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  1. #1

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    On a bit of Bill kick....

    Compared to the bebop guys, I find Bill Evans HARD to transcribe... While I can hear a whole phrase of someone like Parker, Mobley or Hank Jones pretty fast, Evans I have to go note-for-note.

    As a result I think it's really good for me.

    It reminded me of something Destiny said about 'comprehensible input' - when you hear something you understand you can hear it (or something like that, sorry for the bastardised version.) So, when I hear something a bop phrase I can say, Oh yeah it's a descending dominant scale starting on degree 3 with some added notes running into a b7-b6-5 cadence.... Oh it's a typical minor II-V-I phrase based on Reg minor... Or whatever. And harmonically, that was pretty much the story for the bop school guys...

    But with Bill there's all sorts of altered harmony going on... As I want to hear more altered things, that's really good... But even though I can whizz through the modes of the melodic minor in every position I still feel I'm getting to know the sound of that scale... That and the diminished scale..

    I think that's the true power of transcription - much more than learning solos to regurgitate... Being able to recognise and comprehend sounds in real time...

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  3. #2

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    That's great. Which Bill solo have you looked at that demonstrates some of his approaches to altered playing?

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    That's great. Which Bill solo have you looked at that demonstrates some of his approaches to altered playing?
    I've been looking at Oleo (Everyone Digs Bill Evans) and a few live versions of Yesterdays. I chose these tunes because they have a sequence of dom 7's moving in fourths with a relatively slow harmonic rhythm, a classic place to explore dominant sounds.

  5. #4

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    Cool, I really hope you come back to this thread from time to time and share any insights. Been digging "Secret Sessions" a lot lately....

  6. #5

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    Sure. I'm not sure I'm looking for 'insights' though.

    I understand everything Bill is doing theoretically, that's not hard. A lot of 1/2-W stuff, altered scale lines, tritone subs and so on. He likes chromatic stuff too... It's all stuff straight out of the Mark Levine theory book.

    The challenge is quite simply to work on enough of this stuff that it stops being stuff I understand intellectually and know how to play on the guitar and becomes stuff that I play on gut level like blues licks and (for me) certain swing and bebop lines. The challenge is also to do this without everything being set piece licks which is why its important for me not simply to master one solo but keep listening to as much stuff as possible to develop flexibility.

    So I'll move on from those recordings pretty sharpish.

    Because of this I will not post any Evans licks. In fact, I kind of think videos and books of that kind are a bad thing for jazz education, just a cheap way of making money or getting views online.

    If I did a video of '10 Kurt Rosenwinkel licks' I could get 10 times the views I do. (Well OK I might for a bit of fun, but it would come with a heavy disclaimer.)

    If its licks you want. There's a treasure house of licks out there on the records should you want licks, and every player pro or amateur should be handed the tools to understand that they can have the process to do this work themselves.

    Transcription is not the only way to do this. Here are two more ideas:

    Sing altered & dim scales against chords.
    Compose a piece heavily based on this type of sound.

    Bill Evans after all was all about the process... Listening to him, I detect few licks, so to approach his playing in a lick based mindset seems to be missing the point.

  7. #6

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    Yeah, I'm not interested so much in licks, but I'm always fascinated to gain any insight into the approach of the greats...

  8. #7

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    In my own teaching (languages), Krashen's Comprehensible Input becomes 'productive + 1'. Lessons are pitched at a level just beyond what students can produce independently, but target structures are actually peripheral to the task or stimulus.

    (On a personal level, I take huge delight in witnessing this process in the language development - without direct formal input - of my trilingual daughter.)

    In my view, what this boils down to - in self-teaching/autonomous learning and for present musical purposes - is the need for a high level of repeated exposure to the sounds.

    But intense scrutiny easily overwhelms and leads to over-thinking - completely counter-productive. (It seems perhaps significant that Krashen called his method The Natural Approach.)

    I believe that 'if it doesn't come easily, it isn't for you - yet', and that the setting of targets that are both 'adequate and appropriate' is paramount.

