Of course, it should be Adolphe, not Adolf; hate this spell checker.
Showing 50 responses by frogman
Let's talk about food for a moment. There is a lot to be said for eating a great meal at a fine French restaurant whose chef is trained and skilled in the art of traditional French cuisine and who prepares dishes which are delectable in their perfection. There's also a lot to be said for finding that little taco joint that serves up some really amazing tacos which are a little different every time you go there. The cook is a guy who simply has "that thing" that allows him to turn whatever ingredients he found at the market that morning into something really special. Okra in a taco? Well, he couldn't find good looking chiles that morning; and somehow it worked. There's really no point in comparing the two "dining" experiences as they are completely different and it's like claiming that a banana is better than an orange. Yet, if I was forced to eat at only one of the two establishments for several days in a row, I (and many others) would take the taco joint in a second. For some, the funkiness and unpredictability in the taco joint's menu may be too much to take. This analogy may be a little forced, but it goes (hopefully) to the subject of subjective reaction to music.
I had promised myself that I would never again comment about Wynton Marsalis on this thread; oh well. Discussions on the subject have a tendency to get very heated and confrontational; unnecessarily so, and I would hope that the reasons why there are differences of opinion about Wynton's ultimate relevance can be considered without drama. So, why am I bringing up the subject again, and risk incurring the wrath of Rok? Well, because he brought it up (again!?!) and, even more importantly, because Acman3's contribution of the Lester Bowie clip on the heels of Rok's reference to Wynton makes it irresistible since these two players have been very publicly critical of each other. Was this a set-up, Acman3? :-) In most respects any comparison of the two players is as pointless as comparing the two restaurants, but it creates a good backdrop for discussing what is certainly on of the most interesting subjects in art; subjective reaction.
IMO, to dismiss contemporary, post-bop, avante-garde, what-ever-we -want-to-call-it jazz is not only closed minded and plain silly, but worst of all points to not truly understanding the true spirit of jazz. We can agree to disagree or simply not like the direction that jazz has gone in over the last several decades; but if we honor Jazz's spirit we have to, at least, try to understand why the practitioners of the art feel the way they do. Jazz evolves, it has to; and to not give credence to the art of those participating in its evolution (like the result, or not) is as absurd as claiming that Stravinsky is not worthy to be considered one of the great classical composers.
For this listener it's fairly simple: the Lester Bowie clip had me truly engaged; I wanted to hear it in its entirety. Why?....considering the funky (as in bad) trumpet playing. Hard to put into words. First of all, that kind of playing requires a certain level of skill and control in order to "sound bad" (hang in there, Rok). Maybe it was the undeniable humor in his playing. But, I think most of all it's something that is impossible to really identify. IT JUST DID. The vibe, the timing, the unpredictability, the occasional and unexpected references to the traditional simply did the job of telling a convincing story that made me want to listen from beginning to end. Now, I would rather listen to Lee Morgan's brand of story telling, but that's not the point. The point is that they are both convincing with their story telling skills. I simply prefer one over the other; but respect both. Often, when I listen to Wynton I marvel at the beauty of his "penmanship", but not so much the story. The man is phenom and has garnered a tremendous amount acclaim (awards); deservedly so and it would be silly to claim otherwise. But, I think that precisely because of this the very highest form of scrutiny is also appropriate. There is no "jealousy" involved here and to suggest otherwise is plain silly and a smoke screen. There are legitimate issues for those practitioners (like Bowie) whose mission it is to continually push the boundaries of the art forward and why there is resistance to a traditionalist approach should be obvious. We have a tendency to focus on the criticism of Wynton by some like Bowie, but it's important to remember that Wynton has always been critical and very condescending of players like Bowie.
Loved the clip. Thanks for sharing.
So many. Off the top of my head:
Oliver Nelson,"Blues And The Abstract Truth"
Eric Dolphy, "Out To Lunch"
Sarah Vaughn, "Live In Japan"
Clifford Brown, "With Strings"
John Coltrane, "Ballads"
Nancy Wilson, "With Cannonball Adderly"
Wayne Shorter, "Speak No Evil"
Shirley Horne, "Here's To Life"
Sonny Rollins, "Way Out West"
Joe Henderson, "Inner Urge"
Benny Goodman, "Sextet"
Cannonball Adderley, "With The Bossa Rio Sextet"
Miles, "Birth Of The Cool"
Gotta get to bed.
