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  1. #1

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    I was just curious to know how many standards the greats of the 50s/60s/70s knew inside out and played regularly? Are we talking 50, 100, 500+ songs? I understand that many standards share similar structures so I imagine if you know one rhythm changes based tune you will understand how to play others of a similar structure. However how many tunes would Davis, Burrell or Dizzy have in their bags as signature songs they always played?

    Thanks!

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  3. #2

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    I don't know about those specific guys. But, the NYC wedding musicians of my youth seemed to be able to play any song in any key without changing the bored expression on their faces. Never saw them turn down a request and never heard a bad chord. I'd guess that those gigs required knowing (and I mean KNOWING) hundreds of tunes.

    Back then, you might get a wedding guest wanting to sing My One and Only Love in a random key. Those tunes were the pop tunes of an era and became jazz standards too. And, everybody listened to the same radio stations and the same bands/tunes. Nowadays, what's the equivalent? My guess is that today's wedding guest picks a pop tune that may not have any relationship to jazz.

    The standards are called in jazz casuals and probably nowhere else. I'm willing to be enlightened if I'm wrong about that. Then, they're usually played in the common keys. Most tunes are, in my experience, played in the same key as usual, with a few tunes being played in two different keys, like Green Dolphin Street, for example. It's a rare situation in which you have to play a standard, without a chart, in an unusual key. Even so, I still think of it as a core skill, because it means you have a well trained ear.

    OTOH, some current players whose names you know, can't do it. I've watched, up close, two well known players struggle to play Stella in F (it's usually played in Bb). One got it in two choruses, the other took a little longer.

    The last few jazz casuals I played, including with some well known local players, had charts. I was surprised that some older experienced players opened the book for every tune, including the simplest stuff. I'll guess that they didn't really need most of the charts, but just put them there in case of a brain-glitch or to remind themselves of the standard changes so that they didn't diverge from each other. At first, I thought that the guy I was sharing a stand with did it for my sake because he didn't know me, but the bassist did it too.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 01-23-2020 at 04:50 PM.

  4. #3

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    top-flight jazzers used to know lots of tunes, the new crop focuses on their own music and a double handful of standards, it seems, which is fine if you can get enough gigs playing original material. I found it interesting that the top singers generally program only about 20 tunes in a concert, and ten of those will almost never change over the years. Sinatra and Bennett each did their top 20 for years and years, Buble does a similar thing. It may have to do with the costs of arrangements, or it may have to do with comfort levels. For those of us trying to make a living playing standards and jazz, it is necessary to know lots of tunes, in most any key, at least fundamentally.

  5. #4

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    Once you get to the level of Davis or Dizzy, you get to call the tunes and remember exactly as many as you want to. Here's jazz writer Mark Stryker on Lee Konitz:

    "I’ve always had tremendous respect for Lee....There’s a purity about Lee that’s so admirable. This idea of: I’m going to play a handful of tunes but go deep and challenge myself to find new ways of expressing the eternal truth of these songs. I joked recently on Facebook that I have 15 or 20 Lee Konitz records and he plays a cumulative total of maybe a dozen tunes. An exaggeration, of course, but that’s part of his essence."

    On the other hand, pianists like Jimmy Rowles and Red Garland were famous for knowing not only all the usual 2-300 standards that get called regularly, but bunches of 1920s-30s pop tunes that didn't become standards (things like "I Wish I Were Twins", which Rowles got Zoot Sims to put on a record). Ed Bickert was also legendary for having a large repertoire that included lots of forgotten pop tunes.

    It's an interesting question. I imagine the answer is all over the map when it comes to name jazz musicians. Pianists often seem to be the ones singled out as walking tune encyclopedias.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Babaluma
    I was just curious to know how many standards the greats of the 50s/60s/70s knew inside out and played regularly? Are we talking 50, 100, 500+ songs? I understand that many standards share similar structures so I imagine if you know one rhythm changes based tune you will understand how to play others of a similar structure. However how many tunes would Davis, Burrell or Dizzy have in their bags as signature songs they always played?

