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  1. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I'm not really interested in classical musician's hang ups about a skill they lack (most don't compose either, so why would they expect to be able to improvise?)

    Jazz has been defined as a music by those reference points for too long. And I am incredibly happy that step by step classical music is starting to reintroduce improvisation into its mainstream performance practice.
    I'm not sure you give classical players enough credits. Lots of classical material is of a mindblowing level, so just being able to reproduce that is really something. Let alone reproduce it in a personal and interesting way.

    Besides that, i see what you mean. The skill of improvisation was once was an important one in classical music also.

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  3. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Well what definition do you take?

    so here’s a definition from a google search
    something that is improvised, in particular a piece of music, drama, etc. created spontaneously or without preparation.


    I think Improvisation is not that helpful a term, as different people have totally different definitions. We can all agree Sonny Rollins is a jazz improviser, but how about Oscar Peterson who was known for having a worked out show
    Are you saying that OP was known for playing pre-composed solos that were not improvised? I've never heard that before. According to this OP has said the opposite.

    John

  4. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A.
    Are you saying that OP was known for playing pre-composed solos that were not improvised? I've never heard that before. According to this OP has said the opposite.

    John
    Ronnie Scott seemed to be of the impression that Oscar was ‘wheeling things out’ so while it might be an exaggeration to say his solos were set in stone, it certainly seem that Ronnie felt his work was much less improvised than that of some other artists such as Sonny Rollins (and who better than a jazz club owner to judge this?) - the source is Derek Bailey’s book improvisation which has shaped a lot of my thinking on these matters.

  5. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel_A
    I'm not sure you give classical players enough credits. Lots of classical material is of a mindblowing level, so just being able to reproduce that is really something. Let alone reproduce it in a personal and interesting way.

    Besides that, i see what you mean. The skill of improvisation was once was an important one in classical music also.
    Of course. I mean I know first hand how hard it is to do well. Some of my best friends are classical musicians. I’m married to one.

    But, nothing I said in my post denigrates classical musicians. What I get sick of is writers from a classical background categorising jazz based on their own hang ups. This happens a lot in the academic literature.

    They say a lot of stupid stuff, like jazz doesn’t have any aesthetic objects because it is not based on scores. Clearly they don’t own any records. Some say jazz is purely praxis based and doesn’t have an aesthetic. This all comes from the jazz = improvisation fallacy which is very widespread among in academic music monoculture.

    So I relish a bit of pushback.

  6. #55

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    OTOH there are many influential writers such as Lucy Green now advocating a return to improv, composition and ear learning in classical lessons. The material and workshops they come up with are all very basic and obvious to us, but represent steps in the right direction IMO and most importantly represents a tool kit that non improvising music teachers might be able to teach and learn.

    Most are borrowed from pop music and devised theatre (why not teach kids to improv using figured bass.)

    It’s a bit frustrating to me to be introduced to these familiar ideas as if they are in any way interesting or innovative, but for them they are. But this has to come from their own tribe really, and it’s like watching an oil tanker trying to turn or something.

    OTOH I have a friend whose job it is to teach ‘mainstream’ (ie classically trained) music teachers how to improvise so they can teach it themselves. Mostly I think he works in a non idiomatic, free style.
    Last edited by christianm77; 10-22-2020 at 01:09 PM.

  7. #56

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    Nikolai Kapustin

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  8. #57

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    If I hear a recorded tune, in the jazz style, that features solos I have no way of knowing whether or not those solos were improvised. Still happy to call the music jazz, though.

  9. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by zboom19
    Nikolai Kapustin

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    Oh wow. Never heard him before and just listened to Impromptu, op. 66, no. 2. What a stunning pianist, he intricately weaves in and out of so many music genres, constantly surprising. LOVED IT (and also learned that he sadly passed away last summer year).

    Kapustin regarded himself as a composer rather than a jazz musician: "I was never a jazz musician. I never tried to be a real jazz pianist, but I had to do it because of the composing. I'm not interested in improvisation – and what is a jazz musician without improvisation? All my improvisations are written, of course, and they became much better; it improved them."

