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Interesting view of jazz and black culture

RayB

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That would imply that jazz was killed in the '60s when universities started teaching it, and would also imply that most instructors at jazz programs are white, which isn't true in either case.
It didn't kill it in the 60's because a majority of jazz musicians at the time came of age way before then. I would say going forward from the 60's, the university educated jazz musician increasingly had more chops than older generations but less spirit and relevance .
For example, Jo Jones ran away and joined the circus as a teenager. He learned how to dance and play several instruments with the troupe. He was exposed to European music8ans and acrobats, picked up on Native American music (guess where toms came from). As his interest in drums increased, he picked up tips from territorial drummers all over the west and mid west. Not strictly stick control or the Ted Reed books, or any books. Want to develop a great roll, play a circus gig for awhile. Much to my surprise, he stated one of his biggest influences was Charlie Chaplin. How a simple gesture implies a whole lot of dialog. ,Look at how Jo Jones took the clutter out of grooving. By the time Jo Jones was heard with the Basie band out of Kansas City, he was an incredible, unique drummer.
Contrast that with taking drumming talent to a university program. You're exposed to far less real world music experience but alot of condensed versions of technique and how jazz is played. Entertaining is not emphasized. Regardless of individual teachers, the structure is that of white college institution. I've heard many fine musicians come out of university jazz programs, but many more who are cookie cutter "jazz" musicians. Great readers but laden with runs and scales and an academic approach. I feel similar about writing workshops as opposed to going out in the world and having different experiences inspire your writing. When truly motivated, people have lots of ways of acquiring artistic "chops".
Inevitably, university training becomes disconnected from what the new guys out on the street are doing. So I can imagine once they start giving out hip hop degrees, the music will move on to something fresher.
 

RayB

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A quick Google search found many colleges offering courses in rap and hip hop. I guess I better dump my shares of Deaf Jam.
Universities are profit centers. Many university presidents are increasingly lawyers. They have to stay relevant to attract students willing to pay a fortune to go there. I always think there will be a university rock program where you can learn how to overdose and enter rehab like a real rock star. Gotta keep it real.
 

toddbishop

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Look at how Jo Jones took the clutter out of grooving. By the time Jo Jones was heard with the Basie band out of Kansas City, he was an incredible, unique drummer.
Contrast that with taking drumming talent to a university program. You're exposed to far less real world music experience but alot of condensed versions of technique and how jazz is played. Entertaining is not emphasized. Regardless of individual teachers, the structure is that of white college institution. I've heard many fine musicians come out of university jazz programs, but many more who are cookie cutter "jazz" musicians.

I mean, how many Jo Joneses did that world produce? Just one. To make a fair comparison you'd have to compare him with someone like Tyshawn Sorey, not some mass of unnamed average students.

And of course there is no other area of music that's producing nothing but unique, excellent, non-cookie cutter musicians, not even the world Jo came from.

Great readers but laden with runs and scales and an academic approach. I feel similar about writing workshops as opposed to going out in the world and having different experiences inspire your writing. When truly motivated, people have lots of ways of acquiring artistic "chops".
Inevitably, university training becomes disconnected from what the new guys out on the street are doing.

That's true. University training is not supposed to be the whole thing, or most of the thing. It's supposed to be night club music, and I think the music gets worse when people forget that.
 

slow larry

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As mentioned previously, the short answer to a lot of questions about what happened to jazz is “you can’t dance to it anymore”. This hints at a larger technological change in the entertainment culture.

After WWII, few and fewer people were dancing to live music at all. PA system hardware had improved by that point that you could replace paying 6-10+ people to play live music with a one time outlay for a sound system and ongoing purchases of new records. With the juke box you didn’t even need to pay someone to operate the record player; the dancer/listeners would pay you to do it themselves!

So the whole dancing-as-entertainment scene changed dramatically. A much smaller % of the population are employed as professional musicians now beginning in this era. The filter of time has left a focus on the best artists of this era (and all eras really), but there were many thousands of competent if uninspiring workman musicians producing the sounds that moved the feet once upon a time. At the same time personal ownership of record players exploded after the war; costs were way down for the hardware and the records themselves. So low that a whole new category or people could afford them: teenagers. The music business is still a business, and business follows the money (and flees where the money isn’t).