    Thanks!
    Certainly much more than 100. Closer to 500.

  7. #6

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    There's a story I read about Jimmy Garrison turning down a standards gig because he didn't remember any tunes after playing with Trane for so long, although you gotta take those stories with a grain of salt.

    I think it is correct that pianists like Jimmy Rowles, Hank Jones, Marian McPartland, etc, know jillions of tunes. We've discussed this a lot but knowing a lot of tunes is definitely a badge of honor in certain sorts of jazz communities, but the reality is that very few people know all the tunes. The person I know that probably knows the most tunes (and can play them in any key) is a very good SF local pianist, but not, like, a super monster player.

    I really liked Ethan Iverson's take on this subject:

    Deepening Your Relationship to Musical Theatre | DO THE M@TH

    and also:

    Eight American Popular Songs + A Tribute to Alec Wilder (By Jacob Zimmerman) | DO THE M@TH

    The important bit is that most good musicians can hear a chorus or two of one of these tunes and know the changes. This used to seem magical to me when I was a younger jazz musician, but today I could hear any of these tunes once through and play all the changes and probably hear most of the substitutions people would use. It's about pattern matching across a fairly narrow set of choices, as opposed to having really awesome ears.

    Great example: descending chord sequence from the #4. This happens in night and day, christmas time is here, just one of those things, time after time, and a fair amount of people play it in the second ending of "it's you or no one". It's a fairly recognizable sequence different enough from anything harmonic that you should be able to hear. Most standard tunes start on the I, the ii, or some kind of IV chord. Most tunes, when they go to minor, either go to relative minor or iii minor, so learn to hear the difference between those two. Learn to hear the Frank Loesser device of going to the major III chord.

    Sorry if I've veered a bit off topic here, but in the past 10 years my ability to learn tunes on the fly has really taken a quantum leap and it's interesting to reflect about why that is.

    Not all tunes fall into this category, certainly tunes by jazz composers are harder to hear and don't follow these kinds of rules, but most standard tunes do. For me, Ellington and Horace Silver are really the bridge between more advanced jazz harmony and basic standard progressions. A lot of Ellington tunes are less fancy, harmonically, than they sound, because Duke was a genius. A lot of Horace Silver tunes are more complex, harmonically, than they sound, because Horace was a genius.

  8. #7

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    Warren Nunes claimed that if he heard a tune on a barroom jukebox just once, he'd know the tune for the rest of his life.

    I heard him play a great many tunes, never using a chart.

    But, just once, I heard him get a harmony wrong, maybe. It was The Song is You, where he used the chords from the last A section in the first two A sections. Most sources have them as slightly different. Of course, Warren might have been right for the sources he used or the players he played that tune with.

  9. #8

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    Interesting topic. These days most music colleges have lists, about 500 tunes for bachelor, 1500 for master in performance. I can imagine players back in the day, playing these standards every day, must have known thousands of tunes. Probably the lesser known players knew more, as they couldn't focus on their own material? I can recall many interviews where older musicians would advise to learn the music, and how everything was about the tunes. I think it is imperative to learn as many as one can, keep learning, and really work on the ability to be able to support a tune in any key once you learn a melody.

  10. #9

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    If you were a professional musician you would either
    1) learn a lot of songs
    2) become a really good reader
    or
    3) both

    these days it’s a bit different. Music has changed

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter
    Interesting topic. These days most music colleges have lists, about 500 tunes for bachelor, 1500 for master in performance
    this one sentence somehow sums up everything that’s problematic about modern jazz education. that is the replacement of something that was very organic with something very top down and fossilised.

    and they are doing it with the best of intentions.

    It’s great to learn a lot of tunes. It’s better develop an emotional connection to them. People who remember a lot of tunes generally really like them....

    here’s the thing. If a student comes in with their version of a current pop song then great. In general is not that people don’t know the jazz standards repertoire, it’s that they don’t know any songs at all. Guitar has become a sport.