  10. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by digger
    If I hear a recorded tune, in the jazz style, that features solos I have no way of knowing whether or not those solos were improvised. Still happy to call the music jazz, though.
    Yeah philosophically that's a 'black box' thing. Who knows? You'd have to see them on consecutive nights.

    OTOH if you bandmates start doubling you solo in 3rds lol

    I think the thing is, jazz players can improvise, it's not a big deal. It's more that they make a choice to play a solo a certain way. There are ways to keep it fresh even if you do that....

    But it's pretty striking to me how this obsession with process is actually at odds with the history of the music, which sometimes had an overlap with... *shudder*.. the dreaded show business. I think sometimes maybe a little more show business and a little less introspection in jazz may not be such a bad thing.

    And I'm not talking about just Ella Fitzgerald or Louis, say, here. I have it on fairly solid authority that John McLaughlin played identical solos night after night with Mahavishnu. I'm NOT saying JM can't improvise, that's absurd, I'm saying Mahavishnu was... showbiz! Big time showbiz. Who cares? If the solo is badass why not play it again?

  11. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Yeah philosophically that's a 'black box' thing. Who knows? You'd have to see them on consecutive nights.
    Exactly. I never considered improvisaition te be aquired in jazz. That it happens a lot in jazz a something else.
    You make it sound like in jazz they should improvise or else it is showbizz. That's a strange remark, because jazz allways has been showbizz. At the end you 'tune down' stating that 'if a solo is badass, why not repeat it?'.
    And that is right, but why not leave it there? What exactly is you point?

    The energy improvisation gives to a performance can me magic, but only the musicians can tell how much of the music really was made up on the spot. The listener can only guess. The point is: it does not matter. To me it's not considered more or less jazz. Actually: i couldn't tell what jazz is. Jazz to me is more of an attitude thing then it is a musical style.

  12. #61

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    The only thing that you cant take away is syncopation. No syncopation- no jazz. Everything else is negotiable.

  13. #62

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    It is what you think of it, when you hear it.

    My Band camp

  14. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive
    The only thing that you cant take away is syncopation. No syncopation- no jazz. Everything else is negotiable.
    Now there you have a point.

  15. #64

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    If you play Jazz in front of an audience, please improvise, for your own sake as well as for the audience's sake. Imagine if it was suddenly considered OK to not improvise, and nobody did! Ivey divey...

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    If you play Jazz in front of an audience, please improvise, for your own sake as well as for the audience's sake.
    When i was recording with my previous (no jazz) band this was my attitude towards recording. If i had to record a solo, i prepared a few elements, but i tried to be as fresh as possible. On a recording it can sound pretty dull pretty fast.

  17. #66

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    I think if I put any "rule" as to what jazz is, there's an "exception" that can be found. That's just the way it is. It's a fluid thing. Would Louis Armstrong have thought Nir Felder's new record was jazz? Does it matter?

    If we use labels to say what something isn't, it's pretty much never productive. It's hardly productive to use labels to say what something is, but at least we can make some generalizations...

    So with jazz...if I was hiring someone to play "jazz," there'd be some expectations, and one of them would be the ability to improvise. I ain't expecting Sonny Rollins, but I mean...

    I guess we all put expectations on things based on what we like, too. Improvisation is the thing I love most about jazz, so of course I value it higher.

  18. #67

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    Improvisation is the thing I love most about jazz
    Exactly, otherwise you're just playing a tune, aren't you? Might as well be Happy Birthday.

  19. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel_A
    Exactly. I never considered improvisaition te be aquired in jazz. That it happens a lot in jazz a something else.
    You make it sound like in jazz they should improvise or else it is showbizz. That's a strange remark, because jazz allways has been showbizz. At the end you 'tune down' stating that 'if a solo is badass, why not repeat it?'.
    And that is right, but why not leave it there? What exactly is you point?

