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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I used to think of "Jazz" clarinet playing as different from "classical" clarinet playing. Honestly, Eddie Daniels "Metamorphosis" provided an abrupt end to that line of thinking but the roots of it were there long before.

The first recordings of the Weber Clarinet concertos that I had were of Benny Goodman playing them.

Bela Bartok wrote his phenomenal "Contrasts" for "jazz" clarinetist Benny Goodman.

I have two recordings of Benny playing the Mozart Clarinet quintet.

So where does the jazz stop and the classical begin? The Clarinet Concerto by Aaron Copland has lots of jazz elements to it. Alec Wilder wrote a "clarinet sonata" which uses all the forms of popular song of his era. On and on and on, that that's just clarinet.


Once upon a time, about every 20-30-40 years "Jazz" went through a metamorphosis. The last metamorphosis that I'm aware of happened in the 1970's, starting with Bitches Brew and continuing with Return to Forever and other Jazz-Rock groups along those lines. I well remember the Stan Kenton Album that came out in 1974 that featured arrangements of songs by Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears.

So, where's the latest metamorphosis going to come from?

"Jazz" has become a "Thing". A "Style"..you do "it"..this way, any other way is "wrong" or at the very least, "less right". I notice that the Stanford Jazz Program focuses *Extremely* heavily on Bop and post-Bop styles. Very little attention is paid to anything earlier than that, and "free Jazz" is nonexistant. Every 20-something that comes to the Monday Night Jams at the student coffeehouse knows every major bop tune by heart, can rip through the changes but are totally unaware of almost anything else, outside that genre. Not one of them can play a ballad that contains any actual emotion.

In other words, Charlie Parker has become the functional equivalent of Beethoven. I'm kidding of course, but just barely. And that, really is why I don't even try to call it "Jazz" any more. You might as well go to a Classical music conservatory.

So, where's the next musical metamorphosis coming from? Who will be the next Charlie Parker / Beethoven because of the innovation they spawned from 2015-20??

What do you think?
 

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I’ve never thought of Jazz as a style but as a methodology which can be applied to any style music.

Pop, folk songs (melodies) can be treated this way and become “ Jazz” not because they are “ Jazz” (they are obviously not) but because the Jazz method is applied to them.

If you apply that type to methodology using the chord changes as a road map for improvisation, you are playing Jazz, otherwise you are playing free improvisation music , which, is not , strictly speaking, jazz.

Well, I don't think that Jazz is properly a " genre" but rather a methodology, an approach to playing music which , to some extent or other, has roots in certain musical traditions which could be classed as " genres" (traditional or sometimes called dixieland, Blues, Be-bop, Hard-Bop, .......etc.) and that like all definitions of genres in art serves more a taxonomic purpose to the critic or the journalist or the audience than to the artist who is concerned with other things. So as a Methodology it requires at the very least the improvisational approach to music which often times is built starting and departing by some common grounds among the musicians which is usually a repertoire or a certain body of set schemes. In fact, the branch of philosophy that concerns itself the most with art, aesthetic philosophy, has struggled quite a bit trying to find a definition of what a genre is, let alone defining the boundary of any particular genre.

As I said before Jazz is not a genre.

Jazz is a methodology which is used, especially in its live form, to shape improvisation which, though sometimes denied, it is an essential part of the Jazz tradition and method.

There are other methodologies in other music forms. Poetry ( and in fact one could argue that Poetry is a form of music) knows the same approach to methodology too.

The sonnet form, for example, is not a genre, you can write any type of poetry in it, but it is a method, a form.

If you apply this method or form or any other form to poetic improvisation, you don’t have a poetic genre, you have a poetic method.

The Jazz methodology can be applied to any genre of music or it can be the base to compose a piece which is not an elaboration of a previously existing and meant for other goals or developed within other genres piece of music.
this is the same song


 

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"Jazz" has become a "Thing". A "Style"..you do "it"..this way, any other way is "wrong" or at the very least, "less right". I notice that the Stanford Jazz Program focuses *Extremely* heavily on Bop and post-Bop styles. Very little attention is paid to anything earlier than that, and "free Jazz" is nonexistant. Every 20-something that comes to the Monday Night Jams at the student coffeehouse knows every major bop tune by heart, can rip through the changes but are totally unaware of almost anything else, outside that genre. Not one of them can play a ballad that contains any actual emotion.
This is sad but I do tend to agree that this is the way jazz education seems to be. maybe less so in the Uk and Europe, but I get the feeling it is like that in the US.
 

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The question of "Is the word 'jazz' still valid or appropriate?" is very complicated...I won't take that on.

