Say it ain't so....

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
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One for all you jazzers… Here’s a conversation from a couple of days ago in the shop which horrified me slightly-

“I’m not keen on those guys who come in and who just play patterns very fast and very loud”

“But that’s the sign of a good player”

….. Boy, am I out of step with the prevailing philosophy! You serious jazzers out there, any thought on this…..?
 
I might be a jazzer, in the sense that I prefer to express myself through jazz, but I am definitely not serious.

Since jazz has become a school subject to allow musicians to earn their living in an era when live and session work is disappearing, a standardisation is needed.
The fact that fast licks don't have much to do with music is secondary.

If it can be of some comfort, I know musicians that refuse to hire fast lick players freshly graduated from prestigious institutions.

My personal current exercise is to develop slow phrasing on Giant Steps. Much harder than 1235 on every chord. Try it if you dare.
 
You can teach patterns but you can't teach musicality(the ability to create melodies on the fly). Sad but true of a lot of players..
 
I remember reading an interview with a rock guitarist when I was just starting out who actually said that, for him, speed of playing was more important than feel. This thinking has pervaded in whole genres of playing, but it leaves me cold.

I like to listen to the gaps.
 
I suspect there have always been fast-and-soulless players around. But, unsurprisingly, nobody remembers them.

As far as learning patterns and licks goes, it's something I'm spending some time on myself at the moment. And I want to be able to play them as fast as possible (ie not very fast so far). But only as a means to an end. I'm trying to improve my ear and find my way round the instrument(s).

I don't think you can just blame the teachers (I'm not sure if anyone here was doing that). My maths teaching experience showed me that it can be incredibly hard to get college students to step back and think about why they are learning a particular thing. Some of them just don't care and will do badly, but even most of the ones who want to do well, think it's a matter of putting the hours in and mindlessly memorising a hundred formulae rather than getting to grips with a few basic principles, which is a much more efficient and useful thing to do. And no amount of cajoling from the stuffy nerd standing in front of them will persuade them to change. All that matters is how to do the next homework. They know this from their peers and they cling to it desperately.
 
It's great when an ensemble can play fast licks in unison. I do enjoy some of that. I like to strum chords on the sax for effect but there has to be more. I have been told before a session not go off on one and that less is more.

It might be a nerves thing with some players. Too concerned with showing their ability , to show off the piece they're playing.

I like a player to give something of themselves and show some creativity. If it's just playing the changes then it needs good rhythm

It might be an age thing. Young folk rushing about all over the place exploring every nook and cranny and old folk sitting still and weaving a story.

However, anything played well, is great, but mood affects perception and enjoyment.
 
My favourite fun book is “Jazz masters of the 1930`s” by Rex Stuart . The book puts uptempo playing into a historical context on loads of occasions. Rex talks a lot about the role of the cutting sessions and also describes duels between musicians trying to either hold on to their seat or perhaps kick a guy off a gig by outplaying them . Lester and Coleman had a very famous duel when Bean came back from Europe and this was actually witnessed by the Likes of Chu Berry Don Byas and Illinois Jacquet. Stuart himself described the Tempo as “unbelievable . It was so fast”.

There was a lot of “showboating” around these times. These musicians were playing dance music for mainly young uninhibited adults all over the world and it was a highly energetic music form which often required amazing dexterity to play. Heres a nice clip o The John Kirby band from a wee bit later but a good example none the less.


I could not resist posting this either.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZfDF7fP3XJA





I think it`s fair to say that after bebop had taken pace to the extreme. Miles came along and proved the point regarding the power latency of restraint.
 
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Putting it on as required for a film is one thing, but the Kirby band was a tight group of superlative musicians who helped usher in small band bebop and could play anything well at any tempo. Some of their best stuff is at very medium tempi.

As to to the fast lick guys who learn it at college, it leaves me pretty cold against anyone who can inject some feeling and some of their own personality.
 
I think it`s fair to say that after bebop had taken pace to the extreme. Miles came along and proved the point regarding the power latency of restraint.

Miles didn't come along after bebop, he was part of it, playing with Charlie Parker in the 40's and as a leading light in what's often referred to as 'hard bop' in the 50's. He could be pretty unrestrained at times, particularly in the 60's and 70's...

Jazz isn't about how fast or slow you can play, it's about being creative - those cutting contests were about coming up with something that no one had played before, not who could play the fastest - although speed and dexterity came into it. Being fresh and inventive has been the driving force behind most jazz, it's not just a style you try on like a fashionable pair of shoes, bought off the peg from a book or college course, it's an expressive art form, not just some scales played over the changes
 
I went on a workshop with the Robert Castelli Boom Quartet which by the way was excellent learning curve, a young student was asked to play over a few chord changes he played very fast (too fast for my liking) anyhow Brandon Allen asked him to slow it down so we could hear the changes (to be honest I couldn't the 1st time round) but when he slowed it down it sounded soooooo much better.
Also in the past when ive been to see Ben Clatworthy who by the way is a brilliant player but when he goes off on a tangent it just leaves me cold, Ben has played one of the best versions ive heard of 'Body & Soul' so I do love his playing, just not so fast.
 
Reserve my fast licks for ice cream and...... no, Kev win't allow that.
 
Reserve my fast licks for ice cream and...... no, Kev win't allow that.

I think, perhaps, you might have misjudged Kev.
Beneath that hard, cold, administrator's exterior which he has to adopt probably lies the heart of a fun party guy.
Buy him a couple of schnapps and he might wear his jackboots and allow you to show you really are worthy enough.
 
I think, perhaps, you might have misjudged Kev.
Beneath that hard, cold, administrator's exterior which he has to adopt probably lies the heart of a fun party guy.
Buy him a couple of schnapps and he might wear his jackboots and allow you to show you really are worthy enough.

Weissbier, maybe... But not Schnapps.
 
Must say, I've been avoiding commenting here. Too many parker fans on the forum. I much prefer the slower, sensual side of the sax - like Ben Webster, Lee Allen, Stan Getz., also the rock side - like Clarence Clemens, Dick Parry.. While I can appreciate and marvel at the technical mastery of fast riffs, it leaves me cold.

Funny thing is that my favourite jazz pianist is Oscar Peterson, but his fast stream of notes is always melodic and doesn't get in the way of the musc - more like an orchestra supporting the melody.
 
It took me years to learn how to listen to Parker playing fast. The trick is not to listen and just let it wash over you. I believe he's trying to play a polyphonic chords on a one note instrument. It's a strain to listen to all the notes and your brain gets tired so listen to him strumming the chords. And like all artists the stuff you don't like is probably not his best work.

I like to think that playing fast is like driving fast to get to the petrol station before you run out.
 
Feel is most important to me, as in a player is able to call upon those two (of many) aspects into their expression. And that's the beauty of it.. how we all appreciate different players and are able to take what we like and incorporate it into our own playing and bam, we get even more of variety and different twists of expression that we can all look at again and appreciate :)
 
for those of you who seem to think that Charlie Parker's music was all about playing fast, listen to this -
 
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