    And I think targets are a big deal because (a) in setting conditions for success, one is also setting conditions for failure, and (b) when one pursues targets, one gets to find out whether - and how much - one really wants to reach them:

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet View Post
    Yeah, I'm not interested so much in licks, but I'm always fascinated to gain any insight into the approach of the greats...

    Watch the documentary "The Universal Mind". It's Bill Evans flat out laying out his process and feelings about music in an interview with his brother. He talks and provides musical examples at the piano.

    Essentially he says that the biggest problem for music students (in his opinion) is that they all want to gain the whole thing quickly, in one sitting. So they hear their favorite musician, they transcribe a bit of it, they can play along with it, and maybe they try and force a few of those new licks into their playing. He says that because the art is so big and can't be taken in all at once, a natural way to deal with it is for the student to attempt to approximate the end product. In doing so, they feel like they sort of touched the thing, but ultimately they haven't and this feeling of confusion and frustration will just compound and build on top of itself until they are completely lost.

    His feeling is that the student should attempt to master (or at least learn) the basic fundamentals of music and give themselves the time and patience to be able to make music from THAT place. Learn to play authentic, genuine, honest music just by playing around with the simplest forms of musical ideas... but truthful music that's coming from their own thoughts and feelings. Once this is set, THEN this becomes the foundation on top of which we can learn and grow and add more advanced and complex ideas that will make sense and become integrated in a more wholistic way.

    As far as his actual practice process... I've don't know exactly, but I'd heard that for every new tune he would write out an etude voice leading with x number of voices through the entire form. I forget how many voices he started with... could have been 1 or 2.. maybe 3 or 4. But he wrote it out and learned it. Then he'd play it in all the other keys. Then he'd write out another one with x+1 voices. I read that he did this all the way up to 10 voices. That was primarily for his harmony work. Melodically, I read that he would place the melody on a spectrum for himself. On one end of the spectrum he would be playing the melody exactly as is... on the other end nobody would be able to recognize the melody, but his ideas would still be entirely rooted to the melody in his own mind. So he'd start just playing the melody a lot. Then after a while he'd ornament it ever so slightly. Then after a while he'd add a little more ornamentation. This would continue until he started altering the melody entirely with new phrases, but still while thinking about and visualizing it as the original melody... and it would continue until his playing had no resemblance to the melody to anyone outside of his mind.

    As for the foundation, I think music is somewhat subjective AND objective at the same time. There are some truths that simply are truths and that kind of it (so says the 34 year old me... we'll see if I don't hate myself for having said that in 40 years). But there are also huge aspects to it that are entirely subjective and up to the individual musician. I would assume (hope you don't mind Christian) that the foundation should be built with some Barry Harry type concepts and understandings? 6th and diminished chords... or some variation thereof? Some people might feel that some sort of modal or CST is where the fundamentals are. Some might think it's the blues. I don't know. For me it's just triads. They're just as simple as I can break things down to while still maintaining some level or tonality and organization, and yet they allow for essentially every advanced complex route at the same time. So they've proven to work perfectly for me as the foundation both as a student of the music and as a teacher. I've toyed with trying to get down to a 2 note way of thinking... but it was too ambiguous and with far too many options and avenues (though I did hear an interesting argument for the 2 note approach recently by Dr Shawn Purcell in his Facebook live masterclass on the Peter Bernstein Study Group Facebook page).

    I'm honestly not sure what Bill would have seen as the fundamentals and the "proper" foundation if one were to have studied privately with him. But the plot is laid out. Get down the basics. Not just intellectually. Be able to compose and improvise simple, honest, authentic music with it... then grow from there by adding new layers on top.

    Bill never ceases to be a lighthouse of inspiration for me. Glad to see you digging into him more Christian! Looking forward to hearing how it affects you and your playing and your ears.