****FINALLY true maestro gets Grammy!****
I appreciate your enthusiasm for Spalding; but, really? Finally?
While I would have said it without the slightly condescending edge, I agree with Wolf's basic premise; if not all his choices. I chose my must-have list using two criteria: a bow to what I know of Orpheus' preferred style, and because, for me, a must-have is a recording that has stood the test of time; it is something truly special in the scheme of one's understanding of the music. I love Scofield. But, a must-have? Maybe for guitar heads (sorry for not practicing what I preach) maybe. Frissel is a different story; a brilliant player who will certainly be put on the highest pedestal in the future; IMO. Speaking of Frissel, a player who has played with Frissel often and who has usually left me shaking my head over the adulation that he receives is Joe Lovano; until very recently. He is developing into a true giant.
I don't subscribe to the idea that the best jazz has already happened; or rather, that no new jazz will ever equal that of the past. The music is too vibrant and deep for that. I just don't think that the more contemporary jazz has yet been put in the proper context. Additionally, I don't think it is fair to judge it (from the standpoint of it's value in the overall history of the music) while taking our own individual cultural, age, and even more personal biases out of the equation.
A few thoughts on the Buena Vista sound. If one uses as criteria two of Jazz's essential ingredients,improvisation and roots in African music,it is clearly "jazz"' as Rok points out. But the music heard on most of BVSC's recordings is actually closer to the "guajira" and "son" styles; the "country-music" of Cuba. The repetitive vocal style is the influence of the chants of the music that the West African slaves brought to the mix. It predates the Cubano-bop that came a decade or two later.
For anybody that hasn't heard/seen this, per Foster 9's recommendation. Horace Silver is on fire. He actually quotes Prokofiev around 7:48; these guys listened to and were influenced by all types of great music.
Quite a few of the ones already mentioned have been reissued by AP
including Blue Train, Side by Side, Blues And T A T, Moaning, and others.
Do a cross check and you will find more. A couple more personal favorites
Joe Henderson "Page One"
Winton Kelly "Smoking At The Blue Note"
Dexter Gordon "Dexter Gordon"
Gil Evans "Out Of The Cool"
If I misunderstood the tenor of your comment, my apology. But concise and
precise you were not. But, I think you are missing the point, and it appears
we do have a disagreement. The point is that you can't take the other
influences out of the equation any more than you can take the African
influence out, and your comments suggest that the African influence is
more important than the others; it is not.
****Take away the African component of all Latin Jazz and what is left?****
Ok, take away the Spanish, and Arab components and what is left?
Drumming? I hope we can agree that Latin music is much more than that.
This is all well documented in musicological circles; no mystery at all.
Thanks. I have always had a soft spot for that music; I am Cuban, after all.
If you don't know these already, check out the music of Beny More, and Orquesta Aragon; wonderful stuff. There is a great compilation "The Very Best Of Beny More" that is worth having. Orquesta Aragon's "Cuban Originals" is also excellent with very good sound. Keep in mind that the new and current Orquesta Aragon has a different sound altogether. Enjoy.
Hi Chazro, I mentioned More and Aragon only because they relate to Buena Vista SC, the reason the discussion turned to Cuban music of that period; which was already a departure from the OP's theme. I completely agree there is a tremendous amount of great modern Cuban music, and yes I listen to all of it including the artists you mention. I would also add to your great list: Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Irakere, Chucho Valdez, and Alfredo Rodríguez, one of the young Cuban rising stars:
Something fun from one on your list, Dafnis Prieto a genius percussionist if there ever was one:
There you go again, Rok. Why make a provocative comment that not only is factually incorrect in it's omissions, but seems to diminish the validity of "all the so-called latin stuff"?
Your comment shortchanges the equally important influences of European (Spanish), Arab, and in the case of Peru, Andean musics. Sure, the African influence is obvious in the rhythmic structure of Latin music, but there is a whole lot more going on in it than that. You might want to reconsider your assertion.
