"Society is indeed a contract. It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.”
Well done Alyn for encouraging Jon to come up with so much fascinating anecdotal material about working with Graham Bond and Dick Heckstall-Smith - and thanks for an excellent programme. If you read Ian Carr's Music Outside, Dick's The Safest Place in the World, and Jon's own new book Playing the Band - a strongly recommended read imv - you'll see that Jon effectively took over the management of the GBO during his tenure. The guy's got phenomenal instant recall. Wish I could still remember names, situations etc that easily! The programme showed more of the rock side of Hiseman's preoccupations; interesting though when he talked about the way Colosseum worked up material without using charts. But for me it was more enjoyable listening to the early, more interactive stuff, and would have been nice to have heard more of his work with Paraphernalia, where he's more about sensitivity and less the powerhouse. As he said that was the most important part of his career. So sad to hear about Barbara Thompson.
Last edited by Serial_Apologist; 04-06-11 at 18:20. Reason: I kept on hitting G (not my favourite key)
An interesting programme but very much a "game of two halves." The first half was brilliant insofar that this was the first time that I have heard the music of the likes of Mike Taylor and Graham Bond who have enjoyed a lot of praise on both this board and the old BBC one. I had no idea what Graham Bond's music sounded like and was very surprised to discover that it was gutsy r n' b. The New Jazz Orchestra was also extremely impressive - Neil Ardley being someone whose music always seems pf the highest merit whenever it gets an airing on programmes such as this or JRR. The first half was extremely fascinating and included some really good choices of music. I felt that Jon Hiseman's comment about many contemporary drummers in jazz not properly interacting with the other musicians in ensembles to be particularly salient. It is an increasing problem and , perhaps, indicative of groups like Brad Mehldau's trio where Jorge Rossy made this approach extremely popular. In some respects, it is almost an indemic problem with European players but it doesn't manifest istelf in the States too.
As for Colosseum, I definately felt that the selection of tracks seemed to demonstrate that the music got progressively worse through time. The first, more acoustic tracks were ok without really standing out but, by the end, the music seemed to have only a very tenuous link with jazz if at all. There seemed to be far more "rock" in this music than "jazz" - a shame that the question was never asked as to how John Hiseman saw his groups in relation to the then-popular Prog-Rock bands. Curious to hear John Hiseman's comments about the album cover - definately an animal of his era! The track with Alan Holdsworth was exactly the kind of stuff that bores me to tears and is indicative of why so much music from the 1970's has such a lousy reputation. Just sounds like tasteless shreading to me. I think that each generation looks back to the art / culture of the previous one and finds it wanting in many oeuvres not just jazz. Growing up in the 1980's I was aware of jazz-rock being popular from books and articles I had read but as soon as I became attuned to the contemporary scene it was bands like Colosseum who were held in contempt as the music staggered back on track in that decade to recover from some of the abominations committed in the name of jazz in the previous decade. When you are about 16, the music of ten years ago is as remote as 30-40 years. Some of the choices , to my ears, sounded little different to the kind of stuff Rick Wakeman was putting out in the early 70's and I would suggest, far closer to style and content to rock than as say the likes of Parker, Ellington or Coltrane. Despite the stellar line up, even the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble sounded perilously dated. Amazing that such a line up could sound so leaden and square. I suppose that your reaction to much of the second half will depend on your defination of what is or isn't jazz as well as being a generation thing. I would be surprised if anyone under 50 would be quite so enthusiastic of the jazz-rock tracks as those who grew up with this music in their youth.
Sad to learn about Barbara Thompson. I found Paraphernalia to be entertaining enough if somewhat lightweight. The strength in this groups music always seemed to be in the compositions but the influence seemed to be coming from other styles as well as jazz.
Judging by some of the comments posted already, there are plenty of fans and advocates of this kind of music who would have enjoyed the second half seemingly more than the first. However, some of the latter tracks seemed to be almost as contoversial in their relationship to jazz as the choices made in earlier programmes dedicated to Bing Crosby (which I didn't like) and Joni Mitchell (which I did!.)
Curious to see that the subject of next week's "Jazz Library" is the late Esbjorn Svensson as his approach seems to be a more contemporary approach to mixing the jazz tradition with a similar "popularist" approach to Jon Hiseman. I think that EST were marginally more successful but I somewhat wonder if history will be any more kind to their unqiue vision of jazz than the 1970's offerings of this week's guest.
Hmmmmm, not quite sure I agree with your assessment. Some of the Classical composer's you have named have already started to fall out of vogue and I am sure I heard someone on Radio 3 a few months back laying into the minimalist composers of the 1980's with the suggestion that the composers writing today have returned to form whereas the likes of Goreckski probably enjoyed an inflated reputation for too long. Check through history and you will find all sorts of composers slating their immediate predecessors whether it is Messaien reacting against "Les six," Poulenc reacting against Debussy or the Impressionists rejecting the Romantics of the eariest century. Ditto for jazz....
