Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"The History of Jazz, Part Two"

Welcome to THIS IS AMERICA in VOA Special English. I'm Faith Lapidus. Today we have the second of two reports about the history of jazz. Last week, we talked about how this kind of music began. As the years passed, jazz changed and grew in many directions. Today, Steve Ember and Shirley Griffith talk about American jazz since World War Two.


After World War Two, swing jazz became less popular. Americans began to listen to different sounds. One was bebop, also called bop. Young musicians had created this music earlier in the nineteen forties. They included trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie, alto saxophone player Charlie Parker and piano players Thelonious Monk and Bud Powell.

Dizzy Gillespie

Bebop gained popularity slowly. The music had unexpected breaks and many notes. But many people learned to like it. Listen now as Dizzy Gillespie and His All Star Quintet play "Salt Peanuts."


In the nineteen fifties, hard bebop gained popularity. This music borrowed from traditional jazz sounds like blues and religious music. Drum player Art Blakey and piano player Horace Silver became especially famous for hard bebop. Blakey led a group called Jazz Messengers for thirty-five years. Some of the greatest jazz players performed with this group. Here is Horace Silver playing "Doodlin' " with the Jazz Messengers.


Cool jazz also became popular in the nineteen fifties. Saxophone player Lester Young and guitar player Charlie Christian helped create this music years earlier. Cool jazz instruments sound softer than in bebop. And the rhythm is more even.

Stan Getz
Stan Getz, Woody Herman and Gerry Mulligan earned fame for this music. People loved cool jazz played by the Gerry Mulligan Quartet, the Modern Jazz Quartet, and the Dave Brubeck Quartet. Listen as the Dave Brubeck group plays "Take Five."


Jazz gained many new listeners in the nineteen fifties. People went to jazz clubs and bought jazz recordings. The introduction of the long-playing record also helped the music become more popular. People could listen to a long piece or a number of short pieces without changing the record.

The first big American jazz event was held at Newport, Rhode Island, in nineteen fifty-four. Now jazz musicians celebrate these festivals around the world.

Jazz developed in several directions during the nineteen fifties. Classical musician Gunther Schuller wrote new orchestra pieces with jazz expert John Lewis. This music combined modern jazz and classical concert music.

Miles Davis
In this same period, Miles Davis recorded new sounds in written music and music created during performances. Famous jazz artists like saxophone players John Coltrane and Cannonball Adderley performed in the Miles Davis Sextet. Here is the group playing "So What."


In nineteen sixty, the great saxophone player Ornette Coleman recorded a collection called "Free Jazz.” Coleman and his group played unstructured music. John Coltrane also developed new music during the nineteen sixties. For example, he played jazz influenced by the music of India. Other musicians began playing jazz with unusual timing.

But a new kind of music--rock and roll -- also grew very popular in the nineteen sixties. People throughout the world listened to the rock music of Elvis Presley and groups like the Beatles. The new music cut deeply into the popularity of jazz.

During the nineteen-seventies, some jazz musicians began playing jazz that sounded like rock. This fusion jazz added rock instruments and rhythm to traditional themes and creative inventions of jazz. Electronic music also helped develop fusion jazz. Here is guitar player George Benson playing his version of "Come Together." Two members of the Beatles wrote this song.



Minimalism in jazz became popular in the nineteen eighties. This music repeats simple groups of notes over a long period. Musicians like trombone player George Lewis experimented with mixing several kinds of jazz.

Wynton Marsalis
Also in the nineteen eighties, trumpet player Wynton Marsalis helped lead a return to more traditional jazz. This mainstream jazz borrows sounds from swing, bebop and cool jazz. Marsalis also played other kinds of jazz. And he performed classical music with symphony orchestras. He is one of the most praised musicians. Listen to Wynton Marsalis play "Deep Creek."


Today, jazz musicians play all kinds of music. Their jazz can sound like swing or bebop. It can sound like rock and roll. It can sound like American Western music. It can sound like the music of several nations and ethnic groups. Or, it can sound traditional.

