Tuesday, April 21, 2009

All That Jazz Part I: Variety


Last week I made a vague offer to take on the 'Album of the Week' slot at some point, with an album that might persuade some of the sceptics about the sheer wonderfulness of jazz. I've since been desperately trying to think of what album could possibly support such a reckless promise. After all, there are so many different reasons for disliking jazz, and so many different tastes in music displayed on this blog - how can one album address them all? I really ought to have kept my mouth shut.

And then, on Saturday night, somewhere in the middle of the third bottle of home-made cider, it came to me. Where to find great tunes for ToffeeBoy and Frog Princess, and wacky experimental stuff for Japanther and Shoey, and some heavy guitars for DarceysDad, and folky stuff for treefrogdemon and DebbyM? Not on any one jazz album - but in the whole history of jazz, certainly. And by the end of the fourth bottle, the idea of a series of posts on different aspects of jazz was more or less sketched out, and not even the risk of being compared with nilpferd's brilliant essays on Miles Davis records could deter me.

This isn't claiming to be a history of jazz, or a complete account of the genre. It's more like ToffeeBoy's pop music series, except that rather than focusing on different artists I'm going to be talking about themes or motifs, which will, I hope, add up to an impression - very much a personal impression - of what jazz is about. And if I spread the net wide enough, there will surely be something for more or less everyone in here somewhere...

That's the theme for this first selection: variety. All five of these tracks would normally be labelled jazz - even if some jazz fans might wish to deny that title to at least one of them. The issue of definition, of what is and isn't jazz (or is and isn't 'proper' jazz), of what limits can and should be set on what musicians do in the name of this music, has been argued over furiously for at least the last seventy-five years, if not longer. Almost any statement that one might make about jazz (even, perhaps, "jazz is a genre of music") could be disputed on the basis of a track produced by a jazz musician.

One response to this is to insist that, nevertheless, my definition of jazz is the true one, and everything that doesn't fit is therefore not proper jazz. Another is to develop looser and more flexible definitions; for example - as I'll be talking about in later posts - noting the importance of rhythm for jazz, rather than specifying a particular sort of rhythm. Another is to argue that the whole point of jazz is to question restrictions and to push beyond boundaries, so as soon as you try to 'define' jazz there will be a jazz musician wanting to probe that definition, question its limitations and turn it upside down...

Duke Ellington once remarked that he didn't know "how such great extremes as now exist can be contained under the one heading." These tracks are intended to illustrate that point (though I'm prepared for the possibility that, to a non-jazz fan, they may all sound rather similar): classic small groups to big bands and orchestras; traditional instruments to electronics and sound manipulation; almost free improvisation on classic tunes to carefully orchestrated compositions. The one thing all these tunes have in common, I think, besides the absence of vocals, is fun; a sense of the possibilities of music and sound, and of the joy of creation.

Sonny Rollins, Moritat (1956) - aka Mack the Knife
Colin Towns' Mask Orchestra, Dreaming Man in Blue Suede Shoes (1999) - Towns' main living is as composer of TV theme tunes and the like, but he's invested a lot of the profits in running his own big band and jazz orchestra to play his music
Emily Remler, Daahoud (1988) - cover of a classic Clifford Brown song
Food, Freebonky (2001) - British saxophonist Iain Ballamy and Norwegian trumpeter Arve Hendriksen, in experimental mood
Guy Barker, Sounds in Black and White (2002) - inspired by 1940s film music, with each instrument playing a different character. The sections are: Opening Titles; The Guy (described, when I heard this live, as a Cary Grant type); The Girl (Ava Gardner); The Bad Guy; The Chase, The Romance and The End.

44 comments:

Chris said...

As with TB’s last playlist, please accept my apologies, Aba, if my curtailed listening means I miss something good at the end of the tracks (more likely than with Coldplay, I think).
1. The cymbal rhythm is the one thing that makes me run screaming from so much jazz: it conjures up such an old-fashioned image. And then, after the tune is stated and we go into the improvisation, the change of beat emphasis is just so hackneyed. But this is an obviously unfair comment on a fifty year-old recording. The approach, however, still seems very prevalent today.
2. I like this. OK, you can hear it easily as film music but the harmonic palette is gorgeous and the flexible tempo seductive. It reminds me of a track off Zappa’s Hot Rats in places. Not too keen on the Jon Schofield guitar against the sixties brass though.
3. Closer to 1 in terms of jazz-format and the guitar sound, and so less my cup of tea. Nice playing, though.
4. Not absolutely free, so I can actually listen to it. Quite entertaining but this where there would be a discussion on whether or not this is actually jazz. Couldn’t care less what name it’s given, personally.
5. I’ve already spent more of my data allowance listening to this than I intended, so any comment on this track is not going to do it justice.

