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Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
Hello all,
It's been quite awhile since I last posted here. Maybe for some, not long enough....
I'm a retired composer/musician ( I no longer write or play) and I would like to convey
a bit of advice for those who are uncertain in how to approach jazz music, specifically improvisation
in particular, being that a lot of newcomers to the instrument contibute here. Nip it in the bud, as they say?


The jazz genre focuses on improvisation as it's main stay into that particular artform.
I applaud the artform for this accessiblility, but unfortunately, predominately, the continuing cliente are sheepishly trying to accomplish nothing. Nothing as in a non-imaginative approach to what improvisation implies.
Jazz improvisation is a huge misnomer. Is that who you are inherently? Is it what you must do to receive
public acclaim so others think you're badass when you can't think for yourself? If it is then you've relegated yourself in becoming a minstrel entertainer! 'I'll walk a million miles for one of your smiles'......My Mammy'
How do you know what's in you if you become distorted and altered by how another musician thinks? They are not you and the insistence to learn from others in order to speak a particular language of jazz is not learning the essence of what jazz implies. This is why the genre evolves so slowly to the point of complete stagnation. Coincidentally, this applies to almost any type of music that employs improvisation.
Everyone that aspires to learn jazz stays too close to home. Tradition cries out for those vulnerable in trying to become accepted. Keep it alive and all that!
The sax forums are full of those teaching types only wanting your money in teaching what THEY feel you need to know. Don't get bamboozled by these types who need to find ways to pay their mortgage. Oops! Hours up! See ya next week!
If it's money you need to earn, then fill out an application for some convenience store. At least you could become spontaneously original in how you handle the customers.


In the true sense there is no such thing as jazz improvisation. Sure, a note here or there may be spontaneous, but the whole, or the essence, is in highly need of servicing if anyone is to take this level
of self, or personal expression to levels that do not imply profound stagnation. I'll go out on a limb and say 99 1/10 of our jazz inclined species aspires to have others think for them and the end result is that it's a fraudulent original way of self exploration. Is it we want to try and show off how we interpret the other composer's piece?
Why? Rid yourself of these shackles and go at it your own way with your own chords, structure, etc. It belongs to you! Don't succumb to ridiculous peer pressure. Do it your OWN way and face the consequences with pride and dignity! The reality is the consequences shouldn't matter good or bad because it's all you!
Just because you can play Donna Lee, does that makes you a great musician? I'm afraid the term 'great' musician is awfully distorted. Sure, if one aspires to learn a certain way and they have passion for that way, they're going to become proficient through the years. What we must see, or hear, through that proficiency is something that could elevate the music. It usually does not because the individual stayed too close to home in order, to make money and survive, which I do understand, and/or to indicate that they do indeed know how to speak jazz, rock, or polka, etc.


Jazz is a dead end volition. The 50's were over 60 yeras ago! Being that it's a dead end volition then why not try and develop something totally new according to how you think? I'm afraid too many people care they will be shunned because in all actuality, it takes courage to go in a new direction. Even if it fails, the integrity in trying something new, one should feel profoundly proud of that knowing they were part of the impetus to help accentuate musical evolution! Trial and error has been a fruitful way to approach any learning situation. Trial and error doesn't exist in jazz music in the true sense. The only error is, is that you can't learn how to play a riff that someones has played and through trial you keep trying until you know how to play it!


Now who doesn't like to hear Autumn Leaves played while we show off at our family get togethers?
Is jazz dead? No, but it's been comatose almost as long as the polka has!
 

Chris

Well Known
Subscriber
Messages
3,821
:))):))):))):))):))):)))..


Mike on a serious note pardon the pun. While what you say has a ring of truth to it, the truth is deeper. There has been a couple of long threads on the jazz guitar forum. re the usual question about modes and scales, and learning to improvise.. Don't worry I'm not going down that avenue here. But the one thing I got from it was that it was always newcomers that asked the question, guys looking for the 'Jazz' sound( I know >:) ) Thing is regardless of scales and modes etc, if there is no music inside a player none will come out. So learning to play what someone else has done is the only way forward for some. Players enjoy what they are doing.:mrcool If someone doesn't tip his/her hat in the direction of the past a lot of very good music would get forgotten. Imagine a classical world with no Bach or Beethoven..:shocked: The logical conclusion of what you are saying about improv then would be free Jazz, where all the players improvise without care for harmoney and context. The problem is the western world is shackled by western harmony. That is what our ears are used to hearing. If it doesn't sound "right" then it's not.

