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Speed kills the swing/time to get back to dancing.

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  • HereticHeretic In the Pond✭✭✭
    Posts: 230
    Scot:

    Thank you for reminding me of hippie girls dancing for hours at Jefferson Airplane concerts.
  • oldsoutholdsouth New
    Posts: 52
    I love bop - that was the first jazz I started listening to, when I was a highschool kid reading Kerouac, so I'm not knocking it in anyway. I also love dixieland, swing, bigband, GJ, hot jazz, cool jazz, right up through Weather Report, Miles' Bitch's Brew and even more modern. So, I'm not knocking it in any way. Among my favorite guitarists was Barney Kessel, who with albums like "To Swing or Not To Swing" proved he could do both.... he also played on the Andy Griffith Show (when the Jim Lindsey character plays, it is Kessel's hands). As for the academic debate, that has always been a tension in jazz - remember how Gershwin changed minds with "Rhapsody In Blue", proving to the high brows that jazz could be sophisticated, or how Benny Goodman arranged the Carnegie Hall concert, showing the progression and variety of the music. The goal was to show that this new American form of music wasn't just pop music, but had substance worth study. So, it all goes hand in hand. My point, and I think that of a few others, is that the pendulum swung too far one way, to the exclusion of dance - becoming mostly the esoteric music of the high brow and the musician. And, while there is nothing wrong with that (and it could certainly be argued that it encourages musicianship and very high quality music), it limits its popularity among the less sophisticated listener, who may be more attracted to danceable rhythms or a pretty song like "Stardust' or "These Foolish Things". I think that is why Diana Krall is so popular - having a talented band and nice vocals at least doubles her audience (probably more since there are a lot more folks who like to sing along than there are musicians). BTW, Monk was not a high brow hipster to the exclusion of less sophisticated jazz - he was a big Bob Wills fan!

    The bottom line for me is that people should play the music they enjoy without being limited by whatever shibboleths of the time or rules might be imposed by the masters of smart. If you want to play swing music for dancers, you shouldn't be looked down on as not a REAL JAZZ musician if you don't play modally, for instance. It would be really weird to play modes in that style. But, I read a review by a REAL JAZZ-ologist not too long ago, putting Bucky and John Pizzarelli down for playing the guitar style appropriate to the music with Stephane Grappelli during his (80th I think) birthday concert. The guy was like "that style of guitar, while pleasant to listen to, is limited and not real jazz." The jackass who said that probably can't play a single note on any instrument, but has degrees in "jazz studies". That is the kind of academic I'm complaining about - not the true music lover who studies music in school out of a true desire to learn. I don't like people in any realm of life who try to fortify their success by "pulling up the ladder" and discouraging others.
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    i come from a very interesting mixed background; i befriended tons of gypsies over the past ten years, and learned GJ "their" way...

    but I also come from an academic background where I was shunned and still am today.. There were a few academics who were really nice to me, but by and large it wasn't the best experience for me..

    Despite acing auditions (perfect score on sight reading, ear training, harmony, etc...), i've been refused to music schools because of what I play...

    funny enough, the people who shun me are envious of the gigs that i get, i get paid to travel around the world, to work with the world's best musicians, i make a decent living doing nothing but music; they on the other hand, are pissed off at the world and forced to teach. I teach because I want to and I love it..

    so while i may never be accepted in the academic world, i win at real life :mrgreen::mrgreen:
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    i come from a very interesting mixed background; i befriended tons of gypsies over the past ten years, and learned GJ "their" way...

    but I also come from an academic background where I was shunned and still am today.. There were a few academics who were really nice to me, but by and large it wasn't the best experience for me..

    Despite acing auditions (perfect score on sight reading, ear training, harmony, etc...), i've been refused to music schools because of what I play...

    funny enough, the people who shun me are envious of the gigs that i get, i get paid to travel around the world, to work with the world's best musicians, i make a decent living doing nothing but music; they on the other hand, are pissed off at the world and forced to teach. I teach because I want to and I love it..

    so while i may never be accepted in the academic world, i win at real life :mrgreen::mrgreen:
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,161
    i come from a very interesting mixed background; i befriended tons of gypsies over the past ten years, and learned GJ "their" way...

    but I also come from an academic background where I was shunned and still am today.. There were a few academics who were really nice to me, but by and large it wasn't the best experience for me..

    Despite acing auditions (PERFECT score on sight reading, ear training, harmony, etc...), i've been refused to music schools because of what I play...

    funny enough, the people who shun me are envious of the gigs that i get, i get paid to travel around the world, to work with the world's best musicians, i make a decent living doing nothing but music; they on the other hand, are pissed off at the world and forced to teach. I teach because I want to and I love it..

    so while i may never be accepted in the academic world, i win at real life :mrgreen::mrgreen:
  • klaatuklaatu Nova ScotiaProdigy Rodrigo Shopis D'Artagnan, 1950s Jacques Castelluccia
    Posts: 1,665
    dennis wrote:
    I teach because I want to and I love it..
    And I will presume to speak for a great many of us who are grateful that you do, Denis. What you have contributed to the community of gypsy jazz lovers is incalculable.

