Jazz is a Catch-22

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AtomicClock
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Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by AtomicClock »

In order to play jazz, you have to listen to a lot of jazz. This has been stated here and many other areas on the internet. Though not in any of my music education, which barely addressed jazz (triplet pattern as an approximation to swing, for instance).

It's hard to listen to jazz when you don't particularly like or understand it. Just a lot of noise for me.

I think the only way to learn to understand it is to play it. I didn't like "classical" music until being in school band for several years. I needed some level of participation in order to be engaged in what's going on. Even if it's just waiting for some other section to learn their part.

Can't play it without listening first. Can't listen without understanding first. Can't understand without participating. Catch-22.

Did you guys find the same thing? Did you overcome it?
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tbdana
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by tbdana »

AtomicClock wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 5:59 pm It's hard to listen to jazz when you don't particularly like or understand it. Just a lot of noise for me.
There it is, right there. So long as it's just a lot of noise to you, you'll never like or understand it.
I think the only way to learn to understand it is to play it...

Can't play it without listening first. Can't listen without understanding first. Can't understand without participating. Catch-22.

Did you guys find the same thing? Did you overcome it?
Yah, you gotta play it first. Play and listen to the other musicians at the same time, because 75% of jazz is listening. You'll start to get a feel for it. Then you can listen to it. And then you'll be able to understand it. In the end, there is no substitute for flight time. And if you like actually playing rather than counting rests, you might come to like it, too.

By the way, that whole chicken and egg thing? The egg came first. And your egg is playing it.
Bach5G
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by Bach5G »

All or nothing thinking.

Put on Kind of Blue. Or a Day in Copenhagen by Dexter Gordon & Slide Hampton.

Don’t jump into Ascension right off the bat.

And maybe when all is said and done, you won’t get the bug. Nothing wrong with that. As Mose Allison said, wouldn’t it be a real drag if we were all the same.
Last edited by Bach5G on Sun Jun 09, 2024 8:14 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Matt K
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by Matt K »

Jazz is a severely overloaded term. What jazz are you talking about? Just in the trombone world you could reasonably be referring to anything from Glenn Miller to Jack Teagarden to Frank Rosolino to Trombone Shorty, all of which have serious divergence between who would have been listening to them not to talk at all about orchestration, harmony, etc. And then there's stuff that's really hard to listen to if you don't have a strong ear like Ornette Coleman. Or things that some people listening to it didn't know or care that others considered it jazz, like Weather Report. Or "is it jazz or is it rock" fusion, like latter Miles Davis or Chick Corea.

You could say the same thing about "Classical" music too. What is called "classical" is a huge umbrella that can include Vivaldi, Schoenberg, Bruckner, Sousa, and Bach. It's quite possible that you didn't like classical until you were exposed to classical that you liked! Easiest way to find stuff you like to listen to is to listen to a lot of stuff and keep listening to stuff you like to listen to.

Although interestingly enough, I used to hate seralism. Like, even through college when I had to do a fairly extensive study of it. But after listening to a lot of music and expanding my tastes, I actually like it a lot. I actually just had an itch to listen to some last week. There's a really good album Mark Hetzeler has of transcriptions of the 2nd Vieneese school for trombone: http://www.markhetzler.com/20th-century-architects that works really well.

Dissonances need a little bit of patience to sit through without feeling... not sure the best way to put it. I guess "icky" is what I used to feel. It still takes concentration to listen to some thick harmony for me but then the release of the tension feels very cathartic to me.
Elow
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by Elow »

Yeah, it’s a little narrow sighted to say jazz as a whole is hard to listen to. I don’t listen to a lot of outlandish Coltrane or the later Miles albums. Just like I don’t listen to a lot of Yi Chen’s music. Coltrane is not more percent jazz than Ella Fitzgerald. This song is an example of how the performer makes the ideas clear and concise.
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JohnL
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by JohnL »