We leave you now with a traditional song, "My Foolish Heart," played by the Oscar Peterson jazz group.


This program was written by Jerilyn Watson. It was produced by Cynthia Kirk. Our studio engineer was Holly Capehart. I'm Shirley Griffith.

And I'm Steve Ember. Join us again next week for another report about life in the United States on the VOA Special English program, THIS IS AMERICA.



1. After World War II,___________________ .
a: big band swing jazz continued to be very popular
b: the bebop, or bop, style replaced swing as the most popular variety of jazz
c: jazz disappeared
d: Dixieland was the number one jazz style.

2. The best and most famous bebop musicians included _______________ .
a: Dizzy Gillespie and Charley Parker
b: Dick Groat and Bill Mazeroski
c: Paul Simon and Art Garfunkle
d: Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis 

3. The Jazz Messengers, led by Art Blakey, played ________________ .
a: hard bebop in the fifties
b: soft rock in the seventies
c: light classical in the eighties
d: grunge rock in the nineties.

4. Cool jazz, although developed by African-Americans Charlie Christian and Lester Young in the forties, was made popular by ____________________ .
a: white musicians like Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan
b: Mexican singers like Juan Gabriel and Vicente Fernandez
c: English rockers like the Beatles
d: Cuban artists like Benny Moret.

5. "Deep Creek" was written and performed by ____________________ .
a: Wynton Marsalis
b: Dizzie Gillespie
c: Miles Davis
d: John Coltrane

6. The first and most famous of all jazz festivals takes place in ________________ .
a: Connecticut
b: Massachusetts
c: Louisiana
d: Rhode Island

7. Rock and roll influenced jazz greatly in the seventies. This new variety of jazz was called ___________________ .
a: the Name Game
b: fusion
c: silhouettes
d: Elvis Presley

8. Wynton Marsalis, a great trumpet player from New Orleans, returned to the roots of jazz in the eighties by playing an updated form of ____________________ .
a: bachata
b: son
c: swing, cool jazz, and bebop
d: calypso

9. Current forms of jazz offer ___________________________ .
a: only New Orleans-style music
b: Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony
c: influences from many different countries
d: donuts and coffee.

10. Jazz performers now come from _______________________ .
a: countries all over the world
b: only the American South
c: usually just Canada
d: only Russia.

The great Miles Davis: "Walkin'"

The History of Jazz: Part One

Thursday, June 10, 2010

"How Earthquakes Happen" from VOA.

This is "Science in the News" in VOA Special English. I'm Bob Doughty.

And I'm Steve Ember. Scientists who study the Earth tell us that the continents and ocean floors are always moving. Sometimes, this movement is violent and might result in great destruction. Today, we examine the process that causes earthquakes.

The first pictures of Earth taken from space showed a solid ball covered by brown and green landmasses and blue-green oceans. It appeared as if the Earth had always looked that way -- and always would.

Scientists now know, however, that the surface of the Earth is not as permanent as had been thought. Scientists explain that the surface of our planet is always in motion. Continents move about the Earth like huge ships at sea. They float on pieces of the Earth's outer skin, or crust. New crust is created as melted rock pushes up from inside the planet. Old crust is destroyed as it rolls down into the hot area and melts again.

Only since the 1960s have scientists begun to understand that the Earth is a great, living structure. Some experts say this new understanding is one of the most important revolutions in scientific thought. The revolution is based on the work of scientists who study the movement of the continents -- a process called plate tectonics.

Earthquakes are a result of that process. Plate tectonics is the area of science that explains why the surface of the Earth changes and how those changes cause earthquakes.

Scientists say the surface of the Earth is cracked like a giant eggshell. They call the pieces tectonic plates. As many as twenty of them cover the Earth. The plates float about slowly, sometimes crashing into each other, and sometimes moving away from each other.

When the plates move, the continents move with them. Sometimes the continents are above two plates. The continents split as the plates move.