    You know I was listening to Paul Gilbert podcast and the guy is just playing songs and singing and playing the changes, just being a musician. And he’s a rock player. Try getting a YouTube shredder doing that.

  12. #11

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    But in what better way could you communicate the music nowdays? Jazz isn't pop music as i was then, so when someone wants to approach it, that sounds like good advice to me: listen to, play and learn 1000 tunes. Which means listen to the players, the albums, etc, hopefully get into the music. And also, be somehow prepared for the bandstand. I've never met anyone that knew that many tunes and wasn't a good player. You almost don't have to be good on guitar if you know the music that good!

    Edit: I remember something Peter Bernstein said on a seminar. He said he knows every tune, all of them, and can play everything in every key. I believe him! Possibly that has a lot to do with how melodic and essential his playing sounds! It was some of the best advice given to me ever..!

  13. #12
    The Lenny Tristano people have a very small repertoire. They preferred to go very deeply into it but with less tunes.
    I don’t necessarily agree with that model but when I was learning it served it’s purpose.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  14. #13

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    I once asked Coryell in a lesson "which tunes should I know?" his reply "All of them"...

  15. #14

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    I haven't made much progress but my goal is to eventually have all these tunes comfortable in 12 keys + rhythm changes + blues + giants steps + so what + confirmation and maybe some modern tunes

    Bruce Forman's list of 10 tunes for beginners

    And then just add standards in their predictable keys on top of that.

    The efforts I've made so far seem to be paying off and yeah, I can definitely recognize basic patterns in tunes that used to be really hard for me.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    It’s great to learn a lot of tunes. It’s better develop an emotional connection to them. People who remember a lot of tunes generally really like them....
    ....
    You know I was listening to Paul Gilbert podcast and the guy is just playing songs and singing and playing the changes, just being a musician. And he’s a rock player. Try getting a YouTube shredder doing that.
    Maybe there's two kinds of jazz players...those who would put on a Sinatra or Ella record for the sheer joy of hearing the songs, and those who would put on the vocal record only as a measure of last resort. From around 1960 to the present, there have been 3 or 4 generations of musicians growing up who in some (many?) cases relate to standards at an almost purely instrumental level. They often have a story about an old-timer admonishing them for not knowing the words to the songs they are playing, and they might even claim that the old-timer opened their eyes a little. Or they may be like Scott Henderson on his podcast, saying that they find standards corny and uninteresting. Maybe at some point, the standards players will be a scene unto itself, like bluegrass or ska-revivalism, and there will be very little overlap with the players who think jazz begins with Shorter and Coltrane.

  17. #16

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    If you're just out there playing with whoever you can, pickup gigs, jams, it pays to know a lot of tunes...and learning a lot of tunes makes it easier to learn more tunes...

    If you have a steady group or you're leading, you can afford to pare down that rep...focus, maybe not let tunes go completely, but have a set rep you can go deep on.

    So it kind of depends on where you're at, and what your plans are.

    Me, I keep learning tunes. Honestly I've probably forgotten more tunes than I know, but I keep pushing. I should have a reflective sit down and see what tunes I really know and which I need to brush up on. I bet it will be a humbling experience.

  18. #17

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    Some great posts. I must admit, whenever I hear a song I want to learn, the last thing I want to know is the key in which it is played. I focus on relative chord progression : I, IV, VIIm7b5, III7 etc. That way I can take in the shape of the melody and the structure of the song, then when I have to play, it the chords come more naturally. If I have to transpose up a third because the singer sings a particularly high register, I can then more readily cope.