AtomicClock wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 5:59 pmIt's hard to listen to jazz when you don't particularly like or understand it. Just a lot of noise for me.
You might try starting with some of the earlier forms of jazz rather than jumping straight in to be-bop and later styles.
AtomicClock
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by AtomicClock »

Elow wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 7:41 pm Yeah, it’s a little narrow sighted to say jazz as a whole is hard to listen to.
I'd say it's more of a sweeping generalization than narrow sighted. It's only narrow sighted when I stop trying.
Matt K wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 7:14 pm Jazz is a severely overloaded term. What jazz are you talking about?
I've listened to enough from the big band/swing era to have enjoyed it, and now be done with it.
I get bored quickly with Ellington and Basie.
I occasionally find something enjoyable by Kenton or Brubeck. Recently I've enjoyed some Corea and Gilkes.
But anytime a group just covers a lead sheat, it eludes me. Melody, solo, solo, solo, melody. This is really when I know I don't get what's being given.
Didn't care for the piano interludes in Mr. Rogers either.
JJ, Rosolino, Urbie, Watrous, Fontana, Wycliffe, Conrad... tried & failed. Miles & Parker... same.
I can say I enjoyed a number of jazzy TV theme songs in a recent forum thread. I'm not sure what that says about me!
You could say the same thing about "Classical" music too. What is called "classical" is a huge umbrella that can include Vivaldi, Schoenberg, Bruckner, Sousa, and Bach. It's quite possible that you didn't like classical until you were exposed to classical that you liked!
A surprising amount of the stuff I like had to grow on me. It's rare to hear a new piece and immediately like it. I've bought a lot of CDs with crossed fingers.
There's a really good album Mark Hetzeler has of transcriptions of the 2nd Vieneese school for trombone: http://www.markhetzler.com/20th-century-architects that works really well.
I have that CD. Bought it with my fingers crossed. Still waiting. Didn't realize it was serialism though. Maybe that'll help.
Jimkinkella
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by Jimkinkella »

AtomicClock wrote: Sun Jun 09, 2024 8:28 pm
But anytime a group just covers a lead sheat, it eludes me. Melody, solo, solo, solo, melody. This is really when I know I don't get what's being given.
One thing that has really helped me through the years when I'm trying to actually understand a tune is to sit down at a keyboard with a lead sheet / real book and fumble my way through the changes.
FWIW I absolutely suck at piano, but everything makes a lot more sense to me when I can see and feel the basic chord structure and progression in front of me instead of just seeing the chart on a page or listening through it.

YMMV
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harrisonreed
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by harrisonreed »

Start with big band music. It's like jazz lite. Or New Orleans brass band stuff. That's kind of how jazz evolved, anyways.

You don't have to like every kind of jazz.

But seriously, this sounds like noise to you? :shock:

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VJOFan
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by VJOFan »

The OP seems to really be addressing taste. That is a discussion I have had many times with many students as a music teacher and now as a language teacher.

There is a difference between consuming something for pleasure and analysing something to assess it's quality and structure.

It is quite possible to admire something that arouses no joy response whatsoever. It just takes digging into what the artist's intent was. Once the established rules of a particular genre are established and the elements used in that medium are identified, it is possible to look at something as a successful version of "X" and still not enjoy it at all.
The example I sometimes use to make this clear is the music sharing sessions we had in my band classes. Over a couple weeks, I would share a few pieces of music that I knew as excellent examples of a particular genre. I would then invite students to bring in things they liked and knew were excellent. I can't say that I fell in love with the screamo tracks or Norwegian Death Metal or other music that was not on my shelf at home, but I did learn what to listen for to know whether a group was doing it right or not.

For musical development I have and will listen to things I don't enjoy intrinsically to become more versed in techniques and possibilities. In those sessions my mindset is completely different from putting a track on during dinner.

