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free jazz-totally worthless or am i missing something


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Showing 201-225 of 231 posts in this discussion
Posted on 4 Apr 2012 15:26:15 BDT
dolphyfan says:
Ajarn, you may find this interesting:
http://monumentcity.net/2012/01/18/fasces-around-charm-city/

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Apr 2012 23:25:33 BDT
Ajarn Col says:
Yes indeed, dp. Also where the word fascism finds its etymological origins I believe. Interesting that you can also find examples of 'fasces' nearer to home. For instance, Clacton-on-Sea has them as portals to the main entrance of the railway station. Although , cruelly perhaps, it's been suggested that what they actually intended to erect were in fact giant faeces.

In reply to an earlier post on 12 Apr 2012 14:44:05 BDT
Why does it matter what else they can or can't do? John Lee Hooker can't play on the changes either - that doesn't stop him being a genius. WEqually loads of players who can play on the changes aren't worth a second of anyone's time.

In reply to an earlier post on 21 Apr 2012 17:19:42 BDT
dolphyfan said: "Duke Ellington distanced himself from the term jazz. John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy were ambivalent about it, as was Charles Mingus, all of whom found the term confining."

From my own experience, playing semi-pro in a quintet with "classic" line-up (trp, sax, pno, bass, drums), the J word prevents many from giving the music a chance.

We simply bill ourselves as "Exciting live music". We play a range music mostly from the ECM end of things Metheny, Kenny Wheeler, but some improvisations on Faure feature, and we have a couple of 'hard' improv (textural/rhythmic explorations of what sounds complement or detract from others). But we use these as intros to 'tunes' - one being In A silent Way, the other a rock version of a tune by Matthias Eick. When 'young' audiences get a chance to hear something new they (almost) invariably stay to check it out. Young people nowadays who frequent live venues are surprisingly open minded I have found.

I couldn't agree more with what dolphyfan says!

Posted on 27 Apr 2012 07:33:32 BDT
Mark53 says:
James Blood Ulmer what was that all about? I'm sure the right notes are in there, but in the wrong order. Totally unlistenable!

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 08:07:04 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2012 08:09:46 BDT
Depends on the album, Mark. Some albums I would agree with, but these are great, easy to get into albums in a mainly blues direction.

No Escape From The Blues: The Electric Lady Sessions

Memphis Blood: The Sun Sessions

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 08:32:32 BDT
Ajarn Col says:
I'm not sure that freeing music from any tonal centre (what Ornette Coleman termed as "harmolodics) is the same thing as playing notes in the wrong order. Remembering that what James Blood Ulmer - who toured with Coleman in the 1970's - sought to do is apply Coleman's philosophy to (mainly ) jazz guitar. Whilst I'm not particularly any fan of Ulmer (too rock orientated as well as being free-jazz in his earlier phase - not my favoured type of fusion) I ,nevertheless, think it disingenuous to dismiss him out of hand without understanding what he was trying to achieve during that period. In fact compered to much as what passes off a being free-jazz ,Ulmer almost seems tonal in a Jimi Hendrix sense.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 09:47:00 BDT
Tone Dialing by Ornette Coleman appears at times to be a quest to fit as many notes into a song based structure as is possible. There are at times 5 different things going on at the same time on different instruments. It is hard to distinguish one track from another on many occasions, particularily as the impetus appears to be solo all the way through, as there is no melody left intact for long enough to follow. Maybe I just cant hear it.

So, James Blood Ulmer is like a bit of a holiday after getting through Ornette at his most note productive.

On those two albums I posted by JB Ulmer the direction is almost straight ahead blues, possibly a bit of a meagre feed for note fanatics.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 13:39:48 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2012 13:56:07 BDT
Ajarn Col says:
It's not so much that Coleman tried to fit as many notes into a piece as possible ,In fact it was the exact opposite - a breathing of some sense into a modern jazz trying to hurdle chord progressions in the shortest possible space of time.The album that you cite is more cramming as much world music into an album than any previous ones - a true fusion of polytonal improvising, It's worth remembering that Coleman was in essence anti-star where each player is placing and spacing and ideas. So I guess that it can sound a plethora of unrelated notes. Coleman himself said about harmolodics :"It's like having a million melodies all at once, yet it's still a kind of unison." Although albums like "Tone Dialing" aren't the easiest of albums - if possible the way to best hear it is as the man himself describes I think.