    In terms of numbers of songs I must know several hundred by heart by now - including a fairly full Beatles repertoire. I love learning new songs and will never stop learning

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by 44lombard
    Maybe there's two kinds of jazz players...those who would put on a Sinatra or Ella record for the sheer joy of hearing the songs, and those who would put on the vocal record only as a measure of last resort. From around 1960 to the present, there have been 3 or 4 generations of musicians growing up who in some (many?) cases relate to standards at an almost purely instrumental level. They often have a story about an old-timer admonishing them for not knowing the words to the songs they are playing, and they might even claim that the old-timer opened their eyes a little. Or they may be like Scott Henderson on his podcast, saying that they find standards corny and uninteresting. Maybe at some point, the standards players will be a scene unto itself, like bluegrass or ska-revivalism, and there will be very little overlap with the players who think jazz begins with Shorter and Coltrane
    that’s true, but I don’t really care about that in the end.

    everyone who’s any good is into *something* and they’ve all been through the same process. Use your lugholes, learn music, and play it with other human beings in front of human beings.

    Style and genre aren’t that important in the end; the process is. You learn what you feel drawn to. There’s plenty of straightahead guys who would think Jelly Roll Morton and Bix Beiderbecke are corny. what’s important is that you go deep into what you want to. I don’t want to hear Scott play the GASB... (well actually I do but that’s another story)

    What scott can do is play you the frickin Wayne songbook. And I’m sure he knows loads of blues and rock tunes as well... he played the popular songs of the era... as Miles had (and actually carried on doing!)

    (I love it all, but I don’t have the patience to pull something out of modern pop the way Adam Neely does... so I’m a classical musician I guess)

    its not what songs you learn it’s more like just learn some repertoire and gig it.

    But as I say the world as changed. Scott is in his 60s.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter
    But in what better way could you communicate the music nowdays? Jazz isn't pop music as i was then, so when someone wants to approach it, that sounds like good advice to me: listen to, play and learn 1000 tunes. Which means listen to the players, the albums, etc, hopefully get into the music. And also, be somehow prepared for the bandstand. I've never met anyone that knew that many tunes and wasn't a good player. You almost don't have to be good on guitar if you know the music that good!

    Edit: I remember something Peter Bernstein said on a seminar. He said he knows every tune, all of them, and can play everything in every key. I believe him! Possibly that has a lot to do with how melodic and essential his playing sounds! It was some of the best advice given to me ever..!
    Yes the song is really important to Peter. Something I really dig.

    friend of mine was in NYC the day Cedar Walton died. Peter played a solo set entirely of Cedar tunes.

    how many songs do you know of your favourite musician? That’s how deep those guys go in NYC. You don’t get there by practicing 2 5 1s and modes, not that that stuff isnt important. But it’s not the point.

    here’s an idea for practice. Learn a new song. everyday. Something you love. By ear. Learn the melody. Try different chords. Try to work out an arrangement. Take it to different keys. Practice your shit over it... modes, voicings, language whatever floats your jazz boat. Rinse and repeat for a couple of decades.

    should do that really!

  21. #20

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    The better players that I know all seem to share the following.

    They are highly knowledgable about jazz history. Common for one person to mention an old, but significant, recording and multiple people in the band will chime in with all kinds of detail about the music, the personnel and the history of the recording.

    The players know the usual standards (or more). For example, if someone calls Donna Lee, everybody, including the bassist, will play the head.

    These are, mostly, older players. They share a foundation.

    Now, that said, few of them are particularly interested in playing those tunes, and, especially not in a jam session way. They are much more interested in more modern jazz styles, world music, original tunes, original arrangements and so on.

    That's what I see in my small corner of the musical world.

    Other experiences?

  22. #21

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    All good discussion that underpins why I don't gig any more. I can't sight read worth a hoot, I need to go over the chart and work it out at home. My ear seems to be made of tin most of the time. And I don't seem to be able to remember more than a handful of standards. I'd just embarrass the **** out of myself on a gig unless there's at least one rehearsal and charts, which is what made it possible for me to play with my old band and sound halfway decent. All things considered, best if I stay home and just amuse the cat (who likes to rub up against the cab when I'm playing).