Thanks, Aba. A good selection.

nilpferd said...

Great idea, abahachi, and thanks for the plug..;-)
As far as pushing boundaries goes, fair enough, although I think a key aspect of jazz is subsuming past events and reinventing or reinterpreting them, rather than necessarily doing something no-one's ever considered doing before. It's the mix of new and old in a continual synthesis of styles which for me best expresses the genre, so in the spirit of the event you've inspired me to dropbox my own variety mix, seeing as it is a completely different one from your own.
Tracks to follow.

Blimpy said...

I really want to listen to this but Mrs McF is in the room...

nilpferd said...

Anouar BrahemBrahem taps into his Tunesian roots, as well as Django Reinhardt and Astor Piazolla.

Al EscobarEscobars sound, the classic big band/Latin soul mix.

Eddie HarrisHarris mastered a funky, popular sound without losing sight of Coltrane and Lester Young.

Ennio MorriconeMorricone channels Gil Evans and electric era Miles in this moody soundtrack, Un Uomo da Rispettare.

HybridsElectronics, percussion, Kora and brazilian folk music combine in Hybrids. It's still jazz.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ blimpy - it's jazz music - not hard core porn...

ToffeeBoy said...

@ abahachi - looking forward to listening to this and the others in the series. I think it will help me to understand what it is that I love about jazz and why some stuff leaves me cold ...

FreeBlimpy said...

@toffee - that's a t-shirt slogan right there!!

@aba - i like freebonky the bestest.

B-Mac said...

Ages ago, I came up with the idea of Mr Jazzy Suprise, who appeared in 3 net viral videos for an online jazz subscription service that never took off. If you have 43 seconds spare you may like to look at this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1B4CfwEiI-o

Shoegazer said...

Great version of Mac the Knife, but Freebonky was far and away the highlight for me, how could anyone not love a tune with that name? & then it goes and does what it says on the packet - all free & bonky.

Japanther said...

Thanks a lot for these Abahachi.

I don't mind sharing that i've been somewhat bitten by the jazz bug over the last 6 weeks or so. I started out just being interested in the more Abahachian experimental free-jazz stuff, but the more I listened, the more I wanted to know and am now trying to listen to as wide a range as possible.

Enjoyed pretty much all the tracks on offer here (I picked up a Sonny Rollins LP in a charity shop in a tiny tiny town in the middle of Sweden a couple of weeks ago, which I love), the Emily Remler track wasn't quite my cup of tea but i'll go with the crowd and double dond "Freebonky".

Have just reserved a book from the library called "The History of Japanese Free Jazz" which looks promising and should hopefully give some leads to a few more musical adventures!

steenbeck said...

Good lord, there is so much to listen on the spill this week. I liked the Sonny Rollins, although I have to admit I don't like Mac the Knife in general, it always sounds show-tuney to me, which I feel bad about for some reason. I liked the Freebonky, too.

Just starting on Nilpferd's list. I LOVE the Anouar Brahem. When is that from?

And now it's 11 o'clock and Isaac and I are still in our PJs, and I have to get out of the house before a new clip joint comes up or I'll be stuck here all day. So I'm saving the rest for later.

goneforeign said...

I'm all tangled up in blue, I hardly know how to respond,
I've considered doing something similar for months now, if I did my list would be nothing close to Aba's and also at odds with Nilp's. but there's one of the joys of jazz, as many views as there are fans. Yesterday I was in the jazz section of a record store, there was an old black guy next to me and when he started to leave I asked him what he was buying, it was a 1960's album by Bobby Hutcherson, 'It's for my grand daughter' he said, 'I'm going to expose her to jazz, this is my first go.' That led to a 30-40 min discussion on that subject with each of us offering opinions, we were both jazz old timers and were familiar with all the names of the last half century. I asked him what he would follow that up with and suggested Kind of Blue, 'That's a good one' he said and then I noticed Ellington at Newport in the adjacent row, 'There's another' I said and he again agreed; a very pleasant encounter.
When I got home I saw Aba's post and my initial thought was 'Yipee, a jazz post!', but I had some difficulty listening to some of the cuts and I found myself asking 'Given the space limitations why would he include this?' Of course I accept that these are his choices and represent his taste not mine and it's his post so I must listen to them on those terms but all the while being conscious that the intent is to "persuade some of the sceptics about the sheer wonderfulness of jazz. " So here's a few random comments, hope I don't come off as the churlish old mouldy fig.

