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Jazz Repertoire

Discussion in 'Ask Janek Gwizdala' started by bassnutj, Mar 10, 2008.


  1. bassnutj

    bassnutj

    Dec 26, 2007
    Hey Janek-
    Another question for you: Since you work with alot of jazz musicians, how much importance do you put on knowing jazz tunes that get called on gigs? Do you have a song list you've compiled? Do you find you play alot of standards, or is it more Wayne Shorter/Chick Corea tunes, or neither? I know you work with alot of people who do their own music...
    Thanks.
     
  2. This is an excellent question. I often wonder this. If you'll allow me go augment the question: I'm in college and at 'jams' etc, we'll open the real book to play, but beyond college, how essential is playing standards (or having a killer walking bass line)? Of course, I'd rather be doing original things/progressive, but perhaps it's necessary to have that common ground of standards? And I've noticed that pretty much no one who is (what I consider) progressive is walking much of anything now. Not Tony Grey, not Matt G, not Hadrien, and not Janek. Without bringing the nazis out, maybe this is simply due to the differences in electric sustain and upright sustain. Or better yet, where music's been and where others want to take it.
     
  3. janekbass

    janekbass

    Jan 28, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Founder and CEO of http://janeksbassstudio.com
    I actually do very little standards playing these days. The most I played that kind of repertoire was in the UK and then in college a little bit. I did retain a great number of tunes and can generally get by when it comes to a gig that calls for it, but you really have to play those tunes all the time to have a huge number of them in your head and ready to go. I guess i know about 100 different tunes that might get called on a "jazz" gig, whatever that is these days.

    With Mike Stern we'll play a few different standards that might include "autumn leaves", "Yesterdays", "There is no greater love", "alone together", "Moments Notice", "giant steps", "I love you"..... but right now that's the only place I play those kinds of tunes.

    I'm focussing much more on playing my own music, and writing for the new band. And then I'll be working on music for other artists that I'm working with that will normally be original stuff.

    I have a record date coming up with Ada Rovatti that will feature Randy Brecker, Obed Calvaire, Christian Howes, and George Colligan. It's all "jazz" music in the sense that it's based around instrumental improvised music, but it's very influenced by celtic music. So there will be a bagpipe player, aeolian pipes player, penny whistle, and all kinds of traditional celtic instruments. I have to work on the music a lot over the next few weeks as it's very demanding as far as the bass parts are written.

    I'll also be playing with Christian Howe's band this coming weekend, and that's a whole new book of music to learn. I just got the PDF's and MP3's in the email last night and will be working on that music tomorrow here in LA, and then on the plane back to NYC. The iPod is the most useful tool I've bought in a long time. I just load all my upcoming gigs into it and immerse myself in the music. I do read really well and do have to go to some gigs and just read down new material, but I really like to have the music internalized so that I can relax more on the gig and enjoy playing more.

    as for playing chick corea and wayne shorter tunes..... I do consider some wayne songs to be more like standards. I play songs like fee fi fo fum, soothsayer, adams apple, footprints, fall, nefertiti..... but not really on any gigs right now. And I have had the chance to play a few great chick corea songs with Airto Moriera and flora purim like Windows, 500 Miles high, Spain.......

    I really do love playing with people who write their own music. I like that the most about Mike Stern's gig. He's written some great tunes, and even some tunes based on the chord changes to famous standards like "softly as in a morning sunrise". There's a tune from the album "Give and Take" called "one liners" that is over the changes to softly for instance.

    I hope that answers your question.

    Easy,

    Janek
     
  4. bassnutj

    bassnutj

    Dec 26, 2007
    Thanks so much for the insight and all the time you give to the board here.
     
  5. ding_man

    ding_man

    Dec 24, 2006
    Celina, OH
    It's good to build a repertoire if thats what you wanna do. And if you do that kinda stuff it should grow pretty good. Just playing you'll know which songs are important to know.
     
  6. Snarf

    Snarf

    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    Are those like Uilleann pipes? ;)

    Hey if you guys ever need a sub for a highland pipes player (used to be a pipe sergeant), you might still have my phone number. :)
     
  7. I had a chance to have a lesson with tony grey, and I'm not sure if his still doing this in his practice, but he told me he practiced be bop, coltranes changes, groove lines, blues, AND walking (over changes) for half an hour each day.
    sorry if it wasn't at the right place, but it seemed to me to be appropriate!
    by the way janek, do you give "master class" and that kind of stuff when you're on tour (in europe)?
    thanks!
    have a good day
    yannick
     
  8. Steve Amadeo

    Steve Amadeo

    Nov 14, 2005
    Wallasey, UK
    Hi Janek,

    How did you learn the standards repertoire that you have? Transcribing the melodies and changes off recordings or did you use the Real Book to read and memorise tunes or a combination of both?