  23. #22

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    one of the giants when it came to knowing standards?...none other than tiny tim!...as a young man he went to libraries and scoured their music collections..took pics of the scores..and went home and learned them!!


    artie butler, conductor and arranger (no slouch himself!) had this to say about tiny

    "Tiny also had a vast knowledge of songs from the glory days of burlesque and vaudeville. He was a walking encyclopedia when it came to music. He knew the verse to almost every old standard. He knew who wrote it, sang it, arranged it, published it, what year it was released and what record label it was on."


    cheers

  24. #23

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    A current player who knows all the tunes is Howard Alden. He has a reputation for knowing the correct chords for any song. Andy Brown, who occasionally plays with him, seems to be following along. If either comes up with a song the other doesn't know, he goes through it once, and they can gig it. I'm far from up to that standard, and will never come close. It takes decades of dedicated practice and an innate talent and ear.

  25. #24

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    Tbh I think most working jazz guitarists in NYC have a knowledge of jazz standards far in advance of elsewhere. The depth of knowledge of the specialists in that area is truly daunting.

    part of it is what the 80/20 drummer said in his video on subtle signs of a high level drummer ... learning music extremely quickly. Moreno talks about this as well. You learn the process as much as the tunes.... your aural memory, harmonic hearing and ability to translate onto the fretboard becomes really good. Your ability to reharm, arrange and your ear for detail.

  26. #25

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    Just because one loves jazz and playing it on guitar, doesn't mean one will ever attain a professional level. I'm living proof of that. It takes inborn talent. Some people have a disproportionate share of it, and some of us have very little. Just like there are 1352 guitar pickers in Nashville better than you, there are more than that in New York City. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, at least according to the song, so that's where the talented and the wannabes go. It was the same in the '50s, '60s, and '70s, just as it was for decades before.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Yes the song is really important to Peter. Something I really dig.

    friend of mine was in NYC the day Cedar Walton died. Peter played a solo set entirely of Cedar tunes.

    how many songs do you know of your favourite musician? That’s how deep those guys go in NYC. You don’t get there by practicing 2 5 1s and modes, not that that stuff isnt important. But it’s not the point.

    here’s an idea for practice. Learn a new song. everyday. Something you love. By ear. Learn the melody. Try different chords. Try to work out an arrangement. Take it to different keys. Practice your shit over it... modes, voicings, language whatever floats your jazz boat. Rinse and repeat for a couple of decades.

    should do that really!
    Don't you think the greats do it all though? I bet PB has played a shitload of ii v licks, all the tunes, is out playing all the time, on tour, hanging with the greatest players (just saw him in Baltimore with Jimmy Cobb, both of whom killed it).

    I just think the dicotomy of do this or do that is probably not an issue because I imagine the guy does or did practice constantly for a long period of time.

    Not this or that but this and that and also this and this and this.

    But also, I don't know very many tunes and it's my #1ish problem.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    Just because one loves jazz and playing it on guitar, doesn't mean one will ever attain a professional level. I'm living proof of that. It takes inborn talent. Some people have a disproportionate share of it, and some of us have very little. Just like there are 1352 guitar pickers in Nashville better than you, there are more than that in New York City. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, at least according to the song, so that's where the talented and the wannabes go. It was the same in the '50s, '60s, and '70s, just as it was for decades before.
    Pretty sure if anyone practices 6 or so hours a day in a focused way for about a decade, they will be pro. It's just that few have the desire to do so, or the means to do it. Also it totally effs your life in a way.

    I started heavy practicing about 2 years ago and have cut out a lot of things I really like doing to do it. It seems ludicrous, at 44, but I was just frustrated with what I could do with music. I'm about 1800 hours of practice since then and definitely can do stuff now that I couldn't before. Progress is slow but steady in a way. Still frustrated but I think I always will be.

  29. #28

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    200 is average

  30. #29

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    I don't think 200 is all that many. Not that it's easy to learn 200 songs.