As for "Oops! Hours up! See ya next week!" this may be true but people have to learn to play the sax:confused: Once someone can get round the instrument then seek out a tutor best suited to what they want to play. So are you wrong in what you say No, but there is more to it...
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
Hi Mike, I read what you say and find it quite thought provoking. I write as very late starter/newbie(Alto) who has progressed to a reasonable standard.

The particular type of jazz I like has had it`s composer described as the definitive sage of same, therefore a benchmark has been set and one automatically tries to achieve a passmark in his/her progression.

Luckily the composer left a side door open for experimentation outside the given rules and regulations,unfortunately this door is very quickly slammed in your face even before it is slightly ajar, and the old adage comes out `Listen to the way such and such did it.`

Therefore one quickly reverts to `When in Rome etc.` Many times on my voyage aboard the jazz (Modern/progressive.) ship the talk has evolved around that `definitive point in history.` when the genre came in to it`s own (Before the great Miles did his Bitches Brew and caressed the rock idiom.) Davis, `Birth of the Cool.` Mingus, `Ah Hum. ` and others of the fifties.

To many the flag was raised then and has never been lowered.

Most of the people I have played with (Bear in mind I am playing with semi-professional but first class musicians.) seem to have forgotten that these greats where innovators who took something old and turned it to new, and never intended a firewall be set up.

To summarize, in my own humble way I have tried, but you can not put out a forest fire with a garden hosepipe.

I therefore put forward an argument for the possible cause of the somnolent state of some students and teachers alike. Regards deep in thought. N.
 
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BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,921
:))):))):))):))):))):)))..


Mike on a serious note pardon the pun. While what you say has a ring of truth to it, the truth is deeper. There has been a couple of long threads on the jazz guitar forum. re the usual question about modes and scales, and learning to improvise.. Don't worry I'm not going down that avenue here. But the one thing I got from it was that it was always newcomers that asked the question, guys looking for the 'Jazz' sound( I know >:) ) Thing is regardless of scales and modes etc, if there is no music inside a player none will come out. So learning to play what someone else has done is the only way forward for some. Players enjoy what they are doing.:mrcool If someone doesn't tip his/her hat in the direction of the past a lot of very good music would get forgotten. Imagine a classical world with no Bach or Beethoven..:shocked: The logical conclusion of what you are saying about improv then would be free Jazz, where all the players improvise without care for harmoney and context. The problem is the western world is shackled by western harmony. That is what our ears are used to hearing. If it doesn't sound "right" then it's not.
I think there's even more to it than that. There has to be some kind of common ground between composer, performer, and listener. A common language which means something to all of them. Otherwise what's the point?

We know what to expect when we hear a dominant 7th in the current key centre because we've heard it a million times whether we know it or not. The meeting or the frustration of that expectation produce different emotions in us. Same for certain rhythimc patterns (shave and a haircut, ...). For me, this is how music works. If western harmony bores or shackles you, you could look into Indian classical music, which has a different system, but a system nonetheless. Without some kind of established language we're just navel-gazing.

Free jazz means very little to me. A few months ago it meant absolutely nothing. With a sustained effort maybe I could come to love it. But I doubt that I will ever make that effort. And I know for sure that most people I know will not.

To be honest, Mike, I don't know what you're trying to exhort us to. I'm not getting much from your posts on this subject apart from "Jazz is dead; be original". How? And with whom? And for whom?

As for "Oops! Hours up! See ya next week!" this may be true but people have to learn to play the sax:confused: Once someone can get round the instrument then seek out a tutor best suited to what they want to play. So are you wrong in what you say No, but there is more to it...
 

trimmy

One day i will...
Messages
10,283
Mike, when i see and read posts like this i ask myself "what's the purpose of the posting" ? (enlighten me) if it's just you getting a bit of frustration of your chest then i suppose that's ok.
I see Jazz as fresh and the reason being is 'I'm a newbie' in every form of the word
Iv'e listened to music (as we all have) throughout my life and keep falling into different genres 'pop' 'soul' 'rock' 'raggae' ect but i have never listened to Jazz until i picked up a sax, so to me Jazz is 'fresh' will i see it as outdated in 20 years time, i doubt it (but can't say for certain).
The reason i doubt it, is that new artists do come on the scene with slight variations and different ideas, i know this because i saw such a band on saturday, take a look...... http://bandframe.com/snarkypuppy/

Jazz is alive and well :D
 
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QWales

Senior Member
Messages
731
The reason i doubt it, is that new artists do come on the scene with slight variations and different ideas, i know this because i saw such a band on saturday, take a look...... http://bandframe.com/snarkypuppy/

Jazz is alive and well :D

Very cool sound, reminded me a bit of Level 42's first album called Level 42
 
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rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
4,731
Strange thread ......

