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For the first half century of jazz, the "hot stuff" was coming mostly from people who were playing something VERY new for their time, be it Louis (OK, this is a sax forum, so let's say Bechet), Bird, or Trane. The hotest stuff was very generally coming from people while they were still in their 20s and 30s. A large percentage of the latest fake book was made up of tunes written within the then-current decade. The music was always fresh, changing, different.

Say what you want, but somewhere in your tummy y'all know it ain't happenin' quite that way right now.

I mostly dropped out of playing 30 years ago and returned 2 years ago, only to find, quite differently from Rip Van Winkle, that everyone was still playing the same tunes. Moreover, the reviews of the "major" jazz albums of the last year or so have been primarily about Keith Jarrett at Carnegie Hall, Sonny Rollins' and Ornette's new albums, Michael Brecker's final album, and the discovered Monk/Trane album--ALL artists we were familiar with 35 (to 55) years ago! Who's the greatest alto play right now? Anybody out there say Phil Woods? When was his 70th birthday?

I'm not saying this to disparage the current music. NOT AT ALL. Rather, I think if we're going to move on, we gotta face facts, gentlemen (and lady if any such be out there). All art forms mature. When they do, the speed of change and excitement declines. Watch what happens to the size of the lines waiting to get into the Met when the special exhibit switches from Picasso to whatever came after him. If a non-music person is asked to "name names" regarding classical music, they can all come up with Bach, Mozart, & Beethoven, but then it sorta peters out a little . . .

Here's where I'm going: we pretty much all can acknowledge that being able to play great traditional jazz in that old style is completely legitimate, and can be creative and beautiful. Ditto regarding bop, the music that has arisen out of Trane's magic quartet, etc., etc. Ain't nothin' wrong with ANY of it. Great music! But, at least for the moment, we at least partly "stuck" within those frameworks none of which have been new for a long time. For jazz to consider itself a matured art form that isn't zooming to some new place all the time is a sea change in perception from how jazz most musicians felt about the music in the 1920s or '40s or '60s. I think there's something to be said for facing this reality. Perhaps there'll be a little less complaining about "how everyone new sounds the same." What do you expect them to sound like? OK--I admit new ideas haven't ALL been explored, but a whole lot of turf has already been covered, and by geniuses who are likely heads and shoulders above what any of us are likely to be able to achieve in this short lifetime. In contrast, jiving oneself never seems to be an ulitmately good solution for anything.

OK. Time for me to shut up so y'all can start throwin' darts . . .
 

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No darts at all, really. All major innovative art forms follow some kind of trajectory, I think. Maybe a similar thing happened with cinema in the twentieth century. Of course there are still many fantastic players out there doing new things and there are new things to be done that haven't been thought of yet but the speed of change has slowed and the focus of change has shifted from fundamentals to peripherals, in my opinion. But how does this affect what we do now? I think that's what you're implying by starting this thread, isn't it? I really don't have an answer to that other than maybe "trust the music". I'm hoping someone else is going to come up with something better than that.
 

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i see what you are getting at and i kind of agree, we need a sudden new, young (ish!!) talent in jazz. i know many people would disagree but in a way, Jamiroquai, or at least some of his work, bears resemblance to acid jazz, which i suppose is the modern jazz form, we have herbie hancock, jazz has evolved, it went from big band, to sort of quintet work, then bebop came about and it kept changing and around the 80s/90s it really evolved to acid jazz, and crossover stuff in a way. although the jazz style of the 50s and 60s is still around, it is almost 100% imitations, nothing fresh or new, as you said.
 

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Very relevant topic. Propers.

There are people doing very current, progressive, and appealing things with jazz, but these people are often unconcerned with categorization. My favorite example (as anyone who knows me will tell you) is the Mark Turner/Kurt Rosenwinkel scene: guys who have absorbed many traditions of Western and global music and have developed brilliant sounds out of them, whole improvisational vocabularies that are bad as all hell, and fresh, fresh, fresh.

There are other artists who have jazz backgrounds yet are moving music forward, also. Roy Hargrove's RH Factor is a great example of this; everyone in this group is independently famous in other countries, even if they're relatively low-key in America, thanks to their involvement in this and other similar jazz/funk/R&B experiments that work really well. Keith Anderson, Bobby Sparks, Bernard Wright, Roy of course, etc. are apparently rock stars in Japan.

My band Snarky Puppy is trying to make music that draws on the members' backgrounds in popular music as well as jazz, and we try to take a cue from Miles, who always thought the modern dance music of whatever era he lived in was a valid medium for great music. I think he was right. Music is music. I love jazz, and I love the possibilities of mixing it up to make something new and exciting.
 