The Sonny Rollins is so old hat, it's boring, if it was to represent an artist in a specific period and style there are thousands of better choices if the intent is to educate novices into the joys of jazz. It's too long and it of course has to include the interminable drum and bass solo's, two strikes against democracy. Nice Tommy Flanagon piano break though. So how do you define 'too long'? I can't agree with Chris's comment re. 'old fashioned' nor that his comments are unfair just because this is a 50 year old recording, that reflects what I see as a common pov these days, nothing of merit existed pre 1960's.

Black Shoes, I like the concept, it's like a 21st century Duke but it does sound a bit 'soundtracky', a bit James Bondish. I might like him better with a smaller group less orchestrated, but that's his gig. Overall an interesting cut.

The best piece here was the Emily Remler cut though the guitar is my least favorite instrument in jazz, I can take it in small doses and this was that. It was as good as it gets for that genre, nice clean extended swinging improvisations and a nice piano break. I was shattered when she died having just seen her perform and having photographed her extensively, [see my photo blog for my favorite shot] Her death is now attributed to heart failure, at the time it was OD, another smack casualty.
Freebunky: An interesting bit that's strongly augmented by the uncredited drummer, I might not call it jazz but that's not important, I'm mildly surprised that it's the cut of choice for so many here, I have to ask 'why', what makes it so popular in a jazz post, is it something that you'd want in your permanent collection and listen to hundreds of times or is it just a novelty? Preferable to the Rollins or Remler?

Black and White: It's OK, my first thought is 'musac jazz' but that's unfair, a large group of musicians bust ass to put this out there, it is jazz but it's fairly innocous, if I were choosing a big band piece I could find dozens of examples more to my taste, it got musically interesting when the piano took a break. It's length works against it, it's not musically interesting enough to sustain for half an hour, I got bored, found myself nodding off. Better use of the bass solo than in Rollins. This piece improved on second listening.

But again, these are Aba's choices and as such they're perfectly valid as is his thought 'To persuade the sceptics', and for that I thank him for the exposure. I might do it differently. I recall a little flurry hereabouts many months ago, there was a move to expose TracyK to jazz, I remember her saying 'I hate jazz' and my thought was 'You hate what you've been led to believe is jazz, come and spend a week over here and you'll go home a fan!'

A question for Nilp, I haven't listened to your list yet but how do you specifically post the music into the comments? And could pictures also be posted there?

steenbeck said...

It's interesting to hear GF's reaction to something I've just listened to--what he hears and listens for seems so much more intelligent.

I've just listened to the rest of Nilpferd's. Escobar is a joy. I have to get some Eddie Harris. Just loved that. I think I listened to this track back when you posted a Harris track in one of your Miles Davis posts. We actually have a bit of Ennio Morricone, but not that one--grand, a little anxious, a little mournful, quite beautiful in parts. The Hybrids was completely new to me--very interesting & appealing.

And I watched Blimpy's little film. Did you make that? That's not you in it, is it? Funny, and it looked like fun to make.

nilpferd said...

Thanks steen- the Anouar Brahem is from a brilliant album called le pas du chat noir. Which reminds me, I have to do a post about what albums you all bought based purely on the album cover, as that's how I discovered this one.
GF, I'm rather pleased about the embedding myself- I tried a tip Chris mentioned a while back and used the code Guardian Unlimited supplies when you use the "link" function on the comments box. My music is stored in dropbox, and I inserted a hyperlink into my comment via the above mentioned code. It would work equally well with photos if you had them online somewhere. I had that Emily Remler album too, incidentally- East to Wes- although I found it a tad smooth- but her version of "Softly, as in a morning sunrise" is exquisite.

goneforeign said...

