Jazzing things up: ‘The Alaska Real Book’ strikes the right note

A new collection of music from the last frontier aims to make collaboration easier for jazz musicians to jam together in Alaska.
Published: Apr. 30, 2021 at 10:43 AM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - The Spenard Jazz Fest will host a livestream show Friday to celebrate the release of “The Alaska Real Book.” It’s a carefully collected compilation of songs from Alaska-based artists to give the state’s musicians a common connection.

“You could open the book find a composer from here in Anchorage, find one of their songs and play it down, and maybe go to a jam session here in Anchorage and call out a song from The Real Book and the other musicians also have the real book they could pull it out and you could all play the song together,” said Cameron Cartland, co-editor of “The Alaska Real Book.”

Within the book are about 300 pages of music from 50 different composers The Alaska Real Book was inspired by something simply called “The Real Book,” which was released illegally by students at the Berklee School of Music back in the 1970′s. The illegality had to do with copyright issues. The idea of the book was to create a shared language or standard for musicians who may want to play together. The Alaska version has a similarly aspirational goal that could help grow musical collaboration in the state.

“I’d like to see it in the shelves, in the school rooms, in the music rooms,” said Yngvil Vatn Guttu, the other co-editor of the book. “I’d like to see it at the university shelves of the music department there. And I’d like to see it be brought up whenever there’s a jam or whenever theirs people that are going to play music together of this kind of style that they go oh lets play some from ‘The Alaska Real Book.’”

To celebrate the release of this work, which has been years in the making, Spenard Jazz Fest is hosting an online concert Friday, beginning at 5 p.m. You can find both the concert and “The Alaska Real Book” on their website.

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