    I think the guys who can confidently go into any situation without reading probably know 400 or 500 and can grasp the others quickly enough that you might not realize they didn't know the tune - well, unless they're the only chord instrument or have to play a melody they don't actually know. I've seen bassists do it. Fake their way through the first chorus by playing behind the beat on the one and then have the whole thing nailed by the second chorus.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by sully75
    Don't you think the greats do it all though? I bet PB has played a shitload of ii v licks, all the tunes, is out playing all the time, on tour, hanging with the greatest players (just saw him in Baltimore with Jimmy Cobb, both of whom killed it).

    I just think the dicotomy of do this or do that is probably not an issue because I imagine the guy does or did practice constantly for a long period of time.

    Not this or that but this and that and also this and this and this.

    But also, I don't know very many tunes and it's my #1ish problem.
    yes of course. It’s not an either or though. 2 5 1 licks are no bad thing and Pete knows plenty. But you don’t just play exercises. You get into applying them on tunes as soon as possible.

    tunes provide a framework for all this stuff, a context for it.

    but here’s another thing - if you learn the melodies to tunes and you are going to find a lot of useful devices including 2 5 1 licks.

  32. #31

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    You can know all the songs, play at a pro level, but if you don't move to a location with lots of jazz opportunities, you will never get the chance to make use of all your hard work. Like learning to ski, and living in Florida.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by 44lombard
    This idea of: "I’m going to play a handful of tunes but go deep and challenge myself to find new ways of expressing the eternal truth of these songs."
    Thank you for this, it's very meaningful to me. I enjoy taking a tune apart and putting it back together, exploring and internalizing it, then forgetting it and coming back to it, and playing it with different people in different contexts, in different styles, as a solo, with a group, as bossa, swing, etc. A sax player called Misty as a funk number at a jam session the other night, and another time modulated Softly, as in a... down a half step to B minor for the last A section, then back up to Cm for the top, etc. etc. I call Out of nowhere a lot, but it seemed to be getting stale until Jonathan Kreisberg's version renewed it for me. A handful of tunes goes quite far, when I look at them in this way.

  34. #33

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    So Peter Bernstein says learn all the standards while Scott Henderson says the standards are corny. This typifies the divide between the standards aficionados and those that have a more modern - post Shorter / Coltrane - bag. Peeps will identify with one camp or another, it's all good. I just wanna say that there are a bus load of great tunes that came out of the Hardbop era that falls in between the GASB era and the post 60's modern thing.

    Her'es just a few (there are 100's of others just as great IMO):

    HARD BOP STANDARDS



  35. #34

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    Maybe this is an appropriate thread for a trip report.

    A couple of months ago I heard Robert Glasper at the Blue Note in NYC. Acoustic trio and a fourth person "playing" laptop computer. He triggered sounds and spoken word clips. He was great, really creating a mood.

    They played for over an hour. For the most part, I couldn't tell when one song ended and another began or if they were playing songs at all. I couldn't tell, for the most part, what was spontaneous and what was rehearsed. But, they created an intense mood and the music was terrific.

    He played a few snatches of classic jazz piano, which sounded great. But I'm talking about maybe 30 seconds total in the show, included as if to prove that he had those chops (and he does). At one point, I thought I heard Stella. After a minute or so, it became clearer, but it was as if he was just quoting from Stella while doing something larger. He never played the head in anything like the usual way. The band then soloed on it, but only on an 8 bar section near the end of the tune (the descending m7b5's in whole steps).

    I came away thinking I had witnessed the future.

    My guess is that Robert Glasper has a command of older jazz styles, including standards. But, he isn't going to pack the Blue Note (and he was doing a 52 show, month long residency) playing standards in the usual way.

  36. #35

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    I have gigged with Bruce Forman and Howard Alden. Those cats know thousands of tunes and can learn a new one just by hearing it once. And with all that skill, most people in any Country of the world have no idea of who they are.

    We are all born with differing levels of musical talent that dictates just how far we will go in the learning tunes department. Some will be musical geniuses like Bruce and Howard. Others will never be able to remember any tunes. Most of us will be somewhere in the middle.

