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Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: LoPresti] #1986005
11/13/12 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by LoPresti

Having the perspective of age, I believe it is interesting how very many jazz musicians ventured into “experiments” from which they later retreated. Art Farmer, Freddie Hubbard, Dick Hyman, and our man Sonny Rollins, just to name a few. Of course we cannot practically ask Mr. Rollins this, but if we could, I’ll bet he would NOT consider that soloing you posted with Coleman Hawkins an example of his best playing!



Wnat you write here may (or may not) be true.

But that in no way invalidates the different movements that these musicians were responding to. All jazz musicians had to take note of new currents, but it is not astonishing that many like those that you list were not able to grasp what was going on ... while remaining masterful artists in the domaine which was theirs.

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Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: LoPresti] #1986031
11/13/12 07:25 AM
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Originally Posted by LoPresti

Having the perspective of age, I believe it is interesting how very many jazz musicians ventured into “experiments” from which they later retreated. Art Farmer, Freddie Hubbard, Dick Hyman, and our man Sonny Rollins, just to name a few.


Well, I am sorry to say this, but that sounds more like confirmation bias than anything else.

There are plenty of artists like Cecil Taylor we went out and stayed out for the rest of their lives. Miles Davis never really went back to his old style even though many people don't like all the electronic stuff he was doing in the 80's. Everyone makes different musical choices, very many jazz musicians did opposite of what you describe to

Originally Posted by LoPresti
I’ll bet he would NOT consider that soloing you posted with Coleman Hawkins an example of his best playing!


Like the comment about "experiment going too far", aren't you being a little too presumptuous here?

I don't know how they feel about their solos either, but one thing I know for sure is that that album and the solo I posted is a landmark album(albeit controversial) and it's been recognized as such by many of the best musicians even to this day. In fact, I first heard about it on Mark Levine's jazz piano book. He list's that album/song in his essential Jazz piano CD list.

Also if you read Aaron Park's review, he says that album changed his life smile

here's another review of the album Sonny Meets Hawk

http://www.lorenschoenberg.com/sonny.html

Last edited by etcetra; 11/13/12 08:03 AM.
Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: landorrano] #1986132
11/13/12 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by landorrano
Originally Posted by LoPresti
. . . Having the perspective of age, I believe it is interesting how very many jazz musicians ventured into “experiments” from which they later retreated. Art Farmer, Freddie Hubbard, Dick Hyman, and our man Sonny Rollins, just to name a few.

But that in no way invalidates the different movements that these musicians were responding to. All jazz musicians had to take note of new currents, but it is not astonishing that many like those that you list were not able to grasp what was going on ... while remaining masterful artists in the domaine which was theirs.

Landorrano,

I have read over several times the part of your post that I highlighted, and do not yet get a clear meaning. Would you elaborate on that a little? Thanks.
Ed


In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.
When have you gone too far? [Re: etcetra] #1986166
11/13/12 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by etcetra
Originally Posted by LoPresti
Having the perspective of age, I believe it is interesting how very many jazz musicians ventured into “experiments” from which they later retreated. Art Farmer, Freddie Hubbard, Dick Hyman, and our man Sonny Rollins, just to name a few.

Well, I am sorry to say this, but that sounds more like confirmation bias than anything else.

I plead 100% guilty to being biased. When one thinks about it, that very bias is what inspired me to start this thread.

Originally Posted by etcetra
There are plenty of artists like Cecil Taylor we went out and stayed out for the rest of their lives. Miles Davis never really went back to his old style even though many people don't like all the electronic stuff he was doing in the 80's. Everyone makes different musical choices, very many jazz musicians did opposite of what you describe

Yup - some stayed out, some came back, and some never ventured off the reservation.

Originally Posted by LoPresti
I’ll bet he would NOT consider that soloing you posted with Coleman Hawkins an example of his best playing!

Originally Posted by etcetra
Like the comment about "experiment going too far", aren't you being a little too presumptuous here?

Of course it is the height of conceit on my part to pretend I know anything about what Mr. Rollins thinks. Nevertheless, one cannot argue that he did turn back from that extremely dissonant and anti-melodic style, and has settled in much closer to a tonal and melodic concept. There could be several reasons for this, including the pressure from fans, and his desire to sell more albums by playing more “accessible” music.