I will say that I believe that improvisation is more than a musical strategy, it is an approach to life. There's a particular world-view associated with it. There's a connection between the musical freedom of a great improvisor, and the freedom (or lack of freedom) he/she experiences in their daily life.

Of course there's great music that isn't based on improvisation. But what I listen for in improvised music is the musician's inner freedom, and the way this demonstration of freedom reflects the conditions of freedom/unfreedom out in the world.

Fred Moten has written about improvisation as the cornerstone of life in Black America. Don't have access to health care? You improvise health care. Don't have access to an appropriate education? You improvise an educational system. Thus, musical improvisation is yet another demonstration of resilience and resistance to unfair and rigid structures; an affirmation of true vitality in the face of injustice.

Not implying that Black music or Black political struggles are the only ones that matter. But I think improvisation becomes powerful when the musician connects it with the totality of his/her life -- which includes the social/economic/cultural conditions the musician lives under. If that awareness is not there, the music is just decoration.
 

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I will say that I believe that improvisation is more than a musical strategy, it is an approach to life.
+1 I would add: jazz is the philosophy and strategy of life. If you look through his glasses on classical or any other music, the result will always be different. than vice versa.
 

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"Jazz" has become a "Thing". A "Style"..you do "it"..this way, any other way is "wrong" or at the very least, "less right". I notice that the Stanford Jazz Program focuses *Extremely* heavily on Bop and post-Bop styles. Very little attention is paid to anything earlier than that, and "free Jazz" is nonexistant. Every 20-something that comes to the Monday Night Jams at the student coffeehouse knows every major bop tune by heart, can rip through the changes but are totally unaware of almost anything else, outside that genre. Not one of them can play a ballad that contains any actual emotion.
I meet young players all the time that can rip through stuff I'll never be able to play but on the flip side their tone and approach is really only workable in a Jazz Jam or Hard-Core Jazz situation. I have a lot of respect for this type of commitment; however, I can't imagine any of these players playing a wedding or horn band type gig. You know, actually earning money playing unless they really revamp their tonal concepts.

I also think its another part of getting older - "Kids don't play like they use to." With that said, I wish I'd spent more time on the BeBop stuff growing up. For me it was really a matter of exposure honestly never meet a 'real' jazz saxophonist until I was in college. I didn't even know about the "Omnibook" until I transferred colleges when I was 19 (Sad - I know)

Kids today have it ALL and the have it NOW. Which is awesome for them.
 

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"Jazz" has become a "Thing". A "Style"..you do "it"..this way, any other way is "wrong" or at the very least, "less right". I notice that the Stanford Jazz Program focuses *Extremely* heavily on Bop and post-Bop styles. Very little attention is paid to anything earlier than that, and "free Jazz" is nonexistant. Every 20-something that comes to the Monday Night Jams at the student coffeehouse knows every major bop tune by heart, can rip through the changes but are totally unaware of almost anything else, outside that genre. Not one of them can play a ballad that contains any actual emotion.
I might not have chosen to say it in the same semantics, but I agree with your gist.

This is what happens when Art becomes Academicized.

Not saying there is no value in academicizing Art, just sayin'...this is what happens.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
While Improvisation is the key to jazz, improvisation is not, emphatically NOT unique to jazz. Mozart was known as an improviser. The contemporary "classical" pianist, Gabriela Montero incorporates improvisation into a lot of her concerts.

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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eslMEAk6f9M

I saw Gabriela at San Francisco Jazz a few years ago. One of her "things" is that she asks people to sing her a tune, and then she improvises. So I took my chance, got up and sang "It don't mean a thing, if it ain't got that swing. Doo-wat, Doo-wat, Doo-wat, doo-wat"

What she played sounded like Scarlatti, I swear. She's a freaking genius. But is that "Jazz", and if it isn't, then what is it?...

and more to the point...

Does it matter?

I am honestly getting to the point now where yeah I play "Jazz" tunes in a recital sometimes, or use "Jazz" tunes in church. But I play music that does not incorporate what most people would call "Jazz" in the same recital, or same church service, all the time. We play a lot of Brubeck at our church and I often play those tunes in a trio of piano, clarinet and cello. They're not "jazz".

Honestly, where is the next metamorphosis going to come from? I think...this is my own opinion, that it's going to come from a further synthesis of "World Music" from different cultures, non Western cultures, with instrumentation and harmonies foreign to "Jazz". I think there are hints of that in the resurgence of Slavic Brass Bands, which are a rip-roaring good time. Klezmer has taken off in the past thirty years. Personally, somewhere in the last decade I quit thinking of it as "Jazz" or "Classical". It's just music. It's what I do.

