Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

ttf_Geezerhorn
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 4:43 am

In this thread about Delfeayo Marsalis a side discussion sprang up about what songs jazz performers seem to always gravitate towards. If the side discussion continues, no doubt someone will jump up waving their arms about the thread getting - insert words like - "hijacked", "digressed", etc. So I opened up a new thread on the "side discussion".

Okay, so why is it that jazz artists always have to dig up "old standards" from the 30's and 40's? Is it because said jazz artists are old and that's all they know? Is is because those tunes lend themselves better to jazz than anything else? Is jazz a dying art that only the older performers are managing to keep alive?

Why aren't contemporary jazz artists performing more current stuff? Is it because they feel that the more contemporary tunes lack melodic complexity? I could seriously argue that. In fact, I think it's quite the opposite. Melodies were never more simplistic than they were in the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's. It was the 90's were pop song writers seemed to start to throw away the "rule book".

Try picking up your horn and playing along with "Top Pop On Prime" if you have an Amazon Echo! First of all, you will find that contemporary songs are often in the "guitar keys" - A, E, etc. Secondly, a lot of them seem to have a floating key center - for lack of a better description, where the actual melody is a little tough to pin down and it changes as the song progresses so much so that it seems like there are maybe two or more different songs combined into one. I've also found that they often tend to have speak/sing melodies - as in "Uptown Funk" or parts of "Poker Face". How do you play those parts well where they are still recognizable in a jazz format?

Also, there seems to be quite a lot of songs where the original melody is so defined that "jazzing it up" would alter the melody line so much it would not be recognizable any more. The song "You Don't Own Me" seems to fit into that category, as does the more contemporary "Dream On", by Aerosmith. I suppose a very talented artist could weave around the melody line convincingly, but the rest of us would sound awful trying to do so.

So is THAT why jazz artists resort the the same ole, same ole? Is it because it's easier than more contemporary tunes?

I think it's time for a rebirth or a reinvention of jazz! Both Bob Dylan and David Bowie managed to keep themselves fresh and current through the decades by reinventing themselves and leading the way for others to follow. Is this why jazz is dying - because it has become stagnant? Who will step up to reinvent jazz?

...Geezer
ttf_vegasbound
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_vegasbound » Sat Mar 04, 2017 4:52 am

A great demonstration of the modern pop idiom and its use of 4 chords

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lw3eYsnl31c
ttf_Geezerhorn
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:09 am

Quote from: vegasbound on Mar 04, 2017, 04:52AMA great demonstration of the modern pop idiom and its use of 4 chords

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lw3eYsnl31c

I agree! Love it! But I don't see a trad jazz instrumentalist in that little group. Where's the trombone-player? That is my point.

Is Paul The Trombonist the only trombone-player out there who is doing what I am discussing? My hat's off to him; taking the trombone to the YOUNG crowd! BRAVO!

...Geezer
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Post by ttf_anonymous » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:37 am

Quote from: Geezerhorn on Mar 04, 2017, 04:43AM Is this why jazz is dying - because it has become stagnant? Who will step up to reinvent jazz?

Jazz is neither dying nor stagnant.

Come to NYC and check out:
The Stone (http://thestonenyc.com/)

I-Beam (http://ibeambrooklyn.com/)

and many other venues...

Trombone specific:
Jacob Garchik (http://jacobgarchik.com/)
Brian Drye (http://www.briandrye.com/)

Downtown Music Gallery (http://www.downtownmusicgallery.com/) (Old and new recordings become available every week; Really terrific free live shows just about every week)

Also online:
Taran's Free Jazz Hour (http://taransfreejazzhour.com/) (A good sampling of what's new and/or exciting; my starting point when looking for recordings for my library)

Jazz is alive and well and the subject nightly reinvention. In fact there is so very much going on that it's impossible to keep up.


ttf_bonenick
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_bonenick » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:43 am

Paul is not the only jazz musician who happens to play modern songs...some are good, others not so. Yes, standarts are a big thing. But not the only one. I don't get what is this rant about...
ttf_baileyman
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_baileyman » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:49 am

Quote from: Geezerhorn on Mar 04, 2017, 04:43AM...

Try picking up your horn and playing along with "Top Pop On Prime" if you have an Amazon Echo! First of all, you will find that contemporary songs are often in the "guitar keys" - A, E, etc. Secondly, a lot of them seem to have a floating key center - for lack of a better description, where the actual melody is a little tough to pin down and it changes as the song progresses so much so that it seems like there are maybe two or more different songs combined into one. I've also found that they often tend to have speak/sing melodies - as in "Uptown Funk" or parts of "Poker Face". How do you play those parts well where they are still recognizable in a jazz format?

...

