Program Details

The Jazz Soul of Jerome Kern

Mark Gridley, Ph.D.
Video Catch-up

Course Description

Along with Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, and Cole Porter, Jerome Kern was one of the most popular composers in twentieth-century America. Some commentators consider Kern’s music for Broadway’s “Showboat” to be the best of the great musicals. Jazz musicians were attracted not only to Kern’s melodies but also to his song forms and chord progressions. This course will be devoted to hearing classic renditions of Kern tunes and learning about how some of the greatest jazz musicians based improvisations on the accompaniments that Kern provided for those tunes. Space is limited.


  1. "All the Things You Are": Analysis of its odd harmonic structure and contrafacts based on it, performed by Lee Konitz, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Pepper, and Stan Getz.
  2. "Yesterdays": Analysis of the construction of the tune and its harmonies, along with stunning renditions by Clifford Brown, Stan Getz, Billie Holiday, and Art Tatum.
  3. "The Way You Look Tonight": Analysis of the harmonies and construction of this composition and renditions by Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker, and Lee Konitz.
  4. "The Song Is You": Analysis of the harmonies and construction and outstanding performances by Dave Brubeck, Charlie Parker, Cannonball Adderley, and Errol Garner.

About the Instructor

  • Dr. Mark C. Gridley is the author of America’s most widely read introductions to jazz: JAZZ STYLES and CONCISE GUIDE TO JAZZ. The books have undergone 11 editions and six translations. Gridley has conducted field research in Africa, South America, the Caribbean, and all the jazz centers in the United States. He has also written extensively for ENCYCLOPEDIA BRITANNIICA and GROVE DICTIONARIES OF MUSIC, leading to a listing in WHO’S WHO IN AMERICA. As professional jazz flutist-saxophonist he has appeared with Sammy Davis, Jr., Tony Bennett, The Jackson Five, Robert Goulet, The Temptations, The Fifth Dimension, The O Jays, and toured with Lou Rawls and Les Elgart. He has lectured at colleges across the nation and addressed musicology conferences on his research findings and his advances in jazz appreciation pedagogy.