In a genre such as jazz (whatever that is) there are only a few truly great, original artists who change the direction of the music. There are also a large number of really creative players who do their own thing, largely within the 'boundaries' of what people recognise as the jazz language. Just because they don't influence large numbers of other musicians, or even use the language in obviously unique ways, does not make their efforts wasted.

There are also huge numbers of other players, including amateurs, who love to play jazz music and aspire to play it well, even if they only ever work within the current bounds of jazz. Some also try to perform solely in older styles of jazz and would never in a million years think of themselves as 'innovators' - why should they ? They are usually enthusiasts who are so moved by good music that they want to make music themselves.

In any field of endeavour, whether playing music, creating works of art, playing sport, running a business, whatever, there can only be a very small number of truly exceptional people who perform at the highest level and change the way that activity is done or understood. That doesn't make everyone else's efforts worthless.

Also, the understanding of what is 'jazz' has changed continually over the years and will continue to do so. Often the real geniuses have been misunderstood when they first came on the scene and were laughed at as not really playing jazz. The same is probably true today - who knows where jazz is going next and isn't it exciting to find out ?

Rhys
 

Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
:))):))):))):))):))):)))..


Mike on a serious note pardon the pun. While what you say has a ring of truth to it, the truth is deeper. There has been a couple of long threads on the jazz guitar forum. re the usual question about modes and scales, and learning to improvise.. Don't worry I'm not going down that avenue here. But the one thing I got from it was that it was always newcomers that asked the question, guys looking for the 'Jazz' sound( I know >:) ) Thing is regardless of scales and modes etc, if there is no music inside a player none will come out. So learning to play what someone else has done is the only way forward for some. Players enjoy what they are doing.:mrcool If someone doesn't tip his/her hat in the direction of the past a lot of very good music would get forgotten. Imagine a classical world with no Bach or Beethoven..:shocked: The logical conclusion of what you are saying about improv then would be free Jazz, where all the players improvise without care for harmoney and context. The problem is the western world is shackled by western harmony. That is what our ears are used to hearing. If it doesn't sound "right" then it's not.

As for "Oops! Hours up! See ya next week!" this may be true but people have to learn to play the sax:confused: Once someone can get round the instrument then seek out a tutor best suited to what they want to play. So are you wrong in what you say No, but there is more to it...

The thing is Chris, no matter what we do, throughout our lives we are bombarded with music as well as sounds in general. The challenge would be to make something out of the music we've heard throughout our lives our own way. Self teaching I'll always aspire to. Revamp the system which has existed for over 100 yrs. I'm speaking of improvisation now. I think we've tipped our proverbial hat more than it's worth. My opinions only mind you from what my ears tell me.
Sure, not many may adhere to what I've stated. But if you read my upper lines in the thread, I do say very clearly. ' I would like to convey a bit of advice for those who are uncertain in how to approach jazz music, specifically improvisation'


It's just advice.
Yes, we've had Bach, etc. And the sad thing is people still aspire to play that way. I find it gratifying to listen to composers or improvisers of any era, but do we have to play like that as well? Most yes, I understand. Those musician's of the past should inspire us to do something another step forward. If I was a great musician i wouldn't want someone playing what I played?


It certainly does not have to take the route of free jazz? Ya see how limiting our imaginations can become? Unfortunately the creative process is buried under decades of rubble and it would take a lot to dig ourselves out of the rubble. Who goes to a teaching institution and wants to major in musical imagination? There's no such thing.
 

tengu01

Member
Messages
725
Hey there Mike,

Thanks for the thought provoking post. There is much of interest in your post. Some of it strikes a chord, some of it I disagree with it, all of it worthy of discussion.

