..Djang Bates nattering about his Bird album [rather like it] and concert sets from Tom Cawley Curios from November London Jazz Festival ...Mr Le Gendre in the chair .... and no BBC Big Band
you PROMISE....no big band....straight arrow....
....might listen then....
and followed on Monday by more Django Bates and the Bad Plus ... er did anyone actually look at this scheduling ....
matching sweater and chairs, cooool eh
Probably gonna court controversy with what I'm about to write, ahem...
While quite enjoying what Curios had to offer, some of these young, gifted guys, in their sober manners and seriousness so very different in kind from the 60s generation some of us have grown up around, have certainly done their homework. But what homework is this? Reminded as I am of a remark of Tim Richards's some while back - might have been while reviewing one of his piano heroes for a JL - that few among the current wave display any rootedness in the blues - it struck me that it is the spirit, not always necessarily the actual phrases and mannerisms of blues, of whatever period, that seems to inform the very best of jazz. They make me think of the early Romantic poets, lost to a forlorn, bereft kind of sadness. The feeling I got would not have been one I would have found myself comfortable in the Purcell Room - redolent as both music and venue could be of a classical recital; and an ambalence stemming from having experienced both jazz and classical music in that venue which have allowed me to forget where I was...
It was good hearing Django recounting the period of Loose Tubes, the "Dancing on Frith Street" session at Ronnie's, and the demise shortly after of the band, without rancour. He was, I thought, modest about his role, musical and personality-wise, in that band; and, notwithstanding what he said to LeGendre, he has, of course, recorded albums where his muslcality and piano playing skills have been very much to the fore. It will be interesting hearing his collaboration with The Bad Plus tonight: Ethan Iverson's perceptive commentaries on the scene has not, thus far, extended to his own work, imho.
...pretty much in agreement with you S_A not much 'roots' and i also find the attack lacking as well, something a certain G Mulligan was keen on ....it can stray into noodling territory eh ... something D Bates does not do on his Bird album....
I am (admittedly) a bit of a jazz/classical "hermit", not much taken to listening to R1 and/or pirate stations to find out the kinds of street influences that have fed alongside modern/experimental classical into jazz in the past. From what I have however heard to contemporary so-called "dance" genres there doesn't seem to have been much development since the end of the 90s, when everything seemed to go mad with sampling, mixings of this ethno-genre with that, to some point of rapid exhauistion. it has been said (can't remember by whom right now) that turnover, in terms of investment and return, takes place at ever increasing speed in our techosuperturbocharged capitalist age. This would be reflected analogously in artistic trends.
"Street", along with "classical" elements, became incorporated virtually subcutaneously into the jazz vernaculars of the 60s and 70s, where readily adaptable, and this I think was partly because they had previously been incorporated into "quality" pop: e.g. Beatles' materials of the Sergent Pepper period aas just one example. Who was it, dammit, (<grr>), who noted the increasing tendency of new artistic trends in late capitalism to feed off the heritage, to the point of self-consumption? There was a great interval discussion during a Luciano Berio broadcast season in the late 80s. At the start of the Naughties there were quite a few young bands prepared to take on board the new rhythms derived from drum samples used in hip hop and drum'n'bass and make something human and creative out of them.
An escalating form of "distancing" in the expressive potential garnered by an art form which resorts to past modes of expression (extrapolated) from historical context - a kind of diminsihing returns - the more recycling takes place. This has been pointed out in ref. to Vaughan Williams, Holst, and the folk song revival at the turn of the last century: however attractively suggestive, the original bite of the idiom was softened in the process of its remoulding to "artistic" ends. What arguably "saves" the post-William Morris aesthetic stance is the communitarian intention behind it, inadequate as that may seem (The Leith Hill Choral Festival <whistle>). The recycling of the recycling of the recycled... presents a further step in degeneration.
I should like to try and come back to this, more articulately if possible, when I have more time...
Haven't heard "The Curious" set but the comment about the lack of blues element is really salient. It is an interesting issue. A couple of years back I went on a workshop which was pretty basis in the level it aspired to as the class was made up of amateurs and people who had never played jazz. What was intriguing was that the teacher sought to get the students to play a blues without resorting to continuing playing flattened thirds or using a "blues scale" which is something that I was not fully appreciative of actually existing. Instead, everyone was encourage to play a multitude of various scales of dominant and minor chords with a lot of emphasis of pentatonic majors and minor scales. The experience was very beneficial as I learned to played penta-tonics based on the tonic, (flattened) seventh, flattened fifth and flattened ninth of a dominant chord and then to mess around with this in a minor key. What happens is that you avoid cliche but the notes still fit. However, the "blueness" is more akin to the Coltrane kind of approach to harmonic as opposed to the more "archaic" flattened third. This very much opened my ears to how to find playing blues much more inspiring.
I suppose the point of this is would be taken to the ultimate extreme you could easily get away with much more harmonic opaqueness by this approach if you had the knowledge and technique so that the music is ever divorced from the way "blues" might be heard by players such as Charley Patton, Sidney Bechet, Louis Armstrong, Johnny Hodges, Charlie Parker and Ornette Coleman. With many current piano players, I am in totally in agreement with SA's comments but think that there are defintaely other players out there (Jason Moran, John Medeski and Eri Yamamoto spirngs quickly to mind) who do not have quite the "Western Classical" leaning and are much more "traditional." These are the kind of players I prefer but I would agree that the less "blues-inclined" players have dominated much of the attention of the popular jazz press over the last ten years. It almost seems that some musicians have wanted to distance themselves from players like Wynton Marsalis who have harked on about "tradition" a tad too much and prompted a 180 degree different response. Whilst many of these pianists get the press attention and seem to clutter up a lot of the piano trio slots at Vienne!!), I am not convinced that they represent a majority. The American pianists still seem to be drenched in the "blues" to varying degrees although there is probably less room for players with a more "explicit" feel for the blues these days like Jimmy Smith, Gene Harris, Jay McShann, etc.
Personally, the blues are a vital ingredient for me of jazz and a principle factor in why much Improvised Music which eschews this aspect in it's approach appeals so little.
"The blues is all right."
Blue notes and so on are a part of what I'm trying to get at. Many hard bop players in the period after Clifford Brown moved back from his bebop use of chromatic extensions of triads; more use of blues phraseology in solo work signalled partial return to the traditional vernacular and an acknowlegement of R&B that had become marginalised in the white heat of 1940s exploration.
But sticking for now to blues "feeling" as opposed to the precisely definable, i.e. the blues scale, flattened thirds, fifths and sevenths, I'm thinking particularly of expressive use of grace notes, note-bending etc, and in the case of pianists (for whom bending notes is of course problematic!) minor second clusters, in the manner of Monk, and that kind of behind-the-beatness that comes with being steeped in blues - irrespective of the tune or improvisation being a blues.
.... i really think Alex Hawkins has got a thing going .....
[btw helentonic has amazing catalogue of gigs she has filmed and put on youtube, a real chronicler of contemporary music ]
With you on Alex Hawkins, calum, having seen him a few times now. He seems to be on a Cecil T-type roll on that first clip, (loved the way he brought Andromeda from the first BofB LP into that improvisation, btw!), but that's far from being all of what he's about. The Primal Scream thingy as a cathartic release seems to have made a *timely* comeback of late - but note just how centred Tony Marsh is through all of this... as always!
Another who's really going places now, ime, is Matthew Bourne, heard a few weeks back on Jon3 at a S Bank gig last month I managed to get to. (Must check & see if there's a utube clip of any of that).
Well done, and thanks, for finding Helen's website - I shall have fun making my way through that lot!