I have in mind the incredible Jan Garbarek album, Officium, where Garbarek plays with The Hilliard Ensemble and improvises to Reenaissance, and earlier motets and songs. What's that? Put a label on that!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hkao55SyHoU



Honestly, I think the next metamorphosis may come from Mongolia, or Uzbekistan, or Africa.
 

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Malarkey.

Jazz is characterized by these things, among others:

- Jazz is predominately improvisational. The vehicle is secondary to the improvisation.
- Jazz is drawn from that which was previously deemed to be Jazz. Influences are important.
- Jazz incorporates other genres and idioms much more than they incorporate Jazz.
- Jazz constantly evolves. What was Jazz in the 1930's may not be Jazz now.
- Compositionally, Jazz contributes to an improvisational Jazz Lexicon. Quoting notable Jazz in improvised solos is a very common technique.

Add to the list. What makes it Jazz?

Copland is among my favorites, but obviously not Jazz. Weber too. Eddie Daniels and Benny Goodman are excellent players, so is Wynton Marsalis, that can play in multiple idioms with equal facility. That doesn't blur the line between classical and Jazz, in my opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I dunno, bokagee.

1. You wrote that jazz is predominately improvsational. The vehicle is secondary to the improvisation.

Well, here's a harpsichord improvisation. Is it jazz? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jP8WF_dv2M

Here's the Don Ellis Orchestra in the early 70's doing probably my all-time favorite tune out of that band... Niner-Two https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bAhTPATVI1Q

There IS improvization in that piece, but the vast majority of it, is written-out. So, is it jazz? I'm going to have a hard time swallowing the notion that Don Ellis didn't play jazz in 1976 or whenever that was recorded.

2.) Jazz is drawn from that which was previously deemed to be Jazz. Influences are important.

How about Coltranes's last years? Sun-Ra? Where did that stuff come from. How about the Turtle Island String Quartet? TISQ has recorded many classic jazz tunes, and certainly there is a long history of Jazz violin, but "jazz string quartet"? I totally agree with you that influences are important, but sometimes I think there are giant leaps of ...what? Faith? Innovation? Raw luck? that transcend prior influences.

3.) - Jazz incorporates other genres and idioms much more than they incorporate Jazz. .... I think you're probably right, though a case could be made that late 20th century modern western composers picked up a lot of jazz influences. Certainly Stravinsky did. But as a general rule, I'd agree with you in this statement.

4.) - Jazz constantly evolves. What was Jazz in the 1930's may not be Jazz now. --- That's a two part statement, I totally agree with the first part. Jazz constantly evolves. TOTALLY agree, and part of what spawned my writing of this post is that I feel that the evolution is actually part of what makes Jazz what it is....and there hasn't been a lot of it recently. However, I have to completely disagree with the second half of what you wrote. Just because something is older doesn't mean that it's not what it was. Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Bix Beiderbecke, these are not jazz any more? Count Basie from the last 30's is not Jazz any more?

I think that my point is not that you're right or wrong, or I'm right or wrong. I think I have three points.

1.) I was confused and excited by the jazz-rock innovations of the late 1960's through the late 1970's, though there came a point where blistering technique became more important that emotional communication. Still and all, that was a big metamorphosis. I don't recall there being another big metamorphosis since then, and "intellectual popular music" is overdue for one.

Such metamorphosis that HAS happened in "popular music" is that electronics and computers have largely replaced live musicians in a lot of popular recordings. Another metamorphosis that has happened is that "the internet" and especially YouTube has created a new venue for aspiring musicians to get heard and get publicised. You don't HAVE to have a recording contract with a big company any more. A perfect example of this is the raging popular group, PENTATONIX, which is terribly popular with younger folks...and a lot of older folks as well. But that's not really what I'm talking about.


2.) I, personally don't approach performance of a "classical" piece any differently any more, than I do a "jazz" piece. I need to say something. I'm long past thinking that just because there are written notes on a page, put there by someone else, that doesn't mean that *I* can't "say something" with musical phrases that I will create around that structure. The technical aspects are much the same....be relaxed... heart-on-fire, mind-on-ice... breath control... and so on. The specific techniques, like what scales to play, whether to bend a note or not, whether to use vibrato are not are no different in any venue. They're educated decisions to make.

3.) That "Jazz Education" at least near me, is hyper-focused one era and one performance style.

