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I wanna play JAZZ!

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by TheFrizzleFry, May 30, 2001.

  1. TheFrizzleFry

    TheFrizzleFry Guest

    Nov 21, 2000
    Stinktown, Pa, USA
    I, upon closer inspection, want to get into jazz more. What is some beginer jazz. Don't throw me right into Jaco or Stanley Clarke. What are some Jazzy tunes to get me started? Thanks
  2. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    Try the "Kind of Blue" album by Miles Davis.

    The other thing is that jazz may be defined many ways. "Beginner" jazz to me would include works by Kenny G, David Sanborn, FourPlay, George Benson and the Rippingtons. But other jazz experts here would say that those groups are not jazz in the strictest sense.

    They have some improvisation, but it is not as technically demanding for a beginner as more advanced jazz would be, say, later MIles Davis and others.

    I hope someone else will enter this discussion and tell you what they feel would be good "beginner" jazz. Meantime, I stick by "Kind of Blue."
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Well - you could have a look at the Aebersold books , which all have CDs with them, to play along with. They have books which are aimed at beginners to Jazz and you can actually build a programme out of them. There is a website which lists all the books - www.jajazz.com - this includes a "Jazz Handbook" which has quite a few free Jazz lessons that you can download.

    But Jazz is really about playing with other people and I would recommend getting into workshops or getting a teacher.

    Freddie Freeloader on "Kind of Blue" is a good introduction to a very simple "Jazz Blues". Usually - the way to get into Jazz is via the Blues and a lot of Jazz tunes are based on either 12-bar blues or the chords to "I Got Rhythm" - known as "Rhythm Changes" - which might be another good starting point.
  4. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    When just starting out in Jazz, I really would like to recommend Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane. Those five figures span a very important time period in jazz and its evolution through the years. I know a lot of people like to recommend "Kind of Blue" and it truly is a great album for listening and playing, but as a beginner there were several songs I would struggle with, as modal jazz, in my humble opinion, requires much more knowledge in jazz theory and much more experience. I can most certainly be wrong on this, but I like Bruce's suggestion of Rhythm Changes. It presents more chords to hear in recordings, and you're not listening to a modal piece which presents so many more possibilities.

    I really think you can't go wrong with those five players, but if you check into some Louis, check into his work with "The Hot Fives" as opposed to his later, more "pop", works like Hello Dolly and What a Wonderful World. (Not to take anything away from those recordings).
  5. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999

    ...Coltrane for the newbie, eh? ;)
    Back in '75, I wanted to get into Jazz & I begged my uncle for some Coltrane; he spun Stellar Regions & I was scarred for about 15 years! ;)
    And look at the diversity in a musician like Miles...which period of his would you recommend for a "beginner"? I listened to Kind Of Blue back in the '70s; I didn't "get it", regardless, I dug it(KOB happened to 'sound' like what I thought Jazz was supposed to 'sound' like...if that makes any sense. ;)

    FWIW, I would also like to recommend a book, Mark Gridley's Jazz Styles; IMO, the book gives a pretty decent overview(even non-musicians can understand Gridley's approach)...he also gives hints about how to listen.
  6. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    There is another book which might be helpful also.

    "How to Listen to Jazz, Revised Edition" Jerry Coker; Jamey Abersold Publishing, $7.95, 1990, Paperback, 143 pages.
  7. Or jazz in any sense at all.

    And I disagree with the notion that a jazz newbie should start out with tamer stuff. For someone listening to Primus, Trane's _Stellar Regions_ might actually be the easiest to get. I think the jazz a person should start out on depends entirely on what the person's previous listening experience has been. The thing that got me into jazz was Trane's "Afro-Blue" from _Live at Birdland_, and "Chasin' the Trane" from _Live at the Village Vanguard_. If someone had given me The Rippingtons, or even _Kind of Blue_ for that matter, and told me this is the jazz I should be listening to, I probably would've never listened to jazz again, let alone want to play it.
  8. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Just for listening. Just to get an idea of one of the places jazz has gone.

    I'm not crazy you know! :D :D :D
  9. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    What kind of jazz is piquing your interest? Louis Armstrong? Dizzy? Coltrane? Miles? Return To Forever? The Brecker Brothers? Spyro Gyra? Weather Report? "Smooth" jazz?

    The word has so many meanings to different people. What kind you want to play will help us suggest to you what you should listen to and which books to look at. Any hints?
  10. Boplicity

    Boplicity Supporting Member

    JazzBo, I'm not trying to heat up a big controversy here, but the bands I referred to are called variously, "light jazz', "cool jazz' and contemporary jazz', not "light pop", contemporary pop" or "cool pop." Records by the artists I listed are usually on Billboard jazz charts and seldom seen on pop charts (except Kenny G.)

    I guess we all could argue here day and night if those bands do, in fact, represent jazz. I say they represent a sub genre of jazz, whether those who like other sub genre's of jazz more like you favor agree or not.

    Jerry Coker in the Jamey Abersold publication, "How to Listen to Jazz" gives a lengthy definition of jazz on pages 3, 4, and 5.