Taking the question of musically “who you are” and whether you have anything original to say. You ask the question of how you know what’s in you if you become distorted and altered by how another musician thinks. My answer to you would be: That is the process of learning anything.

You learn to speak by copying what you hear, repeating it in broken chunks until you make sense of it and eventually, you can put your own thoughts and words together and speak your own meaning. Nothing from nothing equals nothing. Are we saxophonists in unholy thrall to Charlie Parker and John Coltrane? Some would argue so. But let’s take that a step further and ask “why?”. While attempting to play the blues, I have been pointed at both these saxophone behemoths as a guide. If you can get into their note choices and phrasing, you can understand what they were doing. And appreciate how musically eloquent it is. My next step was to try emulate it. Can I play like one of them? Then once you can do that, where to from there.

I hope I have understood you correctly, in that you bemoan the fact that people simply imitate and no one innovates anymore in Jazz.

As a saxophonist, I am neither accomplished, first rate or professional. But I love the sound of my instrument. I love the sound of it being played well. And I too want to be able to do that. How do I know? Because when I put on Joshua Redman and hear him playing ‘Heading Home’ from the ‘Freedom in the Groove’ album, I think “I wanna be able to do that”.

Is that me in thrall to another musician’s thinking? I certainly hope so. Because if I enough facility that I can express funky musical ideas with such fluidity, I can write my own ideas and use his as a starting point, or a jump-off. If his musical ideas are so beautifully expressed, what’s wrong with wanting to be similarly eloquent?

“Everyone who aspires to play jazz stays too close to home”. Maybe. There are some big boots to fill to learn how to play jazz well. Perhaps we’re not all as wide ranging as Charlie Parker who made a deep study of classical music. Or Donnie McCaslin who has a large amount of latin influence…or Fela Kuti who studied at Trinity College of music and ended up founding ‘Afrobeat’. Jumping genres, Mozart, a musical prodigy didn’t come out of nowhere. He mastered the existing musical canon and then started making huge innovations of both style and structure. But he didn’t pop into greatness from a vacuum. Branford Marsalis tried to fuse hip hop with jazz in his ‘Buckshot LeFonque’ phase (with admittedly mixed results), Acoustic Ladyland are a punk/jazz band with a (literally) screaming tenor sax.

Even if you become spontaneously original in how you handle customers, there are some expected conventions that are respected e.g. If I hand over a bag of chips, you scan it, tell me how much I owe you, I hand over money, you hand back change, chips and receipt. You can do something brilliantly original for the retail sector, like being courteous, kind, sincere and patient, but there is an expected framework for how we go about conducting our transaction.

Is the challenge about people who try to make money from jazz as artists? As educators? The forums are indeed full of those ‘teaching types teaching what they feel you need to know’. That’s what I pay a teacher for. I pay them to a) be good at what they’re trying to teach b) to be able to communicate their knowledge in a way that helps me digest it c) Can look at my playing and from a position of greater experience, tell me what they think I should know!

By your rationale, there is no such thing as original music because in the Western World, we’re all playing the same 12 notes. By all means, go ahead with your own chords, structure and note choices. Indeed it is all you. Do the consequences matter? YES! Why? Because not everyone is playing music to strike fear into the hearts of jazz traditionalists the world over. Some of us mere mortals just want to play the music we love, enjoy and which attracted us to the sax in the first place. Maybe that is MY own way. And I do it with pride and with dignity because it is my choice.

Being able to play Donna Lee doesn’t make you a great musician, I agree. But being able to play a piece of music in a way that communicates a feeling, an idea, a concept in a way that makes people sit up and warms the hearts and electrifies the minds of the musicians on stage with you, THAT is part of what makes you a great musician. Some people like to range really far afield. Some don’t. True greatness is rare in any field, creative or otherwise.

I wholeheartedly agree with you that it takes courage to go in a new direction and even if you fall on your face, you should feel proud of having tried to accelerate musical evolution. Trial and error doesn’t exist in jazz? Tell that to the newbie who’s writing out his first II-V-I and trying to understand how to write a nice, musically succinct phrase.

:D Again, thanks for the though-provoking post. Vigorous debate is a wonderful thing. :thumb:
 

Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
Hi Mike, I read what you say and find it quite thought provoking. I write as very late starter/newbie(Alto) who has progressed to a reasonable standard.