...Geezer

Relatedly, it seems jazz got going by having fun with staid melodies.  "Jazz them up", as it were.  To make fun of a melody, it seems it has to start out a little too serious about itself.  Today's pop melodies are typically sung so embellished already, it's hard to hear anything to do with them.  The bare melodies without the original artist's embellishments hardly sound like anything at all.  I overgeneralize, as there do seem to be some workable melodies out there, but only a little. 


ttf_vegasbound
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_vegasbound » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:55 am

Quote from: Geezerhorn on Mar 04, 2017, 05:09AMI agree! Love it! But I don't see a trad jazz instrumentalist in that little group. Where's the trombone-player? That is my point.

Is Paul The Trombonist the only trombone-player out there who is doing what I am discussing? My hat's off to him; taking the trombone to the YOUNG crowd! BRAVO!

...Geezer

The point of the video was your earlier comment about the chord structure of a modern pop song......  also to demonstrate that most if not all of the pop tunes written in the last 40 years are interchangable
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:58 am

Quote from: vito on Mar 04, 2017, 05:37AMJazz is neither dying nor stagnant.

Come to NYC and check out:
The Stone (http://thestonenyc.com/)

I-Beam (http://ibeambrooklyn.com/)

and many other venues...

Trombone specific:
Jacob Garchik (http://jacobgarchik.com/)
Brian Drye (http://www.briandrye.com/)

Downtown Music Gallery (http://www.downtownmusicgallery.com/) (Old and new recordings become available every week; Really terrific free live shows just about every week)

Also online:
Taran's Free Jazz Hour (http://taransfreejazzhour.com/) (A good sampling of what's new and/or exciting; my starting point when looking for recordings for my library)

Jazz is alive and well and the subject nightly reinvention. In fact there is so very much going on that it's impossible to keep up.


Thanks for the enlightenment! New York City SHOULD be the font of all cultural change and enhancement on the East Coast of the USA! Even though perhaps it really all begins on the grass roots level, NYC is where it either makes it or not. I'll check them all out in due course but right now I'm due for a huge morning practice session.  Image

Quote from: baileyman on Mar 04, 2017, 05:49AMRelatedly, it seems jazz got going by having fun with staid melodies.  "Jazz them up", as it were.  To make fun of a melody, it seems it has to start out a little too serious about itself.  Today's pop melodies are typically sung so embellished already, it's hard to hear anything to do with them.  The bare melodies without the original artist's embellishments hardly sound like anything at all.  I overgeneralize, as there do seem to be some workable melodies out there, but only a little. 

You noticed that too! I always keep my ears open for something I can have fun with, but it has to be that certain something that will ALLOW me to have fun with! Not all of them do. In fact, as you mentioned, few of them do these days for various reasons, including the ones you mentioned. I've gone down a few blind alleys this winter trying to work more contemporary pop songs that I like but alas have discovered that they just don't lend themselves well to me.

...Geezer
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_robcat2075 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:18 am

Quote from: baileyman on Mar 04, 2017, 05:49AMRelatedly, it seems jazz got going by having fun with staid melodies.  "Jazz them up", as it were....

I think I first noticed that process when I was about 6 or 7...

https://www.youtube.com/v/GKvkuGhZI2Q


...and forever after that it all seemed terribly corny, every jazz singer is basically Jane Jetson, jazzing it up.


ttf_Geezerhorn
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:22 am

Quote from: bonenick on Mar 04, 2017, 05:43AMPaul is not the only jazz musician who happens to play modern songs...some are good, others not so. Yes, standarts are a big thing. But not the only one. I don't get what is this rant about...

I may have been a tad unkind in my rant. But it does bug me that it SEEMS when we all have a conversation about jazz - either on this Forum or that "conversation" being a local group at a local joint playing - it's the same old tunes.

...Geezer
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_bigbassbone1 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:23 am

I dont really know anything about this but im curious to see where this topic goes....

I would assume that a lot of the 'ol favorite tunes for jazz musicians are recycled frequently for the same reason we see orchestras performing mostly the same older rep.... those songs are good, thats why they have survived. Audiences enjoy familiarity. I think you can hear why Beethoven 5 has become almost a cliché, and no matter how many times you listen to the ring cycle, there is always something to enjoy.

Having said that, I have made the point of actually going out when I can to jazz clubs and Comercial band performances recently on a relatively regular basis. I dont get to play jazz anymore in my day to day life as a musician, and I love the different vibes at the gigs, it also is refreshing to hear trumpets and trombones not played in an orchestral setting. Most of the gigs I hear where the Jazzers are playing modern music, they really go all out with extended techniques and improv. Sometimes, to me it starts to not sound like music anymore, just weird effects over very complicated structures. Other Jazzers go nuts over it, but more often than not I find it difficult to listen to. I get a real kick if I hear something i recognise played really well! But thats rare for me.... surprised to read that you think there is not enough new stuff!
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Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:33 am

Quote from: bigbassbone1 on Mar 04, 2017, 06:23AMI dont really know anything about this but im curious to see where this topic goes....