  10. #9

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    bill evans just never stops surprising or even shocking me with his sensitivity and drive. the first jazz record i ever heard properly (i was 23) was portrait in jazz. (first notes are 'i'm gonna love you like nobody's loved you come rain or come shine' - but its like you've never heard the tune before - doesn't sound like the tune even though it really deeply is the tune - then a gloriously direct version of autumn leaves which is still perhaps my favourite single jazz performance. no point in just drooling i suppose. when in rome with tony bennett. you just can't listen hard enough to hear it all.

    but anyway - great to hear that detail about his practice routines - sounds plausible that he went at tunes in that sort of way

    i've never tried to work any of his stuff out - it will be a great day when i finally feel like i'm ready for it. but what strikes me as very prominent in his approach is the use of melodic repetition, or 'motifs'. he can hear any idea move through the whole tune and he can modify it whilst retaining its basic shape in all sorts of inventive and fun ways without apparent limit. what he seems to me to do better than anyone is to set up melodic expectations through the use of repetition and - typically just before the pattern even emerges clearly - undermine or subvert it rhythmically. this sort of thing is central to the music - i think - so its not a small thing for him to have mastered so profoundly. i think a good way to improve the honesty or authenticity of one's playing - a good way to avoid just trying to produce or approximate a certain effect or 'end product' you've picked up from the music - is to use melodic repetition as a basic element.

    if i could listen only to one musician it would have to be him. why - i can't help wondering - isn't he a huge cultural figure? his music is irresistible, surely? it seems obvious to me that its the greatest development of be-bop yet achieved.... - but he remains known well only within the serious jazz world, a world which is culturally so marginalized.

    and everything i've heard him say about what he's doing and the music and all - with the video jordan mentions at the top of the list - everything he says seems to have the same humble but piercing intelligence and insight that you find in his playing.

  11. #10

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    Yeah, I was going to mention Universal Mind. Always worth a re-watch.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by jordanklemons View Post
    Watch the documentary "The Universal Mind". It's Bill Evans flat out laying out his process and feelings about music in an interview with his brother. He talks and provides musical examples at the piano.

    Essentially he says that the biggest problem for music students (in his opinion) is that they all want to gain the whole thing quickly, in one sitting. So they hear their favorite musician, they transcribe a bit of it, they can play along with it, and maybe they try and force a few of those new licks into their playing. He says that because the art is so big and can't be taken in all at once, a natural way to deal with it is for the student to attempt to approximate the end product. In doing so, they feel like they sort of touched the thing, but ultimately they haven't and this feeling of confusion and frustration will just compound and build on top of itself until they are completely lost.

    His feeling is that the student should attempt to master (or at least learn) the basic fundamentals of music and give themselves the time and patience to be able to make music from THAT place. Learn to play authentic, genuine, honest music just by playing around with the simplest forms of musical ideas... but truthful music that's coming from their own thoughts and feelings. Once this is set, THEN this becomes the foundation on top of which we can learn and grow and add more advanced and complex ideas that will make sense and become integrated in a more wholistic way.

    As far as his actual practice process... I've don't know exactly, but I'd heard that for every new tune he would write out an etude voice leading with x number of voices through the entire form. I forget how many voices he started with... could have been 1 or 2.. maybe 3 or 4. But he wrote it out and learned it. Then he'd play it in all the other keys. Then he'd write out another one with x+1 voices. I read that he did this all the way up to 10 voices. That was primarily for his harmony work. Melodically, I read that he would place the melody on a spectrum for himself. On one end of the spectrum he would be playing the melody exactly as is... on the other end nobody would be able to recognize the melody, but his ideas would still be entirely rooted to the melody in his own mind. So he'd start just playing the melody a lot. Then after a while he'd ornament it ever so slightly. Then after a while he'd add a little more ornamentation. This would continue until he started altering the melody entirely with new phrases, but still while thinking about and visualizing it as the original melody... and it would continue until his playing had no resemblance to the melody to anyone outside of his mind.