Tectonic plates can cause earthquakes as they move. Modern instruments show that about 90% of all earthquakes take place along a few lines in several places around the Earth.

These lines follow underwater mountains, where hot liquid rock flows up from deep inside the planet. Sometimes, the melted rock comes out with a great burst of pressure. This forces apart pieces of the Earth's surface in a violent earthquake.

Other earthquakes take place at the edges of continents. Pressure increases as two plates move against each other. When this happens, one plate moves past the other, suddenly causing the Earth's surface to split.

One example of this is found in California, on the West Coast of the United States. One part of California is on what is known as the Pacific plate. The other part of the state is on what is known as the North American plate.

Scientists say the Pacific plate is moving toward the northwest, while the North American plate is moving more to the southeast. Where these two huge plates come together is called a fault line.

The name of this line between the plates in California is the San Andreas Fault. It is along or near this line that most of California's earthquakes take place, as the two tectonic plates move in different directions.

The city of Los Angeles in Southern California is about 50 kilometers from the San Andreas Fault. Many smaller fault lines can be found throughout the area around Los Angeles. A major earthquake in 1994 was centered along one of these smaller fault lines.


The story of plate tectonics begins with the German scientist Alfred Wegener in the early part of the 20th century. He first proposed that the continents had moved and were still moving.

He said the idea came to him when he observed that the coasts of South America and Africa could fit together like two pieces of a puzzle. He proposed that the two continents might have been one, then split apart.

Later, Alfred Wegener said the continents had once been part of a huge area of land he called Pangaea. He said the huge continent had split more than 200,000,000 years ago. He said the pieces were still floating apart.

Wegener investigated the idea that continents move. He pointed out a line of mountains that appears from east to west in South Africa. Then he pointed out another line of mountains that looks almost exactly the same in Argentina, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. He found fossil remains of the same kind of an early plant in areas of Africa, South America, India, Australia and even Antarctica.

Alfred Wegener said the mountains and fossils were evidence that all the land on Earth was united at some time in the distant past.

Wegener also noted differences between the continents and the ocean floor. He said the oceans were more than just low places that had filled with water. Even if the water was removed, he said, a person would still see differences between the continents and the ocean floor.

Also, the continents and the ocean floor are not made of the same kind of rock. The continents are made of a granite-like rock, a mixture of silicon and aluminum. The ocean floor is basalt rock, a mixture of silicon and magnesium. Mr. Wegener said the lighter continental rock floated up through the heavier basalt rock of the ocean floor.

Support for Alfred Wegener's ideas did not come until the early 1950s. American scientists Harry Hess and Robert Dietz said the continents moved as new sea floor was created under the Atlantic Ocean.

They said a thin valley in the Atlantic Ocean was a place where the ocean floor splits. They said hot melted material flows up from deep inside the Earth through the split. As the hot material reaches the ocean floor, it spreads out, cools and hardens. It becomes new ocean floor.

The two scientists proposed that the floor of the Atlantic Ocean is moving away from each side of the split. The movement is very slow -- a few centimeters a year.

In time, they said, the moving ocean floor is blocked when it comes up against the edge of a continent. Then it is forced down under the continent, deep into the Earth, where it is melted again.

Harry Hess and Robert Dietz said this spreading does not make the Earth bigger. As new ocean floor is created, an equal amount is destroyed.

The two scientists also said Alfred Wegener was correct. The continents move as new material from the center of the Earth rises, hardens and pushes older pieces of the Earth away from each other. The continents are moving all the time, although we cannot feel it.

They called their theory "sea floor spreading." The theory explains that as the sea floor spreads, the tectonic plates are pushed and pulled in different directions.


The idea of plate tectonics explains volcanoes as well as earthquakes. Many of the world's volcanoes are found at the edges of plates, where geologic activity is intense. The large number of volcanoes around the Pacific plate has earned the name "Ring of Fire."