I would assume that a lot of the 'ol favorite tunes for jazz musicians are recycled frequently for the same reason we see orchestras performing mostly the same older rep.... those songs are good, thats why they have survived. Audiences enjoy familiarity. I think you can hear why Beethoven 5 has become almost a cliché, and no matter how many times you listen to the ring cycle, there is always something to enjoy.

Having said that, I have made the point of actually going out when I can to jazz clubs and Comercial band performances recently on a relatively regular basis. I dont get to play jazz anymore in my day to day life as a musician, and I love the different vibes at the gigs, it also is refreshing to hear trumpets and trombones not played in an orchestral setting. Most of the gigs I hear where the Jazzers are playing modern music, they really go all out with extended techniques and improv. Sometimes, to me it starts to not sound like music anymore, just weird effects over very complicated structures. Other Jazzers go nuts over it, but more often than not I find it difficult to listen to. I get a real kick if I hear something i recognise played really well! But thats rare for me.... surprised to read that you think there is not enough new stuff!

I don't get around much anymore.  Image

But if you think that mold is being broken - THANK YOU!

I agree it's nice to hear "old standbys" and it's also nice to hear new stuff. I guess the "old standbys" are the anchor. I just don't want to see that anchor sinking the boat.  Image

...Geezer
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Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:34 am

Quote from: robcat2075 on Mar 04, 2017, 06:18AMI think I first noticed that process when I was about 6 or 7...

https://www.youtube.com/v/GKvkuGhZI2Q


...and forever after that it all seemed terribly corny, every jazz singer is basically Jane Jetson, jazzing it up.



Lol. Not to mention the SNL vocal parodies of the 90's!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

...Geezer
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Post by ttf_ddickerson » Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:38 am

The American Song Book are great tunes! What is there not to like?
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Post by ttf_Woolworth » Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:39 am

I compose and arrange big band charts intended for high school/college "consumption".  I would say 95% of my work is new, original compositions in a variety of styles, but I really try to incorporate "modern" harmonic and rhythmic elements whenever appropriate.

In asking educators what they are programming for their jazz groups, I invariably get the same answers.  They are playing standards and arrangements from name bands' books, plus the occasional pop arrangement...but rarely any "new" music.

Jazz educators are funny people.  They will tell you they want jazz music to move forward and stay fresh, and in the next breath tell you all about the 50 or 60 year old charts their band is performing.  Lots of that music is fantastic and needs to be performed by young musicians, but it has to be balanced with the newer stuff, too.  
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Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:43 am

Quote from: ddickerson on Mar 04, 2017, 06:38AMThe American Song Book are great tunes! What is there not to like?

I had to Google it. Looks like the same old stuff to me, Dusty. Nice, but that's the point - not fresh & new. After all, wasn't jazz supposed to be the young upstart of music back in the day?

...Geezer
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Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:44 am

Quote from: Woolworth on Mar 04, 2017, 06:39AMI compose and arrange big band charts intended for high school/college "consumption".  I would say 95% of my work is new, original compositions in a variety of styles, but I really try to incorporate "modern" harmonic and rhythmic elements whenever appropriate.

In asking educators what they are programming for their jazz groups, I invariably get the same answers.  They are playing standards and arrangements from name bands' books, plus the occasional pop arrangement...but rarely any "new" music.

Jazz educators are funny people.  They will tell you they want jazz music to move forward and stay fresh, and in the next breath tell you all about the 50 or 60 year old charts their band is performing.  Lots of that music is fantastic and needs to be performed by young musicians, but it has to be balanced with the newer stuff, too.  

There you go! Nicely put. Great stuff when it gets a little kick in the butt, eh? That's what I'm talking about! Consider though that educators are in a tough spot. They may want to have kids play new stuff that the kids can relate to, but they are playing concerts for their PARENTS and GRAND PARENTS.

...Geezer
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Post by ttf_vegasbound » Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:45 am

Quote from: Geezerhorn on Mar 04, 2017, 06:43AMI had to Google it. Looks like the same old stuff to me, Dusty. Nice, but that's the point - not fresh & new. After all, wasn't jazz supposed to be the young upstart of music back in the day?

...Geezer

A good tune is a good tune and it was music to dance too!
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Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 6:54 am

Quote from: vegasbound on Mar 04, 2017, 06:45AMA good tune is a good tune and it was music to dance too!

