wanting to grow in this area can learn from.”

She said the album included simpler versions of well-known songs to help change the mindset that jazz was difficult to understand.

“One of the most popular songs is The Girl From Ipanema. Most singers arrange these types of songs differently or more complexly to show their creative abilities and stylistic differences. For students who want to and need to learn from simple processes, it’s sometimes difficult for them to distinguish what has been changed. So the actual technique is not always learnt. Singers tend to be carbon copies of someone they really like. I wanted this album to just state the melodies to allow for students to explore their own sounds and creativity.”

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The opportunity to record the album presented itself earlier this year when Southern African Music Rights Organisation Samro (the primary representative of music performing rights in southern Africa) sent out a call for proposals for their Samro Music Creation Fund. Rungun was one of the recipients, which helped toward funding the album.

She partnered with studio engineer Talent Mbatha and pianist Melvin Peters, to accompany her on piano.

“Melvin has a sensitivity to vocalists that allows for complete freedom and ease without feeling crowded. He provides the support harmonically and rhythmically that allows a vocalist to explore musical possibilities.”

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She said the choice of piano also demonstrated basic accompaniment for vocal students needed for exam preparation - teaching them form and communication.

Accompanying the duo on bass is Shaun Johannes and on drums is Bruce Baker. This is the first of three albums of the series. The album is available here.

In September, the album will be available on iTunes, Spotify, Deezer, and all other digital platforms.

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