In the words of Ted Lasso quoting someone else, "Be curious, not judgmental." For music, and let's take post Bop mainstream as an example, one might ask, "Why would those players think playing 5 minutes solos could be interesting, and what are they doing to make it worth listening to them for five minutes?"
"And that's one man's opinion," Doug Collins, CFJC-TV News 1973-2013
cb56
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by cb56 »

I hate eating vegetables but I want to learn to be a vegetable gardener
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VJOFan
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by VJOFan »

Exactly! A person could take great pleasure in feeding friends and family with the produce from their garden, but not want to eat it.

On another tack, a vegetable hater may realize the benefits of understanding the nutritional components they are missing by avoiding vegetables so they can make that up with other foods.

Still another way to see it, knowledge and understanding is usually beneficial in some tangible way, but there is also just pleasure in exploring and becoming familiar with that which once was foreign.

I reference the things that were a little extreme above, but I also was introduced to artists and styles that I hadn't known that I did get to like through exposure and a little effort to understand.
"And that's one man's opinion," Doug Collins, CFJC-TV News 1973-2013
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tbdana
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by tbdana »

cb56 wrote: Mon Jun 10, 2024 11:34 am I hate eating vegetables but I want to learn to be a vegetable gardener
More like I hate playing sharp keys but want to learn how to do it, anyway.

It's all about being a more well-rounded musician, which should be a goal we all share.
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by AndrewMeronek »

It can make a big difference associating any music with social interactions.

Try to find a swing dance event in your area. A "battle of the bands" is pretty much guaranteed fun. Bring a significant other, or family. Dress up. Get tired dancing.

Big bonus if the event has a swing dance lesson before the festivities start.

:good:
“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk
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harrisonreed
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by harrisonreed »

VJOFan wrote: Tue Jun 11, 2024 8:29 am Exactly! A person could take great pleasure in feeding friends and family with the produce from their garden, but not want to eat it.
I don't 100% buy this. You can't know something is good if you don't have a taste for it. In another related field, if the chef ain't tasting their food and cooking stuff they don't like eating, it probably isn't going to be good to eat.
On another tack, a vegetable hater may realize the benefits of understanding the nutritional components they are missing by avoiding vegetables so they can make that up with other foods.
100% ⬆️
cb56
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by cb56 »

Well hey, if you're that motivated grow that garden! Btw, what's wrong with sharp keys? If you ever aspire to be a funk player you'll need to be competent in the key of E
brtnats
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by brtnats »

I’d humbly note that the OP’s priorities are totally backwards. If you want to PLAY JAZZ, you have to PLAY JAZZ, period. You don’t learn classical trombone by just listening to recordings. The recordings are just yardsticks to measure your understanding and your progress. That’s the whole point of transcriptions; it’s a way to play and absorb a style. It’s not a catch-22, it’s a closed learning loop: Act—>Evaluate—>Modify—>Act… Act first.

But the attitude of “I hate this, I’ll listen to it if I have to so I can understand and play it” is literally never going to work for you. You won’t have the drive to transcribe and assimilate the style. Spin up Spotify or Apple Music or some kind of paid service where the algorithm can make recommendations, because OP seems to dislike the standards. If you like Classical and tolerate the Kenton band, start with something like Gil Evans or Maria Schneider. Listen to jazz covers of classical pieces by Jacques Loussier. Or skip jazz altogether and get into Baroque music or early music or (even better) something that doesn't even have trombones but is improvisational like Bluegrass or Hindustani classical.

It seems like the basic idea OP is wanting to learn is how to create music on-the-fly with other musicians using a standard language. Jazz isn’t the only door into that. If you don’t like it, you’re not going to learn it well.
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Re: Jazz is a Catch-22

Post by Wilktone »

Why are you interested in jazz in the first place? If you don't enjoy listening to it, why do you care if you learn to understand it?

I don't know your background. Are you wanting to make yourself more versatile so you can be a better freelancer? If so, just suck it up and do the work the job requires. Every career requires you do some things that you'd rather not in order to do your job well. If that's not worth the effort because you're an amateur or not really loosing out on gigs, then don't bother. Make yourself happy with the music you make.

Dave
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