Dancing to it is a great point! Try dancing to the new composition! Sooooooo, why can't we have both? Why can't we have newer, more contemporary music "jazzed up" that we can dance to? I know there are pitfalls already mentioned. But it isn't impossible to come up with good, viable candidates from the pool of the most contemporary music. I'll go out on a limb and state that that's what the best bands of today are doing - and some old standards for the old people and the people who are old at heart. lol. There's a different take on that meme! Why do we never hear that sentiment expressed that way? Because no one wants to be thought of as "old at heart" - or do they? I don't. And please don't tell people - when I turn 85 (if I get to do that) - that I'm 85 years young. I hate that.

...Geezer
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Post by ttf_ddickerson » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:06 am

Quote from: Geezerhorn on Mar 04, 2017, 06:43AMI had to Google it. Looks like the same old stuff to me, Dusty. Nice, but that's the point - not fresh & new. After all, wasn't jazz supposed to be the young upstart of music back in the day?

...Geezer

Well, since I'm a youngster, most of the tunes are all 'new' to me anyway. Beautiful melodies that are not found so much anymore.


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Post by ttf_robcat2075 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:07 am

I recall a music pundit saying that if a music form is getting taught in schools, it has died as a creative platform.

Classical music is taught in schools.
Jazz is taught in schools.
Now even Rock is taught in schools.

QuoteToday's pop melodies are typically sung so embellished already, it's hard to hear anything to do with them.  The bare melodies without the original artist's embellishments hardly sound like anything at all.
That is a big problem.  What happened? How did melody fall (once again) from its place in music?  No one had trouble coming up with good melodies in the 80s and then something happened.
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Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:10 am

Quote from: ddickerson on Mar 04, 2017, 07:06AMWell, since I'm a youngster, most of the tunes are all 'new' to me anyway. Beautiful melodies that are not found so much anymore.


If it's what you like exclusively...

If your group is out there playing for an older population - then, yeah, by all means play what the audience wants to hear! Would you play those tunes exclusively at a wedding reception for a young bride & groom? Maybe a given one if they are doing a retro thing. But otherwise, I think you better have some newer stuff ready.

...Geezer
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Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:12 am

Quote from: robcat2075 on Mar 04, 2017, 07:07AMI recall a music pundit saying that if a music form is getting taught in schools, it has died as a creative platform.

Classical music is taught in schools.
Jazz is taught in schools.
Now even Rock is taught in schools.

That is a big problem.  What happened? How did melody fall (once again) from its place in music?  No one had trouble coming up with good melodies in the 80s and then something happened.

Mathematicians tell us that it is IMPOSSIBLE to exhaust good melody creation.

...Geezer
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Post by ttf_ddickerson » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:16 am

Quote from: Geezerhorn on Mar 04, 2017, 07:10AMIf it's what you like exclusively...

If your group is out there playing for an older population - then, yeah, by all means play what the audience wants to hear! Would you play those tunes exclusively at a wedding reception for a young bride & groom? Maybe a given one if they are doing a retro thing. But otherwise, I think you better have some newer stuff ready.

...Geezer

I think that no one is making the argument that trad jazz, bebop jazz, or pop arrangements from the American Song Book are applicable for everything. There is a time and place for all types of music.


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Post by ttf_anonymous » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:17 am

Is melody even necessary?
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Post by ttf_robcat2075 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:20 am

Quote from: Geezerhorn on Mar 04, 2017, 07:12AMMathematicians tell us that it is IMPOSSIBLE to exhaust good melody creation.

And yet the people who have applied mathematical principles to melody creation have created nothing of note.



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Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:25 am

Quote from: ddickerson on Mar 04, 2017, 07:16AMI think that no one is making the argument that trad jazz, bebop jazz, or pop arrangements from the American Song Book are applicable for everything. There is a time and place for all types of music.


Touché!

Quote from: vito on Mar 04, 2017, 07:17AMIs melody even necessary?

Not always. But then again, not always not always either.

Quote from: robcat2075 on Mar 04, 2017, 07:20AMAnd yet the people who have applied mathematical principles to melody creation have created nothing of note.

I was wondering if you were going to go there. They can't do it yet. The Band-in-a-Box engineers might have a few thousand words to say in agreement with you!

...Geezer
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Post by ttf_Ellrod » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:25 am

It sounds to me that a lot of contemp pop music consists of someone swearing, bass, and beats.

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Post by ttf_harrison.t.reed » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:28 am

I think jazz artists play oldies because oldies are still nice to listen to. We are more exposed to these tunes because radio stations and record companies think they are nice to listen to too.