    All the best,

    Steve
     
  9. janekbass

    janekbass

    Jan 28, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Founder and CEO of http://janeksbassstudio.com
    I think I learnt them most by just playing them over and over again. I would learn some from records, and read others out of a real book. I would really always try and make sure I played as many tunes in jam sessions as I could as a way of learning. I remember getting to berklee and hardly knowing any tunes at all. I got given a real hard time for that and soon increased my repertoire so I could get in on the better jam sessions happening in the school.

    Easy,

    Janek
     
  10. Steve Amadeo

    Steve Amadeo

    Nov 14, 2005
    Wallasey, UK
    Thanks for that Janek.

    I gave a lesson to a new student tonight who said he was always 'hoping for that magic thing that would make him a better player'. I replied 'we all wish we could find that but the reality is practise and to play things over and over and over...'. Perhaps the 'magic' part of that is to be blessed with the stamina to do so.
     
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    As I've no doubt mentioned a million times before - I go to a regular Jazz Summer school and meet people at all levels as well as the tutors who are all top level Jazz pros and the question of "repertiore" is always a big one!

    So it is the one thing that terrifies most newcomers and also seems to be a big difference between the UK and the US. So - of course the tutors on this course will play anything at the drop of a hat in any combination of players with no prior consultation!

    But for the less experienced it is a terrifying prospect and seeing this happen - i.e. 4 or 5 people getting up on stage and playing a brilliant version of "On Green Dolphin Street" with no music or verbal communication seems nothing short of magic...:D

    So in the UK there seems a lot more emphasis on original music - whereas I get the feeling from convesrations around here that in the US there is a lot more emphasis on getting up and playing "standards " of all types..?

    Also in the UK - very few people nowadays have any exposure to the American popular songs that make up the bulk of Jazz standards ! I grew up post-Beatles in a world of Led Zep, Prog Rock and then Punk/New Wave - old show tunes were never on the radar! I'd heard more Stockhausen and Schonberg!! :p

    I can remember having this conversation in Brighton Jazz Club with Pete Wareham at an Acoustic Ladyland gig - so if you have grown up with Hendrix and Led Zep tunes - then why not use these as the basis for improvisation, rather than some tune that was ancient before you were born and has no real meaning for you?

    I then mentioned this to Julian Siegel in classes, but he had the view that Standards had a lot to teach you and the chord sequences yielded up an enormous amount of possibility and potential for improvisors - but that in the end it was a case of if you want to play with the best players then you can't miss out, just beacsue you don't know the tune they are playing...?
     
  12. janekbass

    janekbass

    Jan 28, 2004
    Los Angeles
    Founder and CEO of http://janeksbassstudio.com
    Standards are an essential part of jazz repertoire. They can't be ignored, and yet they shouldn't be dwelled upon for your entire career if you hope to have an original voice at some point through composition.

    I think that the lack of awareness of standards in the UK comes from the lack of education about improvised music in whatever school system you might find yourself in studying it. I went to a school in London that was supposed to be the best in the country, and it still fell way short of anything I've seen in the US as far as a respect of the history of improvised and jazz music.

    The people who tell you to "do your own thing" and "stay away from standards" etc.... are normally putting them down as being old hat, and don't have a grip on that aspect of the music. I think it's pretty closed minded to tell anyone to not study any aspect of music.

    As always I would encourage people to check out as many different recorded versions of their favorite standards as possible. See how you think someone else might have thought of it, take on whatever you can from that recording, and then try and find a way of expressing yourself through those changes and those melodies as only you can.

    As most of the recorded history of improvised music is recorded utilizing standards in some form or another, it would seem silly not to check them out if you want to increase your vocabulary.


    Easy,

    Janek
     
  13. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I agree entirely - the only point I was making was that it can be terrifying to think that there are thousands of standards which you might be expected to know without a chart!! :eek:

    You start thinking - if I learn all these - when will I have time for anything else!!?? :p
     

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