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Another thread here poignantly asks us "what do you mean by jazz". There's a lot of answers that could be given, yet few in or outside of music necessarily consider contemporary improvised music jazz. Is it time for a more descriptive term that leaves the term jazz to those who cling to this as their domain for a style from the past?

Would love to hear your ideas. Here's one to get started: Contemporary Improvised Music of the 21st Century or "CIM21".

All the best to all of you for 2020...have a 2020 vision!
 

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Reading threads on here recently on topics such as who can teach, what should be taught, how learning should happen, what you’re supposed to sound like, and how people should play has been making me think about jazz and “jazz” a lot lately. It seems like the traditional jazz music perhaps up to the hardbop or maybe even the soul jazz era has been made into an exercise in academia where everyone’s so uptight about keeping to tradition and “making the changes” using regurgitated licks and unimaginative patterns with that it’s almost like classical music. May as well start writing out the solos for standardization like all the parts of classical music that were once improvised by featured soloists instead of just memorized bits of good writing by someone else. The more I find my own voice, the more the tons of really boring button pushers stand out as having nothing of their own to say.
Slightly tangential and probably an unpopular take, but yeah. Back on topic: genres are lame and no, all improvised music isn’t “jazz”, though it os often the catch all for the oft-instrumental music that can’t easily be categorized.
 

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I’m not sure it matters.
Regardless of how one person likes to categorise something, the next person has their own view on what it is.
So regardless of whether you think it’s “Jazz” or not, I may see it as that.
 

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I’m not sure it matters.
Regardless of how one person likes to categorise something, the next person has their own view on what it is.
So regardless of whether you think it’s “Jazz” or not, I may see it as that.
It's obvious that any individual can categorize anything in ant way they see fit. It just may suit some to define themselves to an audience as something besides the music that swperry1 and myself are not fond of being lumped in with. Most people have an idea of what "smooth jazz" is, so there's something that an audience can either identify with and like, or not. I, for one, don't wish to be associated with an academic sort of music (re)created by people who are worshiping players from 60 years ago. I can (and did) enjoy what they did, but don't particularly want to be some sort of tribute band type player for a bygone era.

Identity is important and audiences like to have some idea of what they are listening to. It's a very human thing to classify and ID things...like it or not.
 

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Would love to hear your ideas. Here's one to get started: Contemporary Improvised Music of the 21st Century or "CIM21".

All the best to all of you for 2020...have a 2020 vision!
And a happy MMXX to you to :)

The term contemporary Improvised music (whether MMXX> or not) is already taken and has been for a while.

It has not much to do with “ jazz” although there may be part of it in it.

As you may remember at the Bimhuis there is a workshop if “ improvised music” . The leader there often struggles to assess the fact that it is not a “ jazz” workshop because it is , simply, trying to assess a way (but not exactly a methodology) to put people together and interact WITHOUT referring to a canon (which often jazz is).




other people in the world do similar things.



 

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It's obvious that any individual can categorize anything in ant way they see fit. It just may suit some to define themselves to an audience as something besides the music that swperry1 and myself are not fond of being lumped in with. Most people have an idea of what "smooth jazz" is, so there's something that an audience can either identify with and like, or not. I, for one, don't wish to be associated with an academic sort of music (re)created by people who are worshiping players from 60 years ago. I can (and did) enjoy what they did, but don't particularly want to be some sort of tribute band type player for a bygone era.

Identity is important and audiences like to have some idea of what they are listening to. It's a very human thing to classify and ID things...like it or not.
My point is that improvised music is just that.
It may have Jazz, Rock, blues or whatever roots or be a combination of many styles or none, so classification as a genre would be just as broad as the “Jazz” classification your wishing to avoid.
 

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I think there is a difference.