It's misinformed to say jazz artists are not creating new music -- they are. If you go to hear them play live, especially at open mic nights, you'll hear it. The audience is mostly going to be other jazz musicians or jazz wannabes. To my ears, the music has moved pretty far away from what sounds nice. This new creative stuff is music for musicians, and at it's best it is very well played, and very technical -- your brain really has to work to just listen. If it floats your boat then great, but to me it's like watching someone *****[s]tiptoe through the tulips[/s]***** on stage.

Like anything though,  there are so many different people doing so many different things musically. You kinda have to dig in and see some live stuff and you'll find some real gems of groups playing new music.
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Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:33 am

Quote from: Ellrod on Mar 04, 2017, 07:25AMIt sounds to me that a lot of contemp pop music consists of someone swearing, bass, and beats.


They still like to go for the shock value of seeing how far they can go with their f-bombs and such. Curious that some radio stations sanitize some songs. PMJ sanitized "All About That Bass" on YouTube.

Quote from: harrison.t.reed on Mar 04, 2017, 07:28AMI think jazz artists play oldies because oldies are still nice to listen to. We are more exposed to these tunes because radio stations and record companies think they are nice to listen to too.

It's misinformed to say jazz artists are not creating new music -- they are. If you go to hear them play live, especially at open mic nights, you'll hear it. The audience is mostly going to be other jazz musicians or jazz wannabes. To my ears, the music has moved pretty far away from what sounds nice. This new creative stuff is music for musicians, and at it's best it is very well played, and very technical -- your brain really has to work to just listen. If it floats your boat then great, but to me it's like watching someone *****[s]tiptoe through the tulips[/s]***** on stage.

Like anything though,  there are so many different people doing so many different things musically. You kinda have to dig in and see some live stuff and you'll find some real gems of groups playing new music.

Playing egghead jazz for eggheads is one thing. But I really think more groups or artists ought to play contemporary music in the jazz format.

...Geezer
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Post by ttf_ddickerson » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:37 am

Quote from: Geezerhorn on Mar 04, 2017, 07:33AM But I really think more groups or artists ought to play contemporary music in the jazz format.

...Geezer

Groups should play what they want to play. You just need to find the groups that play what you want to hear. Pretty simple.
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Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:40 am

Quote from: ddickerson on Mar 04, 2017, 07:37AMGroups should play what they want to play. You just need to find the groups that play what you want to hear. Pretty simple.

The best groups get to do that and they are so good at it that it's what their audience also wants to hear! The rest of the groups may play what they want to play but their dance card only gets punched by those select audiences that coincidentally want to hear it.

...Geezer
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Post by ttf_harrison.t.reed » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:42 am

What do you mean by contemporary music in a jazz format. I'm not having a go, I really don't know what that means.

To me, contemporary music is like the Nyman trombone concerto. Easy to listen to but veryyyy out there. I don't even know what the jazz format is.

Do you mean like, top 40s tunes jazzed up? Groups like Lucky Chops, Trombone Shorty's band and No BS already are doing that.
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Post by ttf_ddickerson » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:43 am

Quote from: Geezerhorn on Mar 04, 2017, 07:40AMThe best groups get to do that and they are so good at it that it's what their audience also wants to hear! The rest of the groups may play what they want to play but their dance card only gets punched by those select audiences that coincidentally want to hear it.

...Geezer

Sure!
ttf_Geezerhorn
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 7:48 am

Quote from: harrison.t.reed on Mar 04, 2017, 07:42AMWhat do you mean by contemporary music in a jazz format. I'm not having a go, I really don't know what that means.

To me, contemporary music is like the Nyman trombone concerto. Easy to listen to but veryyyy out there. I don't even know what the jazz format is.

Do you mean like, top 40s tunes jazzed up? Groups like Lucky Chops, Trombone Shorty's band and No BS already are doing that.

That's it. They are, but they are doing it so stylistically that you either love it or hate it. I'm referring to a more casual kind of jazz cover for pop tunes. Maybe on the order of PMJ - but featuring brass a LOT more than the vocals.

...Geezer
ttf_robcat2075
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_robcat2075 » Sat Mar 04, 2017 8:16 am

Interesting article on past systems to manufacture music

Musikalisches Würfelspiel

QuoteA Musikalisches Würfelspiel (German for "musical dice game") was a system for using dice to randomly 'generate' music from precomposed options. These 'games' were quite popular throughout Western Europe in the 18th century.Quote
According to Stephen Hedges, "The 'galant' middle class in Europe was playing with mathematics. In this atmosphere of investigation and cataloguing, a systematic device that would seem to make it possible for anyone to write music was practically guaranteed popularity.

In "20th Century Music" class in college (back when in the 20th Century) we were taught that even Mozart had investigated randomized music making, as if that somehow validated the random noises current composers were making.  But it turns out the Mozart connection has never been authenticated.
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Exzaclee » Sat Mar 04, 2017 9:01 am

First off, in my opinion, one is going to have a really hard time becoming a "jazz musician" (regardless of one's personal definition of what that means) if one does not spend some serious time in a practice room learning the roots of the music.