So, let me put it this way: I BELIEVE that a great and timeless artist like Sonny Rollins always strives to improve. I BELIEVE that his retreat from “the far side” was driven by MUSICAL reasons, by CREATIVE reasons, and not by financial or popularity considerations. I BELIEVE that he was unhappy, or unfulfilled, playing the sort of far-out stuff about which a couple of critics have raved. I BELIEVE he sensed that he had gone too far, and that is why his more recent work has evolved toward more tonal and traditional harmonic lines. Perhaps more satisfying to him, and certainly more satisfying to my ears.

I am interested in your metaphor of a “landmark” recording. Is it your feeling that this landmark is classified as such because it heralds the start of something quite new? Or is it a landmark because it represents the farthest, extreme point of discernable music? Or is it simply a signpost along the continuing road of jazz development? Or maybe something else?

Ed

Last edited by LoPresti; 11/13/12 07:30 PM. Reason: Spellink - merci landorrano

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Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: LoPresti] #1986289
11/13/12 06:18 PM
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"A couple of critiques"?


Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: LoPresti] #1986299
11/13/12 06:49 PM
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A way of knowing they've gone out too far..you feel like getting up and going out for coffee and doughnuts!

Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: landorrano] #1986321
11/13/12 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by landorrano
"A couple of critiques"?

Oops ----- I mean ----- Oui, for our French-speaking friends . . .


In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.
Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: LoPresti] #1986343
11/13/12 08:27 PM
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Originally Posted by LoPresti

So, let me put it this way: I BELIEVE that a great and timeless artist like Sonny Rollins always strives to improve. I BELIEVE that his retreat from “the far side” was driven by MUSICAL reasons, by CREATIVE reasons, and not by financial or popularity considerations. I BELIEVE that he was unhappy, or unfulfilled, playing the sort of far-out stuff about which a couple of critics have raved. I BELIEVE he sensed that he had gone too far, and that is why his more recent work has evolved toward more tonal and traditional harmonic lines. Perhaps more satisfying to him, and certainly more satisfying to my ears.

Ed


Again, it's rather presumputous to assume that moving on to new style=retraction of what you have done so far. Does that mean Miles Davis felt that the electronic stuff he did in the 80s was musically superior than all the great recording he made in the 60's? Or is it more likely that Miles just wanted to try something different?

Here's a recent interview of sonny rollins from Ktvu.

http://www.ktvu.com/news/entertainment/ktvucom-talks-jazz-great-sonny-rollins/nSMzJ/

"Sonny Rollins: Let me put it this way: my musical mind is an open palette. So if I hear something or hear somebody play something, I’m ready to embrace it to see what I can do with it. So I generally have no preconceptions of what I’m going to do and I can do anything. Because if I feel it, if I feel I can express myself, then I would do it. And I feel that way today, that I can do anything.

People want to pigeonhole you as a bebop tenor player. I mean, we had to go through that for a long time. But I’m fortunate enough to have that kind of a musical mind. I have some success and I’m very gratified that people have accepted what I’ve done over the years. But I do whatever I feel like doing. So I’m open to anything. If I hear something that I think is good, and by good I mean something that I can express myself with, then I’ll play it.

That’s why I have to have a band which is adaptive. I talked to a friend of mine the other night who said “Sonny, why don’t you play some stuff like you were doing in your ‘60s period?” So I tell him “No, that’s fine, but I’m not hearing that now.” I have a very open mind and all I have to do is express myself. I think people have given the freedom by liking me. And I so appreciate that and am very grateful for it. So if they like me, they should like whatever I do. So I feel like I can do anything that is going to satisfy me is going to satisfy them as well. And that’s sort of what I do. "

As you can see, Sonny playing more traditional has nothing to do with dissatisfaction of playing outside ; He is just doing whatever he feels like doing at this point in life... So don't be surprised if he goes back to playing outside in the future!!

Originally Posted by LoPresti

I am interested in your metaphor of a “landmark” recording. Is it your feeling that this landmark is classified as such because it heralds the start of something quite new? Or is it a landmark because it represents the farthest, extreme point of discernable music? Or is it simply a signpost along the continuing road of jazz development? Or maybe something else?


I am not sure what to add to what Aaron Parks and other review has written, I think they described the greatness in that album very eloquently. The music is a significant departure of musical conventiion at that time, they are challenging the very idea of harmony and from, and doing it so in a very masterfully, and not as the nonsense you presume it to be. As others have pointed these people are playing the solos always with the from and harmony in the mind, and the lines have their set of logic/coherency to it that only a master improviser can achieve.