Jazz improvisation has often (but not always ) a reference canon and more importantly (outside of free jazz), it is centered on the playing of the “ changes” as being the turning point , the direction and compass of the improvisation.

https://www.jazzeveryone.com/playing-the-changes/

This is NOT necessarily ( and in fact I would postulate it isn’t ) what is done in contemporary improvised music at all. So, there is a very important difference between the terms of Jazz improvisation (done between the hyphenation of the changes) and improvisation “ per se”, non-changes dependent.
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Is late Coltrane jazz then? But where were the chord changes?
Jazz obviously can have chord changes but it is not at all obligatory IMO.

Modal jazz can have one chord so technically it doesn't change. Or there could be two alyternating chords - do people call that "chord changes?"

Various forms of free jazz can have chord changes, but they may be based on the harmony that is totally improvised not on a formal preconceived chord structure.

For example players such as Coltrane, Ornette Coleman were playing improvisation that did not necessarily have a predetermined harmonic structure. BUT harmony is created on the fly when other instruments are also improvising - hence there are "chord changes" just not what would be called changes in a lot of more conventional or older forms of jazz.

[edited to add the word harmonic in above parargraph)
 

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of course Coltrane used changes and developed his own theory of changes which he carried through also the late , less melodic, career . Chord substitution makes it less recognizable but they are there.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coltrane_changes




“ These new songs would start off as ballads and end up as agitated ruminations, or they would be agitated from the beginning building up a huge amount of momentum without ever coming near a steady pulse. Coltrane's playing was intensely melodic and often a solo would consist of cascading and childlike melodies, bounced off of the rolling rhythm section. There were no more "sheets of sound". This was very sophisticated music, and as your ears get adjusted to the sound, you become more aware of how structured this seemingly "free" jazz is.

https://rateyourmusic.com/list/yerblues/a_late_period_john_coltrane_songbook/


Most casual listeners of John Coltrane rarely explore his post-A Love Supreme work. However, the music he recorded after his universally-praised masterpiece is often more challenging, demanding, and difficult to enjoy. As he moved away from the Quartet lineup and experimented with new musicians, sounds, and approaches to his music, Coltrane created music--often aligned with "The New Thing" and free jazz--that confounded many of his new fans at the time. This list will highlight some of the nuggets of this period of his musical career up to the time of his untimely death. It should be noted that much of this material was released posthumously. There are many reasons why: 1) the time limitations of vinyl records; 2) the marketability of this music in the late 1960s; 3) Coltrane's death and the legacy he sustained afterward, combined with a vast archive of unreleased recordings, insured that this stuff would slowly eek out over the years. This list is intended for Coltrane fans who may not have had the courage to check out this later period of his career or who are more generally interested in free jazz. Those not interested in this type of music would probably serve themselves best by avoiding this collection of songs.


https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/weekly-standard/john-coltrane-and-the-end-of-jazz

Coltrane’s late style began on the legendary Davis album Kind of Blue (1959), and jazz began to die there too. Working in both directions at once, Coltrane erected ever more complex chordal ziggurats while also flattening the structures of the music back into the formless modal void. After departing the Davis group and signing as a solo artist to Atlantic Records, in 1960 Coltrane created the new chordal landscape of “Coltrane changes” with Giant Steps: Rather than returning to the home key by the traditional cycle of fourths, Coltrane shifted the tonal center by major thirds. Musicians call this challenge to mind, ear, and fingers the “Three Tonic” system.


This revolution had been incubating in plain sight, and in some very traditional places. Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm” (1930), the locus classicus of the cycle of fourths that became a nervous tic in bebop, makes the major-third jump when it enters the bridge, only to return to the home key by a steady sequence of fourths. “Have You Met Miss Jones?” (Rodgers and Hart, 1937) and “I Remember You” (Victor Schertzinger and Johnny Mercer, 1941) also use major-third shifts. Coltrane himself experimented with major-third shifts in a 1956 recording with Davis, “Tune Up.” In the 16-bar sequence of “Giant Steps,” Coltrane made 10 major-third shifts, all set up with two-step chromatic substitutions in fourths, as if to remind us how far we have come. And he played this as fast as possible—too fast for most players: The tonal center changes about every eight beats and it starts to shift after only two beats. Just as your mind and ear find their balance, the harmonic floor gives way beneath your feet. Coltrane hammers through these changes with barely a pause for breath.