This means learning hundreds (perhaps thousands over one's career) of standards from the American Songbook and being familiar with how the pantheon of jazz performers interpreted those songs. These are (in my opinion and the opinion of roughly 99.9% of people who play this music on the level) the greatest collection of popular compositions in the history of man thus far. If you have less than a passing acquaintance with Louis Armstrong, Cole Porter and Duke Ellington, what you play is probably not jazz. Doesn't mean it isn't good, it just isn't informed by the history of the music.

This also means learning the blues. It isn't jazz if it isn't informed by the blues. I don't mean one should aimlessly cram a "blues scale" (there's a lie) into every solo - it doesn't work that way. I mean that one's melodic approach should incorporate elements of the blues informed by actual listening (observation), imitation and assimilation. One doesn't play the blues by placing irrelevant and unnecessary "blue notes" or "blues licks" into random spots in a solo. If one experiences the blues aurally, one will eventually assimilate elements of the blues into their palette.

This also means learning about the cuban, caribbean and south american music traditions. New Orleans has more in common culturally with the caribbean than it does with the southern U.S. or even the state of Louisiana. Why is this? Learn about the history of the Black Codes, a system of laws that attempted to suppress African culture in the United States. In the caribbean, Africans did not have their culture as brutally suppressed (generally) as was the case in the states. The roots of the music were better preserved. This also explains why the mother of jazz is New Orleans... and Cuba, and why every time I had the privilege of playing with one of the old masters a mention of Cuban music was almost a given in conversation afterwards.

This also means developing your ears - listening, theory, practicing in all 12 keys, learning piano - these are all things that develop and expand your ability to identify and react to what you hear. If you're not a good "ear player", this music will be difficult indeed. Work on your ears, folks, just being able to sit in a dance band and sight read charts doesn't make one a jazz musician.

There are plenty of modern jazz musicians who are playing stuff that isn't "standards and bebop heads". Almost all of them started out playing standards and learning their history.

And by the way, if you're avoiding the bebop and post-bop eras out of some ******** idea that fast lines in jazz isn't music or somehow lacks melody, you're missing out on a lot of great music. Transcribe some of that stuff and you'll see that it isn't BS, you're just not hearing the melody probably because you're ego can't stand hearing stuff you can't play or don't understand. To play this music, one has to be humble and be willing to learn and move forward. Some people don't hear Bach. That's okay, they should either put the work in and learn it or if that;s to much work there is no shame in sticking to playing 4 chord pop songs. There are some great 4 chord pop songs out there. No jazz required.

Don't let your own limited knowledge of the music fool you into thinking jazz has "died" or is "stagnant." It's not. There are plenty of jazz musicians doing stuff that isn't just a re-hash of the older styles. Look. Listen. Learn. STOP JUDGING. When you hear a great musician and your first reaction is "I don't get why everyone likes this person" or "I don't like that high fiddly crap" that's a sign that maybe you need to listen a little deeper. That's an opportunity for growth.

Jacob Garchik, Josh Roseman, Ryan Keberle, David Gibson, Marshal Gilkes, Michael Dease - these are all modern guys who can play the mess out the horn and are doing original new music. And don't stop with trombone players. Mark Turner, Josh Redman, Donny McCaslin, Tivon Pennicott and Chris Potter on Tenor, Will Vinson, David Binney, Kenny Garrett and Sharel Cassity on Alto, Christian Scott, Dave Douglas, Cuong Vu, Jeremy Pelt and Ron Horton on trumpet, Robert Glasper, Vijay Iyer, Bram Weijters and Brad Meldau on piano, Ben Street, Linda Oh, Robert Leslie Hurst III and of course Esperanza Spaulding on bass, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Chris Dave, Dafnis Prieto and Rudy Royston on drums, David Gilmore, Kurt Rosenwinkle, Ben Monder and Lage Lund on guitar. Large ensemble composers like Maria Schneider and Darcy James Argue are doing music that doesn't sound like any big band you've ever heard.

This is just a small sampling of guys on the modern scene who are doing new, relevant music. I left out hundreds of people. This is just a way to get started - some of these guys play music that is still grounded in the tradition, some of these guys are branching out into different directions. All of these musicians (and so many more) are playing real, modern, relevant music of high artistic value and contributing to the great tradition of jazz and improvised music.
ttf_Geezerhorn
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 9:10 am


^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

 Image

It's a discussion. Thanks for taking part in it. I was hoping you would.