Actually Rok, the Youtube link of Alfredo Rodiguez that I posted above perfectly illustrates what I am talking about. The rhythmic structure is clearly rooted in "clave" (Africa), the form of the composition and the improvisation around it is clearly rooted in European (Spanish) tradition, and the harmonic flavor of the piece is derived primarily from the use of the harmonic minor scale (Arab). A perfect hybrid: Latin stuff.
OK, Rock. I'm done. You just don't get it. You are so intent on being right, that you have closed your mind to a perspective that can bring one a deeper understanding and appreciation of the music; and all music for that matter. If you care to learn, read my comments a little more carefully, and try not to let your ego cloud and distort what I am saying.
****'Others' have already destoryed: Rock & Roll, Gospel, Blues, R&B, Country and Western, and Country. Jazz and Blue Grass are now under attack and have been for a long time. Once they go under, that will be the end of AMERICAN music. We will be a big ball of diversified multicultured, internationalist noise. Classical is under attack also, but it's not American in orgin. Who is attacking this music? The below average, The average, the wannabes, the non talented, the 'if they can do it, I can do it', the 'I should be able to be WHATEVER I DESIRE to be' crowd.****
Jeez! What can I say? At best, a sadly pessimistic outlook on what music, and it's role in culture is all about. That you should think that art of any kind can be attacked and destroyed that easily is really unfortunate. Once again, the irony of what you say is staring you in the face and you don't open yourself up to seeing it. The Spanish tried to "destroy" the music of the African slaves by banning drums, and banning their religious symbols. And do you know what happened? They (slaves) substituted other instruments including a simple wooden crate to use as percussion instruments. That crate became known as "el cajon" (literally, "box"), and a fixture in a lot of Caribbean music. The attempts to ban their religious symbols prompted them to substitute Christian saints' names in an amalgam that became "Santeria", which became a significant influence in Afro-Cuban music (jazz). Creativity can't be destroyed; it evolves.
Anyway, I really am done. I gave it my best shot.
Peace. Or should I say, paz.
Thanks for the words of support, Learsfool and Chazro. One of the more interesting aspects of being a music lover is that, ironically, since music touches the most personal parts of our beings, it also tends to make some very resistant to new ideas and viewpoints; even when those ideas are clearly rooted in fact. IOW, "How dare anyone question that which I love so much; how can they possibly not see (hear) what I see?" Even the players themselves fall victim to this. Some prominent jazz players during the swing era thought that the birth of bebop would be the end of jazz. And Coltrane? Well, how many players first felt about his style is well documented.
I think the biggest challenge for a lot of the members of this forum is to not let their own personal music favorites take on undue importance in the scheme of the vast general scope of the art. We all have our favorites and may not be interested in being open to other musical viewpoints, wether they be by way of a different playing style or difficult compositions; as short sighted as that may be, it's ok. But, when one starts to make proclamations about this or that being fact, or that this or that style or performer is "the best", one should be able to back it up with a clear and factual argument and analysis, IMO. Art is human expression, and humans will always find a way to express the current human condition through art. To figure out for ourselves wether we are reacting to what the art is saying vs. wether we think it is good art or not is the biggest challenge; and the one with the biggest reward if we can arrive at an honest conclusion.
Anyway, returning to the regular programming:
If there ever was a cult figure in the world of jazz tenor players it was Tina Brooks. Not too many listeners have even heard of him, and to think that only one of his five Blue Note recordings was released during his lifetime is unbelievable. Just as an aside: it is a common and natural dynamic among musicians (in any genre, not just jazz) that when they show up to a gig they "size each other up" by how they warm-up. Some players take out their horn (or whatever) and start playing a million notes; everything but the kitchen sink. Other players will take the horn out, play a couple of notes and that's it; no big fanfare nor need to impress. Experienced players know that it is oftentimes the "quiet types" that will play the best; when it's time to get serious, what they do is just right. Tina Brooks strikes me as one of those players: not a particularly beautiful or well developed tone, some pitch issues here and there; but, in the context of the music he is playing everything is just right. This recording is highly recommended.
