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Too many notes in jazz?

rhysonsax

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4,259
I want beautiful melody. Memorable melody. The kind that gets stuck in your head and transports you to memories and imaginings that make life worth living. Harmony is a given but I hum a melody. I remember a melody.
Maybe associated with that is that I really appreciate "story telling" or development in a solo. Not a full on non-stop thrash at maximum speed, intensity, volume and at the top of the range from the word go. Some simple melodic or rhythmic ideas that are played around with and developed over a chorus or multiple choruses.

Sonny Rollins springs to mind. He could certainly play with fearsome technique and precision and speed but at his magnificent best he was also playful, interesting and memorable.

Rhys
 

randulo

Playing alto 2 1/2 years
Subscriber
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4,508
Sonny Rollins springs to mind. He could certainly play with fearsome technique and precision and speed but at his magnificent best he was also playful, interesting and memorable.
Totally, and I think Brecker had some of that DNA as well.
 

Morph

New Member
Messages
20
I think I agree with the Pete - there are players to suit all tastes, so many players with highly developed and personalised styles.

Personally speaking, think it would be wrong to equate "playing lots of notes" with "playing without emotion". It's hard to think of players who played more notes than late 50s Coltrane, or Charlie Parker, Sonny Stitt, Johnny Griffin. To me at least, these players don't come off as clinical, overly technical, unmusical etc... far from it!

I wonder if we ARE too hard on the current crop of players? Playing fast and virtuosic playing has been a feature of jazz since the 40s (and probably before).
 
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Pete Effamy

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
2,281
Context is everything, too.
Yes this is a big one. A player who always blats out lots of notes, or extended harmony over everything is not a player I’d listen to. also, Brecker Bros Some Skunk Funk would steamroller someone trying to play a cool solo throughout.
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,583
The thing if find offputting about "shredding" is that one of my favourite aspects of music is light and shade, if the dynamics consist of 'intense' and 'ridiculously intense' it feels like a lost opportunity to work dynamics in most (but not all) cases... 'from a whisper to a scream' is far more aesthetically interesting than 'from a scream to a louder scream' (well, a faster- more technical scream rather than louder)
 
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Pete Effamy

Pete Effamy

Senior Member
Messages
2,281
The thing if find offputting about "shredding" is that one of my favourite aspects of music is light and shade, if the dynamics consist of 'intense' and 'ridiculously intense' it feels like a lost opportunity to work dynamics in most (but not all) cases... 'from a whisper to a scream' is far more aesthetically interesting than 'from a scream to a louder scream' (well, a faster- more technical scream rather than louder)
I agree about light and shade, and also tone manipulation of players like Plas Johnson, and for a more up to date name - Andy Snitzer.
M Brecker is one of a few exceptions though. Johnny Griffin has a ferocious technique, yet I don't listen to him. There's another thing present with the 'shredders' that I do like. As I said before, perhaps it's the content.

In the interest of keeping M Brecker in all camps, I implore those that wouldn't consider themselves a fan to listen to this:

View: https://youtu.be/Iar0OUFyGPs
 

jbtsax

Well-Known Member
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7,891
I want beautiful melody. Memorable melody. The kind that gets stuck in your head and transports you to memories and imaginings that make life worth living. Harmony is a given but I hum a melody. I remember a melody.
I am the same, but will take it a step farther to include "melodic improvisation". This is more like embellishing or playing variations on a given melody rather than just playing random notes and patterns that go with the chord changes. One of the true masters of playing in this style that I love to listen to is Aubra Graves. There is a channel on YouTube where you can listen to Aubra play dozens of great tunes.

 

Admitone

Member
Messages
151
The thing if find offputting about "shredding" is that one of my favourite aspects of music is light and shade, if the dynamics consist of 'intense' and 'ridiculously intense' it feels like a lost opportunity to work dynamics in most (but not all) cases... 'from a whisper to a scream' is far more aesthetically interesting than 'from a scream to a louder scream' (well, a faster- more technical scream rather than louder)
For me, it's all about contrast (wisper to a scream) and timing. It should be "as simple as it can be and no simpler" - Albert E.
 

TBay

Member
Messages
61
Speaking more from a guitar perspective but the same applies to any instrument in my experience- long complex solos are for the pleasure of the person playing them, balanced, well played music with musicians working together is for the pleasure of everyone. I have seen so many guitarists insist on massive long solos where you can see the dance floor emptying. The same with drum solos, bass solos or any other demonstration of anything that is better reserved for a home performance. I love noodling on the bass (and the sax as I get a bit more confident) but when playing in a band there is no better feeling than being completely locked in with your bandmates.
 

Wade Cornell

Well-Known Member
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2,047
There are lots of thoughtful responses here that seem to have a recurrent theme that remains unspoken: intent. I think most people get it when someone is just trying to impress. If you are a devotee of that kind of player or just like being impressed then it's all good. For the rest of us it becomes tiresome fairly quickly.

It's unfortunate that much teaching has concentrated on technical aspects rather than artistic and communicative tenets that make for a well rounded musician or artist of any type. From my rather aged perspective and a fairly decent memory it seems to me that there has been a pendulum swing toward the technical in sax teaching and playing, which may have reached it's apex. I look forward to the swing in the other direction.

I really liked the post from Jazzaferri and would only add that mature players tend to make it all sound easy where an immature player tends to make everything sound difficult. Same concept, but we can all recognize (and probably relate to) having striven for technical proficiency initially at the expense of communicating trough music. It's a forgivable phase, but less so for those who should have left that behind and somehow consider improvisation to be nothing more than showing off your chops.

Improvised music should be seen as a high art form when it is spontaneous composition, but those who are simply running licks and arpeggios to match the changes are not composing anything. It's practiced cut and paste. Does it take practice and skill, yes absolutely, but it's not composition and for most audiences communicates nothing.

Here's hoping that the pendulum starts an acceleration in the other direction!
 

CliveMA

Member
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514
 

jazzdoh

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,228
I have to say as I have got older the more melodic forms of jazz have more appeal for me, while you can admire a players ability to play fast and complicated improvisation it quickly becomes boring when its done to excess.
I also feel the over use of the altissimo range is also draining at times.

A few years ago I watched a good local band which was made up of a rhythm section and 2 saxes, a baritone and alto, they were all good players, the baritone player used the altissimo range extensively and at every opportunity he could, the alto player was also excellent but only used it occasionally but had a lot to say in the normal range, it was noticeable that although the baritone player was warmly applauded at the start that this soon diminished with he's over use of the altissimo range and the alto player took most of the applause as the gig went on.

I have tried over the years to like the free jazz genre but I can't, much prefer players like Aubra Graves and Scott Hamilton and players like this, although there are exceptions like Chris Potter who I still hold in high regard.
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,583
Here’s an interesting fact. I read once that in Japan, in days of old, Monks used to duel each other over their Shakuhachi playing skills. The challenge wasn’t fast fingers or dexterity, but to play one single note better than one’s opponent …
 
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