    As for the foundation, I think music is somewhat subjective AND objective at the same time. There are some truths that simply are truths and that kind of it (so says the 34 year old me... we'll see if I don't hate myself for having said that in 40 years). But there are also huge aspects to it that are entirely subjective and up to the individual musician. I would assume (hope you don't mind Christian) that the foundation should be built with some Barry Harry type concepts and understandings? 6th and diminished chords... or some variation thereof? Some people might feel that some sort of modal or CST is where the fundamentals are. Some might think it's the blues. I don't know. For me it's just triads. They're just as simple as I can break things down to while still maintaining some level or tonality and organization, and yet they allow for essentially every advanced complex route at the same time. So they've proven to work perfectly for me as the foundation both as a student of the music and as a teacher. I've toyed with trying to get down to a 2 note way of thinking... but it was too ambiguous and with far too many options and avenues (though I did hear an interesting argument for the 2 note approach recently by Dr Shawn Purcell in his Facebook live masterclass on the Peter Bernstein Study Group Facebook page).

    I'm honestly not sure what Bill would have seen as the fundamentals and the "proper" foundation if one were to have studied privately with him. But the plot is laid out. Get down the basics. Not just intellectually. Be able to compose and improvise simple, honest, authentic music with it... then grow from there by adding new layers on top.

    Bill never ceases to be a lighthouse of inspiration for me. Glad to see you digging into him more Christian! Looking forward to hearing how it affects you and your playing and your ears.
    The fundamentals for me are - listening to a phrase, and imitating it. Pitch, rhythm, timbre, prosody, phrasing, and so on.

    The detail and accuracy with which you do this are the important thing... That's what I understand from Bill's words...

    Whatever concept you pick is fine. There's a glut of concept and theory available free of charge these days. Everyone here has all the theory they need.

    (BTW the reason why I like BH is not because it is a 'concept' or harmonic theory, but because it shows a practical way to assemble vocabulary from basic elements, which is very powerful in combination with transcription.)

    In terms of Bill Evans, I have found it pretty obvious what he's doing linearly once I can hear it.... (Unlike some musicians) So far. But hearing it is the difficulty for me.

    But I've only just started :-)

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by jordanklemons View Post
    Watch the documentary "The Universal Mind". It's Bill Evans flat out laying out his process and feelings about music in an interview with his brother. He talks and provides musical examples at the piano.

    Essentially he says that the biggest problem for music students (in his opinion) is that they all want to gain the whole thing quickly, in one sitting. So they hear their favorite musician, they transcribe a bit of it, they can play along with it, and maybe they try and force a few of those new licks into their playing. He says that because the art is so big and can't be taken in all at once, a natural way to deal with it is for the student to attempt to approximate the end product. In doing so, they feel like they sort of touched the thing, but ultimately they haven't and this feeling of confusion and frustration will just compound and build on top of itself until they are completely lost.

    His feeling is that the student should attempt to master (or at least learn) the basic fundamentals of music and give themselves the time and patience to be able to make music from THAT place. Learn to play authentic, genuine, honest music just by playing around with the simplest forms of musical ideas... but truthful music that's coming from their own thoughts and feelings. Once this is set, THEN this becomes the foundation on top of which we can learn and grow and add more advanced and complex ideas that will make sense and become integrated in a more wholistic way.

    .....

    Great post Jordan. I have seen "Universal Mind" and can't recommend it enough to every musician, really... The "Aproximation" thing is a particularly applicable warning to guitarists in all genres, but I always found it interesting that, in coming from a classical background, he moved so far away from the idea of "template" performance. Bill is deep, and seems to have understood better than most that the improvisational mind has to be equipped with deep preparation, regardless of the complexity or even simplicity of the player's harmonic/melodic/rhythmic toolkit. In other words, if you really don't know your shit, you really can't mean it, or be able to express anything genuinely that is one's own experience- because you're simply approximating a template that others have constructed. He's about honesty, or otherwise what's the point?...

    Mind you, going deep with voice leading on the piano (up to 10 voices!!!) is simply beyond a guitar player's realm of possibilities, in fact, we even struggle with really going deep with 4 voices. So that's an aspect of Bill's playing that few guitarists will ever even be able to even "approximate"... But it may be worthwhile to shed some of his lines over, say, Altered material, or another small aspect of his playing and maybe, as he suggests, go deep with that for a few years....