The particular type of jazz I like has had it`s composer described as the definitive sage of same, therefore a benchmark has been set and one automatically tries to achieve a passmark in his/her progression.

Luckily the composer left a side door open for experimentation outside the given rules and regulations,unfortunately this door is very quickly slammed in your face even before it is slightly ajar, and the old adage comes out `Listen to the way such and such did it.`

Therefore one quickly reverts to `When in Rome etc.` Many times on my voyage aboard the jazz (Modern/progressive.) ship the talk has evolved around that `definitive point in history.` when the genre came in to it`s own (Before the great Miles did his Bitches Brew and caressed the rock idiom.) Davis, `Birth of the Cool.` Mingus, `Ah Hum. ` and others of the fifties.

To many the flag was raised then and has never been lowered.

Most of the people I have played with (Bear in mind I am playing with semi-professional but first class musicians.) seem to have forgotten that these greats where innovators who took something old and turned it to new, and never intended a firewall be set up.

To summarize, in my own humble way I have tried, but you can not put out a forest fire with a garden hosepipe.

I therefore put forward an argument for the possible cause of the somnolent state of some students and teachers alike. Regards deep in thought. N.

Thanks N,
Yes, I do understand the situation and it's one of great difficulty to become truly an original musician.
As I mentioned in my reply to Chris, the musician's/composer's of the past shouldn't be driven from our memory banks. I'm personally very selective but the one's I'm selective of, I'm extremely fond of. These musician's provide something great for us and we don't have to forget them in any sense. What we can do is stop trying to figure out what they did and see how their music plays a role in how we want ourselves to sound. Something potentially wonderful could arrive from this process. Make our mark or our contribution count, ya know? Sure, people generally find it fun to emulate other musician's thoughts. I'm speaking of the serious one's out there who seriously ponder their musical situation. They're out there and so my thread is for those types. The one's who don't care for the impetus behind my words may become offended yet they find a need to reply in any event. Obviously it's not meant for those types. A shot in the dark is essentially all it is.....

When in Rome, yes, exactly.....
 

Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
I think there's even more to it than that. There has to be some kind of common ground between composer, performer, and listener. A common language which means something to all of them. Otherwise what's the point?

We know what to expect when we hear a dominant 7th in the current key centre because we've heard it a million times whether we know it or not. The meeting or the frustration of that expectation produce different emotions in us. Same for certain rhythimc patterns (shave and a haircut, ...). For me, this is how music works. If western harmony bores or shackles you, you could look into Indian classical music, which has a different system, but a system nonetheless. Without some kind of established language we're just navel-gazing.

Free jazz means very little to me. A few months ago it meant absolutely nothing. With a sustained effort maybe I could come to love it. But I doubt that I will ever make that effort. And I know for sure that most people I know will not.

To be honest, Mike, I don't know what you're trying to exhort us to. I'm not getting much from your posts on this subject apart from "Jazz is dead; be original". How? And with whom? And for whom?

I was never fond of catering to ears, or minds I have no idea who or what they're are about. What's the point in trying to make music when all we're doing is trying to make others like us. Then we must play something that has been played a million times before to connect. There's no common ground. The territory is regulated by the listening ear, not by the musician expressing their thoughts.
I see no point in that at all. Music is too a personal an experience, at least for me, to water it down for the enjoyment of people we know nothing about.


I mentioned that this post may not be apropo for everyone. It was primarily meant for those who have a genuine necessity to question their own motives in why they would want to blow air through a cylindrical brass tube which results in possibly having something truly inspiring for themselves which they can take pride in.
If there's no one here who answers to that description, then obviously my thread was a waste of time.
My pride comes from possibly steering any potential imaginative individual, even one, into something they may not have considered only because of the mass appeal to replicate.
 

Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
Mike, when i see and read posts like this i ask myself "what's the purpose of the posting" ? (enlighten me) if it's just you getting a bit of frustration of your chest then i suppose that's ok.
I see Jazz as fresh and the reason being is 'I'm a newbie' in every form of the word
Iv'e listened to music (as we all have) throughout my life and keep falling into different genres 'pop' 'soul' 'rock' 'raggae' ect but i have never listened to Jazz until i picked up a sax, so to me Jazz is 'fresh' will i see it as outdated in 20 years time, i doubt it (but can't say for certain).
The reason i doubt it, is that new artists do come on the scene with slight variations and different ideas, i know this because i saw such a band on saturday, take a look...... http://bandframe.com/snarkypuppy/

Jazz is alive and well :D

Then obviously, this post has no direct correlation to you. One of the problems with improvisation, especially in jazz, is that it's become pigeon holed. Through evolution if it evolved in such a way would it stop being called jazz? I see borders all around in music and this also presents a problem because when we decide to be a jazz musician or a rock musician we automatically cater to what the genre expects from us. Everyone keeps bouncing off the walls.
 