I believe it is needed on this Forum as I don't recall seeing any of the names you listed being mentioned in the past five years.

No argument about learning the rules before moving on. It's just an impression (perhaps faulty) I have that many have not moved on.

Anyway, there has been a lot of participation on a thread this morning that isn't specifically about classical music and bass trombone parts in it.  Image 

...Geezer
ttf_Exzaclee
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Exzaclee » Sat Mar 04, 2017 9:22 am

Quote from: Geezerhorn on Mar 04, 2017, 09:10AMAnyway, there has been a lot of participation on a thread this morning that isn't specifically about classical music and bass trombone parts in it.  Image 
Image Image Image that stuff's important too, man, but I hear ya.


For some examples of covers of modern popular songs that still retain a true artistic shape and not just a cheezed out swing cover ala Paul Anka or Richard Cheese, check out the following:

Brad Mehldau - has done a ton of covers of pop tunes, and they are all excellent: Exit Music For a Film (Radiohead), Riverman (Nick Drake), Blackbird (Beatles) - I couldn't list all of them here or I'd be going through my CD collection all day.

Robert Glasper - also covers a fair amount of popular material, His "Everything in it's right place" (Radiohead) is pretty awesome combined with Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage. Compare his tratment of "Everything" to Brad Mehldau's.

Bad Plus - "Smells Like Teen Spirt" takes a turn for the savage on this, and their "Comfortably Numb" cover gives me chills, especially listening to it on the highway in dark and lightless rural oklahoma at 4AM coming back from a gig in KC.

(I have a cover of Smells Like Teen Spirit I did a few years, if you're interested in checking it out I can send you a link to it. It could've been better on my end but the band is killing.)

Jacob Collier - young wunderkind from the UK who's been doing "jazz" arrangements of pop stuff on youtube for a while now, check out his stuff. Very interesting, mashes up soul, gospel, r&b, funk with jazz harmonies and aesthetic and just writes really interesting stuff. I love this "kid" (i think he's in his 20's now, so no longer a kid.)

And I haven't even started with all those great New Orleans brass bands and their renditions of modern pop tunes - hint, if a NO brass band covers Marvin Gaye, you need to check it out.

I could write about this all day. There are plenty - and I mean plenty of jazz musicians covering modern popular music. Google "covers of modern pop by jazz group" or some variation of that and see what pops up on google....  When I assign stuff to my students about selecting a pop tune and arranging it, they don't have any problems finding inspiration.
ttf_Geezerhorn
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 9:40 am

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

 Image

I will do as you suggest, Zach.

I get it about how to really learn the basis of the different forms of jazz through assimilation.

But here's a thought as to style and I'll use JJ as an example. Why do we have to actually play "Laura" if we want to learn how to channel JJ? I don't want to play "Laura" or almost any song from that era in which he played. Love his sound. Love his technique. Love his style. Those elements are certainly lofty goals to strive for.

I feel that I could listen to someone intently, come to understand what they are doing in particular phrases in particular ways and maybe even more importantly why - and then go play what I want to play in a style that has a few elements of their style in it. And isn't that enough? It is for me. Do we want JJ imitators out there as there are - gag - Elvis imitators?  Image

...Geezer
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 11:38 am

NO BS was about as close to what I'm interested in as it got on your list, Zach - but still not my idea of the kind of pop music I'm looking for; no Meghan Trainor stuff there. However, they can inspire me for what I do in street band, though. Thanks for that turn-on!

The rest of them didn't interest me.

I ended up bookmarking NO BS. Mr Reginald Pace reminded me of what I'm trying to do - on a much more elementary basis - with my street band solos.

I'd love to hear your work. You could PM me if you don't want to make it public and I would respect that.

...Geezer

OBTW - Graham - When you get out of bed in your corner of the world, make a nice cup of coffee. You have some reading to catch up on.  Image
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 12:41 pm

...can't stay away from NO BS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! RVA ALL DAY!

Hmmmmmmmmm. SM58 mics in the 'bone yard?

Found it! This popped up after the NO BS roll-through:

Lucky Chops

NICE!!!!!

...Geezer
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Exzaclee » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:37 pm

Quote from: Geezerhorn on Mar 04, 2017, 09:40AM
But here's a thought as to style and I'll use JJ as an example. Why do we have to actually play "Laura" if we want to learn how to channel JJ? I don't want to play "Laura" or almost any song from that era in which he played. Love his sound. Love his technique. Love his style. Those elements are certainly lofty goals to strive for.

If you want to assimilate, you have to imitate. It's your choice. If you're not interested in JJ's aesthetic that's okay, but in my opinion, if you're looking to develop the vocabulary, you need to get into JJ.

I'm not suggesting you have to transcribe every performance, although that isn't a bad idea.