  14. #13

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    I love Bill Evans and he has been a beacon for me since I was very young player. I don't claim any great understanding of his approach theoretical or emotional but I have been soaking in it for 45 years, letting the beauty of his conception wash over my ears. I find that I'm most obsessed with his harmonic sense, his touch and the aching melancholy of much of his work. One quality that i think Bill possesses that is germane to this discussion is his ability to take a small melodic idea and develop it. He often creates very long flowing lines by using a small germ and extrapolating it in exciting ways thru the harmony. He seems to do this in his composition and in his improvisations. The Universal Mind video was a revelation for me and I watched it many many times trying to glean every small sliver of truth. The point that Jordan brings up is one of the most profound ideas from that video. I am often reminded of this when I encounter a student who wants to learn all the hippest stuff but cant quite improvise an elegant solo over basic changes that makes sense and has a nice time feel. I gently try to remind them that someone like Bill worked hard and really had his fundamentals together and could make really heart wrenchingly beautiful music simply by playing the melody of a song. Of course he could also boggle the mind with hip modern sounds as well but it was all informed by his sense of beauty and feeling.

    all the best
    Tim

  15. #14

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    First Bill Evans record I got was ‘Explorations’ with Paul Motian and Scott La Faro. I couldn’t stop playing it for days, it absolutely spoke to me on an emotional level (and still does).

  16. #15

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    @grahambop - I think it’s quite possible, simple in fact, to hear harmony that is beyond the guitar. Just think of close voiced seventh chords for instance....

    I might not in fact be trying to get Bill’s voicings into my playing even if that was possible.....

    For me the aim is not to be able to play what Evans plays, but as with all music be able to understand what is going on on a deeper level. To hear what’s going on.

    At the moment I almost don’t care about the guitar in a weird way.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    @grahambop - I think it’s quite possible, simple in fact, to hear harmony that is beyond the guitar. Just think of close voiced seventh chords for instance....

    I might not in fact be trying to get Bill’s voicings into my playing even if that was possible.....

    For me the aim is not to be able to play what Evans plays, but as with all music be able to understand what is going on on a deeper level. To hear what’s going on.

    At the moment I almost don’t care about the guitar in a weird way.
    Yes I think I understand that. Although I bought loads of Bill Evans records after that first one, I never really tried to work out any of his chord voicings or anything, I just listened to them all deeply. Hoping that some of the poetry in his music might rub off on me!

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Yes I think I understand that. Although I bought loads of Bill Evans records after that first one, I never really tried to work out any of his chord voicings or anything, I just listened to them all deeply. Hoping that some of the poetry in his music might rub off on me!
    Yeah I don’t think you have to transcribe stuff to be influenced by it.

    That said, it’s really gratifying how I can hear more in music after working hard on things like rhythm, ear training and transcription and it really makes me want to focus on refining that side of my musicianship still further.

    Many of us know musicians whose ability to hear seems miraculous. I’m fascinated by players who say they have never really transcribed or learned solos and yet seem to have the history of jazz in their playing. For me transcription is what you do if you can’t get the info in real time.

    Seeing how I can take a few steps closer to that leaves me hungry for more. I think the goal, to hear music in depth in detail as it happens is basically most of what I want to achieve in music.

    Once I get that it’s just a matter of getting he instrument hooked up... but with a strong brain signal I think that’s not as big a deal as people think.... not trivial, but fuck it I can already play, and if I can *really* hear something I can play it pretty much right away. That’s the trick....

  19. #18

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    Also there’s an intuitive side to it... music can get into your bones. It’s not all as academic and right brain as we think... it’s all very non linear

    *meant to say left brain.
    Last edited by christianm77; 11-07-2017 at 09:05 AM.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Also there’s an intuitive side to it... music can get into your bones. It’s not all as academic and right brain as we think... it’s all very non linear
    Yes it’s a very interesting topic. I worked out I only ever transcribed about a dozen solos in my whole life (still got them all) probably because it is hard work and I am basically quite lazy in some ways! But on the other hand perhaps that made me get more learning and mileage out of those 12 solos than if I’d done loads of them. At the very least it probably taught me to listen and hear things better.