Volcanoes also are found in the middle of plates, where there is a well of melted rock. Scientists call these wells "hot spots." A hot spot does not move. However, as the plate moves over it, a line of volcanoes is formed.

The Hawaiian Islands were created in the middle of the Pacific Ocean as the plate moved slowly over a hot spot. This process is continuing, as the plate continues to move.

Volcanoes and earthquakes are among the most frightening events that nature can produce. More than one thousand people were killed when a powerful earthquake struck western Indonesia at the end of September. Thousands more were injured or left without homes because of the earthquake. At times like these, we remember that the ground is not as solid and unchanging as people might like to think.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

"Soccer in the United States: Three Success Stories" from VOA

FAITH LAPIDUS: I’m Faith Lapidus.

DOUG JOHNSON: And I’m Doug Johnson with EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. Today we tell about the highest level of men’s soccer in the United States — Major League Soccer. We hear from three players who have links to Washington, D.C.


Ben Olsen and Curt Onalfo had great careers as professional players. Now, they are passing on their knowledge as coaches with D.C. United. Mike Banner plays for the Chicago Fire, but started in Washington. Their stories tell a lot about the past, present and future of professional soccer in America.

FAITH LAPIDUS: In nineteen ninety-three, soccer in the United States started on a new road. It had been almost ten years since the last major soccer league in the United States had closed down. The North American Soccer League lasted from nineteen sixty-eight to nineteen eighty-four.

The NASL had some notable successes. One team signed two of the most famous players in soccer history: Edison Arantes do Nascimento, better known as Pele, of Brazil and Franz Beckenbauer of Germany. Both stars played for the New York Cosmos in front of big crowds. At the time, their best playing days were behind them. Yet foreign players like these planted the seeds of renewed interest in soccer in America.


DOUG JOHNSON: But, the rest of the league struggled to attract fans. In the United States, soccer competes with baseball, American football and basketball. All these sports are American inventions and have developed wide support in schools, amateur and professional leagues.

Major League Soccer came with a different purpose. It began as part of the effort for the United States to hold the nineteen ninety-four World Cup competition. But it was also an attempt to establish a top professional level for soccer in America.

The first season took place in nineteen ninety-six. At the start, one team established itself as the league’s best. D.C. United won the first two M.L.S. championships. Today, the team has won more league championships than any other.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Ben Olsen was an important part of D.C. United’s early success. He was the top new player, or rookie of the year, in nineteen ninety-eight. His young pro career reached a high point the next season. D.C. United won the M.L.S. Cup, the league championship, on the strength of a Most Valuable Player performance by Olsen. He scored one of two goals for his team in the win against the Los Angeles Galaxy.

DOUG JOHNSON: Ben Olsen looks back on his score in that championship as his most memorable.

BEN OLSEN: “I’d lost a lot of championships before that year, so that was a special game.”

DOUG JOHNSON: Like many top American soccer players, Olsen played overseas. He joined the club Nottingham Forest in Britain. He says different leagues have different styles of play.

BEN OLSEN: “Some teams are very fast and athletic. Some teams are more possession oriented, meaning a little bit more low pressure on the ball and more skillful players. England has always been known to be a fast and physical league.”

Olsen was also a part of the United States World Cup team of two thousand six. He says playing for his country was something he will never forget.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Ben Olsen has had five operations for severe ankle injuries. Still, he had one of his best years in two thousand seven. He scored seven goals including a “hat trick”-- three in one game.


He was recognized for his outstanding play with an M.L.S. Best Eleven award. He accepted the award in a wheelchair after a minor operation became major ankle surgery. Ben Olsen retired after the two-thousand-nine season. Today he is an assistant coach with D.C. United.


DOUG JOHNSON: The head coach of D.C. United knows about success. Curt Onalfo has won championships at every level in American soccer. He was a top player on two state championship teams in high school in Connecticut. He was a college player for the University of Virginia. His team won a national championship in nineteen eighty-nine which the school shared with Santa Clara University.