    The energy improvisation gives to a performance can me magic, but only the musicians can tell how much of the music really was made up on the spot. The listener can only guess. The point is: it does not matter. To me it's not considered more or less jazz. Actually: i couldn't tell what jazz is. Jazz to me is more of an attitude thing then it is a musical style.
    Sure. But what we have seen in the past 40 years or so is the ascension of a introverted, reflective approach to jazz that is concerned very heavily with the improvisational process. I would describe this as the tradition of Bill Evans, also Lennie Tristano. Bill characterised jazz as a process, famously as ‘a minute’s music made in a minute’s time.’

    I don’t mean to be down on Bill, who is one of my favourites, but his ideas and attitudes have come to be extremely commonplace and I would say dominant, to the point where less improvisational and process oriented schools of playing are very much looked down on.

    You can see it on this forum. Many people in my own circle share these attitudes. It’s an article of faith that jazz players are spontaneous improvisers; but it doesn’t actually always reflect of the musicians who established this music.

    I think this also affects the vibe of the music, making it even more self consciously an art thing, and arguably as much if not more for the musicians than the audience.

    I think that introverted, self reflective approach has resulted in a tendency to focus on causes over than effects. Showbiz is obviously concerned with effects.
    Last edited by christianm77; 10-23-2020 at 02:45 PM.

  20. #69

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    Btw my natural tendency is definitely to go more the Bill Evans way; but just because that’s my inclination doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the only one, or even represents the traditions of the music entirely for that matter.

  21. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    If you play Jazz in front of an audience, please improvise, for your own sake as well as for the audience's sake. Imagine if it was suddenly considered OK to not improvise, and nobody did! Ivey divey...
    OK I hate to break it to you, but you really have no way of knowing, unless you decide to be the jazz police and come back to check. :-)

    Anyway, here’s an interesting video


    Going from what Steve Swallow says here, it’s most helpful, I think, to view ‘improvisation’ in jazz as a whole range of tools ranging from in the moment spontaneity to developing composed music without a written reference. Different musicians will lean one way or another.

  22. #71

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    A fine example of arranged jazz. I was listening to Brecker and thought of this thread.


  23. #72

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    Weather report


    interesting here because the solo is composed. Maybe some of the textures are improvised.

  24. #73

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    I’m a bit of a jelly roll fan, and most of his recordings were completely arranged


  25. #74

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    Of, course, the other benefit of improvisation is that you don't have to learn anything. Once the head is there you can have fun to your heart's content. And there's an exhilaration when it goes right. Much better than trotting out a pre-composed set of notes. In concert, turns it into a job rather than a pleasure.

    I remember once being asked to solo for a swing singer. He played and sang and I did the lead stuff. I only knew a couple of his tunes properly and there was no time for rehearsal, it was that night. So I just asked him to tell me what key he was in before each song and played it by ear. No one cared or, if they did, they were far too polite to say anything.

    Nice of them, I'd say :-)

  26. #75

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Of, course, the other benefit of improvisation is that you don't have to learn anything...
    ... except maybe how to frickin' improvise!

  27. #76

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    ... except maybe how to frickin' improvise!
    Exactly. And as it turns out, that's more complicated as it may seem.

  28. #77

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    ... except maybe how to frickin' improvise!
    Of course, I meant heads.

  29. #78

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    Well, a certain amount of improvising is self taught. That amount varies for each person and depends on how good one's ear is along with what music one listens to. A musician that fears making mistakes probably won't learn much about improvising on their own. And there are probably other factors, i.e do you like to Jam?

  30. #79

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    Perhaps a slight exaggeration but I'm not sure Johnny Hartman improvised three notes in his entire career. Nevertheless, the quintessential jazz singer:


  31. #80

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  32. #81

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Tubb
    Everyone knows jazz is mistakes, based on fear.


  33. #82

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    Brilliant. Jazz is an accident.

  34. #83

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    Yogi Berra was as astute an observer of the audio aesthetic as I have ever heard.

  35. #84

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Tubb
    LOL - every line of Yogi's is brilliant!