Jazz for aficionados

Jazz for aficionados

I'm going to review records in my collection, and you'll be able to decide if they're worthy of your collection. These records are what I consider "must haves" for any jazz aficionado, and would be found in their collections. I wont review any record that's not on CD, nor will I review any record if the CD is markedly inferior. Fortunately, I only found 1 case where the CD was markedly inferior to the record.

Our first album is "Moanin" by Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers. We have Lee Morgan , trumpet; Benney Golson, tenor sax; Bobby Timmons, piano; Jymie merrit, bass; Art Blakey, drums.

The title tune "Moanin" is by Bobby Timmons, it conveys the emotion of the title like no other tune I've ever heard, even better than any words could ever convey. This music pictures a person whose down to his last nickel, and all he can do is "moan".

"Along Came Betty" is a tune by Benny Golson, it reminds me of a Betty I once knew. She was gorgeous with a jazzy personality, and she moved smooth and easy, just like this tune. Somebody find me a time machine! Maybe you knew a Betty.

While the rest of the music is just fine, those are my favorite tunes. Why don't you share your, "must have" jazz albums with us.

Enjoy the music.
Today's listen (a jazz blasphemy)

Neighbors arguing loudly (all day)

Stefanovski, Tadic and Spassov: "Ne si go prodavaj..."

Vlatko Stefanovski (Macedonia) & Miroslav Tadic (Croatia - Serbia) - Jovano Jovanke

Esma Redzepova (Macedonia) - Caje sukarije

Ederlezi: Time of the Gypsies - Goran Bregović (Bosnia), Emir Kusturica (Serbia)
I am gypsy woman today, oooopa, ožeži (hit the music)

A couple of thoughts re the issue of drum and bass solos offered in part because I am not sure that the sentiment of my first post on the subject was clear. “Drummers don’t get enough love”.

I like bass and drum solos....good ones. And I completely agree with Schubert’s sentiment:

**** If 20 minutes of bass and 10 minutes of all else is the best expression of that work or that time works for me ****

It is true that drum solos, and to a lesser extent, bass solos are sometimes not on the same level of musicality as horn and piano solos. There are reasons for this. First, it is much more difficult to improvise an interesting solo with only rhythm, only one of the two most basic foundational elements of music...rhythm and melody (melody can imply harmony). However, it doesn’t mean that it is not possible and some drummers do it very well. The mentioned Joe Morello and Philly Joe are great examples. In the case of bass solos it has only been fairly recently that bass players have reached the level of technical virtuosity that one takes for granted from horn and piano players; but, once again, there are and have been players who, IMO, are every bit as accomplished in this respect as horn and piano players. Eddie Gomez, Scott LaFaro, George Mraz and others come to mind. Practically every tune on many of Bill Evans’ famous live trio recordings features a bass solo. So, I guess what I am trying to say is that there is no set rule, IMO, about the “appropriateness” of having drum or bass solos on every tune. If the drummer or bass player can add to the music at the same level of musicality of the other musicians....why not?

Of course, the problem is when the drummer or bass player is not on the same level as soloist as the other players. Now this topic gets tricky. The notion of every player on the bandstand playing a solo is rooted in a very basic tenet in small ensemble jazz....everyone gets to tell his/her story. From the musician’s standpoint and “artist mindset” this goes to the basic idea that jazz is an interactive and communal musical endeavor and, to the chagrin of the audience, the audience necessarily takes the back seat to this mindset. The “purist” jazz player, correctly or not, expects the audience to accept his “story” without necessarily having to worry about the audience’s expectations or preferences. Interestingly and ironically, we find this purist attitude mostly among the LESS experienced and less accomplished players; as pryso points out, the “local jazz players”. It is a kind of musical immaturity on the part of the players and more experienced and confident players know better and understand when a crappy drum solo will only detract from the communal story. Personally, I don’t remember ever going to see a major jazz act when the drummer soloed on every tune, or even close to it.

I guess the takeaway is that, just as the experienced players try to be more realistic about all this and consider the audience, it’s probably also of value for the audience to put the practice in better context and perhaps be more tolerant. In keeping with the often cited truism that the best place to perfect the craft is in front of an audience, if not given the chance to actually do it in front of an audience we would never have a good drum or bass soloist.

While I kinda/sorta understand why some people don't care for drum or bass solos, for some reason it surprises me when it comes to Jazz fans.  The essence of Jazz is self-expression and musical development.  Seems like an incredible disservice to all the bass and drum players!  And totally contradictory to the inherent sense of exploration required to play it.  Here's the thing, so many listeners automatically 'turn off' their ears as soon as they hear a bass or drum solo, as if they're ALL being played by the same guy!  An Elvin Jones solo is a little different than the guy from Iron Butterfly bangin' away for a whole side!  Want a more reasonable comparison, listen to the sure cure for insomnia solos of maestro Ron Carter vs. a Jaco Pastorious.  Silly comparisons, I know, but it seems just as silly, to me, to lump ALL bass & drum solos into the same group.  BTW, in the Latin music I listen to I often come up against the same mindset when discussing percussion!  It surprised me to learn that is what is often a very precise music is often perceived as a 'racket'!;)  
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