The year before, he first played with the United States National Team in a victory over Costa Rica. Curt Onalfo’s playing career included many appearances with the National Team and a victory in the M.L.S. Cup in nineteen ninety-nine.

But coaching seemed a natural move for him. He spent four years as an assistant coach under Bruce Arenas with the United States National Team. Arenas had coached Onalfo at the University of Virginia. In two thousand six, Onalfo assisted Arenas coaching the United States’ World Cup team.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Curt Onalfo became head coach of the Kansas City Wizards in two thousand seven. That year, he led the team to the conference finals. The Wizards reached the playoffs again the following year. But his new team, D.C. United, has struggled at the start of the season. The team has only two wins in league play. But, Onalfo knows how things can change — for better or worse.

On his twenty-fourth birthday, doctors told Onalfo he had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. He received chemotherapy for six months. During that time, Onalfo thought about what he really wanted to do with his life: play soccer. He also says having faced cancer prepared him for leadership in good times and bad.

CURT ONALFO: “Your players are always looking up to you, and they’re looking for guidance. And I feel like having dealt with adversity really helps me to lead a group of men through difficult times as well.”

Looking for the best in every situation is one way Curt Onalfo deals with hardship. He describes himself as an optimist.

CURT ONALFO: “The difference between winning and losing is often so slight and it’s really it comes down to what your attitude is.”

A good frame of mind is the start, he says. After that, good things will follow. Last Week, D.C. United defeated a top Italian team, A.C. Milan in a friendly match.


DOUG JOHNSON: Mike Banner’s path to playing Major League Soccer started in the nation’s capital. He played in the recreational league now called Sports on the Hill, based in the Capital Hill neighborhood. But, it was not easy growing up playing soccer. All Banner’s friends played basketball or football.

MIKE BANNER: “Initially, you know, I would get made fun of for playing soccer. But, I stuck with it and they respected me for it.”

Banner started college at Georgetown University in Washington. But one year in Brazil helped shape his development as a player. When he returned, he knew he had raised his level of play.

FAITH LAPIDUS: Mike Banner chose not to return to Georgetown, a top school in the Big East sports conference. Instead, he attended Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, a smaller school with a division two sports program. He would receive a scholarship and have the chance to play a lot of soccer. But could he succeed without the attention he would get at a big school?

The answer was yes. Banner’s team played in the NCAA division two tournament all three years he was on the soccer team. The team played for the national championship his first year. Banner got noticed as an excellent player.

He was chosen to play for the Chicago Fire professional soccer team in two thousand seven. He has earned a lot of praise as a promising young player in Chicago. As a defender, he does not score a lot of goals—although he does have two in his career. Banner says players get noticed through their ball skills, passing, and quickness. Today’s fans know and understand good play. Banner says coaches can tell if a player is only trying to improve his statistics or wants to help his team win.

DOUG JOHNSON: Mike Banner got his start in the Washington area through local recreational soccer. FIFA, the international football federation, says the United States has twenty-four million soccer players—second in the world. Most are under the age of eighteen.

Major League Soccer still does not enjoy the economic success of other popular American sports. Forbes Magazine estimates the league had an income of about one hundred sixty-five million dollars in two thousand eight.

But fan support continues to grow. And American soccer is developing “from the roots up.” There is strong support for youth soccer in many places like the Washington area.

Mike Banner says American players now are developing their own style of play.

MIKE BANNER: “The U.S. is very diverse in its cultures. I would say it’s going to show up in our soccer game as well. I believe the U.S. is creating their own style of play.”

The new generation of American coaches and players is building a tradition of soccer that is as individual as each of their stories.

FAITH LAPIDUS: This program was written and produced by Mario Ritter. I’m Faith Lapidus.

DOUG JOHNSON: And I’m Doug Johnson. Are you a soccer fan? Tell us about your favorite team. Comment on our Web site, or on our Facebook page at VOA Learning English. Join us again next week for EXPLORATIONS in VOA Special English. We will present a preview of the FIFA World Cup, opening June eleventh in South Africa.