At one of the jams recently, I called for "My Favorite Things". None of the kids had ever heard of the song. I pointed out that it was recorded by Coltrane, Brubeck and a number of other big names. Blank looks. They all got out their phones and found the chord changes. The whole band started the tune WAY too fast. After we slowed it down it went better, but still, the 20-somethings had no idea how to play something slow, which had meaning...even light meaning.

Another night, I called Manha de Carnaval, which is in the Real Book as "Black Orpheus". Again...cascades of note, in the key changes that would fit a bop tune, but except for the pianist (who's a Philosophy grad student) not a melody or an emotional statement to be heard.

The very next Monday, one of the kids (they're all really great kids) called Oleo, and dear lord but half a dozen of these kids tore through those changes like you wouldn't believe. If anybody ever calls a 1950's 50's bop tune, they're all over it. ...but they can't really play anything else. It got me to thinking....

I'll say this...half of the pianists at the Monday night jams are graduate students (one extremely talented undergraduate) and they're all *extremely* conversant with Bill Evans. The undergraduate will actually play Cole Porter tunes on her own, now and then...which this old guy finds extremely refreshing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
If you can't call it Jazz then keep on practicing. That's what keeps me going.
I "coach (most would probably say "coerce") a lot of classical musicians in their first attempts at playing jazz. Here's what I tell them.

1.) you've played that thing in your hands since you were knee high to a grasshopper. You know that cello/oboe/viola/glockenspiel inside out and backwards. You can play hard tunes, easy tunes, all sorts of tunes on that thing.

So quit worrying about whether you're good enough.

2.) you sing in the shower, right? How about in the car? If you can sing along with a song, and even better...if you can make up something to sing with the song that's not the melody, then you can improvise.

3.) Fear sucks. Knock it off. Just play. Why are you so worried about what everybody else thinks? Just play the flippin' thing. In time, you'll get better at it.
 

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In my humble opinion, the academy/university environment doesn't foster creative innovation. Too much focus on pleasing profs and getting a grade. Good place for an art form to die.
 

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I have in mind the incredible Jan Garbarek album, Officium, where Garbarek plays with The Hilliard Ensemble and improvises to Reenaissance, and earlier motets and songs. What's that? Put a label on that!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hkao55SyHoU


.
It's so simple: a jazz musician plays not jazz. What is special about this?

Honestly, I think the next metamorphosis may come from Mongolia, or Uzbekistan, or Africa.
By a lucky coincidence, I was the musical adviser of Uzbek ethno-fusion ensemble "Jazzirama ", and helped solve the problems of preserving some jazz elements in rhythm, harmony and improvisation. Garbarek does not fall under this at all!
 

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Jan Garbarek plays a lot of non jazz music.

Just because one plays “ Jazz” doesn’t mean that all he does is has to be classed that way.

Same as John Harle who mostly plays and composes other types of music.


(the live take has some “ interesting” things on both intonation and tone by the way)


This is one of my favorite albums I simply love this version of Caravan


the Mooche

 

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At one of the jams recently, I called for "My Favorite Things". None of the kids had ever heard of the song. I pointed out that it was recorded by Coltrane, Brubeck and a number of other big names. Blank looks. They all got out their phones and found the chord changes. The whole band started the tune WAY too fast. After we slowed it down it went better, but still, the 20-somethings had no idea how to play something slow, which had meaning...even light meaning.

Another night, I called Manha de Carnaval, which is in the Real Book as "Black Orpheus". Again...cascades of note, in the key changes that would fit a bop tune, but except for the pianist (who's a Philosophy grad student) not a melody or an emotional statement to be heard.

The very next Monday, one of the kids (they're all really great kids) called Oleo, and dear lord but half a dozen of these kids tore through those changes like you wouldn't believe. If anybody ever calls a 1950's 50's bop tune, they're all over it. ...but they can't really play anything else. It got me to thinking....
Where are you located? I know maaaaaaaaaaany 20-somethings that can "play something slow which had meaning" or play "an emotional statement." I hear about this a lot, that younger musicians only "play fast" and can't play with feeling or whatever- I think the people who say this need to find new places to go to!
 

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Where are you located? I know maaaaaaaaaaany 20-somethings that can "play something slow which had meaning" or play "an emotional statement." I hear about this a lot, that younger musicians only "play fast" and can't play with feeling or whatever- I think the people who say this need to find new places to go to!
I agree with you Dave. This is a sort of rhetoric I've been hearing for years on this forum and in other places. Yet I have never witnessed once in person.

I often find myself saying this about older players I see at some of the jam sessions. They've got 40 years of chops and gosh darn it they're going to use all of them.

I think they could take a page out of some of the younger players books.
 
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