    In that definition he says, "The most important definition of jazz, however, is improvisation." I feel that the groups I mention do have at least solos and often more improvised elements in their music. How they choose to improvise, may be what separates their music from the jazz you prefer.

    Also, maybe their music remains truer to the original every time they play their songs, so the improvisation is less adventurous and "creative" than what you prefer, but I bet David Sanborn thinks of himself as a jazz player and I bet Bob James does too.
  11. The so-called "jazz charts" are meaningless. The use of the word "jazz" in regard to the music in question is nothing more than a marketing ploy. Twenty years ago the same kind of stuff was called "Easy Listening".

    As for improvisation, that alone does not make something jazz. There is a jazz language, a harmonic and rythmic vocabulary. "Smooth Jazz" contains none of the elements of jazz. If you examine it's components you'll find it's no different that what is commonly referred to as R&B today, with the exception of the lack of vocals. In other words, within this same style, a tune with vocals is marketted as R&B, w/o vocals it's "Smooth Jazz" or "Contemporary Jazz" whatever the marketing machine is calling it this week, since "Easy Listening" fell out of vogue.

    Frankly, I find it terribly offensive to hear that schmaltz referred to as jazz. It's not, get over it.
  12. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    No sweat J.OLD (hope you don't mind the moniker :) ), we're on the same page. What I wanted to add to what you're saying, is that while KOB is seen as the definitive recording for a genre of era of jazz, sometimes I think the older standards are neglected. This was significant for me because when just starting in jazz (which we could say is still this very moment :) ), I found modal pieces much more difficult because my knowledge of jazz improvisation methods and just overall modal playing were weak. (See my "Getting Fresh Arpeggiations" thread in Misc DB, probably the most rewarding thread for me). But because I knew my arpeggiations pretty well, it was easier to do something like RHYTHM CHANGES, where I have an "easier guide" of where to roam. Blah blah blah. Am I making any sense?
  13. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...I hadda look over at www.allmusic.com 'cause, at one time, Bob James was a Jazz musician(anything pre-1965). Check it out & have a laugh at Scott Yanow's review of James' career. ;)

    Sanborn, IMO(& I have a lot of his records...until he got too "polished" & produced & sequenced)was more in an R&B vibe/approach(maybe, just maybe in the olden days, his music woulda been considered as Soul Jazz...maybe). ;)
    In any event, it's semantics; bottom line: Do you like it...

    ***PUNCHIN' IN***
    ...I know you liked KOB; here's another Classic you may like to check out-Point Of Departure by Andrew Hill. Check out this band-
    Tony Williams-drums
    Richard Davis-bass
    Joe Henderson-tenor sax
    Eric Dolphy-alto sax
    Freddie Hubbard-trumpet

    Though POD may be considered Avant Garde Jazz, it's more "in" than "out"...great, great record!
  14. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...I'm with you for the most part; nice usage of the word, "schmaltz", too.
    Anyway, agreed, Jazz IS a language with a harmonic & rhythmic vocabulary...now, do you see the vocabulary growing, in flux, or pretty much static(for the most part, what we have today IS "it")?
    As for improvisation NOT being the only factor involved...agreed. So how do you feel about stuff like Miles' On The Corner or Jack Johnson or any of the LIVE stuff his post-Bitches Brew band recorded? The stuff is definitely "improvised", but...?
    Curious about your thoughts...that's all.

    I also get your point about Primus & "noiz-Rockers"...they MAY find late-period Coltrane, Cecil, Ornette, Pharoah, Air, Muhal Richard Abrams, Sun Ra, etc as "easy".
    Frizzler, though, did ask for "beginner Jazz"...how can you go wrong with Miles, Coltrane, Bill Evans, PC, Philly Joe, & Wynton Kelly playing together on one album? ;)

    Back to your point-
    One time, in an effort to dislodge my brother from this(MY)PC, I threw in a David S. Ware cd; he didn't budge & when i finally asked what he thought about the music, he commented that he liked the guy's energy & how it reminded him of the distorted guitar stuff he likes. Made me scratch my head...
  15. TheFrizzleFry

    TheFrizzleFry Guest

    Nov 21, 2000
    Stinktown, Pa, USA
    I dunno what kind of Jazz I want to play!?!?! Like I said I'm new. All I know is I heard the Primus version of Silly Putty (originally Stanley Clarke) and I was like "Whoa". Most "Jazz" I have heard are stanley clarke (yeah I heard his version of Silly Putty before the Primus version) and Jaco (I started talking to you guys and wanted to know what all this hype was about this crazy Jaco fellow). Besides that, I'm sure I've had exposure to Jazz, but can't define it.
  16. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    It sound slike what you are interested in is the "virtuosic" aspects of "Jazz" as in the soloist as "guitar hero" or similar and is in fact a big area of dispute. If you go to 99% of Jazz tutors they will tell you that this is not what Jazz is about. Jazz is about collective improvising and creating alternative melodies - playing together as a musical conversation with other people - there are all sort of other harmonic etc. concepts that David has touched on but for clarity (simplicity) I won't go into that here.

