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Joined: Jul 2005
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dpvjazz Offline OP
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Here is an interesting article What is your opinion?

https://psyche.co/ideas/true-musical-virtuosos-are-minimalists-who-put-roll-before-rock

[That Muddy Waters and Miles Davis were both virtuosos is inarguable, but some dimwitted, self-described ‘musician’ is bound to argue that the V-word signals a technical prowess of which neither was possessed: Muddy was an unschooled primitive with limited technique, and Miles, for all his musical education and natural gifts, never played with blinding speed, and his range, like Frank Sinatra’s or Billie Holiday’s, was limited – no stratospheric high notes for those cats – but damn, they had an awful knack for hitting the right note, every time. When it came to cutting through the bull and expressing pure human emotion, they were freakishly evolved.]
[The suburban male concept of virtuosity has conflated technical prowess with musical value. It worships complex recipes, not pure ingredients. It’s a toxic system that rewards show-offs and neuters authentic folk musicians – meaning masters of their indigenous art, not the navel-gazing, guitar-strumming mold that seems to grow in every nook and cranny of the world’s high schools and colleges. I’m talking about folks like Muddy Waters or Bob Marley, Joseph Spence.

Virtuosity and simplicity need not be at odds.

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I think we all agree with that. It’s about the feeling not high level technique.

I’m moved by the feeling of the behind the beat, melodic right hand phrasing of self taught Erroll Garner. On the other hand the great technician Art Tatum seldom stirs my feelings.



Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's The Jazz Theory Book and helped develop The Jazz Piano Book. Studied with Mark Levine 1985-89 and Barry Harris 1995-99
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I haven't read the article yet but I think the answer depends on one's definition of virtuoso. Even if the statement is true, I think it would have to be phrased as "True virtuosos can be minimalists." Thinking it's not correct to describe Tatum as a virtuoso makes little sense to me, whether or not one is moved by his playing.

Last edited by pianoloverus; 08/16/21 04:17 PM.
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In classical music, virtuoso almost always does refer to technical skill.

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I consider a virtuoso someone who has amazing technique. But being a virtuoso doesn't make to a great musician. Miles and Muddy Waters were superlative musicians, even if not virtuosos.

So I agree with everything the OP says musically, but not linguistically!

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dpvjazz Offline OP
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Virtuosity and simplicity



Virtuosity and simplicity


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Hi

The spirit of the author's article is fine, and one that I'm completely in agreement with, but like jjo the language in my view is wrong. I haven't bothered to look-up the definition of the word, but I have always believed that the word virtuoso related to a high level of technical skill. And I think that is the definition generally in use, right or wrong.

So to call someone dim-witted for saying Muddy Waters wasn't a virtuoso is in itself dim-witted in my view. As for the surburban male concept, well that I think is just a fantasy.

The article would be better titled "Many great musicians aren't virtuosos", which is the essence of what the author is trying to say; but badly.

Cheers


Simon

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I have to agree with the disagreement about Muddy and Miles being virtuosos. Why can't someone simply be a brilliant musician ? I remember a quote (don't know from whom) : I'd rather be a 2nd rate originator than a 1st rate imitator.

To my mind, Robert Johnson outshines the others in the early blues arena. Of course he didn't survive to benefit from electric instruments and improved recording technology. You can greatly admire someone's work, and they can be brilliantly inventive, but that doesn't make them a virtuoso. Nor a genius.

To my mind Miles Davis was no virtuoso, he was an innovator. Thelonious Monk - not a virtuoso - brilliant innovator. I usually observe someone being called a "genius" because they did something at a high level. I have read articles (on my Google news feed) about Bob Dylan (among others). I have read a description of Dylan have "changed music"....nonsense. I love some of Dylan's recordings over the years - but he did NOT change music. Maybe Igor Stravinsky or Ornette Coleman changed music. - or changed a genre of music.

Calling Miles and Muddy virtuosos is simply changing the meaning of the word. In my opinion. Over the years I've read a lot of articles about music and musicians. I've often had the thought that the writers with their literary expertise don't really know or understand a lot about music.

Last edited by indigo_dave; 08/17/21 09:21 AM.
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Originally Posted by Simon_b
The article would be better titled "Many great musicians aren't virtuosos", which is the essence of what the author is trying to say; but badly.
Exactly.

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When you realize what the author, a drummer, is actually trying to say, then it makes some sense:

Excerpt from Sympathy for the Drummer: Why Charlie Watts Matters (2019) by Mike Edison. © Mike Edison 2019.

It's a hyperbolic style of writing with a lot of exaggeration. Not supposed to be taken literally.

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dpvjazz Offline OP
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ErfurtBob [When you realize what the author, a drummer, is actually trying to say, then it makes some sense:]
That's what I felt also and by the way it was a drummer who sent me the article and he knows that I love jazz and fusion. That is why I posted those two videos both by two players who by definition are virtuosos. George having played with Frank Zappa had some chops both playing and reading and improvising and there is nothing to say about Bill and Eddie duo except watch it and learn from some real jazz artists.
I kinda understand the drummer angst because they are usually last in line to solo and maybe two solos the whole night if they are lucky. Being a piano player sometimes I get so tired of hearing horn players and guitar players go three 3 to 4 chorus per solo per man. That's and extra 5 to 10 minutes added to every song and by the time the piano,bass,and drums get to solo the audience has already left the planet and they just don't care about your solo they are looking for the waitress need to go to the bathroom or just start talking to their friends at the table.


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