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Too many notes in jazz?

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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2,273
There has been a lot of chatter recently about many jazzers being too busy in their playing. I'm with you on the subject of being too busy - I switch off, unless they truly are exceptional and their onslaughts are well-crafted and not just finger-flapping.

We can't just smite jazzers though as you get fast technical players in many forms of music - country, blues, rock - even classical music. It is the definition of the concerto, in fact, to be showy and allow the player to demonstrate exactly what his/her instrument can really do. For busy classical music think Paganini, Liszt, Rachmaninov. Even the Mozart Clarinet Concerto is really quite notey - for 1790.

There are many players in the field of jazz that play atuned more to a Paul Desmond rather than a Michael Brecker, it's just that they don't get many column inches because the guys like Brecker are few and far between. I'm not belittling Desmond either, he was one of my first loves and I still marvel at him now.

Are we too hard on jazz? There are plenty of players to suit each and every taste.
 

CliveMA

Member
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507
I love music because it stirs my heart. "Notiness" is something my head can appreciate but my heart rejects, no matter what type of music.

Perhaps we should be harder on Jazz to insist the emotions of its African American roots in New Orleans still infuse modern jazz. Then it might be more accessible to a wider audience.

Too many Jazz exponents seem to want approval from their peers rather than an anonymous audience. That tends to reduce the audience to only their peers.

The problem happens in every field, not only music. As a marketeer, the biggest challenge I had was to come up with a strategy that sales people felt increased their status among their peers as well as attracted customers. It seems to be human nature to not be able to see the bigger picture.
 

jbtsax

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7,879
I enjoy listening to "Traditional Jazz" where 4 or 5 instruments are improvising at the same time. I also listening to Bach fugues, and uptempo be-bop double time solos. But (you knew a "but" was coming) I experience ear fatigue rather quickly. After one or two numbers my ears need a rest. I can listen to Getz, Desmond, Diana Krall all afternoon and not get tired of listening.

The old joke about trombone players is the definition of a "gentleman" is someone who knows how to play the trombone, but doesn't. Perhaps another definition would be someone who can play "double time", but doesn't.
 
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Pete Effamy

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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2,273
I enjoy listening to "Traditional Jazz" where 4 or 5 instruments are improvising at the same time. I also listening to Bach fugues, and uptempo be-bop double time solos. But (you knew a "but" was coming) I experience ear fatigue rather quickly. After one or two numbers my ears need a rest. I can listen to Getz, Desmond, Diana Krall all afternoon and not get tired of listening.
I’m with you on this too I think JBT
 

Mark Hancock

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314
The supersonic acrobatics of Chad LB and co. doesn't do much for me musically, but I like to watch it because it's so impressive. I wouldn't criticise any player for going that style. It's their choice and they clearly have an audience. Some musicians like showing off their chops and some people like watching them do it. No problem. No one forced me watch it. It doesn't stop other musicians from doing something different.

Having mentioned mr. LB, when he plays standards in a more laid back manner, that's something else.
 

Mark Hancock

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314
I enjoy listening to "Traditional Jazz" where 4 or 5 instruments are improvising at the same time. I also listening to Bach fugues, and uptempo be-bop double time solos. But (you knew a "but" was coming) I experience ear fatigue rather quickly. After one or two numbers my ears need a rest. I can listen to Getz, Desmond, Diana Krall all afternoon and not get tired of listening.
My mum used to take me to the pub when I was a teenager to see trad jazz. It's Crazy! But Great stuff.
 

Halfers

Finger Flapper
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2,087
I'm not averse to bit of shredding. I'm neither an expert in Jazz nor Classical, but I'd hazard that in these, typically longer forms of music, the noteyness can go on for more extended periods than more contemporary, shorter format music. It's then a case of having to keep that quality up and I can't imagine how difficult that is even for highly accomplished musicians. Jazz of course being different as Classical notiness would not tend to be improvised.

Pop/Rock formats tend to restrict the shredding to briefer solos to limit the possibility of overload (with exceptions,of course). My Guitar hero in College Years was Vernon Reid. He rarely solos at less than full pelt. He was exhilarating, jazz influenced and heavily 'out there' in style, but the shredding was limited to however many bars in the solo and it was an integral part of the music he played.
 
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Pete Effamy

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
2,273
The supersonic acrobatics of Chad LB and co. doesn't do much for me musically, but I like to watch it because it's so impressive. I wouldn't criticise any player for going that style. It's their choice and they clearly have an audience. Some musicians like showing off their chops and some people like watching them do it. No problem. No one forced me watch it. It doesn't stop other musicians from doing something different.

Having mentioned mr. LB, when he plays standards in a more laid back manner, that's something else.
The tip top guys have everything for me - including soul and a wonderful sound.
 
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Pete Effamy

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
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2,273
My absolutely favourite musicians all have something in common for me - when I listen to them again after a hiatus I say to myself - "why would I want to listen to anyone else". I can include in this: Getz, Sanborn, Desmond, Brecker, Jim Hall, Cannonball Adderley.. there are probably others too.
 

jbtsax

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7,879
There's hot jazz and there's cool jazz.
both have their great moments.
but for me there's a preference for cool jazz..... :)
Cool. Me too. :cool: I can't remember who said it, but I like the expression, "you don't have to play all the notes---just the right ones". I'm still looking for the right ones when I improvise.
 

Colin the Bear

Well-Known Member
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12,930
I thought I played jazz but the consensus of people who like it call it easy listening. Who knew?

The nack is to play to your audience, or the person paying the fee.

If it's not musical it doesn't matter how many notes. I sometimes wonder what a soloist is doing. Sometimes it just flows and sweeps you along. If it sounds like a lot of notes then it might well be the phrasing. Bite size chunks are easier to swallow. Keeping the groove going soothes the ears.

We get to a point where we've heard enough stuff to decide that either we like it or we don't and that's all there is when we get right down to it.
 

Jazzaferri

Well-Known Member
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2,630
I find that many genres of music have the fascination with facile bravura technique, not just jazz.

for me short bits done in an emotive way are ok. Too often, though, I end up feeling like I’m trapped in a conversation with some fast talking guy who never stops and I get overwhelmed, then bored.

my first music mentor was one of Vancouvers top jazz guitar calls in the 50’s. He told me a number of times that there are 3 stages in a good musicians career. First is seeing how many notes can be played a piece second what he called the awakening, then finally seeing how few notes cab be played and still get the message across.
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 1/2 years
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4,478
Re: the reference to Michael Brecker, there's only one of him. @Pete Effamy I think I shared some of the live recording I have of him. Yes, his facility was superhuman, but wow, what a musical communicator. He used that power in all the Brecker Brothers recordings I've heard and never abused long bouts of speed that I can recall.
I also agree that it isn't just jazz or just wind instruments. The desire to use speed because you can is strong. A jazz guitarist once told me "a lot of my audience expects it". You can only do what you can do, I think Brecker actually said something close to that.
I was about to conjecture that because you mostly play in a "two dimensional" harmonic world on sax, one note in any given microsecond, compared to the harmonic context on guitar or keyboard where six, ten or more (sustain pedal) notes at once set an entirely different standard. Coltrane was trying to get this with his sheets of sound, and that does work to an extent.
 
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