About time some big band favorites get mentioned. Thad Jones/Mel Lewis big band live at the Vanguard. Talk about swinging. The band during this time included, among others, Joe Farrell, Eddie Daniels, and the great Pepper Adams.
****FROGMAN: Do you write liner notes? I read some stuff thst sounds just like you. :)****
I am a patient man, Rok; and I feel strongly enough about music and the promotion of factual appreciation of it to be willing to take another shot at trying to have a dialogue with you about this in the hope that you, a person who in spite of your sometimes incongruous views and plain bad form, do show a love for music; on your level, anyway. So, is your question an honest one? Or is it sarcasm with some underlying agenda? If it is honest, I would be glad to answer it. If it is the latter, then go ahead and hurl one more incongrous comment, or simply, don't respond at all. Either way is fine, but I am done with the bickering.
However, I will offer this little nugget; and one that I offered once before in this thread: Don't rely on liner notes; they usually only scratch the surface. Liner notes are like Cliff Notes (remember those?). Relying on liner notes is like giving more credence to the technical commentary in an audio magazine review than listening to what someone like Ralph Karsten, or a Jonathan Carr has to say about the same subject; or doing more extensive reading of authoritative musicological writings on your own.
So, which is it? Honest, or not?
Actually, I have written liner notes for a handful of recordings; but, not for records discussed here, nor are they in this genre.
What I find most frustrating about discussion of music in audiophile circles is that, more times than not, the subjects are discussed at a very superficial level; reliance on liner notes as the "end-all". This stuff, it's history and it's truly proper place in the larger scheme of the art world, runs very very deep. But, there really is very little mystery. It's all pretty well documented; we just have to be willing to do more than cursory reading, and dig a little deeper. It's kind of like audiophiles talking about accuracy in music reproduction when they never go hear live music. Huh?
I don't like to, nor feel the need to, "kick my credentials" (to use your phrase); nor even feel the need to rely on "credentials". But, if you must know, my humble credentials are simply being a professional musician for my entire working life (35 years), attending music conservatory and studying jazz music history (among many other subjects; of course), playing in Latin bands for many years before moving to a totally different genre and segment of the music industry. The education that I got playing with and listening to these Latin players, especially the old-timers, was invaluable. I played in Mario Bauza's last band in the mid-eighties, which coincided with my transitioning away from Latin music performance, and more into the classical music arena. It was there that, ironically, I had the opportunity to work with Paquito D'Rivera and premiered a couple of his classical chamber works.
I will stop before I feel the need to delete this.
Charlie Mariano, my favorite alto player, and one who slips under the radar way too often. Clearly a bebopper, he covered a lot of stylistic ground including Middle Eastern (we won't go there again, Rok) in his later recordings. But, his recordings from the fifties are straight-ahead and beautiful. One can hear the Bird influence in the shape of his lines, but unique in the choice of notes within those shapes. A beautiful player:
Another overlooked great, and one of the most interesting and unusual (in sound and concept) tenor players was Warne Marsh. A West Coast player who was one of the main exponents of the Cool School and a protege of the great Lennie Tristano. His use of the piano-less rhythm section was a testament to the great command of harmony that he had. One of the true tests for a jazz player, and considered by the players themselves one of the things that separates the "men from the boys" is the ability to improvise over a tune without the "crutch" of the piano's harmonic underpinnings.
Rok, check out Elvin Jones' album "Dear John C." featuring Charlie Mariano. Absolutely killer album from 1965 in a more modern bag; one of my very favorite records. There are some cuts on Youtube, but I don't seem to be ale to download them. This record shows Mariano at his absolute peak, IMO; before he moved in a completely different direction.