The ubiquity of home record players also allowed a change in jazz to be financially viable; bebop and all its offspring are largely sit down and listen music. Its complicated and cerebral, and as noted here largely enjoyed by other musicians. I personally love bebop and most post-bop (pass on the wilder free form and early acid jazz). I’m also a classically trained musician; these two are not unrelated. Additionally, many musicians can’t play bebop; its hard on purpose. First, so it couldn’t be copied. The first generation of Dizzy et al. were clear about this; they wanted to make music that couldn’t be ripped off and imitated by people coming uptown to steal songs they then mimicked downtown. This was also a reason the records sold: people like to watch (or listen to) very skilled people do difficult things. The level of technical skill of many bebop artists is astounding, but you still can’t dance to it.


But you don’t need to really, the dancing never stopped, it just moved on following financial incentives. Kids were buying records and the kids liked Elvis. RnB needs fewer musicians, is cheaper to produce, to tour etc. Most of the dancing now is to records and kids don’t care for Benny Goodman or any of their parent’s music. The dancing did come back to jazz, kind of. Hard bop would lead to funky hard bop, soul jazz, and eventually funk music. You can absolutely dance to James Brown, its hard not to. So, the lineage remains intact, the music just bifurcated into sit down, cerebral listening music on once side and butt-shaking funk and its descendants right through disco and modern EDM on the other. Country music was doing its own separate thing at the time with not a great deal of crossover in the audience (their "disaster" imo came later in the 70s). You can follow a lot of these changes just in the career of Herbie Hancock.


In short the technology and economics of post war America changed dancing as entertainment toward recorded music, teenagers didn’t spend money on jazz records and preferred to dance to RnB/Rock and Roll. Having lost its popular appeal the only Jazz that survived was elite musicians playing complicated songs to a now much smaller audience and was no longer popular music.
 

g-dude

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After WWII, few and fewer people were dancing to live music at all. PA system hardware had improved by that point that you could replace paying 6-10+ people to play live music with a one time outlay for a sound system and ongoing purchases of new records. With the juke box you didn’t even need to pay someone to operate the record player; the dancer/listeners would pay you to do it themselves!

There's a much bigger thing at play that you didn't mention - the cabaret tax imposed by the Federal Government.

 

RayB

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I mean, how many Jo Joneses did that world produce? Just one. To make a fair comparison you'd have to compare him with someone like Tyshawn Sorey, not some mass of unnamed average students.

And of course there is no other area of music that's producing nothing but unique, excellent, non-cookie cutter musicians, not even the world Jo came from.



That's true. University training is not supposed to be the whole thing, or most of the thing. It's supposed to be night club music, and I think the music gets worse when people forget that.
I'm guilty of making generalizations. Contrasting Jo Jones, one of the greatest ever, with just any drummer coming out of a university jazz program is extremely unfair. Agreed. And I'm neglecting to mention how many brilliant jazz musicians came out of academic institutions. Max Roach and Miles Davis attended Juilliard (Max majored in theory and composition, not percussion). I believe Nina Simone attended Juilliard, too.
There is a difference between honing your style by playing all types of gigs and honing your style based on academic experience. Playing "out" is essential for developing your own sound and I have heard musicians play cookie cutter jazz when their background is mostly academic. The problem is there are fewer venues to play live compared to other eras, it's not that musicians don't want to.
We also have endless info from videos on how to play everything. That's good overall, but there's something to be said for just figuring stuff out. I read an Elvin Jones interview (with Whitney Balliet) where he opined there's too many books and methods out there. Even if you don't nail it exactly, come up with something on your own. He said his accomplished older brothers, Hank on piano, Thad on trumpet, suggested he play along with Art Tatum solo records using brushes and a snare drum. Figure out what works. Anyway, Elvin said young drummers should do things like that, no books needed.
The irony of reading this is when I was a kid starting out on rock drums, the Coltrane Quartet with Elvin came out with "A Love Supreme." It fascinated me but I realized I didn't have the slightest idea what Elvin was doing. Never heard any drumming like that. I just imitated him (poorly) and it was fun, a fantasy. Gave me some confidence on the drum set.
 

toddbishop

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I'm guilty of making generalizations. Contrasting Jo Jones, one of the greatest ever, with just any drummer coming out of a university jazz program is extremely unfair. Agreed. And I'm neglecting to mention how many brilliant jazz musicians came out of academic institutions. Max Roach and Miles Davis attended Juilliard (Max majored in theory and composition, not percussion). I believe Nina Simone attended Juilliard, too.
There is a difference between honing your style by playing all types of gigs and honing your style based on academic experience. Playing "out" is essential for developing your own sound and I have heard musicians play cookie cutter jazz when their background is mostly academic. The problem is there are fewer venues to play live compared to other eras, it's not that musicians don't want to.
We also have endless info from videos on how to play everything. That's good overall, but there's something to be said for just figuring stuff out. I read an Elvin Jones interview (with Whitney Balliet) where he opined there's too many books and methods out there. Even if you don't nail it exactly, come up with something on your own. He said his accomplished older brothers, Hank on piano, Thad on trumpet, suggested he play along with Art Tatum solo records using brushes and a snare drum. Figure out what works. Anyway, Elvin said young drummers should do things like that, no books needed.
The irony of reading this is when I was a kid starting out on rock drums, the Coltrane Quartet with Elvin came out with "A Love Supreme." It fascinated me but I realized I didn't have the slightest idea what Elvin was doing. Never heard any drumming like that. I just imitated him (poorly) and it was fun, a fantasy. Gave me some confidence on the drum set.