    I know hundreds of tunes. Some I know inside out, I can play them in any key, know the melodies and the changes and can improvise well on them and can even play them in chord melody. Others, I may only know the changes to them in a particular key and can barely improvise on them. But over the years, I have developed my ear so that I can learn a new tune (assuming it is not very complex) just by hearing it for a chorus or two in real time on the bandstand. Sometimes, I am hired to be a sideman with cats that I have never played with (all professional jazz musicians) and my skill set in both learning and knowing tunes assures that I will not sound like I do not belong with the rest of the cats on the bandstand. Getting to this level took a lot of hard work (and perhaps the luck of being born with greater than average musical talent). I have noticed that with the exception of musical geniuses like Bruce and Howard, most cats (myself included) use the iReal program on our phones to help on the unfamiliar tunes.

    Learn tunes and put in the hard work. The reward is that you will play better and get to play with better players.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    So Peter Bernstein says learn all the standards while Scott Henderson says the standards are corny. This typifies the divide between the standards aficionados and those that have a more modern - post Shorter / Coltrane - bag. Peeps will identify with one camp or another, it's all good. I just wanna say that there are a bus load of great tunes that came out of the Hardbop era that falls in between the GASB era and the post 60's modern thing.

    Her'es just a few (there are 100's of others just as great IMO):

    HARD BOP STANDARDS


    yeah, whatever the points I’m trying to make are are:
    - college lists that you may or may not bother with are one thing, the bandstand is another
    - not learn GASB standards is no excuse for not leaning tunes.
    - the bandstand of Scott Henderson was not the same as Peter Bernstein. Both players did what they needed to thrive in their environment
    - now *%%# off out of it and learn some @&&*ing tunes you actually like and play some €$<$ing gigs.
    - if there’s no gigs move somewhere where there is

    (problem with top40 gigs is many bands are obsessed with playing just like the record, so you can’t learn to express. OTOH half of jazz players seem to do the same where I am...

    ‘Look I can play just like Barney Kessel’

    Great. I don’t care.)

  38. #37

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    Before I get strawmanned into extinction obviously learning to play like, say, Barney is not nothing. If you hear someone in their early 20s say doing that you know they are on my way. Varady had that shit down when he was 13. So context is important. But for a fully formed pro to be content to do this, I think is turning jazz into museum music. And the repertoire can be part of that fossilisation.

    (the bop guys didn’t play the New Orleans rep... they might have referenced it, but...)

    what I respect about the NYC musicians like Bernstein but also the more modern straightahead guys is there is such primacy given to having your own take on it. Peter has found his own individual voice within the straightahead jazz firmament and everyone knows it.

    there’s a huge gulf between this and simply playing like your favourite records which often seems to be the straightahead scene here in the UK.

    OTOH some of the best musicians I know can’t get through a standards gig without the book. They are still great and usually they get calls because they are great readers.

    Another guy I know just plays everything by ear so it doesn’t matter. He does a lot of big pop gigs, but is a great jazz player too.

    you have to be able to do something. As Moreno puts it there’s plenty of players out there who think they can make a career out of Stella by Starlight.....

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Tbh I think most working jazz guitarists in NYC have a knowledge of jazz standards far in advance of elsewhere. The depth of knowledge of the specialists in that area is truly daunting.
    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is a social/cultural thing in NYC: no one uses fake books on a bandstand. There is huge social pressure against pulling out a fake book. In areas I've lived where this isn't true, a lot of people use fake books, even when they know the tune, they like to have it open (maybe as a crutch or safety net). But it just isn't done in NYC, and therefore, everyone tends to have tunes memorized and/or be able to hear tunes very quickly.

    I'm wondering when/if this will go away because there are very few "standards" gigs in NYC.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald
    At the risk of sounding like a broken record, this is a social/cultural thing in NYC: no one uses fake books on a bandstand. There is huge social pressure against pulling out a fake book. In areas I've lived where this isn't true, a lot of people use fake books, even when they know the tune, they like to have it open (maybe as a crutch or safety net). But it just isn't done in NYC, and therefore, everyone tends to have tunes memorized and/or be able to hear tunes very quickly.