**** Whatever happened to John Purcell?****
Oh man, Acman3! One of the most interesting, and also sad, stories in all of NYC-music-scene lore. I knew John peripherally due to mutual acquaintances and run-ins at various music-industry events. He was (is?) a respected jazz woodwind multi-instrumentalist with a reputation for being a real character with ideas that some considered truly off-beat. He also, sadly, has mental health problems and over the last several years has spent periods of times being institutionalized. A lot of John's controversial ideas have a great many parallels to what audiophiles go through. I have always felt that this aspect of being an instrumentalist has many parallels with audiophilia. You may find this story interesting; and my apology to anyone who finds this too much of a departure from the subject of this thread:
John believed (believes) that anything, and I mean ANYTHING, that you
do to an instrument, no matter how minute and seemingly unimportant, will have an effect on the sound produced by the instrument; that it's all about resonance. Sound familiar? While he was ridiculed by some players for some of these ideas (not I), others thought of him as a kind of genius. If you look at the credits on some of David Sanborn's records from the 90's, you will see John credited as "sound consultant"; Sanborn's sound, that is. I don't mean to bore you with this, but this is a wild experience that I had that was related to this:
There is a well-known instrument repair/set-up man in NYC who, for many years was David Sanborn's repairman. Other saxophone players knew that Mondays and Tuesdays were blocked out for David Sanborn, and it would be almost possible to get to see him on those days. Sanborn is known for being obsessive about the set-up of his instrument, and actually had this technician on retainer so that he could have him service his instruments whenever he wanted. I also use this same technician. One day, after a rehearsal, I needed to have an emergency repair done before the performance later that evening. Even though it was Tuesday, I called him and asked if he could squeeze me in. I got very lucky, as Sanborn and Purcell (who Sanborn always brought along as "consultant") had just stepped out for lunch. I ran to the repair shop and all of Sanborn's gear was there. Here is where it gets good, and how it relates to what audiophiles agonize over concerning tweaks, and wether they make an audible difference or not. Keep in mind that a saxophone is a mechanical instrument with many keys, each operated by a small metal needle spring, not much larger than a sewing needle (hence the name).
I will never forget this: On the technician's workbench were three cork pieces each about six inches square. Two of the cork squares were packed with many springs stuck in them. Off to one side was a third cork square with a single, lone spring stuck in it. I looked at the technician, and he smiled and I immediately knew: THAT WAS THE ONE! That was the one that sounded best.
The last I heard about John Purcell was from a colleague who told me that John had been spotted at an intersection on the Upper West Side of NYC screaming at traffic as it went by. Sad indeed.
Rok, I think you inadvertently hit on why it's sometimes difficult to have a discussion about some of this. I never said that I thought Mariano was the best saxophone player. I said he was my FAVORITE ALTO player; and one that is often overlooked. To say that any one player is "the best" is tricky to say the least. Are we talking about who the best "swing" player was? Bebopper, hard-bop, ballad player, post-Coltrane, avant-garde, funk? You get the picture. But, we all have a favorite; that doesn't make him "the best". I suppose that if one also looks at which player was the most influential as a criterion for being the best, then we can narrow the field. Who those would be we all know.
If one takes the term "best saxophone player" at face value, then perhaps I can add a bit of perspective. If you put aside issues of style and ask a bunch of saxophone players who the best saxophone PLAYER was/is from the standpoint of being the player with the greatest command of the instrument; the player who demonstrated the greatest ability to control the instrument in any register and basically make it do whatever he wanted to with a sense of ease, evenness of tone and flawless intonation, the overwhelming majority would say, without hesitation: Michael Brecker. He had it all. Now, one may not like like his funk-infused post-Coltrane style, but that is a different issue.
Orpheus, two great choices. Loved the Jimmy Giuffre cut; hadn't heard that before. Players from that era were amazing musicians; they listened to and took in the influence of just about everything. On that cut can be heard shades of Copland's "Hoedown", Gershwin, as well as, of course, the blues. Great stuff.
Another great Chico Hamilton record that I appreciate is "Gongs East" featuring Eric Dolphy, surely one of the most distinctive alto sounds ever.
Jazzcourier, excellent post; thank you. I do take exception with your description of Art Pepper's influences. I hear more Lee Konitz in his playing than Parker.
Rok and others, re Parker. I don't want to speak for Orpheus10, but I believe that what he meant, and I agree with, is the simple fact that Parker's influence was pervasive and almost impossible for players to avoid. No one, certainly not I, is saying that Bird had TOO MUCH influence; that would be a ridiculous comment. So lets not get on a tangent about this.