Absolutely, all of that. In school I was downright arrogant about copping Elvin's thing purely by vibe, with zero analysis.

It's not great that people are just looking to be given right answers-- figuring it out and being a little wrong is the actual real thing.
 

BennyK

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Absolutely, all of that. In school I was downright arrogant about copping Elvin's thing purely by vibe, with zero analysis.

It's not great that people are just looking to be given right answers-- figuring it out and being a little wrong is the actual real thing.
You only make mistakes in arithmetic
 

A.TomicMorganic

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Two kinds of music. Fun dance and good time music, and serious music that is for listening. Dixie, country, R&R,R&B, swing, pop are examples of the fun bunch. Jazz (from be bop on) classical and folk/protest are examples of listening music. One is more popular, because who doesn't wanna have fun? The rest is for introverts like me.
 

g-dude

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Two kinds of music. Fun dance and good time music, and serious music that is for listening. Dixie, country, R&R,R&B, swing, pop are examples of the fun bunch. Jazz (from be bop on) classical and folk/protest are examples of listening music. One is more popular, because who doesn't wanna have fun? The rest is for introverts like me.

Plenty of rock songs are listening music - not all - but plenty.

Most real folk music falls more on the fun side, and by folk I don’t mean city people that are cosplaying as being salt of the earth.
 

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I like some pop music. Not all of it is lame.

It didn't kill it in the 60's because a majority of jazz musicians at the time came of age way before then. I would say going forward from the 60's, the university educated jazz musician increasingly had more chops than older generations but less spirit and relevance .
For example, Jo Jones ran away and joined the circus as a teenager. He learned how to dance and play several instruments with the troupe. He was exposed to European music8ans and acrobats, picked up on Native American music (guess where toms came from). As his interest in drums increased, he picked up tips from territorial drummers all over the west and mid west. Not strictly stick control or the Ted Reed books, or any books. Want to develop a great roll, play a circus gig for awhile. Much to my surprise, he stated one of his biggest influences was Charlie Chaplin. How a simple gesture implies a whole lot of dialog. ,Look at how Jo Jones took the clutter out of grooving. By the time Jo Jones was heard with the Basie band out of Kansas City, he was an incredible, unique drummer.
Contrast that with taking drumming talent to a university program. You're exposed to far less real world music experience but alot of condensed versions of technique and how jazz is played. Entertaining is not emphasized. Regardless of individual teachers, the structure is that of white college institution. I've heard many fine musicians come out of university jazz programs, but many more who are cookie cutter "jazz" musicians. Great readers but laden with runs and scales and an academic approach. I feel similar about writing workshops as opposed to going out in the world and having different experiences inspire your writing. When truly motivated, people have lots of ways of acquiring artistic "chops".
Inevitably, university training becomes disconnected from what the new guys out on the street are doing. So I can imagine once they start giving out hip hop degrees, the music will move on to something fresher.
In Baltimore, there's a Monday night session at R House, run by Clarence Ward III. Sean Jones, who runs the jazz program at Peabody, requires his students to hit it at least once/month. This gives them real world experience beyond the classroom Usually, I see them more than monthly. There are also a lot of young ones from Baltimore's School Of the Arts. Then there are folks from Towson and often cats from the service bands in DC who come through. This gives them a chance to interact with strong cats who are out there doing it. No one phones it in.
 

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I think jazz musicians since the glory days of jazz have done a very poor job of relating to the people, with a few exceptions. Jazz has become the music for musicians, not the people. Don’t blame the people for abandoning it…blame the musicians for abandoning the people. I can’t speak to why Black Americans have abandoned it by and large, but I can tell you that I have zero interest in hearing musicians run scales really fast as they lecture me about why I should appreciate them.
Barry Harris talks about this in workshop/masterclass series he gives he gives in Europe, remarking how jazz music no longer makes people dance because musicians forget about playing the and of beats, but instead playing for each other. Similarly, in an old NEC article, Ray Brown laments how jazz musicians no longer play with soul and emotion but with technical facility. He complains how contemporary musicians could play circles around Bird but none of them could play with nearly as much soul and expression as he had. This is what gets me the most. Chops galore bores me. Playing music with soul and feeling is increasingly rare!
 