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How about Jordan Rudess? Or progressive 'metal' bands such as Dreamtheater, who have many jazz harmonies in their music? Or psychadelic music, that's been inspired by the jazz attitudes? Or modern Spyro Gyra-type music, which is basically jazz+electronic processing? Or specific styles of dance music such as that of St. Germain, which add a modern feel to jazz recordings and let people dance to them again?

My opinion is that jazz has never been a specific thing, just a feel, and has always been making it's way into contemporary music. It went into cabaret bands and evolved into big bands. It transformed that music. After WWII, small ensembles in clubs took that feel and out came the age of small quartets and quintets, etc... Jazz molded itself into R&R, Funk, R&B, Rock, Psychadelic, and Progressive music over the years. I'm optimistic that this trend will keep going on as long as someone has got something to say.

A couple of years back, I heard someone saying that all of today's jazz saxophonists sound the same, including but definitely not limited to Redman for example. Just an example. But, he HAS got his own style, and anyone can spot an audio clip of his just from the first 5 seconds.

Jazz has always been challenged, ever since it's conception. It's made it through attempts at preventing the youth from hearing it, through drastic changes in it's harmonies and structures. It's had so much competition over the decades, yet it still sells quite damn well. Musicians from all styles brag if they can play jazz since it is the underlying ground upon which all modern music is built.

I think my kids in the future will be listening to jazz, recordings contemporary to them, and it'll all be new. People are still going to argue that jazz is 'aging' but the fact is, we're aging, but jazz is beating time.
 

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Jazz was a lively scene until is served the purpose of producing dancing music or providing musical entertainment to a one time large audience, when its place was taken from rock and later form other musical forms of entertainment, it has progressively intellectualized and entered a progressive codification process (which is a contradiction in terms for an art form which is based on improvisation) in a process which is not unlikely to bring it one day in the same spot where classical music is today.

Jazz lost the verve of being a popular and revolutionary art form and entered the institutionalization becoming an intellectual form of art practiced largely by repeating codified forms, it entered the conservatoires and although still resist in clubs these clubs are not anymore (the great majority of them) what they have ever been in the past.
 

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RootyTootoot said:
All major innovative art forms follow some kind of trajectory.
Absolutely. And that trajectory is a flattening curve.

As jazz progresses we stand on the shoulders of those that went before.

However, the standards have been set so high, and every nook
and cranny of the music has been so thoroughly explored, it is
becoming very difficult to come up with new and fresh ideas.

If we have to get to Coltrane's level first, for example, then progress
on from where he left off, that is a mighty big challenge.

Joshua Redman was mentioned above. I have many of his CD's.
One in particular, 'Elastic', to my ears, is quite revolutionary.
The chromatic things he does and some of his ideas on that album
sound so original to me.

I have been listening to a lot of music from other countries recently,
such as Brazil, Turkey, Bulgaria, Greece etc.

The Brazilians, from what I hear, are not standing still.

The Eastern countries have much from their legacy, that could contribute
to modern Western music. I know Brecker was studying Bulgarian musical
concepts in his latter years.
 

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I don't think the problem is the technical evolution of Jazz, probably, never before, as many people were as good at playing jazz as they are now but the story, I believe, is different, you can run very fast and with style, but in circles and go nowhere...... or perhaps a little less fast or with less style while going ahead somewhere.

I think that nowadays the first is more true than the second. The reality is that jazz has become a recognized form of official art with a canon and a tradition as opposed to a form of art which served a purpose and had a space in the contemporary daily scene.

As it happened to classical music it has lost a great part of the a place in the here and now and increasingly gained a status which is based on the celebration of the past rather than projection in the future.

The fact is that any form of art, as it gaines status and intellectualizes, looses contact with the large audience shrinking to a form of art for few.

Nothing wrong with that but Jazz will never be anymore what it was from the beginning of the last century until the 50's and 60's (from the 70's n it has been a slow but constant decline)
 

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hey, that is exactly what upsets me, there was always someone else analysing, manipulating and controlling and very often relabling black music in america. I think, if this music was free of all the meddling we would be probably still listening and dancing to swing. want some examples just look at cuba! or brasil! man! just turn on the radio and listen to all the crap that some record company excutive decided to make into a star just because they had the right look or should I say the right paint job!
lets not forget the reason bebop even exisited was because it was becoming more and more difficult for big bands. bebop was essentually unground


"Nothing wrong with that but Jazz will never be anymore what it was from the beginning of the last century until the 50's and 60's (from the 70's n it has been a slow but constant decline)"

yeah, maybe in america!


I totally disagree!
 

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Part of the problem, and I think this is what Milandro is getting at,
is that because Jazz is now studied at tertiary level, we are turning out a
bunch of technical clones, who play wonderfully in the idiom, but don't have
the life experiences to create new art.