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Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
Strange thread ......

In a genre such as jazz (whatever that is) there are only a few truly great, original artists who change the direction of the music. There are also a large number of really creative players who do their own thing, largely within the 'boundaries' of what people recognise as the jazz language. Just because they don't influence large numbers of other musicians, or even use the language in obviously unique ways, does not make their efforts wasted.

There are also huge numbers of other players, including amateurs, who love to play jazz music and aspire to play it well, even if they only ever work within the current bounds of jazz. Some also try to perform solely in older styles of jazz and would never in a million years think of themselves as 'innovators' - why should they ? They are usually enthusiasts who are so moved by good music that they want to make music themselves.

In any field of endeavour, whether playing music, creating works of art, playing sport, running a business, whatever, there can only be a very small number of truly exceptional people who perform at the highest level and change the way that activity is done or understood. That doesn't make everyone else's efforts worthless.

Also, the understanding of what is 'jazz' has changed continually over the years and will continue to do so. Often the real geniuses have been misunderstood when they first came on the scene and were laughed at as not really playing jazz. The same is probably true today - who knows where jazz is going next and isn't it exciting to find out ?

Rhys

Again, my post obviously does not have any redeeming value for someone such as yourself. It's not a waste of time to listen what others have done. I find it a waste of time, for myself, to want to do what others have done. It may also happen to be for others out there who may think along the same lines as I have.


If more were apt to deviate then the chances of having more variation would accumulate. Did I ever mention once about exceptional ability when playing music? I was essentially focusing on imaginative ideas. No two people are alike so why is it that no two pieces of improv are different?


Yeah, you're right....No one wants to get laughed at.....
 

BigMartin

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,921
I was never fond of catering to ears, or minds I have no idea who or what they're are about. What's the point in trying to make music when all we're doing is trying to make others like us. Then we must play something that has been played a million times before to connect. There's no common ground. The territory is regulated by the listening ear, not by the musician expressing their thoughts.
We're here on this forum. Having a discussion. In a language which is much older than jazz. Using words and a grammatical structure that have been used a million times before. Yet each of us is saying something different, because we have different experiences and different emotional responses to those experiences.

I see no point in that at all. Music is too a personal an experience, at least for me, to water it down for the enjoyment of people we know nothing about.
For me music is all about communication. If I make music nobody wants to listen to, then I see no point in that. It's not about watering down, it's about being understood. Not by everyone, but by a sufficiently large proportion of the audience which I expect to be attending a particular gig.

You can say new things in an old language, if that's what you choose to do. It's what Bach did. He was famous in his day as an improvisor. But his musical style was old fashioned even when he was writing and performing it.

I mentioned that this post may not be apropo for everyone. It was primarily meant for those who have a genuine necessity to question their own motives in why they would want to blow air through a cylindrical brass tube which results in possibly having something truly inspiring for themselves which they can take pride in.
If there's no one here who answers to that description, then obviously my thread was a waste of time.
My pride comes from possibly steering any potential imaginative individual, even one, into something they may not have considered only because of the mass appeal to replicate.
You seem to be dismissing anyone who disagrees with your approach (whatever that is---you haven't really told us) as unimaginative. I find that quite insulting.
 

Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
Hey there Mike,

Thanks for the thought provoking post. There is much of interest in your post. Some of it strikes a chord, some of it I disagree with it, all of it worthy of discussion.

Taking the question of musically “who you are” and whether you have anything original to say. You ask the question of how you know what’s in you if you become distorted and altered by how another musician thinks. My answer to you would be: That is the process of learning anything.