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Jazz is now a performative art. Just alone in this forum there are thousands of threads dedicated to knowing the most exacting details of who used what gear and how can they acquire that “same sound”… when most likely the original artist at the time gave very little thought to it, it was “just a Tuesday”, it was what they had available and not knowing it would be of historical importance.

Remember that the story goes that Tony Williams gave “thee” Nefertiti Ride to at least a dozen different drummers… the importance in this story to me is that he didn’t dupe 12 other drummers, but that he GAVE IT AWAY! Or couldn’t recall which one it was….Tells you what he thought of it…

To me, it’s all a solid indicator the art has reached some sort of archival form, and not an active generator of creative work.

Jazz will lumber along like Classical has, which is a fully performative art… Classical isn’t actively engaged with in the general population, but it’s peppered about in all of our entertainment (TV and movies) and does get into the collective imaginations with new works that people gravitate to (John Williams)… not sure that’s what Mozart or Bach had in mind, but it still something. Jazz will too.

Rock & Roll is right there too as a performative art… can’t believe it happened, but it did in the past 20-30 years. Even though the Boomer Rockers are bowing out of touring, I’m willing to bet that some acts (ahem… Journey) will continue on in some form with zero original members for decades more… some of these bands just have a catalog that is pretty timeless (Queen, Foreigner, Aerosmith, etc).
 

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Jazz is now a performative art. Just alone in this forum there are thousands of threads dedicated to knowing the most exacting details of who used what gear and how can they acquire that “same sound”… when most likely the original artist at the time gave very little thought to it, it was “just a Tuesday”, it was what they had available and not knowing it would be of historical importance.

Remember that the story goes that Tony Williams gave “thee” Nefertiti Ride to at least a dozen different drummers… the importance in this story to me is that he didn’t dupe 12 other drummers, but that he GAVE IT AWAY! Or couldn’t recall which one it was….Tells you what he thought of it…

To me, it’s all a solid indicator the art has reached some sort of archival form, and not an active generator of creative work.

Jazz will lumber along like Classical has, which is a fully performative art… Classical isn’t actively engaged with in the general population, but it’s peppered about in all of our entertainment (TV and movies) and does get into the collective imaginations with new works that people gravitate to (John Williams)… not sure that’s what Mozart or Bach had in mind, but it still something. Jazz will too.

Rock & Roll is right there too as a performative art… can’t believe it happened, but it did in the past 20-30 years. Even though the Boomer Rockers are bowing out of touring, I’m willing to bet that some acts (ahem… Journey) will continue on in some form with zero original members for decades more… some of these bands just have a catalog that is pretty timeless (Queen, Foreigner, Aerosmith, etc).
About the only bands with no original members at all that I can think of are Molly Hatchet, Grass Roots, and Foreigner, although Mick Jones makes occasional appearances. Plenty with only one member, though.
 

RayB

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Amen. I think that the authors of the article that the original poster cited were asking the wrong question; i.e., why did African Americans reject jazz. The larger question is why did jazz shrink to it's present state? A valid answer is it was a generational shift. The younger generation will always reject the tastes of the generation before it and find their own way. Elvis and company sounded the death knell for jazz, and the British invasion relegated Elvis and company to the old fashioned, corny bin. Of course there will be "old souls" who seem to be born in the wrong era who will cling to older music that had been relegated to the corny bin before they were born. There will be others like myself who were born in the late 40s, grew up in the 50s and 60s, and changed with the evolving tastes of youth ... only to appreciate our parents' music later in life (music, I might add, that embarrassed me in my teen years when my friends were over and my parents played that stuff.) Great music will eventually find its way into the ears, hearts and passions of a few of us, and will win over those who "discovered" it long after that music becomes passe, but it is never going to find its way back into the mainstream.

Barry Harris talks about this in workshop/masterclass series he gives he gives in Europe, remarking how jazz music no longer makes people dance because musicians forget about playing the and of beats, but instead playing for each other. Similarly, in an old NEC article, Ray Brown laments how jazz musicians no longer play with soul and emotion but with technical facility. He complains how contemporary musicians could play circles around Bird but none of them could play with nearly as much soul and expression as he had. This is what gets me the most. Chops galore bores me. Playing music with soul and feeling is increasingly rare!
I was fortunate to see Ray Brown play a few times. Still my all time favorite bassist. What a beautiful sound, always tasteful. When he walked on the bass, what's the old saying: "he could swing you to bad heallh!" The musicians he played with...
But I digress. It's well known that in Charlie Parker's prime, appearing in the club named for him, this jazz immortal would play country tunes on the juke box. Musicians would ask him how could he listen to that simple, tin-ear stuff? He would reply it's songs about people, about important things in life, things we all can relate to, Deep stuff.

