an introduction to Jazz

Discussion in 'Recordings [BG]' started by Every1TookMyName, Oct 10, 2001.

  1. What would you recommend to someone who's never listened to much jazz? Unfortunately, I find some jazz pretty boring... elevator music. I might also check out some fusion.

    Oh, and no vocals please. :D
  2. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Straightahead jazz is going to sound pretty boring to you if you jump straight in with no appreciation of how hard it is to play. (My ex-girlfriend thought it was elevator music, too. Those were her exact damn words: "elevator music". That's one of the reasons why she's an ex.)

    Get the fusion out of your system first. I'd recommend all of the semi-weird quasi-jam-band chops-heavy stuff people here like, eg. Tribal Tech, Bela Fleck & The Flecktones, Living Daylights, Medeski, Martin & Wood, Oteil Burbridge, Niacin, Dregs/Steve Morse and anything on Steve Vai's new Favored Nations label. Also check out the classix of fusion's salad days: Chick Corea Elektric Band, Return to Forever, Steve Kahn's Eyewitness stuff (if you can find it), old Pat Metheny Group with Jaco on bass, and Stanley Clarke's 70s Philadelphia cream cheese, ie. "School Days", "Journey to Love".

    Once you've knocked yourself out/bored yourself silly with the nonstop chops, you can appreciate the artistry that goes into the trad-jazz Dickie Greenleaf stuff like "Kind of Blue", "Love Supreme", "Maiden Voyage", "Shape of Jazz to Come", "Mingus Ah Um" etc.

    That was my musical appreciation trajectory, anyway. Hope it serves you.

    P.S. I'm not an Amazon plant or anything, but their recommendation 'bot, like, knocks me out. I'll buy some stuff frm them, and the next time I get on, the bot will push me some new stuff that I've never heard of before, totally out of left field, but I end up really liking. I'm not saying it works for everybody: if all you buy from them is, like, porno, that's all it'll recommend. But if you've got somewhat eclectic tastes to begin with, it will broaden them. It's this mindless statistics-compiling machine, but it works, and the more people use it, the better it works.
  3. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    Boring, huh?
    There are many genres & sub-genres under the Jazz umbrella...who have you heard?
    (Granted, MUCH of what is MARKETED as "Jazz" today is 'elevator music').
    That said-
    How 'bout checking out late period Coltrane?
    I would love to be in an elevator while listening to Trane's solo on "Transition"(imagine if Hendrix played the sax)...
    Mingus? Man, he's the anti-thesis of 'boring'; tremendous amount of energy in his playin' & composin'(Changes 1 & 2; Complete Town hall Concert).
    Cecil Taylor? He conquers the damn piano!
    David Murray, Charles Gayle, Peter Brotzmann? More fury...

    Good recs!

    Do check out Tribal Tech's most recent, Rocket Science or Gary Willis' Bent...
  4. melvin


    Apr 28, 2001
    Id start with the more faster kinda stuff like these songs would probably be good

    Dancing Men (Buddy Rich's version has a bass solo :) )
    Jumpin at the Woodside
    Mercy Mercy Mercy
    Donna Lee (Miles or Jaco)
    Giant Steps (Coltrane, the bass is super driving it that song)
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I agree with JimK that "real" Jazz is anything but boring; but the thing to bear in mind is that it is essentially a live music and about improvisation on the stand. I can remember that I used to think that rock/pop stuff was more exciting than Jazz, until I went to Jazz gigs regularly.

    There came a point where I realised that most rock-type gigs were actually uninispired and contrived, with the performers just grinding out what they had put together in the studio over and over again. I even noticed groups where most of what was coming out was pre-recorded/sequenced. What people took for "excitement" was just sheer volume and the performers weren't taking any risks as such and often gave the impression of being bored.

    But around the same time I started going to Jazz gigs where the excitement in creating something new every night is real and not something contrived for the audience. OK - some Jazz artists can play to a formula, but I see a lot of Jazz players who are really enjoying the music and playing with people who suprise them and there is a genuine appreciation of what each musician brings to the collective whole.

    Anyway, I might be getting off the point, but I just think you need to bear in mind that Jazz live, is not necessarily like it is on record, whereas most pop/rock stuff is an attempt at faithful copies of the recording. Jazz soloists do react to their surroundings and there is a feeling of involvement in the audience, partly because of this and because Jazz demands more of the listener in terms of how the players will "comment" on things that they expect an audience will know about - references to standards - whether it is completely ripping them apart or quoting from them. So even on recordings there will be references that that the players expect you to get and understand what they are doing and if you don't then there is a sense in which it's easy to miss the point of what's going on and dismiss it.
  6. Okay, thanks for the help guys.

    Also, I said some I found some jazz boring... if I thought it was all like that I wouldn't be posting a thread trying to get into it. ;)
  7. Well, we can't really know what you find boring. :D
    That's metaphysically absurd, man. How can I know what you feel? - Firesign Theatre

    That being said, the two albums I recommend for folks new to jazz are both easily accessable and infinitely interesting.

    Kind OF Blue - Miles Davis
    Miles Davis - trumpet
    "Cannonball" Adderly - alto
    John Coltrane - tenor
    Bill Evans - piano (except on Freddie Freeloader)
    Paul Chambers - bass
    Jimmy Cobb - drums
    Best jazz album of all time? Gets my vote, 'nuff said.

    Bright Size Life - Pat Metheny
    Pat Metheny - guitar
    Jaco Pastorius - bass
    Bob Moses - drums
    Young lions in quiet trio situation where you can hear every note.
    I personally feel this is a great album and recommend it to everyone - Gary Burton
  8. Miles Davis - On the Corner
    My mom won't let me listen to it while she's driving because it drives her insane. How's that for boring? ;)
  9. I'm not a jazzbo by any means (check my profile), but even I know that good jazz is anything but boring. Check out a few of these for starters.

    Miles Davis - Kind of Blue
    Miles Davis - Birth of the Cool
    John Coltrane - Giant Steps
    John Coltrane - A Love Supreme
    Ornette Coleman - Free Jazz
    Ornette Coleman - Live at the Golden Circle Vol. 1 & 2