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  1. #51
    Quote Originally Posted by jameslovestal
    My guess is that due to having to support a large family, Wes felt he could make a lot more money making commercial fair instead of jazz like Trane by joining his band (or even making a record together).
    Wes literally invented a style that, for better or worse, endures to this day: smooth jazz. His tone is so lush that it sits comfortably atop an orchestra, in the same manner as Bird or Clifford Brown. To me, his contemporary playing represents the essential distillation of his unique style. All the Riverside elements remain, they're just refined and, as a result, more accessible. What's striking is that, on California Dreaming and A Day in the Life, you can hear the lyrics in his playing quite clearly. Windy comes to mind also. The fact is that even among the great guitarists who came after, nobody, not even George Benson himself, could out-smooth Wes.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by buduranus2
    I love Trane but I could listen to Dexter Gordon all day. Same with Wes versus Kenny. I think it's that Trane and Wes are more demanding of me as a listener and after a while I get worn out. I never get tired of listening to Kenny. Maybe not as innovative as Wes (i.e. octaves and block chord improv) but a complete guitarist with an appealing tone and distinctive concept. Hey, and he's a good singer too!
    Sorry, but this is why boards like this are so inbred and why people avoid jazz like the plague.

    Listen to who you want. Enjoy Kenny, if that's your pleasure. I enjoy him. The real question: are you looking for support from others for your opinion or just want to know what they think? The latter is OK, but I see these web threads all the time: so and so vs. so and so. Maybe accept and enjoy what's good in everyone who IS good. Music isn't competition among the players (not the ones I've known, and they're mostly pretty damn good), so what's up with the fans/amateur players? Sorry if you're neither, but your query makes you sound like one or the other...

  4. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by joelf
    Sorry, but this is why boards like this are so inbred and why people avoid jazz like the plague.

    ...
    Just wow...

  5. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz
    I was lucky to see Wes in concert and club appearances about 20 times in the mid-late 60s, and I swear, although I'm not a religious or overly spiritual person, Wes had an aura around him when he played, a kind of blue light, along with a great smile and monstrous stage presence. I have enjoyed his recordings over the years, but not a single one comes close to the energy he produced in a live setting. He was also a great gentleman, generous with his time to a teenage jazz guitar freak like me, and I think I caught his attention by requesting his own compositions whenever I could. I also caught Kenny many times, even picked him up at the airport to take him to his hotel and radio interviews when I was involved in producing jazz shows, also a consummate gentleman and superb jazz guitarist, but even he was awed by Wes, as was Jim Hall and Pat Martino. Barney seemed to be the only one who actually was a little envious of the attention Wes got.
    Thank you... it is really so important to hear evidences like this.

  6. #55

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    It is interesting for me at least that Wes actullay often seemed to take time to play into the tune... as well as Trane by the way...
    And I like it...

    He often begins soloing like trying to throw in some riffs/licks/ideas here and there as if fumbling around... and usually he gets it... and mostly he is really taken aways with it to the point that you may think: how is he going to get out of it?
    It also happens in the middle of the solo sometimes like he has played out the idea and then tries to search for something pick it up again.
    That's what I like about him:

    Also I remember tracks where I felt like he attempted and then sort of stepped back - he had enough skills and concert experience to keep it up on the level of course anyway.

  7. #56

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    "I think it's that Trane and Wes are more demanding of me as a listener and after a while I get worn out."

    ...

    "I find plenty of guitarists demanding to listen to, and understand some of Trane's recordings being described this way, but with his beautiful feel, melodicism, swing, phrasing, etc., I don't find that to even remotely be an issue with Wes, quite the opposite in fact."

    Listening back today to his version of "The End of a Love Affair" from his first Riverside album, I was struck by the guitar tone, which is a little ear-fatiguing (probably due to EQ decisions made by both the original mix engineer, and the mastering engineer for my particular CD release).

    I never saw Wes live, but I know he intentionally had a brighter tone than some of his peers. But even so, it differs from album to album, and sometimes he's not served so well by the engineers at the board. Other times, it's all smooth as silk, even when he's playing tricky, rhythmically intense lines on uptempo tunes. I don't know if this is the kind of issue the OP meant by "demanding of me as a listener".

    Wes is so mainstream, it's interesting to see his music described as challenging. Though on a few uptempo workouts, he does take no prisoners, and all those mid-rangey octaves coming fast and furious make for intense listening. Sometimes Wes is like Django or Erroll Garner in that respect. He wants to grab you and swing you to death. He is rarely like Desmond, whispering in your ear to seduce you. Funny how smooth jazz could be said to have come from both Desmond and Wes. And you can't leave out Creed Taylor when talking about the birth of smooth jazz. Creed saw the future of lifestyle music and got Desmond, Wes, and everybody else on board at Verve and CTI.