Also there is a wide consensus among top jazz musicians(not just couple of critics) that Paul Bley's solo is significant in the development of jazz (Mark Levine certainly does think so), and many even consider it to be one of his best solos.

In the end you can believe all you want about what music is supposed to be an dpeople's intention to mold your bias about music.. but maybe it's important to stop and think why so many great musicians we admire hold that music in such high regard?


Last edited by etcetra; 11/13/12 11:04 PM.
Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: etcetra] #1986403
11/13/12 11:49 PM
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Originally Posted by etcetra
Originally Posted by LoPresti
So, let me put it this way: I BELIEVE that a great and timeless artist like Sonny Rollins always strives to improve. I BELIEVE . . .

or maybe he just got tired of doing the same thing he's been doing for so long. Or in other words, the same reason he moved to playing outside in the first place. Again, it's rather presumputous to assume that moving on to new style=retraction of what you have done so far.

Key to my point here is the drive for constant improvement. So if Sonny Rollins, along with several others, chose to pull back from those excursions into “dark territory”; and if we believe that artists of this calibre constantly strive to play better; then it must be that they prefer turf that is a little more firm and established - that they consider it “better playing”. Otherwise, they would be doing something completely different.

Unfortunately, I have not followed Paul Bley’s playing, so I have no way of knowing what he did prior to this album, nor after it. The recording is from 1963. Two years after that, the Sun Ra Big Band was a guest ensemble at the music school I attended. The performances and master classes were open also to other students of the university who were not music majors. The reaction of (we) students was very interesting: Almost universally, the music majors rejected what we heard as thinly (and poorly) orchestrated cacophony. Indeed,
virtually all concert attendees left DURING the performances, many of them with great drama. On the other hand, there was a distinct group of non-music students who claimed to love the music and the presentations. Most of them were very vocal in their ardor and praise for this “new music”. Of course, not one of them could identify exactly WHY the performances were so superior, they just somehow knew that they were. We were looking for musical reasons to like the music, and these adherents did not offer any.

My “take” on it then, and my “take” on it forty-seven years later, is that the ensemble was deliberately playing harsh, disjointed, and UN-musical sounding, rhythmic noise, in a forced effort to be “new and different”. Reverting here to Dave’s excellent point about the context of the chaos, virtually every selection started loud and raucous, ended loud and raucous, and was pretty well loud and raucous in between. Sort of an A-A-A Form.

The non-musical affezionati of this “new stream jazz”, and their enjoyment, likewise seemed contrived and forced, as if they were reacting en masse to the more traditional fare offered at most concerts. It seemed like by “voting for” this “new music”,.they were casting votes “against” the more traditional. In each sense, with the players, and their “fans”, there was a hollowness of purpose, or so it seemed.

And this brings us back to Dave’s other insightful comment about “music has to mean something”. Perhaps – just perhaps – Sonny Rollins has returned closer to his roots because he wants his music to mean something once again.


In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.
Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: LoPresti] #1986428
11/14/12 12:53 AM
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LoPresti

Please, stop making all these false assumptions Sonny Rollins intent about music. You are not doing him any justice.

It seems like you took one sentence out of the entire interview to make a very narrow, selective point. Nowhere does Sonny says he "pulled back" because he felt inside playing is inherently better. I understand that you strongly feel certain way about the music, but what you are doing is with your narrative is pigeonholing Sonny Rollins as "bebop tenor player" who denounced outside playing in favor of traditional playing That's exactly what Sonny doesn't want you to do!!

Again your experience with Sun Ra Big band sounds a lot like confirmation bias. There are A LOT of really well known great musicians who love that kind of stuff. Bottom line is, the music does mean something to a lot of people.

If you read the interview, he says he is "Open to anything".He is playing more traditional because that's what he feels like doing right now, but there is no guarantee Sonny wouldn't go back to playing again to "improve his music". All I am asking is to have more open mind about this, like Sonny.

Btw you haven't answer my question about Miles. What is your explanation for him not going back to going to his roots?

Last edited by etcetra; 11/14/12 01:03 AM.
Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: etcetra] #1986443
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etcetra,

I am not certain why we are still going back-and-forth over a simple difference of opinion. You obviously like what you hear on that “landmark” recording, and I do not. Judging from your other comments, you enjoy similarly far-out jazz, and I generally do not care for it. I think I am up for about one last round here.