Now for the originals—two tracks that haven’t been heard elsewhere and have been named here for the slate numbers assigned by the studio producer. “Original 11383” is a fast and furious blues number. The chord changes are so heavily overwritten with modality that among the early reviewers, only the pianist Ted Gioia noticed it was a blues piece at all. Again, the suspicion that A Love Supreme is a summing-up is hinted at by the way the pushed emphases in “Original 11383” anticipate “Pursuance,” the third section of A Love Supreme. Meanwhile, “Original 11386” is Latin-inflected, with the stops and structures of fifties hard bop and Coltrane pushing against form with slow belligerence. As you can see the career of Henry Moore foreshadowed in a single Picasso sculpture, so you can hear in Coltrane’s soloing on this track a foreshadowing of the calmer, melodious Pharoah Sanders of the 1980s, in particular Sanders’s “Africa.”
 

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Modern/ contemporary improvisation isn’t jazz because chord changes aren’t followed, but modal stuff (Trane) and free jazz (Ornette) without chord changes is jazz because the people playing it are creating or implying chord changes...sounds muddy. Wow. Have an awesome 2020!
 

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I don’t care what you call it. Either something specific, or just jazz, or music, in general.

It all comes down to this: It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.

(‘nuf sed)
 

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I think the ...'problem' with this convo so far is we are stuck on the 'improvisation' thing, and it's association with Jazz.

As others have pointed out, an "Improvised Music" genre need not be synonymous with Jazz...and there are a lot of historical examples of this already.

So to separate from "Jazz", seems to me all which need be done is identifying some add'l qualities of "Jazz" beyond it being a music which features improvisation, and may or may not have chord changes. Because it obviously has many other attributes which help define it, beyond simply improv. and changes, no...?

Since again, a musical piece may have both improv and chord changes (or no chordal structure), and not be 'close' to what we (or most folks) would consider 'Jazz'...which I think was the OP's point (?)
 

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I see nothing wrong with calling contemporary improv just that. If it's got no relation to what most of us understand "jazz" to be (as difficult as that term might be to describe), I see no reason to call everything that is improvised today jazz. It's one thing to build on the foundation of jazz and play something new (that's what improvising is) and another altogether to call everything jazz. If you do that the term loses all meaning. How about 'blues' or 'funk'? These terms have to mean something. But then again, it's all "music."

So yeah, going back to the question in this thread's title, maybe you can come up with a term that isn't "jazz" (unless it IS jazz).
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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I see no reason to call everything that is improvised today jazz.
Absolutely! - and why that should ever have been suggested is a bit absurd, when you get improvisation in blues, rock, pop, country, contemporary classical ( - aka Western "Art" Music whatever you want to call it) raga plus a whole load of other genres in Asia, Africa and other continents that sadly I am not as familar with but they are important.

Improvisation is nealy always a part of jazz but never ever a definition for it.
 

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For example players such as Coltrane, Ornette Coleman were playing improvisation that did not necessarily have a predetermined structure. .
This is not entirely accurate. The range of musical structures extends from the smallest: sub-motif, motif to the largest: sonata, symphony. Small structures are always in the pocket of improvisers, from where they are spontaneously pulled out. In the absence of prescribed harmonic and melodic structures, in free improvisation they are created spontaneously. The result of group improvisation is all the more interesting. However, there is a warning: free non-structural improvisation requires prior composer talent - in order to avoid musical chaos.
 

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I'd recommend sitting through the 4 programmes of Derek Bailey's "On The Edge"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edy2QlP_jaU
All improvisation is by definition "contemporary" even if the context isn't. I remember hearing violinist Alison Blunt, a contemporary improviser if ever there was one, talking about her audition for music school and deciding on the spot to improvise a cadenza in the classical work she was performing rather than play the written one..
 
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