The guys we all admire from the past all had to deal with a lot of negative crap in their lives.

Jazz used to develop and grow in the competitive environment of
the club scene.
The clubs just are not as thick on the ground anymore.
 

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I don't get what you don't agree about.....the decline is evident in terms of sales (in percentage of the market) and social significance af the phenomenon Jazz (just think of how many hours per week television was dedicating to Jazz say in the 50's 60's and how many does it get now....), which at one time , before it entered conservatoires and concert halls, was the music of the young.

Brasil has a lively musical scene largely based on their particular forms of traditional music which also integrates many elements of jazz, but one could hardly argue that Brasil has , at large, a more widespread jazz scene than elsewhere. Cuba goes very much on the same line, due to the the enbargo most of musical Cuba is, unfortunately, underexposed to foreign influences , this has preserved (along with the cars of the fifties) some of the jazz scene of a bygone era.

The music scene in Cuba is very lively because, unlike everywhere else, live music is still the best source of entertainment for the majority of the people. Cuba is one of the very few places in the world where people don't dance to the sound a record but the one of a live band.

"...Jazz will never be anymore what it was from the beginning of the last century until the 50's and 60's....."

This is, I am afraid my friend, a fact, not so much an opinion, the reasons might be many and we can discuss that, but it is a fact that jazz was the music of the young generations for at least half century but that is no longer the (general) case. That position was taken by the Rock (and all the re-incarnations which this term had in the last 50 years) and it is still like that whether you like it or not.
 

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kavala said:
we are turning out a
bunch of technical clones, who play wonderfully in the idiom, but don't have
the life experiences to create new art.
.

Our modern culture in general (not Jazz in particular) is getting very good at studying and performing almost anything from the past (hence the need to codify it) and more than ever large amounts of people are participating in arts which once were only reserved to an elite . I am afraid that when you pour a liquid once very deep in a small vat in a vat with a wider surface, it becomes very wide but very shallow indeed! We are getting very bad at renewing old things in general but especially at creating NEW things, this goes alongside getting much better at keeping things alive (conservation) and ruminating on things past ( post modernism).

The post modern world is very good at quoting a tradition while lacking the same succes in performing the act of creativity.:shock: :cry: :!:
 

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It depends on what your definition of is is

To me, Jazz is not simply a set of chord progressions, licks and rhythms. It's not a style, so much as a way of organizing a group musical expression and a way of organizing improvisations.

In that sense, it continues to develop, just not always under the name of jazz. In that sense, too, it has always more-or-less remained the same, from the days of Jelly Roll Morton on up through today.

The elements of jazz, to me, consist of the relationship of the soloist to the group, and a particularly fluid way of giving everyone their solo spot, yet somehow working together. Another element is the relationship between what is planned and what is improvised.

It's easy to see this contrast if you play in a pop music band. On those rare occasions that I do, a premium is put on playing the tempo and the signature licks from the tune correctly. For example, I can't imagine most pop audiences accepting a performance of the Beatle's "Something" without that signature guitar lick, even if you have to play it on some other instrument. And there are plenty of licks in other tunes that are not as important to the tune as that one which are also emulated as closely as possible.

In contrast, in a jazz group, the signature licks are often the first to go.

And tempo? No jazz group would feel bound by a particular tempo. It's always something like, hey let's see how it would sound like as a slow ballad, or let's double the tempo and see what happens!

The relationship of this ethos with other forms of (particularly) American music was brought home to me by one writer who drew the connection between Charlie Parker, on the one hand, and Bill Monroe on the other.

Before then, I thought that bluegrass was simply an old-timey music, and in some respects, it is rooted in old traditions (as is jazz). But really it is a new (well, the same age as bebop) form of music honed by Monroe and Earl Scruggs. If you compare it to actual performances of older country tunes, it's easy to see the influence of jazz in the improvisations and soloing, as well as the way the rhythm section supports the soloists. Granted it's not a perfect corollary, but then, what is?

An interesting contrast would be to a contemporary jam session of Irish musicians in Ireland. Irish music has undergone it's own renaissance in the last fifty years, and improvisation is a part of it, but that improvisation is mainly limited to decorations on the notes, and not changing the tune. Nor is there anything like improvising on the changes, nor is there a backing rhythm section (except maybe the bodhran). I guess I mention it because it makes a useful contrast as a music that is developing (and beautifully) but without reference to what I would consider jazz.

So, to me, jazz is still growing and developing, just not where people always look. Granted, my viewpoint is not a standard one, and your mileage may vary, but there you are.
 