Originally Posted by etcetra
Please, stop making all these false assumptions Sonny Rollins intent about music. You are not doing him any justice. . . . . . It seems like you took one sentence out of the entire interview to make a very narrow, selective point. Nowhere does Sonny says he "pulled back" because he felt inside playing is inherently better.

I did not bring up Sonny Rollins, you did. I did not extract anything out of any interview. As I mentioned, I am a fan of Mr. Rollins, and I follow his playing. His creative path into the extremes of jazz, and back has been obvious. For the sake of conversation, I might be making some assumptions about WHY he returned to a more tonal concept. And on the subject of assumptions , how do YOU KNOW that my assumptions are false?

Originally Posted by etcetra
Again your experience with Sun Ra Big band sounds a lot like confirmation bias.

I have already written that all my thoughts are biased, as are yours. In this particular case, my “bias” was instilled by first-hand experience over a several day period, confirmed by years of reflection on those personal experiences. .

Originally Posted by etcetra
Btw you haven't answer [sic.] my question about Miles. What is your explanation for him not going back to going to his roots?

Unfortunately, he died.

I have enjoyed reading your opinions. We are listening with different ears. So be it.
Ed


In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.
Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: LoPresti] #1986476
11/14/12 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by LoPresti
My “take” on it then, and my “take” on it forty-seven years later, is that the ensemble was deliberately playing harsh, disjointed, and UN-musical sounding, rhythmic noise, in a forced effort to be “new and different”.
Funny how your "critique" sounds much like what the early critics of Jazz wrote.


Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: chrisbell] #1986481
11/14/12 04:22 AM
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Originally Posted by chrisbell
Originally Posted by LoPresti
My “take” on it then, and my “take” on it forty-seven years later, is that the ensemble was deliberately playing harsh, disjointed, and UN-musical sounding, rhythmic noise, in a forced effort to be “new and different”.
Funny how your "critique" sounds much like what the early critics of Jazz wrote.



This is also very similar to the kinds of critique many Classical musicians give to jazz music in general. There have been numerous discussion here(and other forums) where a die hard-classical fans have claimed that jazz was just a bunch of incoherent, unmusical nonsense(I'm not talking about Cecil Taylor, they are making this kind of criticism against people like Miles Davis, Bill Evans and the like.)

Last edited by etcetra; 11/14/12 04:24 AM.
Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: chrisbell] #1986613
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Originally Posted by chrisbell
Originally Posted by LoPresti
My “take” on it then, and my “take” on it forty-seven years later, is that the ensemble was deliberately playing harsh, disjointed, and UN-musical sounding, rhythmic noise, in a forced effort to be “new and different”.
Funny how your "critique" sounds much like what the early critics of Jazz wrote.

I had not noticed that, but I am certain you are correct. When you think about it, the "early critics of Jazz" were writing about early jazz, weren't they?

So now tell me, straight-faced, that some of the Bix Biederbeck, or the Louis Armstrong Hot Fives sessions were pretty da*m bad sounding ... ?


In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.
Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: keystring] #1986918
11/15/12 01:29 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring


On a total tangent now - I have recently discovered the chef Gordon Ramsay, which is odd since I don't like cooking. A surprising number of musicians seem to be into fine cooking, and I think there are some similarities between the two arts. In particular, I'm watching Ramsay's forays into "kitchens that are in trouble". If I could summarize his diagnoses, it would be something like: not cohesive, not real, doesn't work together, pretentious (fancy for the sake of being fancy). The cook did not taste his food, and forgot that he is feeding people. Does this apply to music? Must it still have substance and work together, and if it is fancy or fanciful, must there also be something else?

(goes off to hide somewhere)


I think this is brilliant for comparison. Sometimes jazz musicians need to be reminded that their goal ought to include communication. If things don't sound good together, it is most likely the fault of the person who put them there with little regard to the final outcome. Aside from taking true risks in improvising, I'd hope that most understand that it when soloing one should always keep in mind the intention to say something.


Recordings of my recent solo piano and piano/keyboard trio jazz standards.


Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: LoPresti] #1986965
11/15/12 05:50 AM
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Hi LoPresti
Have you listened to Sonny's ATTYA Village Vanguard version from 1957 ?
To me it is one of the most beautiful interpretations of ATTYA.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPdO1XwF91E

When have you gone too far? [Re: custard apple] #1987016
11/15/12 10:07 AM
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Hey Custard,

It almost seems that I once owned that album, although the graphic used on YouTube I do not remember at all. In any event, I could not find it here.