Ms. Steen; Thank you for the kind words and since it is a serious topic I know we all deal with it with intelligence, I hope there's a lot more discussion.
Nilp: Where do I look for the 'unlimited supplies' and the 'link' function, I'm not seeing them hereabouts.
I have only one CD by Anouar Brahem, Astrakan Cafe, which I like a lot.
Today I started thinking there was some similarity between the music of Steve Reich and John Coltrane, does that make any sense?

nilpferd said...

not "Unlimited supplies..", GF; "Guardian Unlimited supplies..". When you post a comment on a GU blog, there is an options bar above the text box where you can change the formatting, etc. One of these buttons is "link" which allows you to insert a hyperlink into your comment so that it will be active when you post your comment, many of us do this on RR. If you highlight some text in your comment and then hit the "link" button, a small window pops up with the prompt "insert link". You then insert the hyperlink into the box and hit OK. The GU blog machine then inserts code into your comment which looks like this: [To cut a long story short.. I've put it in round brackets to stop it actually appearing as a hyperlink, just copy the text and remove the round brackets]-
(xxxx)

The part between the quotation marks- mylink- is your hyperlink just as it appears in your browser, the xxxx take the place of whatever word(s) you wish to have appearing in your post, for example in my post above, Anouar Brahem- they will then appear bold and have the link embedded "behind".
Back to the theme- I don't actually know any Steve Reich besides the handclapping thing, but I do think Coltrane throws a long shadow over much of the music recorded subsequently. Abahachi, I wasn't intending to hijack your post.. sorry if I've derailed it. I just wondered whether your tracks weren't a little "difficult" for someone who'd heard little or no jazz, I have to say I find it hard to get into the Colin Towns or the Guy Barker, each of which seem to me to use a very particular palette of sounds and styles which I struggle to find a way into- a bit like a cocktail party discussion where everyone is discussing something of which you have absolutely no experience, and pay no attention to your attempts to break in to the conversation.

nilpferd said...

whoops, try this- replace round brackets with < and > respectively, insert your link in place of mylink, and the text you wish to have appear instead of xxxx...

(a href="http://mylink")xxxx(/a)

Abahachi said...

I'm finding this absolutely fascinating; not sure where to start in responding, if only because there are clearly two lines of debate, the jazzers querying my choices and the non-jazzers offering their own responses to the tracks without the same knowledge of their context and antecedents. I'm very interested as to why Freebonky is the one that's had the best response - because it sounds more contemporary and much less 'jazz'? Because it's clearly less serious?

One thing this has done is give me a clearer idea of what I was trying to do in making this selection: not, as I said, to offer a complete or even a condensed history of jazz, or a comprehensive primer, nor to hit people over the head with "this is a work of great art" tracks. Rather, I was aiming to pick tracks that were all more or less mainstream (whereas a proper account of the extremes contained under the label 'jazz' would be far more varied, but would, I think, give less of an idea of the centre of gravity of the music) and would be, I thought, reasonably accessible to a reasonable number of people.

I do have a suspicion of the 'great man' approach to history, in which everything is charted out around the activities of a few key individuals; I think it gives a distorted picture both of the overall development and of those key individuals. Briefly, great as Miles Davis was, jazz is far more than Miles Davis, and Davis' contribution really makes sense only when seen in context - it was the activity of scores of less able and far less famous musicians and their records that made Miles Davis possible.

I first listened to jazz in my early twenties when the sax player in the soul band I was then playing bass for asked if I'd join his jazz group (if you play bass you're never short of playing opportunities...). Just a matter of spelling out the chords, which wasn't a problem, but I thought I'd better learn something about the music, and so bought a few records from obviously key people like Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Miles Davis - and they passed me by completely. Maybe if I'd heard different records, on the recommendation of someone knowledgeable, it might have been different, but maybe not; as it was, having listened to the supposed geniuses of jazz, I concluded that this really wasn't very impressive stuff and certainly wasn't for me. That's the risk in trying to persuade a sceptic of the merits of jazz by playing them Monk, Ellington and Gillespie or whatever; if they don't like them, they have grounds for rejecting the entire genre on the basis that not even the best it has to offer is good enough.

