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How do YOU listen to Jazz?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by bass87, May 28, 2003.

  1. I know it's a bit of a vague question, but I'd be interested to hear experienced Jazz players and listeners responses to this.

    Having just recently got into Jazz, I've realised there is so much you can hear in a jazz tune. What sort of things do you listen for? Or do you not listen especially for things, do they just jump out at you?

    Thanks for any responses. :cool:
  2. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Since I started trying to play Jazz I find myself listening to how great players construct solos - how they "tell a story" - how they vary dissonant chord/scale choices with more diatonic notes - how they use patterns or quotes, how they build tension/release etc.

    I also listen to how the rhythm section (and bass player in particular)respond to this and react to the soloist - how they avoid repetition, but keep it together, how they go with the soloist or maybe provide contrast - how they make it a conversation and not a monologue.

    Amongst many other things of course! ;)
  3. Blackbird

    Blackbird Moderator Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2000
    Like these, Bruce?

  4. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    When I first listen to any kind of music, I try to shut off my brain and just use my ears. Doesn't matter to me how technical the music is, how complex it is, etc etc... the most important thing is, how does the entity make me *feel*?

    While the overall groove is critical, what the individual musicians are doing is a relatively minor concern: f'r instance a good piece of music can survive mediocre musicianship, but a fantastic performance won't save weak harmony. Sure, it can be fun to listen to great chops played for their own sake, but I get bored with that stuff quickly.

    To put all this another way: sometimes sloppy punk *is* better than technically perfect jazz. But I'm not trying to start any genre wars here: the fact is that every genre contains good, mediocre, and bad (and I like what's good [IMO] in every genre).
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    No - I don't listen to Ears!! They are usually pretty quiet in my experience!! ;)
  6. dave_clark69

    dave_clark69 Guest

    Jan 17, 2003
    well, you see what i do is...
    open the door to my sleep easy room >
    lean over a beanbag >
    press operate on my conmpact disc and digital versatile disc player>
    press open and then cd 5>
    open a compact disc or digital versatile disc and do a 180 degree turn of the casing >
    pull the compact disc or digital versatile disc out of its casing and gently rest it onto the rack>
    press the open button again>
    click cd 5>
    click play>
    hold to remote control to adjust settings to taste
  7. Very good question. :)

    I've always just reacted to a nice melody. Simple as that. Sometimes when artists try to push the envelope, they lose me. I don't knock it, it's just not for me. An example would be the new Wayne Shorter CD; it's great to listen to and analyze what everyone's doing, but, it just doesn't *grab me*. It's a chore to listen to_On the other hand, Van Morrison's old tune, "Moondance," grabbed me the first time I heard it. Whether or not it's really considered Jazz doesn't matter to me; it's got a very Jazzy feel to it. I'd even wager to say that a lot of you that say you don't like Jazz like Moondance.

    I like a lot of music that's called Jazz, and a lot that's not. What did Louie Armstrong say?

    "There's good music and bad music, I play good music."

    If it's good, listen to it.

    Have I ever mentioned that I like Jane Monheit? :D

  8. It all starts with the melody.
  9. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    When I first started getting interested in playing jazz, I had listened to it for years but strictly for enjoyment. I was listening then on a very shallow level: enjoying the groove, enjoying the sound of the players, etc. I really didn't "understand" it from a technical standpoint other than I knew there was a lot of improvisation going on :D

    First big light bulb that went on was: hey, a lot of these tunes are just 12 bar blues!!!

    Second big light bulb: I started being able to recognize tunes that used rhythm changes.

    Third light bulb: I started being able to identify more and more tunes by name meaning that I was finally starting to recognize and remember the melodies.
  10. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    No, I don't believe so Mike. You should talk about her more often :D
  11. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    Most bop jazz is instrumental show-offy, so I try to listen to what the soloist of the moment is doing and how well he/she navigates the changes and the form.

    For me, there's always a competitive or judging aspect to it: did the soloist play well, in time, accomplish something original, etc.?
  12. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Here's an interesting question I've been wanting to ask:

    When someone asks you what your favorite Jazz song(s) is/are, what makes you determine this? The head? The official recording of the song?
  13. I do my best jazz listening in the car, loud, on flat, featureless terrain. I had Keith Jarrett's Somewhere Before going while I was going through the crushingly boring plains of northern Indiana; it was fascinating listening to the interaction between Jarrett and Paul Motian, while Charlie Haden provided momentum while staying out of the way.
  14. pigpen02


    Mar 24, 2002
    It wasn't until i conditioned my brain away from expecting the song to start on/resolve to the root, and listening for root-4-5/popular contemporary music changes that i started to get it, harmonically. that, and trying to relate every note played to its respective chord. prior to that, i just really enjoyed the grooves.

    And i listen to it in the car on long drives, its relaxing. i used to crank up the slayer for 12 hours at a time, but that gives you aneurysms. now its monk and miles.
  15. I'd say my favourite jazz tune has to be Resolution by John Coltrane, off A Love Supreme; and it's for a number of reasons.

    The first reason is the head, it has such a beautiful and emotional melody. The official recording of the song is another reason why, as the solo's are again very good.

    The only time I have heard it performed live is on the live recording off the deluxe edition of A Love Supreme. On the studio version it's very energetic and almost in your face, yet on this live version it is much more relaxed. This is what I like in a jazz tune, it can be played in so many different ways.

    You could say every tune can be played in millions of different ways, but what strikes me is this was done just a few months after the studio version with exactly the same musicians, and it's not just different notes in the solos, it's a whole new feel.

    So enough waffling and hijacking my own thread, that's what determines my favourite jazz tune. ;)
  16. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    That's a pretty broad statement,can you back it up with transcribed examples?
  17. ConU


    Mar 5, 2003
    La Belle Province
    Casual listening,sit back and let the music take you somewhere.
    Analytical listening,either a)look at the transcribed solo and form as you listen
    b)transcribe as you listen,it could just be 4 bars or even 1 bar,the musical info contained there is quite often tremendous.
  18. Christopher


    Apr 28, 2000
    New York, NY
    The comment wasn't meant pejoratively. In this age where the Strokes are platinum artists, I appreciate the instrumental showoffy aspect more than ever.
  19. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    I know what you're saying. My ears became attuned to intense dissonance after I went through a period where I was listening to and playing nothing but radio rock: I got so screamingly bored after a couple years that I sought out unusual music. I have no clue as to what the Coltranes and Zorns are doing; I probably couldn't explain why I like this piece but not that piece... I just know that it can thrill the heck out of me.
  20. Killdar


    Dec 16, 2002
    Portland Maine
    that's how I think about listening to all music pretty much.

    I only really think about the music when I'm trying to learn it or something. Sometimes, analyzing music just takes all the fun out of listening to it, and what good is music if it's not good to listen to?

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