With only the bass outline of the harmonies, and weak bass on that recording, I am having trouble fully appreciating what Mr. Rollins was doing. Not helping my cause was the trend at the time of playing one-note or two-note "phrases". I guess I need to "break down", and to pipe my computer through my sound system, so I can hear it correctly.

So far my favorite part was his quote of "I'll Take Manhattan" around 5:28, when he is "trading" with the drummer. That should say something about my love of reference.

So, do you have a "take" on what, if anything, constitutes playing too far outside of a tune's framework?
Thanks.


In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.
Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: LoPresti] #1987337
11/16/12 05:39 AM
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Hey Lo Presti
Thanks for pointing out the quotation. I don't know too many jazz standards so I'm sure I miss out on many of Sonny's quotations. When I went to his concert in Sydney one and a half years ago, I did recognise Jingle Bells smile in his brilliant original called Patanjali.

At this stage of my jazz development, I'm still finding the last John Coltrane phase hard on my ears. I don't have enough theory or vocabulary to know what Joy/ Compassion/ Love are on about.
Could anyone please shed light on how to relate to these late 1960s avant-garde-like pieces ? Are they an essential part of the jazz curriculum ?

Re: When have you gone too far? [Re: LoPresti] #1987346
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custard apple,

I think the best way to go is to read his biography, and watch documentaries like Ken Burn's Jazz. From what I read, John Coltrane went avant-garde because he felt this strong spiritual need to express his music and he felt avant-garde music gave him that freedom. It allowed him to express himself in a way that is free from the tradition and convention.

I've also read that he was into a lot of Indian music and eastern philosophy back then, and that can shed some insight into his music too. You can hear a lot of drone notes and extended improv over static harmony because of that. Generally speaking western thought tend to emphasize idea of conflict&resolution, you see it in religion/philosophy (Hegel's dialectics, Marx, Christianity..etc) and the western harmonic system is built around that notion too(creating tension/resolution of harmony). Eastern philosophy, on the other hand don't tend to be dualisitc and non-linear. The music, likewise doesn't have strong sense of direction or resolution, but it's more like a constant shifting of texture and color, like constant changing images on a reflection.

IMO it's really important to listen to Coltrane's avant-garde music with that kind of "eastern" mindset. Whatever you do, please don't judge it as nonsense, or it's done out of need to be pretentious, or aforced effort to be different... IMO I'd rather not make value judgement about whether it's better or worse than inside playing, because it's just different. The music is supposed to challenge what music is supposed to be, to our western ears/mindset.

Here's liner notes written by Bill Evans about "Kind of Blue" Although kind of blue is still within harmony, I think the principle still applies. It's just that people like Coltrane took it much further.


"There is a Japanese visual art in which the artist is forced to be spontaneous. He must paint on a thin stretched parchment with a special brush and black water paint in such a way that an unnatural or interrupted stroke will destroy the line or break through the parchment. Erasures or changes are impossible. These artists must practice a particular discipline, that of allowing the idea to express itself in communication with their hands in such a direct way that deliberation cannot interfere.

The resulting pictures lack the complex composition and textures of ordinary painting, but it is said that those who see well find something captured that escapes explanation."

This conviction that direct deed is the most meaningful reflections, I believe, has prompted the evolution of the extremely severe and unique disciplines of the jazz or improvising musician.


Last edited by etcetra; 11/16/12 06:39 AM.
When have you gone too far? [Re: etcetra] #1987399
11/16/12 10:10 AM
11/16/12 10:10 AM
Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 1,304
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LoPresti Offline OP
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LoPresti  Offline OP
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Joined: Dec 2010
Posts: 1,304
New York
Etcetra,

For starters, allow me a couple of over-arching statements:

Your post immediately above is absolutely full of amazing insights! Because of it, I need to return to about fifty albums that have sat on my shelving, collecting dust, for decades. I thank you for that.

I love MOST of John Coltrane's work, especially when he had McCoy Tyner to keep him focused. He truly changed the way players thought about their saxes (and other instruments) for evermore.

That having been written, Mr. Coltrane was engaged in many other mind-bending activities beside the study of Eastern philosophy, and his desire to be free of conventonal improvisational constraints, and the avant-garde age in general.

You have quoted many interesting points of view - ones that I had never before read. This brings me to a personal question: How do YOU distinguish between free improvisation, and simply playing random notes, and sometimes non-traditional musical sounds?

Thanks,
Ed


In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.
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