    BUT - in the 1970s we started to get the dreaded Jazz Fusion and after Miles Davis had started to introduce electric instruments and rock rhythms, other musicians "crossed over" and Stanley Clarke was one of those very much involved with this - so he played loud aggressive music and played with rock musicians like Jeff Beck. Now it is doubtful whether any of this can actually be called Jazz.

    I do like Fusion myself a lot and it was what inspired me in the late 70s - but most of what is nowadays accepted as Jazz, has bypassed this period and acts like it never happened for the most part. ;)

    Now even Stanley Clarke himself acts like this and mostly plays Double Bass nowadays and is respected by most of the Jazz community for doing this.

    Jaco is more "enigmatic" as he did act like the "guitar hero" and embraced the cult of personality and played loud aggressive music during this period - but also he wrote interesting original compositions that have been accepted by some as Jazz standards and his playing wasn't always virtuosic for its own sake.

    As you will see, from the lengths I've gone to so far (and only really skated over the surface) - this is a complex subject and Jazz is a "catch-all" for many types of music, in much the same way that "Classical" is misused as a term these days!

    From what you say, I guess that what you are interested in is called "Fusion" - but the problem you will have is that this is by definition virtuosic and very hard to play - odd and shifting times signatures, incredibly fast tempos and long jams that require great stamina. "Easy" Fusion is really a contradiction in terms and I imagine that the reason Les Claypool likes Silly Putty and Stanley Clarke of that era is because of the incredible virtuosity on bass guitar that this typifies.
  17. APouncer


    Nov 3, 2000
    Lancashire, UK
    "Jazz is not important"

    Zen Master - Ssab Ratiug
  18. The jazz language is still growing, and it will continue to grow as long as it doesn't become to codified. I'm sound old fashioned, or like I've been listening to too much Wynton Marsalis, but I think blues and swing are essential ingedients in jazz. However, I hear the blues and swing as much in Reggie Workman's _Summit Conference_ as I do in any Armstong. I hear the lineage or the tradition. The latter is an extension of the former. Big Band jazz grew out of early jazz, bebop was a reaction to that, cool was a reaction to bop, free was a reaction to the whole scene, etc. As long as cats are playing jazz in a true way, it will continue to grow.

    Now I don't want to comment too much on electric Miles. Too me it sounds like some crazy funky rock. I hear blues, and it swings, but I don't know if swings in a jazz sense. Jazz sounds like it goes somewhere. Electric Miles is kinda static.

    For the sake of discussion, let's include it in jazz. One might then surmise that a movement was sparked which would include Weather Report, Spyro Gyra, the Crusaders, Grover Washington Jr., jazz fusion, etc. Cases can be made that that's all jazz as it all stems from electric Miles jazz and the blues and this and that. But fusion reached a point, and I think we can probably blame that schmaltzy Grover Washington Jr. for this, where whatever blues and swing that was left, vanished all together. Since the beginning of jazz, there have always been pop musicians who incorporated jazzy elements, so schmaltz is nothing new. But Grover gave birth to Fuzak. Korny G., Phoney James et el. tool another step, making Fuzak indistinguishable from what is now commonly called r&B with the exception of the lack of vocals.
  19. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    Y'know, I hate to see contemporary jazz, and electric jazz in particular, regarded as less than jazz. Miles' electric period was a period of growth in jazz. To me, the spirit of jazz is not blues or swing - it's that pioneering, forward-moving spirit. The understanding of your roots but the constant effort to do something different. Spyro Gyra mixed latin into contemporary jazz, just as Dizzy did when he mixed latin and post-bop. Stanley mixed rock into jazz, Grover and David Sanborn mixed in R&B.

    The other thing you can thank Grover, Spyro, Sanborn, and to the greatest extent Kenny G (tho I prefer not to listen to him) is that if someone hears kenny g and then says "wow that's jazz? I'd like to check out some more." and buys a Parker record of Kind of Blue (considered by most to be the quintessential jazz album), then it's a good thing.

    I love playing contemporary jazz. Combining elements of jazz (improvisation etc) with elements of R&B (groove and danceablilty) we've mangaged to get people to interested in jazz and ask for our band when they're partying.

    If someone came up with a name for the Marcus Miller / David Sanborn / Norman Brown style other than jazz, fine, but like everything else, we're too hung up on lables. It's music, man.
  20. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...thanks for your thoughts; & unless I'm thinking of Workman's Cerebral Caverns, SC didn't impress me as swingin', per se. I'll have to spin it this weekend; regardless, they're both happenin' albums by Reggie Workman.
    Some of that electric Miles' stuff(like On The Corner) has that droning effect...maybe it's the Rock/Funk bassists on those records, I dunno. regardless, the "drone" does sound static(at times).

    ...any info on that Gil Evans/Sanborn/Blythe album?
    And Arthur Blythe IS an interesting cat; he'll hang with Fred Hopkins AND "Blood" Ulmer.

    "...the understanding of your roots but the constant effort to do something different".
    Well said!

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