It'd be an interesting read if Ornette Coleman ever did write/finish his book on the subject.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 Apr 2012 14:13:30 BDT
Last edited by the author on 27 Apr 2012 17:10:50 BDT
dolphyfan says:
Un Dimanche a la Grande Jatte is just a bunch of dots, yet somehow we manage to see an agreeable and representational painting. Music is not necessarily representational. Indeed, it almost always is not, yet we find much of it engaging, even enjoyable, on some level. Most listeners find it is easier to connect the dots of Bach than the dots of Bartok and I'd venture that more viewers find it easier to be comfortable with the Hudson River School painters than with the abstract expressionists. Jazz is no different. To my ears, the recordings of Ornette, especially the quartet sides on Atlantic, are as natural, clear and refreshing as mountain water running through the fingers of my cupped hands. If you prefer great music you can also tap your toe to, listen to Basie. If you have open ears and think the counting of notes a preposterous metric for judging merit, give the Globe Unity Orchestra a spin. Just because some find it difficult to connect the dots, doesn't necessarily mean there is not something of great beauty to be found.

Posted on 29 Apr 2012 09:21:57 BDT
Ajarn and Dolphyfan, I have other albums by Ornette, Change Of The Century in particular, which are superb. The Prime Time stuff just is just not at the same level, although Virgin Beauty is close. The Tone Dialling album is relentless busy and challenging in the sense that I cant relax enough when listening to it to enjoy it. Curious, as I can listen to Derek Bailey or Peter Brotzmann and enjoy them.

Interesting use of pointilism to explain music, Dolphyfan.

Posted on 29 Apr 2012 11:18:02 BDT
Last edited by the author on 29 Apr 2012 23:24:50 BDT
Ajarn Col says:
Smiity wrote

<<The Tone Dialling album is relentless busy and challenging in the sense that I cant relax enough when listening to it to enjoy it.>>

Some suggest that "Tone Dialling" was Coleman's 1995 return to radicalism. Perhaps that's what makes it a difficult album for some - self included. Although when I've read (well documented) musician's angle , I can at least appreciate what Coleman was doing.

But that doesn't mean that I'll often listen, except to appreciate something that I hadn't realised before, without necessarily getting any great enjoyment from it. In fact the most difficult album that I do occasionally listen to is New York Is Now . Although (last 3 minutes apart) it isn't really that difficult an album at all.

The others that I enjoy hearing are Croydon Concert 1965 ; The Shape Of Jazz To Come ; Virgin Beauty =20 Bit= ;
and my desert island choice Change Of The Century

dolphyfan's comments about joining the dots has some resonance when speaking of Ornette Coleman , as he himself has compared his music to the paintings of Jason Pollock.

Appendage

Nearly forgot to mention Sound Grammar on my list of favoured Ornette Coleman albums.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2012 16:06:23 BDT
Yet when Ornette first appeared on the scene people of the Leonard Feather persuasion were so busy writing him off as incompetent, primitive, out of tune etc. that they never really listened to what the music was attempting to do. Leoanrd Bernstein, however, sat in on double bass once, so they say.
But Ornette's music has become so widely acceptable that even the Ken Burns corporation can accommodate his music in their own peculiar re-write of "jazz history." Maybe it's only a matter of time till Brötzmann, Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, Derek Bailey and other uncompromising individuals become understood, maybe even assimilated and given more credit for their achievements and adventures.

