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The Trombone ForumCreation and PerformancePerformance(Moderator: BGuttman) Why Do Jazz Artists Always Play The Same Old Stuff?
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robcat2075

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« Reply #20 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:07AM »

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.

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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.

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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« Reply #21 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:10AM »

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.


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.

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« Reply #22 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:12AM »

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.

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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ddickerson

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« Reply #23 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:16AM »

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

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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« Reply #24 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:17AM »

Is melody even necessary?
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robcat2075

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« Reply #25 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:20AM »

Mathematicians 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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« Reply #26 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:25AM »

It sounds to me that a lot of contemp pop music consists of someone swearing, bass, and beats.
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« Reply #27 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:25AM »

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.


Touché!

Is melody even necessary?

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

And 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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« Reply #28 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:28AM »

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 *****tiptoe through the tulips***** 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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« Reply #29 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:33AM »

It 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.

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 *****tiptoe through the tulips***** 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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« Reply #30 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:37AM »

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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« Reply #31 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:40AM »

Groups 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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« Reply #32 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:42AM »

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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« Reply #33 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:43AM »

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

Sure!
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« Reply #34 on: Mar 04, 2017, 07:48AM »

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.

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
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« Reply #35 on: Mar 04, 2017, 08:16AM »

Interesting article on past systems to manufacture music

Musikalisches Würfelspiel

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A 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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« Reply #36 on: Mar 04, 2017, 09:01AM »

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.
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« Reply #37 on: Mar 04, 2017, 09:10AM »


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

 Good!

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.  Evil 

...Geezer
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« Reply #38 on: Mar 04, 2017, 09:22AM »

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.  Evil 
:D :D :D 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.
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« Reply #39 on: Mar 04, 2017, 09:40AM »

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

 Good!

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?  :D

...Geezer
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