  8. #57

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    Listening back today to his version of "The End of a Love Affair" from his first Riverside album, I was struck by the guitar tone, which is a little ear-fatiguing (probably due to EQ decisions made by both the original mix engineer, and the mastering engineer for my particular CD release).

    I never saw Wes live, but I know he intentionally had a brighter tone than some of his peers. But even so, it differs from album to album, and sometimes he's not served so well by the engineers at the board. Other times, it's all smooth as silk, even when he's playing tricky, rhythmically intense lines on uptempo tunes. I don't know if this is the kind of issue the OP meant by "demanding of me as a listener".
    Yes, on these records the tone sounds a bit 'distorted' - like there is something 'electric' in it...


    On the other hand... it is interesting that I never tought that Wes' was 'dark, fat' etc. as it is often described... I think there is a lot of treble in it and actually if I try to recall most of jazz pplayers I heard - I think - almost in every case I hear the tone as quite bright.. for the exception maybe for some Jim Hall's records... I remember that the tone on LIVE! sounded too dull to me (later I got used)...
    Of course probably the people compare it with rock or country players with strats and teles...

    Also I was nere much into tone per se... I heard people often say: He has such a tone.. or teh tone is bad... and I thought at that moment that I did not really notice that...
    I appreciate good tone of course. but to me it is a complex thing that comes all together as music: mostly it is about articulation and phrasing... than just the tone abstractly (by the way)...

    I mean usually if I like player musically I cannot say: he is good but the tone is so-so... (I heard people say so sometimes: great guitarist but his tone.. hm)
    because probably I perceive it all together...

    Again every serious player -jazz or classical - acoustic or electric - has to work with sound production abstractly .. but it is sound production not just tone... this is why good players can make different instruments sound almost the same way --

    As for Wes - on thing that is important about him for me is that he has very tight phrasing and very clear articulation... his phrases have weight... even when he plays ballads they are never loose... in slow tempos he often plays clearly articulated - almost percussive - motives.. they are very distinct and they bring in lots of determination and conviction in performance.

    And othe important things for a guitarist:

    - Wes knows where the note starts and where it ends
    Guitarist and pianists often forget about where it ends --- it is not noticeable but it affect overall performance... it is important that you control it the way the horn player of singer would do it - (of course you can use guitaristic effects like harp style resonance etc. but any way you control it or not)

    - Wes used dynamics... I do not know why but jazz players often ignore dynamics..
    maybe it is becasue of the amplification at relatively high volumes - it brings in some 'compressor effect' in it and evens the tone level in comparison to the response from acoustics...

  9. #58

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    Wes vs Kenny

    I heard Wes and Kenny had an arm wrestling match and Wes bested Kenny and made him loan his guitar for a session and buy him a pack of lucky strikes.

  10. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    Wes vs Kenny

    I heard Wes and Kenny had an arm wrestling match and Wes bested Kenny and made him loan his guitar for a session and buy him a pack of lucky strikes.
    Didn't he go around after that and tell everybody: But I am much taller than Wes anyway!

  11. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyV
    I'm kind of the many flowers in the garden school but I can't recall one specific thing Kenny Burrell ever played and there are at least 30 things that Wes played that are forever burned into my heart and memory. IMHO, Wes tapped into a stream of music that transcends the instrument. For everyday listening, Paul Desmond with Jim Hall is heaven.
    Actually Kenny's solo recital issued as ''Tenderness' is very special for me...
    I like it more than his group recordings. He is definitely not just a musician but a personality with his own perspective and opinion about the world... this concert is not just a show but a real monologue.

    I do not why it id not show so clearly in his group recordings....

  12. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz
    I was lucky to see Wes in concert and club appearances about 20 times in the mid-late 60s, and I swear, although I'm not a religious or overly spiritual person, Wes had an aura around him when he played, a kind of blue light, along with a great smile and monstrous stage presence.....
    To have someone on this forum who can give first hand accounts like that is so valuable to me. Color me gobsmacked.

  13. #62

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    I've carefully reread all posts now again, including mine in this thread. I think now there are enough posts to have a perspective, and one thing for sure Kenny Burrell is a bit underrated...

  14. #63

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    Wes. Much better improvisor. His solos are works of art.

  15. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bebop Tom
    Wes. Much better improvisor. His solos are works of art.
    Funny but the two points made here can be viewed as contradictory; Wes's solos were works of art but one reason is because they are highly organized and well planned. E.g. The 65 Paris live sessions where Wes played his pre-commercial radio 'stuff". These live solos sound a lot like the studio album recordings, with many "parts" of the solo, close to note-for-note.