In reply to an earlier post on 27 May 2012 17:47:47 BDT
Djembefellow says:
Its amazing what a condescending pr****s some people become when faced by anything that they dont understand. Most of the mainstream opinion here was proably written by 5 year olds or
age-ing Daily Mail readers. 2cool is too stupid for words : Ignorance and arrogance go hand in hand bye

Posted on 5 Jun 2012 21:27:58 BDT
MusicSpheres says:
Music does not have any meaning or produce any reaction if you don't feel it. It could be opera, punk, electronic, blues, rock, jazz or any kind of "world music", depends of your taste and your personal background. I feel lucky because I am open to many kinds of music from Early Classical to Contemporary composers, from traditional folk to avantgarde, every music have something to say but this doesn't necessarily mean that everyone should get it. If I had written this in Spanish solo los que hablan espaņol podran entenderme (just who can speak Spanish would understand me). Leave it like this: there is not better music, good or bad, there are many possibilities to suit all the people imagination, mood and taste, try any and choose what you really like.
Javier

Posted on 5 Jun 2012 21:31:43 BDT
MusicSpheres says:
Music does not have any meaning or produce any reaction if you don't feel it. It could be opera, punk, electronic, blues, rock, jazz or any kind of "world music", depends of your taste and your personal background. I feel lucky because I am open to many kinds of music from Early Classical to Contemporary composers, from traditional folk to avantgarde, every music have something to say but this doesn't necessarily mean that everyone should get it. If I had written this in Spanish solo los que hablan espaņol podran entenderme (just who can speak Spanish would understand me). Leave it like this: there is not better music, good or bad, there are many possibilities to suit all the people imagination, mood and taste, try any and choose what you really like.
Javier

Posted on 6 Jun 2012 12:02:29 BDT
Ben Basing says:
Javier I think I disagree with you, but then I think I agree! There is good music, exceptionally good music, stuff you could do the washing up to, and 'audio product' with no value at all, even aesthetic revulsion. The genres you list- and probably many others, are heard in varying degrees of quality. Yes, there are some combinations that seem implausible 'profound punk' maybe, or a tragic phone ringtone (a friend of mine once used Chopin's Funeral March as a ringtone, but the effect was humerous!). Overall, though, the genre and the quality are independent (Beethoven's Sixth Symphony is better than his First), not all So & So's albums are equally strong, etc. etc. The interesting examples to me are pieces like Sgt Pepper (or even some Beethoven)that were so amazing at the time that they have become familar and (therefore?) less well regarded than they were when presented to a struggling audience- have they really lost value through the effort people have put into following them?

In reply to an earlier post on 9 Jun 2012 20:39:48 BDT
MusicSpheres says:
Hi Ben,
Sorry I answered you on 7/6/12 but it did not get through. I am agreed about there are music which is more creative, influential, artistic, "well made", etc; than other. The problem is to be universaly agreed in terms of what is good or bad music. When I was 17 years old I started to have different music heroes than my chilean friends in the early 80's (I passed from Led Zeppelin, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Genesis, etc to Softmachime, Gong, Magma, Faust, Captain Beefheart, Crimson, Can, etc;) I thought maybe they were not ready for that music. Then I met other fellas who liked more or less the same of my "new" stuff but despite of their knowledge not necessarily the liked the same music as me. For example some of them liked Softmachine but not Gong, some liked electronic krautrock but they did not liked contemporary electronic music composers, etc. In my country Chile, many people like Classical music but they strongly dislike Early or Contemporary music, they think these other periods are rubbish. Exactly the same happen with Free Jazz or Improvised music, many people like Charlie Parker, Monk, Davis, but few will appreciate Derek Bailey, Leroy Jenkins, Albert Ayler, Brotzmann, Braxton, Tim Berne, etc. But this does not make this music rubbish or make the people who dislike these musicians work a bunch of idiots.

Posted on 10 Jun 2012 12:53:47 BDT
Ben Basing says:
There is, of course, the safe option. 'Classical' music (classical in the record shop sense, not the musicologist's) will be good quality - because the tradition of performers have generally got it right when choosing whose music to perform over the generations. If you have to choose between the chap you heard in the club on Saturday night or John Coltrane, Trane is going to be the best bet when choosing a CD though not necessarily the best music! Music I've come across seems to explain the next stuff I take to ... I'm not sure Oscar Peterson would have caught my attention had I not been bought up on Chopin!