I mention this because here's a legend who represented how far jazz had evolved from the swing era, but he never approached music from an intellectual point of view. Like Louis Armstrong, he chose to live in a blue-collar, working class neighborhood. Trumpeter Max Kaminski had a swing/traditional group who sometimes shared a bill with Parker's group. Kaminski said Parker was very friendly, we got along great. Musically, we were miles apart. I thought he was a musical genius, I couldn't keep up if I tried to play with his band . But he'd sit in with us and play our style beautifully. Always told us we were one of his favorite bands.

I think Ray Brown's assessment was spot on. Not many guys back then had chops like Charlie Parker. Today's players routinely have more chops than him. For soul and expressiveness, that's another story .
 
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but who here can say that their favorite style of music is "pop music"?
I do.

As an mid 80’s, full 90’s, and early 00’s kid tha tis what I grew up with (amongst other styles mainly r and symf rock) and it will always be my starting point.


Here in the Netherlands, most Jazz (and Blues) is a white thing. A thing from rich kids that cone from Conservatories (we have plenty of those here, too much for this small country if you ask me).

But they do a great job in playing, a lot of talent and technique.

I just sometimes feel they are too out of touch because its mostly only about “look how sophisticated we are”, yet tout their knowledge about what they think is black history and the roots of jazz (yet some still have a dislike for black people…)

So its always good and refreshing to see fellow black artists coming from the US (like earlier mentioned Glasper, Smith and such) and humble them a bit.
 

RayB

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Jazz is now a performative art. Just alone in this forum there are thousands of threads dedicated to knowing the most exacting details of who used what gear and how can they acquire that “same sound”… when most likely the original artist at the time gave very little thought to it, it was “just a Tuesday”, it was what they had available and not knowing it would be of historical importance.

Remember that the story goes that Tony Williams gave “thee” Nefertiti Ride to at least a dozen different drummers… the importance in this story to me is that he didn’t dupe 12 other drummers, but that he GAVE IT AWAY! Or couldn’t recall which one it was….Tells you what he thought of it…

To me, it’s all a solid indicator the art has reached some sort of archival form, and not an active generator of creative work.

Jazz will lumber along like Classical has, which is a fully performative art… Classical isn’t actively engaged with in the general population, but it’s peppered about in all of our entertainment (TV and movies) and does get into the collective imaginations with new works that people gravitate to (John Williams)… not sure that’s what Mozart or Bach had in mind, but it still something. Jazz will too.

Rock & Roll is right there too as a performative art… can’t believe it happened, but it did in the past 20-30 years. Even though the Boomer Rockers are bowing out of touring, I’m willing to bet that some acts (ahem… Journey) will continue on in some form with zero original members for decades more… some of these bands just have a catalog that is pretty timeless (Queen, Foreigner, Aerosmith, etc).
I couldn't agree more, mattr.
There is a positive way to look back. Though it was often music from way before my time, I felt so much joy discovering the music of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Miles, Wes Mongomery, Coleman Hawkins, Ben Webster, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Monk, Billie Holiday, Coltrane and so many more. You can appreciate their genius, and the energy and beauty comes to life. Being a drummer, I hear so much great stuff from Baby Dodds through Elvin and Tony Williams. Everytime I listen to Chopin I feel emotion coursing through me.
Digging this music has trmendous learning value: so many experienced musicians when I was starting to play told me, "Listen to everything. Develop your ears". As Wynton Marseilles said, "Listen to Louis Armstrong, it will enrich your life."
BUT, this doesn't mean you have to play retro. The point isn't to set up and tune your drums exactly like Elvin, Bonham or whoever. Chorus after chorus of scales and riffs Parker or Wayne Shorter played is just tired. All of the greats we admire in rock, jazz, and whatever started off from a form they loved and developed something NEW out of it.
I don't play like Baby Dodds or Max Roach, but something from their approach rubbed off in me. I love the way Dave Tough and Sonny Greer created a little intro for a line the horn section was playing; framing it, so to speak. It's an interesting approach to something I'm playing now, copying what they actually played is not the point.
By the same token, I've come to feel a slot where the tune falls into the beat in Hip Hop. It's the same artistry as how Lester Young slid the melody over the groove, just a different context. All the great artists from every era offered us something, have fun with it now in your own way.
 


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