Program Details

The Jazz Soul of Jerome Kern

Mark Gridley
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

  • Mark C. Gridley, Ph.D., is a professional jazz saxophonist-flutist-bandleader who taught jazz history and appreciation at Case Western Reserve University, where he developed America's most widely used introductions to jazz: "Jazz Styles: History and Analysis" and its abridged edition, "Concise Guide to Jazz," (Prentice-Hall). His books have been translated into six foreign languages. His articles appear in numerous academic musicology journals as well as Groves Dictionaries of Music and Encyclopaedia Britannica. Gridley has been honored by the Educational Press Association of America’s Distinguished Achievement Award, and he is listed in "Marquis Who’s Who in America."