I ended up getting into jazz, and developing enough of a sense of what it's about to appreciate the records that I'd previously dismissed, years later, and by various circuitous routes. Because I was developing my bass playing, I listened to Jaco Pastorius and then Weather Report. Because I was interested in exploring guitar styles that offered something more than the very fast twiddly-twiddly stuff I knew from rock and blues, I picked up an Emily Remler record. Because they happened to be playing locally, I heard Guy Barker live and thought, I rather like that. For some reason I cannot now recall, I picked up a Sarah Vaughan record and fell in love. These are the sorts of things that drew me in: not the pinnacles of artistic achievement, but something that just struck a chord.

Anyway, the aim of this proposed series isn't actually to persuade everyone that jazz is great as to give an idea of what I think jazz is. Yes, there's a hope that this will persuade you to give jazz a listen, and that listening to it in the light of my speculations about what's going on will help put it into some sort of context.

One final comment on the Colin Towns: very interesting that Chris saw a Zappa connection, as Towns has actually done an album with one of the German big bands of arrangements of Zappa songs. It got excellent reviews - but I've never actually heard it.

debbym said...

I think this is a great idea, and I'd like to thank both Herr Hachi & Herr Pferd for putting theses tracks up.
I do not really need to be converted to jazz. My dad had A New Orleans band when I was growing up, then a skiffle band, and I spent most of my teen years in jazz clubs rather than in discos. I have a hefty handful of jazz CDs gathering dust on my shelf (Armstrong, Morton, Ellington, Basie, Paul Desmond, Cannonball Adderley, Herbie Hancock, Jackie Maclean, Duke Pearson, Flora Purim, Jan Garbarek, Charlie Mariano, Gutbucket) but despite the wide range of music they offer, I very rarely play any of them. I'll kick you out of the way to get to where it's being played live, though. Maybe this will encourage me to listen to my conserves more often.

P.S. We all know I'm an old folkie at heart, but I'm a Jansch & Thompson Pentangle-loving folkie!

Chris said...

One of the achievements of your effort here, Aba, is to confirm to me what the great evil of the music world is: Labelling. You, nilpferd and gf all have your own 'definition' of jazz, each of which is valid but none of which serves as 'the' definition. As jazz is so wide, you stand even less chance of success than TB does in his quest to define Pop Music. Debbym just described herself as 'an old folkie', sub-categorised as a 'Jansch & Thompson Pentangle-loving folkie'. I'm sure there are many other things she likes that don't fit with that definition, in the same way that we all have music we like that doesn't fit with our personal perception of the genre of music we normally like.

The consequence of such pigeon-holing is that, individually, we tend not to listen to music that has a label that's 'unattractive' to us (it's not often I'll listen to 'hip-hop', 'dance music' etc).
'Jazz' also comes with an intimidating aura, as it often claims to be 'serious' music (as opposed to Pop etc) but 'modern' (as opposed to classical).
I know that labels guide us towards music we're more likely to enjoy (now a valuable business tool for Amazon etc), and that most RRers & Spillers already have open ears, but active listening is the only valid reaction to any music; analysis and dissection take the adventure away. (I'm not against analysis after the event but no pre-definition, please.)

This argument is not watertight, I know, and its logical conclusion is the removal of much music journalism and blogging, but it allows people to hear things they normally wouldn't. Which must be a good thing, no?

Abahachi said...

You're absolutely right, Chris, and the joy of this site is that we listen to stuff with more or less open ears on the basis of the personal recommendation of people whose taste we trust. Not so much getting rid of generic labels as producing some new ones - I think we all have a fair idea of what Japanther music is like, or Kalyr, or McFlah.

Out in the wider world, of course, there is simply too much music for that to work properly. Agreed, this is also a problem, as we end up in our little ghettos listening only to stuff that we know we'll probably like rather than unknown stuff that we might conceivably like. Very interesting about the positive and negative connotations of the labels; for me, the label 'jazz' implies the likelihood that the music will be doing interesting things with rhythm and harmony, exhibiting particular sorts of musical practice like improvisation and engaging in the exploration of musical rules and their possibilities (while recognising that lots of jazz doesn't necessarily do all or even any of those things), but I can quite see how the label could also mean pretentious, over-intellectual, difficult music based on interminable instrumental twiddling - because that's exactly how I used to think of it.

Here's an exam question for next time: why are the Dead not jazz, despite some obvious crossovers?

goneforeign said...