The JL programme served to demonstrate very convincingly that by the mid-sixties British jazz had managed to forge it's own identity and whilst I agree with your comments that the likes of Robert Wyatt (not too familiar with his work but understand how appreciative the "jazz community" in Europe is of his music) or Paraphernalia do not sound at all influenced by American music, they are similarly more closely aligned to the rock music of the time. The only groups on your list I would say were more jazz -influenced were the likes of Nucleus and Soft machine. There are clips of the latter on Youtube which are demonstrably jazz but a lot of the JL programme was given over to music where the distinction was very blurred. In fact, I don't think that there has been any movement in the history of jazz where the separation of oeuvres has been quite so opaque. Even Rock music has moved on from this ethos as much as it exists at all these days. You won't find too many rock bands looking at improvising these days!
I feel that the issue is more fundemental that you have argued. Whilst I agree that the post-war era you talk about resulted in some interesting, incredible, eccentric and not always successful ideas, I feel that jazz has been one of the key developments in the musical developments in the 20th Century. However, during the 70's it seems like there was a lack of confidence in the music and musicians sought to align themselves with more rock-orientated styles as this was (perhaps) seen as "where the music was then happening." The problem for me is that it got so far into bed with rock that it lost it's identity and the music became bloated, self-indulgent and so modish that much of this music sounds ridiculous to anyone of my generation who discovered jazz in the more conservative 1980's. As someone who generally appreciates all kinds of jazz, I find the kind of jazz-rock that emerged in the UK at this time to be one of the least interesting aspects of the music's history. It seems marooneed by the subsequent developments in the music which somewhat left this kind of music behind. You mention John McLaughlin and he is precisely one of the musicians about whom I am ambivalent.
Reference in the programme was made by Alyn as to the "Electronic Revolution" which transformed the music by the mid-70's. With the hindsight of 35+ years of development, it is possible, I believe, to appreciate that this stuff wasn't quite as sophisticated as it then sounded. The technology was not really quite there as it is these days. It is fascinating to contrast the music of a group like "Colosseum" with something like the Pat Metheny Group which similarly borrows ideas from rock / pop but manages to still have it's feet rooted in jazz. Metheny is far more of a subtle composer and has a knack of creating pop-like melodies (granted with a huge dollop of "Americana") in a fashion that many UK musicians could only have dream't about in the 1970's. As the technology has developed, I think Metheny's ability to think on an orchestral level has grown too. His music is far more ambitious than some of the music you have lauded although I can understand why someone like Metheny may be a problem for you too. The problem with electronic kit is that it quickly dates and defines the era in which it is made. However, for a guitar-led solution to a jazz group which is savvy enough to recognise the difference between tasteful and tasteless, I would put to you that Metheny's groups have offered a far more musically successful alternative. The interesting thing is how this music will date but if you consider that PM's earliest records are now over 30 years old, I would suggest that he has had more success in this than the British groups you mention.
Interesting, as ever, you read your well thought out response, but am afraid I am not with you on this one!!
Canterbury fusion stuff from the 1970s:
Sorry IT/S-A, I can't match the erudition of either of your posts - but does it actually matter if some jazz becomes too rock influenced or vice versa? It is all music after all - you either like it or you don't!
I personally do.
None of my links in #7 worked for some reason
Sorry to play "Mr Grumpy" again but not for me. Prog rock at its nadir and calling it jazz don't help. Anyone. God awful guitar solos. ditto vocals - how could Jon say Graham Bond was the essence of the blues when (vocally) he was a sad sub "Ray" joke? "I caught that ol' Grayhound bus to Cheltenham, got lost in Slough, O Wow". (or similar). OK, I had a nightmare driving experience with Bond etc. once in his band bus so I'm VERY biased. He was a general pain.
BUT, (NB IAN) Mike Taylor's "Trio" album" (1965) with Jon and Jack Bruce is very special. I was re-listening to Cecil Taylor's (truly fantastic) "World of" recently on Candid (1960) and that's exactly where Taylor came from on that date in dealing with standards. Jon is fine, but as he said, " looking for a way in" and a second behind.
MUCH moved by Jon''s comments on Barbara so my thoughts are really not all negative.
Ian - Mike Taylor's "Trio" album (even on re-released RE-Dial CD) is very rare, but if you would like a copy (mine), go thro Jazz Corner and I will post on. 'Sure you will find it fsacinating. Even tho he was up a tree on acid during most of the sessions and had to be induced down.