Look at a cat like Steve Davis - he's obviously done his homework on the masters. He's perfectly capable of sounding just like JJ, perfectly capable of a mean Curtis Fuller impersonation. But he has his own sound. David Gibson is coming so hard out of Slide Hampton that he can sound just like him, but he has his own sound as well. Both of these players would not be the special voices they are if it weren't for their study of the masters they studied. You can't develop that deep of a vocabulary without exploring the masters in depth.
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 1:48 pm

Quote from: Exzaclee on Mar 04, 2017, 01:37PMIf you want to assimilate, you have to imitate. It's your choice. If you're not interested in JJ's aesthetic that's okay, but in my opinion, if you're looking to develop the vocabulary, you need to get into JJ.

I'm not suggesting you have to transcribe every performance, although that isn't a bad idea.

Look at a cat like Steve Davis - he's obviously done his homework on the masters. He's perfectly capable of sounding just like JJ, perfectly capable of a mean Curtis Fuller impersonation. But he has his own sound. David Gibson is coming so hard out of Slide Hampton that he can sound just like him, but he has his own sound as well. Both of these players would not be the special voices they are if it weren't for their study of the masters they studied. You can't develop that deep of a vocabulary without exploring the masters in depth.

THE quote of the day: If you want to assimilate, you have to imitate.  Love it!

...Geezer
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Graham Martin » Sat Mar 04, 2017 2:59 pm

Quote from: Geezerhorn on Mar 04, 2017, 11:38AMsnip
OBTW - Graham - When you get out of bed in your corner of the world, make a nice cup of coffee. You have some reading to catch up on.  Image

Yeah, I could not believe there was a topic with over 30 posts which did not even exist yesterday. Nice to see the forum is talking about music again, especially jazz, instead of those boring equipment posts.

It actually did not take long to read and I must say that I agreed with most of what was said by the jazz musicians amongst us. Except the post that said, "Is melody even necessary?". I hope that was a joke because in the Aussie vernacular, "Bloody Oath it is!", especially in the solos.


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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_harrison.t.reed » Sat Mar 04, 2017 3:01 pm

Haha "HH" is No BS!'s best track
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_anonymous » Sat Mar 04, 2017 3:35 pm

Modern jazz musicians who have produced beautiful reinterpretations of popular and other important music (i.e., they've made it their own):

Sex Mob (Steven Bernstein, soprano trombone) - hear them live if you can! Appearing at The Stone in March.

Conrad Herwig's 'Latin Side' series - my favorite trombonist on some of my favorite albums. I could listen to the Wayne Shorter disc every day.

Ed Palermo Big Band's work on the music of Frank Zappa and others - hear them live if you can! There is so much going on that one can't take it all in. The trombonist is dynamite.

I get to hear Conrad Herwig with his Rutgers U jazz ensemble on Monday night. Can't wait!
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sat Mar 04, 2017 4:53 pm

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

I am going to check them all out!  Image

Thanks!

...Geezer
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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_anonymous » Sat Mar 04, 2017 5:13 pm

The Sex Mob Rota/Fellini album:

https://www.allaboutjazz.com/cinema-cir ... ollins.php

is really neat.

Steven Bernstein also leads the Millennial Territorial Orchestra, which has a fun album of Sly and the Family Stone tunes. Billy Martin's Wicked Knee (with Bernstein, Curtis Fowlkes on t-bone and Marcus Rojas on tuba) album 'Heels Over Heat' is also cool. Bernstein is quite prolific, so I'm sure that there's a lot of great stuff that I haven't yet encountered.

Edit: also just about anything with Roswell Rudd, old and new. The  recent Trombone Tribe and Trombone for Lovers (with several well-known tunes) are on regular rotation in my house. Also the old stuff with Steve Lacy.

Quote from: Geezerhorn on Mar 04, 2017, 04:53PM^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

I am going to check them all out!  Image

Thanks!

...Geezer

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Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?

Post by ttf_Geezerhorn » Sun Mar 05, 2017 5:38 am

Thanks Vito.

I sampled everything you suggested. The closest to what I was looking for was Ed Palermo's band, although - for pure trombone non-pop jazz - Conrad is rad! I bookmarked him for trombone sound/technique listening - although I certainly would NOT want to emulate the slide-pumping technique I saw! Yikes! Broken arm!

Other than some of the Palermo Band I wouldn't call most of the other stuff "pop" music, by my definition of the Billboard Top 100 Pop Songs.

Maybe it's just me but it seems that very few on this Forum actually know what pop music is. I guess if it isn't classical, it must be pop. Nope.

Thanks!

So far, NO BS and Lucky Chops win my approval - for what that's worth (nothing to anyone except me) hand's down.

...Geezer
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