Now, for the punch line of my post: Concerning Art Pepper's influences (surprise!), and his feelings about Bird in general (which supports what I believe Orpheus is saying), "straight from the horse's mouth":
Charles1dad, and THAT is what it is all about. Well said! I would only add that complexity does not necessarily "better" make. There is great beauty in simplicity, subtlety and elegance:
Enjoyed the Chico Hamilton cuts, thanks.
One of my favorite Stan Getz recordings, this is surely one of, if not THE, most interesting of Stan Getz's records; and described by him as his favorite. I don't know how anyone can doubt Getz's genius after listening to this. Eddie Sauter wrote the orchestrations and left Getz only to improvise over the spaces in the pre-composed score. He is on fire. Roy Haynes on drums is equally brilliant. Rok, I think you should leave the room for a few minutes :-)
Now for something really special. Not available on record, but what a document this is! Two masters representing the epitome of the two very different styles that we have been discussing; playing side by side. Different, and equally brilliant; IMO. Rok, you can come back now :-)
Jazzcourier, thank you for the wonderful account. I could not agree more concerning Warren Vache; a wonderful player who does not receive the attention nor recognition he deserves. You do a great job of describing his attributes as a player. While necessarily built-into your excellent description, I would only add that he is one of those players that has such a strong sense of swing and musical pulse that allows the rhythm section to do much more than keep time; or could play with NO rhythm section. The horn becomes the rhythmic anchor and provider of the forward impetus in the music; reminescent of players like Clark Terry and Sonny Rollins in that regard. Here is a good example of this; with one of my favorite piano players:
Agree about Gomez; also very good in that respect. I meant to mention that in my post re the a Brackeen cut. Actually, it is generally harder to play the saxophones in the extreme upper range. Many modern players today consider it a testament to their ability on the instrument to play in the upper range; so they go there way too often IMO, at the expense of tastefulness. You will hear a lot of modern jazz players, and especially pop-jazz (aargh!) players play in the "altissimo" register. I think Pepper exploited the bottom of the horn as a statement about "tradition" and resistance to gimmicks; IMO.
A very insightful post; and I agree completely. This is one of two very common misconceptions about musicians held by many music lovers. This quote by Louis Armstromg addresses this point and shows that he cares deeply about what the audience thinks, and also touches upon the second misconception:
"If I don't practice for a day, I know it. If I don't practice for two days, the critics know it. And if I don't practice for three days, the audience knows it"
- Louis Armstrong
The second common misconception is the idea that jazz musicians don't practice relentlessly; that their art is just the result of inspiration and innate talent. Clearly, there needs to be a great deal of innate talent. But, the greats were incredibly dedicated to the rudiments of playing their instrument and for years spent countless hours "woodsheding". Bird, by his own admission, spent one period of four years practicing 8-11 hours a day (!!!).
Orpheus10, there are exceptions to every rule; as I am sure you would agree. Actually, Art Pepper was one, he seldom practiced. But, as a rule, jazz musicans practice, or practiced, a great deal. If your jazz musician friend is able to do what you describe, I am certain that at some point he put in the hours.
Thanks for the Bobby McFerrin links. Great stuff.
Anyone who thinks jazz is dead just needs to get out more often. Listen to these guys swing their a&%#s off. Heard here is Scott Robinson, a genius of this music. Sessions like these are commonplace in small clubs around NYC.
Rok, thank you for the reasoned response. To be clear, I am not saying that the Marsalis cut is not jazz, how could I? Only that in the context of that particular idiom and what should be appropriate vocabulary for a tune in that style, I think the Peplowski is more convincing. For instance, all is pretty good until the drums, and later, trumpet and sax come in. The feel is appropriate and "bouncy" (why so many of the tunes from that era had the word "Bounce" in the title); then, when the drums come in, things jump forward a couple of decades (an eternity in the evolution of jazz) with decidedly much more modern swing feel. The horn soloists, likewise, can't resist not staying strictly "inside" the harmony and jump even further ahead with their use of extended harmony (outside the traditional harmony). An over-analysis to be sure, and I am not saying that it is bad at all, or that it is not appropriate to play any tune in any style (Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" !!!), only that the ingredients in that recipe, for me, don't come together as well as in the other one.