  21. #20

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    the Kind of Blue album .. the tracks All Blues..Blue in Green and Flamenco Sketches..according to how the album was created it was basically on the spot stuff..which happens when very talented musicians get together and LISTEN to each other .. "you inhale I exhale"

    Evans chord work is liquid and his solo work is mystical..and his use of "space" is just perfect .. yes it is knowing the basic foundation and experimenting with it from the beginning study of music..learning how to create simple melodies from the chord tones and scales embedded in the major scale..consider how many songs/progressions/melodies were created form that study alone..add in voice movement and all the possible rhythmic possibilities using just this basic material..and now create some songs/melodies/progressions with this technique..now because of voice movement the creation of altered chords and scales and symmetric movement..add this to your toolbox..learn some common songs and apply the above in creating a improvised solo over the basic chords of the song..now alter the chords and add in some substitutions and harmonic cycles .. minor/major 3rds-5ths/4ths/6ths etc..use some counter point and modulation .. do this type of approach every day for years and slowly you begin to see the logic of the "puzzle" that flows from Evans..


    does he "hear" it before or as he is playing it..and if you had a choice which would you pick..
    play well ...
    wolf

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    Yes it’s a very interesting topic. I worked out I only ever transcribed about a dozen solos in my whole life (still got them all) probably because it is hard work and I am basically quite lazy in some ways! But on the other hand perhaps that made me get more learning and mileage out of those 12 solos than if I’d done loads of them. At the very least it probably taught me to listen and hear things better.
    It's always a balance between left and right brain learning and what you need to know at that particular time.

    - Early on transcription can teach you how the language works and is applied.

    - It can be used to develop your technique. Learning solos etc.

    - TBH you probably only NEED about 12 solos, but I know some world class players who have transcribed far less, or even maybe never actually transcribed a whole solo. There are plenty of players out there who can play other people's music brilliantly, but they aren't necessarily the ones actually playing jazz gigs or making their own music.

    - After you've worked out how the language works there's little point carrying on with this, unless you hear something really cool and say 'what was that?'

    - After this stage, transcription starts (for me) to be more about ear training - recognising and categorising sounds, and crucially, working on musical recall. It's also a good way work on technical flexibility and modelling the improvisational process. I find a bit of listening to and repeating phrases is great for warming up the musical muscles, but my aim here is not to be able to play a whole solo. Maybe sing it, perhaps.

    - Lastly, some people just have really good ears (Gary Burton) and don't need to do this. It's not fair, but that's life :-)

  23. #22

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    BTW - the Charles Banacos stuff seems to be a different route into the same information.

    If I've understood it right, instead of transcribing loads of stuff, you develop you ears to get really good at analysing pitches as you hear them. Then, you have to listen to enough music for the language to make sense....

    (If there are any Banacos students around these parts, I'd love to hear from them.)

    Compare this to the Lennie school, where you work on singing solos.

    Both approaches get you there, just in different ways.

  24. #23

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    This thread has made me finally buy the ‘Solo Sessions’ recordings (the ones he did when leaving Riverside), I’ve been meaning to get them for years.

    In some ways they are quite raw and unpolished, due to the circumstances, but it’s wonderful music maybe because of that. Also you really get a sense of Bill truly improvising, he just played whatever came to mind on the day, no preparation.

    Also includes the best version of ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ I have ever heard!

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    This thread has made me finally buy the ‘Solo Sessions’ recordings (the ones he did when leaving Riverside), I’ve been meaning to get them for years.

    In some ways they are quite raw and unpolished, due to the circumstances, but it’s wonderful music maybe because of that. Also you really get a sense of Bill truly improvising, he just played whatever came to mind on the day, no preparation.

    Also includes the best version of ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ I have ever heard!
    i LOOOOOVE solo sessions. Makes my heart ache

  26. #25

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    Chris'77,

    Let's see if I can get this response in before the airport wifi goes kaput.

    So, Bill Evans seems to have a drastically different rhythmic conception that maybe throwing off your Barry Harris ears (no hate with BH, he is a living grand master of beeeBOP!)

    Back to Evans. His rhythm is not based on the weak strong principal of the eighth note. That is a certainly a fundamental element in his playing. But so is the eighth note triplet, quarter note, and half note triplet.