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Ok, Jazz (was) is in essence, improvised music (or is it? Big band stuff isn't except for solos...), as most of the traditional (folk or not) music and even great part of the " classical" repertoire which allowed for considerable improvvisation,......... except at the time " classical music" was just called music.

We don't really have that much of that type of music going on nowadays and its diffusion among young generations is absolutely negligible.

When it comes to influences we are exposed so much to all sorts of influences and it is unlikey that even Irish folk music wouldn't pick up some elements of almost anything from here, there and everywhere.

But even if traces of this many influences are to be found anywhere their significance and impact is greatly depending on their popularity and of the fact that some are more established than others the world music culture at large.

So, although it is possible to think that Jimi Hendrix must have had some influences from Charlie Parker in his dexterity of a bluesman virtuoso, it is unlikely that Parker would be part of the background of most young musicians while the first would be for sure recognized as one of the most influential musician for the young generations.

Jazz is not dead, but it is a once revolutionary youngster which is gone to college, seen the world, got a good official job and now thinks less subversive thoughts that it ever did and more to his health insurance and pension.
 

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milandro said:
Nothing wrong with that but Jazz will never be anymore what it was from the beginning of the last century until the 50's and 60's (from the 70's n it has been a slow but constant decline)
To be honest, jazz was starting to be considered old-fashioned by many people from the 1950s on. It was not the hip young popular music trend of the era, but it was still subversive in many ways thanks to people like Max Roach and Mingus. Jazz evolved through the '60s and '70s and was very often revolutionary and popular; Weather Report and the Headhunters blew away young audiences by the thousands and played the same arenas Led Zeppelin did.

I think there are some really great observations here by everyone. I also think that the music will continue to live through ups and downs and will continue to be boosted when we least expect it in ways that might seem horrible to our small brains at first, just as fusion seemed horrible to many at the time.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
milandro said:
Jazz is not dead, but it is a once revolutionary youngster which is gone to college, seen the world, got a good official job and now thinks less subversive thoughts that it ever did and more to his health insurance and pension.
OK . . . I've been reading everyone's thoughtful comments to my initial query. It makes me think, maybe it's important to stop to appreciate the great creativity WITHIN THE CONFINES OF WHAT HAS BECOME A FORM THAT IS NO LONGER SOARING IN A FORWARD DIRECTION.

For my birthday, a friend got me Dianne Reeves' "That Day" album (from maybe 10 years ago?). I'm not proud to admit I'd never even heard of her before. I put the thing on, and while her singing might technically be considered a little "derivative" (I think there's a whole lot o' Sassy in that voice) she still 'be a MUTHA fuka!!! WOW. What great art, even if within the confines of what might have been done a few decades ago.

Then I started to listen to Mulgrew Miller, who backs her on on this album. It almost made me cry. This Monster of Taste may not have single-handedly changed jazz the way Fatha Hines or Bud or Monk or Bill Evans or Mcoy have done but he is playing at a VERY high level of art. He's listening to her every breath. If his ears were any bigger, he'd be an elephant.

I think it's important to remember that such great jazz is still being created, even if it's not SOO very different, as great jazz always used to be. Maybe that's the "best" we can do these days. And maybe that's enough!
 

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I've been very disappointed by the lack of progress in jazz so i've decided to, "shut up an' play!" :cool:
 

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Jazz as a musical style has had it's 15 minutes, but the jazz vocabulary is alive and well, thank you. As a player and a writer, the fusion of different styles, using the jazz vernacular as a base line for the language, is pregnant with possibilities. There is a great tradition of folk music from around the world that is improvisational, that jazz is a part of. This tradition is alive and well and I'm OK with somebody else worrying about what to call it............
 

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Progress, Schmogress

Does jazz really need to progress?

As I've mentioned in another thread, I'm not really convinced that art needs to progress at all. "Progress" seems like a category from science, and may not be applicable to what we do.

Now, if on a personal level, we are bored with what we are playing, or feel it is insincere, it's certainly necessary to move on to other things. But to concern ourselves with "advancing the music" may be a waste of time, and actually inhibit our musical growth.
 

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tenorocity said:
Does jazz really need to progress?
yeah this was the question that must have been going through Louis Armstrong (notoriously opposed to be bop) mind at one time.....fortunately we went past many tipes of Jazz ( which rightly is not a " genre" as such, but a musical attitude to playing...) for many decades until this day when this original form of art seems to have lost momentum....

Just as well that most artists, in general, always decide to take art somewhere else where it hadn't been before...... think what if mankind had declared itself satified with printing impressions of their hands on cave walls as sole and sufficient form of art........" Does art really need progress?"......thought the cave-artist the first time someone took a fancy to draw bisons and horses.......thank God the answer was....YES!:)
 
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