Nilp: Thanks for that detailed assist, I'll give it a go.
Earlier this week I tried inserting a picture's HTML into the comments but all I got was a block of HTML code.
I was on the verge of asking Blimpy if such things were possible when I saw you'd figured it out, good stuff!
Aba & Chris: So much more to think about, I'll come back to it later and your final question re. the Dead is exactly what kept me awake most of last night, them plus numerous other examples.

Chris said...

The Dead are jazz, and folk, and blues, and country, and R'n'B, and rock'n'roll and even, on occasion, Pop. That is exactly my point. For RealPlayer (as an example) to classify them as 'jam band' is criminal. Who on earth wants to listen to 'jam band' music?!

Musics of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your labels!

gf: I got a little confused by nilp's instructions. Can I try?

1. Open a 'Post a comment' box on any Guardian blog.
2. Type the words you want to post into that box.
3. Highlight the words that you want to become a link and press the link button.
4. Type or copy the address of the clip/picture or whatever into the pop-up box that appears and press OK.
5. Repeat step 4 for every link you want to create.
6. Highlight all the text in the Guardian comment box and copy it.
7. Paste what you have just copied into the 'Spill comment box. All the formatting stuff will be there and will work. Honest.
8. Abandon your Guardian comment or you'll confuse the other bloggers.

goneforeign said...

Chris: Nilp: I was just staring at a comment box and popped over here to check, I'll have a go a bit later, thanks.

goneforeign said...

A test:

test

goneforeign said...

Muchas gracious amigos. click on test.

nilpferd said...

Nice one, GF- brilliant photos!

nilpferd said...

Oh, Abahachi, seeing as you mentioned Jaco, I was wondering if you'd ever given much time to Return to forever? I've been enjoying their recent 2 disc Anthology, which has most of the best stuff from 4 albums. There's sort of a prog angle to the wacky space themes and the episodic song development, but the music stands alone as exhilarating and fascinating, if you forgive some of Bill Connor/Al de Meola's e-guitar excesses.

goneforeign said...

Aba: On the same topic, Jaco, I assume you must have Joni Mitchell's 1980 live concert 'Shadows & Light' - there's a great DVD of it, here's the line up:
Joni Mitchell - electric guitar, vocals
Pat Metheny - lead guitar
Jaco Pastorius - bass
Don Alias - drums
Lyle Mays - keyboards
Michael Brecker - saxophone

Jaco solos on almost every cut.

goneforeign said...

Not sure what's happening with my 'test', I had it set up to open to the single picture of Emily Remler, now it's opening the whole file.

Chris said...

gf: no sweat, man, you done gone done what you wanted. Problem is, tho', they arrows has links o' they own to the other photos. Ain't nothin' you kin do 'bout dat. For real.
(To be spoken in a Baltimore accent. I'm missing The Wire.)

Nice pics, BTW.

treefrogdemon said...

True dat.

Shoey said...

Why Freebonky? For me it was, new, fresh, original, catchy & fun. Much of Jazz seems to be original takes on an established tune & the original is from a different era & not as easy to to relate to personally. Also it seems that to appreciate Jazz you have to know a lot about the history, musicianship etc. etc. I'm sure this classical approach is rewarding, but it takes time and effort. A Romantic/emotional response is much easier.

Abahachi said...

Return to Forever? Nope. I listened to a Stanley Clarke solo album once, and found it impressive and entirely unengaging for some reason, and Al di Meola is precisely the sort of twiddly guitar work that gets on my nerves. Never a Joni Mitchell fan, and Lyle Mays gets on my nerves as well, as does 95% of Pat Methany's output. Sorry, you're getting my 20-year-old prejudices here. Tried to find either on Spotify, and it's not working this evening. Will try again, I promise.

nilpferd said...

Clarke's solo work hasn't really grabbed me either. I have to say I would have hated RTF as a 20 yr old too. Anyway, Anthology is available on Spotify, try Captain Senor Mouse or Space Circus, each with the more emotional (less twiddly) Bill Connors on guitar, or Vulcan Worlds, Sofistifunk, or No Mystery.

nilpferd said...

Shoey, I would argue with the assertion that you have to know about musicianship/history to really appreciate this music; Aba and I have posted things which we appreciate on a directly emotional level; that we know a little about the musicians and/or the way the music fits into some kind of chronology has more to do with the fact that we're both somewhat analytical, but I think for both of us the "knowledge" came after the fact of liking the music. I guess you just don't like much of the music on either list, and I don't think the acquired "knowledge" would change your views much.