    Bill Evans is Bill Evans because his time is SO FREAKING ELASTIC. He can stretch a note and make you feel like you are floating and then fall before being caught from the squish at the bottom. Miles did this as well, but his lines weren't as long and sinewy.

    Actually, Lenny Tristano seems like a closer cousin to Bill than any other contemporary. That is, until you listen to California, Here I Come (Bud Powell of another temporal plane comes to mind)

    So, it ain't the pitches, it's really how they are organized rhythmically that defines Evans. That is who he is to me, at least.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    On a bit of Bill kick....
    Me too, for quite a while now. I went so far as to spend a few years with a pianoless trio doing only Evans material. The comments in this thread are very insightful. I would just add that you could devote yourself exclusively to a study of Evans harmony, lines or rhythm / rhythmic displacement, and any of those paths would be equally profound and rewarding. I wish I could say that I've made a dent in any one of them.

  28. #27

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    Even a small dent would still bring huge benefits

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by jordanklemons View Post
    Watch the documentary "The Universal Mind". It's Bill Evans flat out laying out his process and feelings about music in an interview with his brother. He talks and provides musical examples at the piano.

    Essentially he says that the biggest problem for music students (in his opinion) is that they all want to gain the whole thing quickly, in one sitting. So they hear their favorite musician, they transcribe a bit of it, they can play along with it, and maybe they try and force a few of those new licks into their playing. He says that because the art is so big and can't be taken in all at once, a natural way to deal with it is for the student to attempt to approximate the end product. In doing so, they feel like they sort of touched the thing, but ultimately they haven't and this feeling of confusion and frustration will just compound and build on top of itself until they are completely lost.

    His feeling is that the student should attempt to master (or at least learn) the basic fundamentals of music and give themselves the time and patience to be able to make music from THAT place. Learn to play authentic, genuine, honest music just by playing around with the simplest forms of musical ideas... but truthful music that's coming from their own thoughts and feelings. Once this is set, THEN this becomes the foundation on top of which we can learn and grow and add more advanced and complex ideas that will make sense and become integrated in a more wholistic way.

    As far as his actual practice process... I've don't know exactly, but I'd heard that for every new tune he would write out an etude voice leading with x number of voices through the entire form. I forget how many voices he started with... could have been 1 or 2.. maybe 3 or 4. But he wrote it out and learned it. Then he'd play it in all the other keys. Then he'd write out another one with x+1 voices. I read that he did this all the way up to 10 voices. That was primarily for his harmony work. Melodically, I read that he would place the melody on a spectrum for himself. On one end of the spectrum he would be playing the melody exactly as is... on the other end nobody would be able to recognize the melody, but his ideas would still be entirely rooted to the melody in his own mind. So he'd start just playing the melody a lot. Then after a while he'd ornament it ever so slightly. Then after a while he'd add a little more ornamentation. This would continue until he started altering the melody entirely with new phrases, but still while thinking about and visualizing it as the original melody... and it would continue until his playing had no resemblance to the melody to anyone outside of his mind.

    As for the foundation, I think music is somewhat subjective AND objective at the same time. There are some truths that simply are truths and that kind of it (so says the 34 year old me... we'll see if I don't hate myself for having said that in 40 years). But there are also huge aspects to it that are entirely subjective and up to the individual musician. I would assume (hope you don't mind Christian) that the foundation should be built with some Barry Harry type concepts and understandings? 6th and diminished chords... or some variation thereof? Some people might feel that some sort of modal or CST is where the fundamentals are. Some might think it's the blues. I don't know. For me it's just triads. They're just as simple as I can break things down to while still maintaining some level or tonality and organization, and yet they allow for essentially every advanced complex route at the same time. So they've proven to work perfectly for me as the foundation both as a student of the music and as a teacher. I've toyed with trying to get down to a 2 note way of thinking... but it was too ambiguous and with far too many options and avenues (though I did hear an interesting argument for the 2 note approach recently by Dr Shawn Purcell in his Facebook live masterclass on the Peter Bernstein Study Group Facebook page).