You learn to speak by copying what you hear, repeating it in broken chunks until you make sense of it and eventually, you can put your own thoughts and words together and speak your own meaning. Nothing from nothing equals nothing. Are we saxophonists in unholy thrall to Charlie Parker and John Coltrane? Some would argue so. But let’s take that a step further and ask “why?”. While attempting to play the blues, I have been pointed at both these saxophone behemoths as a guide. If you can get into their note choices and phrasing, you can understand what they were doing. And appreciate how musically eloquent it is. My next step was to try emulate it. Can I play like one of them? Then once you can do that, where to from there.

I hope I have understood you correctly, in that you bemoan the fact that people simply imitate and no one innovates anymore in Jazz.

As a saxophonist, I am neither accomplished, first rate or professional. But I love the sound of my instrument. I love the sound of it being played well. And I too want to be able to do that. How do I know? Because when I put on Joshua Redman and hear him playing ‘Heading Home’ from the ‘Freedom in the Groove’ album, I think “I wanna be able to do that”.

Is that me in thrall to another musician’s thinking? I certainly hope so. Because if I enough facility that I can express funky musical ideas with such fluidity, I can write my own ideas and use his as a starting point, or a jump-off. If his musical ideas are so beautifully expressed, what’s wrong with wanting to be similarly eloquent?

“Everyone who aspires to play jazz stays too close to home”. Maybe. There are some big boots to fill to learn how to play jazz well. Perhaps we’re not all as wide ranging as Charlie Parker who made a deep study of classical music. Or Donnie McCaslin who has a large amount of latin influence…or Fela Kuti who studied at Trinity College of music and ended up founding ‘Afrobeat’. Jumping genres, Mozart, a musical prodigy didn’t come out of nowhere. He mastered the existing musical canon and then started making huge innovations of both style and structure. But he didn’t pop into greatness from a vacuum. Branford Marsalis tried to fuse hip hop with jazz in his ‘Buckshot LeFonque’ phase (with admittedly mixed results), Acoustic Ladyland are a punk/jazz band with a (literally) screaming tenor sax.

Even if you become spontaneously original in how you handle customers, there are some expected conventions that are respected e.g. If I hand over a bag of chips, you scan it, tell me how much I owe you, I hand over money, you hand back change, chips and receipt. You can do something brilliantly original for the retail sector, like being courteous, kind, sincere and patient, but there is an expected framework for how we go about conducting our transaction.

Is the challenge about people who try to make money from jazz as artists? As educators? The forums are indeed full of those ‘teaching types teaching what they feel you need to know’. That’s what I pay a teacher for. I pay them to a) be good at what they’re trying to teach b) to be able to communicate their knowledge in a way that helps me digest it c) Can look at my playing and from a position of greater experience, tell me what they think I should know!

By your rationale, there is no such thing as original music because in the Western World, we’re all playing the same 12 notes. By all means, go ahead with your own chords, structure and note choices. Indeed it is all you. Do the consequences matter? YES! Why? Because not everyone is playing music to strike fear into the hearts of jazz traditionalists the world over. Some of us mere mortals just want to play the music we love, enjoy and which attracted us to the sax in the first place. Maybe that is MY own way. And I do it with pride and with dignity because it is my choice.

Being able to play Donna Lee doesn’t make you a great musician, I agree. But being able to play a piece of music in a way that communicates a feeling, an idea, a concept in a way that makes people sit up and warms the hearts and electrifies the minds of the musicians on stage with you, THAT is part of what makes you a great musician. Some people like to range really far afield. Some don’t. True greatness is rare in any field, creative or otherwise.

I wholeheartedly agree with you that it takes courage to go in a new direction and even if you fall on your face, you should feel proud of having tried to accelerate musical evolution. Trial and error doesn’t exist in jazz? Tell that to the newbie who’s writing out his first II-V-I and trying to understand how to write a nice, musically succinct phrase.

:D Again, thanks for the though-provoking post. Vigorous debate is a wonderful thing. :thumb:

The thing is this has been a process that's forever, to be facetitious. Do we still have to take apart the thoughts of others in order to think musically? Listening is a great way to learn and in all actuality this is a great way to go about learning how to improvise. Yes, okay, I understand, you enjoy emulation. I see nothing wrong with that and I can assume nothing will come of that other than your own sense of accomplishment.


What about someone out there in this world who does not think the way it's always been prescribed?
There's pressure in that situation and it's not a fundamental process.