Shoey said...

Nilp, I liked the music on Aba's list (haven't got to yours yet, sorry). My theory may be wrong, but you must have to train your ears in some way to love Jazz that I haven't mastered yet?

nilpferd said...

You make it sound so premeditated.. I don't think you have to "train", I don't think we have trained. OK, you obviously notice things more upon repeated listenings. But I don't listen to pop, rock or indie any differently than I do jazz or hip-hop. The Smiths' Bigmouth strikes again had the same effect on me as Miles Davis' Milestones, or Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth's T.R.O.Y.- first listen, jaw dropped, loved it. Other things took a while to get into- I first heard Davis' In a Silent Way in 1991 and thought it was pretentious, boring, meandering crap. It was only after a neighbour had it on his car stereo that I started to grudgingly like it. Now I'd say it was my all-time favourite album. We all have stories like that, regardless of genre. The recent boxed set of In a Silent Way which contained the unedited original takes doesn't really enhance my enjoyment of it; I still prefer the edited version just as it is. Although I never really bother with "special edition" DVD's either, with their interminable interviews or outtakes.
Like Aba, my tastes are far from catholic; I can't be bothered with some of the more universally accepted jazz classics like Eric Dolphy's Out to lunch, and I've never really found a Sonny Rollins album I liked. As he said in his original post, it's about enjoying the music; if it's a chore, turn it off.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ Aba - I STILL haven't got around to listening to these and I'm out all day tomorrow - I'm not ignoring it and I do want to contribute.

Like debbym I have a fairly extensive jazz background. I was introduced to Cannonball Adderley, Lee Morgan, Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter, Dexter Gordon and many more, in my late teens and I've been listening to jazz ever since. So I'll be interested to see what ticks my boxes from your selection.

ToffeeBoy said...

I wasn't personally introduced to them, you understand ...

Shoey said...

Nilp; Guess it's all subjective then - no idea why I would buy the bonky tune & maybe the Mac & leave the others on the shelf - although wouldn't be looking to change the station if any of them came on the radio. Similar feelings with classical stuff too - increasingly my driving music of choice. Will get to your choices tomorrow with any luck. Thanks to you & Aba for putting these up.

Abahachi said...

Case in point: Return To Forever instantly reminded me of why I can take the Mahavishnu Orchestra only in small doses on an occasional basis. It's a personal thing - despite being a guitarist and liking rock music, I get easily bored by long twiddly guitar solos - but it's so utterly lacking in swing or funk (surprising, given that Clarke is the bass player). I'm sure I could make more of it on repeated listens, putting more effort into analysing what they're trying to do, but I couldn't help being reminded of a catty Charles Shaar Murray remark about some jazz rock: 'heavy metal with a Juillard diploma'. Sorry.

nilpferd said...

Ha, nice description. Actually I find RTF less ponderous than Mahavishnu Orchestra, I like both but in equally small doses. RTF isn't really funky as such but it does seem lighter and less pretentious than Mahavishnu Orchestra, crisper than Herbie Hancock's Headhunters and more structured than Weather Report, and there's more of an orchestral feel to the harmonic development. Corea was always a bit of a nerd as far as intricate, noodling solos go, but RTF still does enough melodically to keep me interested. But I agree re the e-guitar, it does overwhelm a bit.
Don't let it put you off Corea's earlier album "Return to forever", which has more of a percussion-Bossa nova feel and no electric guitar.

ToffeeBoy said...

@ Abahachi - finally, FINALLY, got a chance to listen. Here are some thoughts as they occur. I've tried not to read all the previous comments as I didn't want to be influenced by the thoughts of others:

1. A bit formulaic - intro, sax solo, piano, drums, then back into the theme. I liked the sax bit but the rest didn't do much for me. Not enough ideas to keep my interest for five minutes never mind ten.

2. I liked this at first but found it increasingly difficult to listen to as the cacophonous middle sequence built up. Reminded me in parts of Chuck Mangione circa Friends And Love which I listened to a lot in the late 70s.

3. Loved it - now this is what I call jazz.

4. Nah - not for me ...

5. Again, I found some parts of this quite difficult to listen to - got bored about five minutes in (do we see a theme developing here?).

So only one out of the five that I would want to hear more of but please keep this series going. And perhaps you could act as my jazz psychoanalyst and tell me what my comments mean!