    I'm honestly not sure what Bill would have seen as the fundamentals and the "proper" foundation if one were to have studied privately with him. But the plot is laid out. Get down the basics. Not just intellectually. Be able to compose and improvise simple, honest, authentic music with it... then grow from there by adding new layers on top.

    Bill never ceases to be a lighthouse of inspiration for me. Glad to see you digging into him more Christian! Looking forward to hearing how it affects you and your playing and your ears.
    "I'm honestly not sure what Bill would have seen as the fundamentals and the "proper" foundation if one were to have studied privately with him. But the plot is laid out. Get down the basics. Not just intellectually. Be able to compose and improvise simple, honest, authentic music with it... then grow from there by adding new layers on top."

    I play regularly with a pianist who heard Bill Evans at the age of eleven, and loved BE's playing so much that he spent the rest of his life transcribing studying and analyzing everything BE ever recorded. He's 64 now.
    He even studied for many years with Andy LaVerne, who was one of the few pianists to study with BE.

    One time he caught BE at the VV and asked him for piano lessons. Bill Evans answered that he doesn't take students anymore, because they refuse to study music theory.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87 View Post
    Actually, Lenny Tristano seems like a closer cousin to Bill than any other contemporary. That is, until you listen to California, Here I Come (Bud Powell of another temporal plane comes to mind)
    Not sure if y'all have heard it, but Lee Konitz's "Live At The Half Note" is an extremely interesting recording of Bill's. I can't think of another which is anything like it.

    As great as Bill's own trios were, it's great to hear him throw down with Jimmy Garrison and Paul Motian on a gig where he clearly considers himself a sideman. His comping on the date is extremely spare, and even his solos are mostly his right hand, a lot of times just playing single notes with no self-accompaniment.

    But, Bill's solos on the date are really incredible; every one of them is just a gem of pure improvisation and melody. He almost sounds a little uncomfortable on the gig but in the best possible way imaginable. I don't mean the music is uncomfortable, but in his own trios, his playing is so authoritative, and on this album there is kind of a vulnerability I don't hear elsewhere in his catalog.

    My words are not doing the music justice here, but hopefully this will inspire y'all to check this one out if you haven't already!

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald View Post
    Not sure if y'all have heard it, but Lee Konitz's "Live At The Half Note" is an extremely interesting recording of Bill's. I can't think of another which is anything like it.

    As great as Bill's own trios were, it's great to hear him throw down with Jimmy Garrison and Paul Motian on a gig where he clearly considers himself a sideman. His comping on the date is extremely spare, and even his solos are mostly his right hand, a lot of times just playing single notes with no self-accompaniment.

    But, Bill's solos on the date are really incredible; every one of them is just a gem of pure improvisation and melody. He almost sounds a little uncomfortable on the gig but in the best possible way imaginable. I don't mean the music is uncomfortable, but in his own trios, his playing is so authoritative, and on this album there is kind of a vulnerability I don't hear elsewhere in his catalog.

    My words are not doing the music justice here, but hopefully this will inspire y'all to check this one out if you haven't already!
    Sitting in Lennie Tristano's place would make most piano players a bit self conscious...

  32. #31

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    A few years later they did this together...




  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald View Post
    Not sure if y'all have heard it, but Lee Konitz's "Live At The Half Note" is an extremely interesting recording of Bill's. I can't think of another which is anything like it.

    As great as Bill's own trios were, it's great to hear him throw down with Jimmy Garrison and Paul Motian on a gig where he clearly considers himself a sideman. His comping on the date is extremely spare, and even his solos are mostly his right hand, a lot of times just playing single notes with no self-accompaniment.

    But, Bill's solos on the date are really incredible; every one of them is just a gem of pure improvisation and melody. He almost sounds a little uncomfortable on the gig but in the best possible way imaginable. I don't mean the music is uncomfortable, but in his own trios, his playing is so authoritative, and on this album there is kind of a vulnerability I don't hear elsewhere in his catalog.

    My words are not doing the music justice here, but hopefully this will inspire y'all to check this one out if you haven't already!

    Bill played with the same rhythm section on the two live Tony Scott LPs, Golden Moments Pt 1 & 2