    I would have loved to see Wes live playing a song that was never recorded to see how much he would "mix it up"; E.g. would the solo be single-line, block-chords and then octaves?

  16. #65
    Quote Originally Posted by jameslovestal
    Funny but the two points made here can be viewed as contradictory; Wes's solos were works of art but one reason is because they are highly organized and well planned. E.g. The 65 Paris live sessions where Wes played his pre-commercial radio 'stuff". These live solos sound a lot like the studio album recordings, with many "parts" of the solo, close to note-for-note.
    I've read elsewhere that Trane worked out his solos on the bandstand, then condensed them in the studio. Here's a quote from what appears to be a doctoral thesis that alludes to Trane pre-fabricating some of his iconic solos: Kinds of Blue: The Jazz Aesthetic in African American Narrative - Jurgen E. Grandt - Google Books

    But then so what? (No pun intended.) When we go to a restaurant, we're not concerned whether the chefs have parts of our entrees pre-cooked. Only if it's flavorful and well-presented. So I'm sure Wes used some pre-fab ideas in his solos. Remember, they're still his ideas.

  17. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by buduranus2
    I've read elsewhere that Trane worked out his solos on the bandstand, then condensed them in the studio. Here's a quote from what appears to be a doctoral thesis that alludes to Trane pre-fabricating some of his iconic solos: Kinds of Blue: The Jazz Aesthetic in African American Narrative - Jurgen E. Grandt - Google Books

    But then so what? (No pun intended.) When we go to a restaurant, we're not concerned whether the chefs have parts of our entrees pre-cooked. Only if it's flavorful and well-presented. So I'm sure Wes used some pre-fab ideas in his solos. Remember, they're still his ideas.
    Note that I was replying to someone that said "Much better improvisor."; That is what I was wondering about.

    As for chefs; The Food Network has a few shows, like Chopped or Guys Grocery Store , that really challenge chefs on how well they can improvise; E.g. must use 4 ingredients not normally used together, combined weight of all ingredients must be < 6 pounds, limited budget of $20, time constraints etc..

    There are some master chefs that just can't cut it under these conditions. There are some lesser chefs that exceed under them.

    It would have been interesting to have Wes and Kenny, with the same rhythm section, and I get to call out what song is played. I would pick a standard that neither has a studio recording of. Hey, they might even need a lead sheet (ha ha).

    To me this is a better way of determining who is the "much better improvisor" than listing to recordings. (but as you also note; so what, since they are both masters with a legacy of high quality recordings).

  18. #67

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    I recently discovered Kennys most remarkable, impeccable way of executing time in his lines, something which i had taken for granted over decades of listening to him. I also became aware even more that it doesn't make sense for me to compare two players of such high level musicianship, when each of them has to offer so much individuality as they do. So: even if Wes is the ULTIMATE for me, this doesn't stop me from enjoying Kenny's playing just as much when i listen to him.

  19. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by JazzNote
    So: even if Wes is the ULTIMATE for me, this doesn't stop me from enjoying Kenny's playing just as much when i listen to him.
    This is pretty much how I feel.

  20. #69

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    Desert Island is an unfair and unnecessary question. That said, for me it would be Jim Hall then Wes. Kenny might be third, although I came to him first. The first guitar album I ever had was Guitar Forms and I wore it out. Why Jim over Wes? Hard to say, but I love the way Jim Hall uses space.

  21. #70

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    Fortunately, the world is kind enough to permit us to listen to all of the artists we like.

    I suppose, though, that if you told me I could only listen to one guitarist for the rest of my years, I'd have to pick Wes.

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greentone
    Fortunately, the world is kind enough to permit us to listen to all of the artists we like.
    It is a great thought, and reminds me to be greatful, because It has not always been the case, maybe for some of you it sounds strange. When I was a teenager I could not get my hero's LPs in the shop, I had to collect them on blackmarket, very limited way, and 5x price...

  23. #72

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    I'm actually a little surprised by the comparison. I never thought of it as a choice. To me, one could have replaced Kenny's name with any of his best contemporaries and it wouldn't have mattered. I mean, why would any straight-ahead player want to be compared to Wes?

    But if we have to chose then I guess there is one thing to consider. They were contemporaries yet one of them has outlived the other by 50 years counting. Despite that, the longer living one; (1) is not considered as "important" historically, (2) probably sells fewer records, (3) has his solos analyzed less, (4) has his technique copied less, and (5) receives less radio play - to this day.

    Major props to Kenny B. - but - what was really behind the question? It seems naive.