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Jul 2012 13:35:30 BDT
No I'm saying some of the British free jazzers can't play on changes. They can all play their instruments and can often read music fluently and also play their 'free' thing. Contrast that with John Coltrane or Eric Dolphy, both of whom experimented radically with free playing, but also were teriffic 'changes' players (I have great respect for Dolphy by the way and wasn't attacking him). They played free music from choice, not because it was all they could do. Matisse's portrait was recognised as a masterpiece within 50 years of its production and his work was by then mainstream. The number of free, or freeish jazz albums with that status, or close to it (and the genre is nearly 60 years old, so hardly cutting edge), is vanishingly small - a few Ornette Coleman albums, Dolphy's 'Out to Lunch', a handful of others. None are British.

In reply to an earlier post on 18 Jul 2012 18:32:21 BDT
What about the "time- no changes" approach?
European players tended to move away from received notions of jazz in their improvisations as something too grounded in the U.S. experience. As a result a European sound, or a number of them emerged. Whether this is termed jazz, or jazz continued by other means, is probably a matter of semantic definitions.
Recordings preserve the music as if in amber. it's there to be heard live if possible.
See Mike Heffley's book "Northern sun, southern moon, Europe's revolution of jazz."

Posted on 18 Jul 2012 22:34:29 BDT
Free jazz reared its ugly head in the 60s when many listeners and critics were afraid of expressing an honest opinion because they did not want to be compared to those who dismissed Charlie Parker in the 40s. But Eric Dolphy, John Coltrane and others displayed a capacity to play 'orthodox' music. As far as I know, there is no evidence that Ornette Coleman or Albert Ayler ever had this ability. Ornette is, I believe, a gifted folk musician,. I don't mean that in a demeaning way but have you ever listened to his explanations of 'Harmolodics' etc. It's astonishing that anyone can take his words seriously. Albert Ayler, I'm sad to say, I regard musically as a complete waste of space.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jul 2012 02:18:02 BDT
dolphyfan says:
I suppose one who considers Ayler 'a complete waste of space' has no interest in learning about the immediate, and lasting, impact his music had on jazz from then on. Probably has no interest in Coltrane's response to it, nor in exploring it's continued flowering in the work of Brotzmann and others. It is fine to feel comfortable with musics one knows and those that are similar to it, but if the reason for this thread is to be conversant (recall the OP's question?), maybe it would be useful to dial back the vitriol and hyperbole regarding that which is less to ones liking; for through it one runs the risk of appearing ignorant rather than astute.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jul 2012 02:49:40 BDT
Last edited by the author on 19 Jul 2012 22:20:44 BDT
Ajarn Col says:
philipthepheasant says:

≤≤As far as I know, there is no evidence that Ornette Coleman or Albert Ayler ever had this ability. Ornette is, I believe, a gifted folk musician>>

Ornette Coleman a "folk musician" ?!? And by what great display of musical knowledge do you form that assumption ? If you'd have said blues/rhythm and blues, although incorrect, at least would have shown some familiarity with his earlier history. Even your time scale is somewhat eschew as you suggest that, what is known as, free jazz first appeared in the 1960's. When in fact if we were to define that particular sub-genre as "transforming the genre by demonstrating a style of music freed from the prevailing conventions of harmony, rhythm and melody", then it was Something Else !!! (1958) that earned that definition. Although listening to that album in retrospect , it actually sounds more bebop now , and certainly features a conventional bebop quintet. Again putting asunder another of your somewhat ignorant claims concerning Coleman's musicianship. I'm sure that if I were to delve into Ayler's discography I would also find similar examples of connectons with what you call "traditional".
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In reply to an earlier post on 2 Sep 2012 15:53:50 BDT
I've heard this line of jive about Ornette being "primitive" before. Is "Skies of America" the work of a primitive, or the string quartet "Dedicated to poets & artists"? (Town-hall 1962).
A certain "critic" once compared him to a stopped clock i.e. he had to be "right" every 12 hours (no it wasn't that bigot Larkin). People with such rigid ideas of what is "right" are so hide bound by dogma they don't stop to examine what an artist's intentions might actually be, or if they have been successfully fulfilled.
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