Expected framework? Apparently, yes. This has always been an issue with me. As long as no one gets killed, or physically harmed in the process do away with any semblance of framework. Ha, you may get fired doing it but so what? Go on unemployment! Now you have some time to be musically creative! Usually when someone does something outrageous it outrages so many. So many people get insulted for ridiculous things. I say insult people through music, really get their goat. Whether it's through music and/or lyrics. I actually enjoy when others get ****ed off about certain aspects of art.
It's clearly a defining point in conditioning. I don't have to like it but at least it's not 'Fly Me to the Moon'!


Teaching what teachers teach is good for your own needs. They may not be good for someone who thinks differently, which has been my focal point of this thread. Nothing more!
My rationale is that yes we listen and enjoy. Treat it for what it is which is another individual thinking. My thoughts are that too many people think the same. My opinion! My option was to provide advice for anyone who may aspire to think differently. Again, nothing more than that!


I've 'entertained' people in the past when I worked as a musician. So many times I couldn't connect with myself yet I apparently connected with the audience. For me it was a waste of time because I'm the friggin musician up there. I never considered myself a minstrel entertainer. And other times I played to my liking yet it was a tepid response from the audience. I felt more fulfilled from that experience then when I supposedly connected with people I don't know. We just think differently that's all. Others may think as I propose.


Yes, trial and error is confined to the status quo of jazz. What I thought I obviously meant was that trial and error based on original ideas was something that I consider a worthwhile endeavor. Not some evil progression such as II-V-I progression. This progression in itself I find to be a huge distraction in allowing freedom for the potential of excitingly fresh idea's.


Yes, thank you. It's only a harmless thread and we all have our own way of looking at things which makes us individuals, right?
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
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4,731
It was primarily meant for those who have a genuine necessity to question their own motives in why they would want to blow air through a cylindrical brass tube which results in possibly having something truly inspiring for themselves which they can take pride in.

Conical tube for me, Mike. Makes a much nicer noise that a cylindrical tube such as a clarinet. :)

Rhys
 

Mike

Senior Member
Messages
559
We're here on this forum. Having a discussion. In a language which is much older than jazz. Using words and a grammatical structure that have been used a million times before. Yet each of us is saying something different, because we have different experiences and different emotional responses to those experiences.


For me music is all about communication. If I make music nobody wants to listen to, then I see no point in that. It's not about watering down, it's about being understood. Not by everyone, but by a sufficiently large proportion of the audience which I expect to be attending a particular gig.

You can say new things in an old language, if that's what you choose to do. It's what Bach did. He was famous in his day as an improvisor. But his musical style was old fashioned even when he was writing and performing it.


You seem to be dismissing anyone who disagrees with your approach (whatever that is---you haven't really told us) as unimaginative. I find that quite insulting.

I don't hear anything different. Let's not nit pick. I don't personally buy the communicative aspect of music. It's too vague a process. Words are undeniably definitve where music/sounds are ambiguous.


I apologize if I'm coming off as insulting. Again, my approach is for anyone who aspires to break free
from what history has dictated to us. These are my opinions in what I deem as a plausible way to approach music.


The only waste of time has been on my behalf. Don't take it so personal. All you have to do is ignore this thread. Why feel compelled to reply? It obviously doesn't have any merit for you and I can respect that!
 

rhysonsax

Well-Known Member
Subscriber
Messages
4,731
No two people are alike so why is it that no two pieces of improv are different?

This is just bizarre - what are you saying ?

"No two pieces of improv are different" would mean that every improvisation by every artist in history is identical and so all improvisors are wasting their time.

Rhys
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
Cafe Moderator
Messages
12,199
If it's money you need to earn, then fill out an application for some convenience store. At least you could become spontaneously original in how you handle the customers.

I resigned from HMV few months ago. £150 per week, mon-fri 4.30-8.30. Daily bullied by a retard that had no idea about music and recently got promoted. No way of changing my shifts=no gigs allowed weekdays.

Tonight I will go and play a pub gig, and I will make sure Autumn Leaves will be on the setlist.
Why? Because that specific audience likes it, I enjoy playing it and I will not have to ask
"did you find everything you were looking for do you have an HMV purecard would you like an HMV purecard It costs £3 and gives you nothing would you like a bag please insert your card into the chippenpin device."

I write my own stuff but few people are interested in it, few musicians want to rehearse it, it will never be released on CD, It is hard to play live.

Is Autumn Leaves really so bad?

Edit: there is still a serious market for Polka.
 
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