    You can stop blushing now.
    Benny

    "It's a great feeling to be dealing with material which is better than yourself, that you know you can never live up to."
    -- Orson Welles
  • rimmrimm Ireland✭✭✭✭ Paul doyle D hole, washburn washington
    Posts: 605
    Dennis, with all due respect you have just hijacked a fairly interesting topic and told me how great you are. Anyway, yes, speed does kill the swing in my opinion, but the greats like Moignard and Gonzalo do pepper there solos with slower interesting parts. I think that younger players all try to play fast at the start-I know theres a quote somewhere by Django when he was asked about the bebop players basically saying that 'Man they play fast but when I started I showed them a few tricks'
    I got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell
  • I read somewhere about Django complaining that all the young guys coming up wanted to play fast, so he would play really fast theough songs with difficult changes until they gave up.
    The Magic really starts to happen when you can play it with your eyes closed
  • Bob HoloBob Holo Moderator
    Posts: 1,252
    rimm wrote:
    Dennis, with all due respect you have just hijacked a fairly interesting topic and ...


    Lol... If you know Dennis' sense of humor, then his comment doesn't come off like that. I sort of understood him to say (paraphrasing): "Swing is the Rodney Dangerfield of Jazz... but who cares because it's great music and a great scene."

    I've been reading this "speed kills" thread and Dennis' comment made me remember a few conversations ongoing for 40 years with my brother who is a traditional jazz trumpeter (Trad Jazz is... well, think Bix Beiderbecke, Kid Ory, Louis Armstrong, Red Allen)

    My brother has gigged for um, jeez - a while now. F... 35 years, I think. He has toured the country, toured the world, studied, taught etc... and in that time he's had several well known straight ahead jazz players sit in with his band. It's always the same. They wind up in Seattle and they hear there's this guy who plays this traditional early jazz and they show up and want to sit in for a set. He says they all more or less have a really tough time of it. His band is welcoming and they really lay back and give these guys every opportunity to shine, but these guys all try to "rip it up" and everything is modal and fast and atonal with brief glimpses of resolution here & there. Every single one of them tells him later they feel that playing this music was so much more difficult than they thought. He tells them: "Nah, you were great - it's just stylistically different - you're used to standing pretty far back from the canvas and throwing a lot of paint at it and you're going for wild exciting contrasts and explosive movement. We get right up on the canvas and paint a nude or a landscape. Neither is easy to do well, and both are easy to do poorly."

    In my own experience... I've seen a similar thing from the GJ perspective. I have a few friends from the straight ahead and post bop scene and it's entertaining to hear them talk about swing & GJ musicians. There is an implied "head patting" that goes on which is either comical or offensive depending on how you view it. I don't know what it is, but there is something that happens to a person when they learn to rip off a Miles Davis lick that doesn't seem to happen to a guy when he learns to rip off a Louis Armstrong lick - or Django lick. The guy ripping off Miles becomes convinced he's a god and the guy ripping off Louis becomes convinced that Louis was a god. I don't know why that is. I've played swing, gypsy, bop, big-band, & straight ahead... and I played them all just ever so slightly better than "poorly"... and I found them all difficult and rewarding in their own way.

    And in each of these genres I've found people who were celebrated for a brief period of time when they threw away the melody and cranked up the metronome. But it is always fleeting because the passers-by are the only ones who go crazy for the stunts. It's like watching a fireworks display - fun at first and then becomes boring no matter how many fireworks go off at once in the finale. I've never watched a fireworks show that lasted over 10 minutes and where I wasn't bored and ready to go when it was done. But I've gone to a lot of really tasty concerts by musicians who love the melody and swing hard... and at the end of two hours it's like... "Shit... I can't believe it's over already." I saw Greg Allman once - and hell - I'm not really even into his stuff all that much, but after two hours everyone in the audience felt like family. It was like we had all gathered there to start a religion or something. Most of what they played was mid tempo dirty blues but damned if they didn't suck the juice out of every note - and every rest so long that you fell into it begging for the next note. That concert was 24 years ago. I still remember it.
    You get one chance to enjoy this day, but if you're doing it right, that's enough.
  • TimmyHawkenTimmyHawken Lansing,MINew
    Posts: 118
    rimm wrote:
    Anyway, yes, speed does kill the swing in my opinion, but the greats like Moignard and Gonzalo do pepper there solos with slower interesting parts.

    Kind of a shitty back-handed compliment.

    Though, unfortunately for me, I haven't actually made it to Django in June, I think you must also consider that these guys are playing to their audience. When you're playing for a room full of aspiring guitar players, you show off.

    I got to see Gonzalo play with his quartet at the Green Mill in Chicago and you can't tell me that he doesn't understand melodies or know how to play slow. He is a highly technical guitar player, yes, but he is also an amazing musician. He is also one of the few players today writing beautiful compositions of his own, some beautiful ballads too.

    A year later I was lucky enough to be invited to a private show of Gonzalo and Adrien Moignard. That was one amazing show--but yes, it was more oriented towards high speed, full on amazing guitar showmanship. It was so much fun though, I loved paying close attention to the subtle ways they communicated to each other while playing. The next night they played at the Green Mill and I think to a certain extent they toned it down. Probably because the audience was different, and they played with a beautiful singer, Cerril Amee (sp?) who was wonderful.

    In hindsight, and my point is, I probably enjoyed Gonzalo's quartet show more, so there is some truth to the fact that when you get these giants of the genre together, it can become a more a jam and less of a concert. But don't say they're not first rate musicians who care only about speed--it simply isn't true. As others have pointed out, a jam session is always going to less about the music and more a pissing contest.

    Tim
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