    I'm wondering when/if this will go away because there are very few "standards" gigs in NYC.
    sure. It’s rife in London (outside the people who mostly seem intent on recreating the past) And then we moan about how straightahead jazz is crap in the UK lol. People don’t commit to it.

    (I get the feeling in NYC people commit to whatever they’re doing with a terminal intensity even if it’s something completely laughable and there’s no way you can imagine them earning a living...)

    its all about the ‘situated learning environment’ of NYC, to use the technical term. But every working jazz player knows in their bones what that means even if they don’t know the educational jargon....

    And a lot of it is the elders schooling you.... letting you know what’s cool and what isn’t. And letting you know it’s not true to the music to not find your own take on it all, after a hard apprenticeship...

    there’s a yearning in my heart that I know this has not been my story and won’t be. European jazz has its own vibe, but here in the Uk we are kind of torn....

    but yeah I wonder how long it will last. Maybe it’s good that it changes. Everything has to change, or it dies.

  41. #40

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    The lists of the top 10 or 50 "tunes you must know" rarely have anything newer than 50 years old.

    Can anyone point me to a list of the top 50 (or some number) tunes a jazz player should know that are newer than that?

  42. #41

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    Try getting through a pro playing career without learning at least some Stevie, Beatles, MJ and prob a bit of Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson.

    it doesn’t matter how much of a jazzer you think you are

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by sully75
    Pretty sure if anyone practices 6 or so hours a day in a focused way for about a decade, they will be pro. It's just that few have the desire to do so, or the means to do it. Also it totally effs your life in a way.
    If one is going to practice like that the intent had better be to become a professional musician. Otherwise they are not going to be able to hold down a job and support themself, maintain relationships with friends, partners, etc. They're going to be locked in a room woodshedding seven days a week. Dedication can convert into obsession which may have a negative affect on one's mental health.*

    In practical terms, I think that kind of shedding is probably only necessary at a foundational level for a relatively short period of time, dependent on how fast one learns, plus occasionally for something specific. Once that stuff is under the fingers, it's possible to move to higher order of musical learning. Simply listening to music with attention will be educational at that point.

    * over the years I have spoken with several highly dedicated jazz musicians who were quite depressed. The fundamental issue was that they had put in thousands of hours developing their skills and yet were unable to pay rent on the income they could earn as jazz musicians. This is not new; it was a problem in the 20s and 30s during the golden age of jazz (of which there have been a number of golden ages). Music and art in general are very difficult ways to make a living.

  44. #43

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    This is a very salient post

    im lucky because I’m actually interested in education

    i earned a living playing for a few years but the travel is a drag after a while...also didn’t like the music I was doing enough to make the sacrifices. Did learn a few hundred prewar standards though...

    3 or 4 sets, no charts, no breaks between tunes. Half of time learning the tune on the gig. Great apprenticeship!

    but you know I don’t want to sound like I’m moaning. Things are great.
    i just do the gigs I want to now...
    Last edited by christianm77; 01-25-2020 at 04:28 PM.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    ...here’s an idea for practice. Learn a new song. everyday...
    In the early 70's I sat in with David Freisen a few times at his jazz coffeehouse in Portland Or. I was really into Silent Way. He told me 'you guitar guys really seem to dig that modal stuff. If you want to be a jazz player you need to learn a standard a day for a year.'

    I thought to myself 'Why would I want to play anything standard? I'm going new places'. (young lion that I was)

    50 years later I'm learning maybe one a month or so. Kinda wished I'd listened to him in hind sight.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft
    In the early 70's I sat in with David Freisen a few times at his jazz coffeehouse in Portland Or. I was really into Silent Way. He told me 'you guitar guys really seem to dig that modal stuff. If you want to be a jazz player you need to learn a standard a day for a year.'

    I thought to myself 'Why would I want to play anything standard? I'm going new places'. (young lion that I was)

    50 years later I'm learning maybe one a month or so. Kinda wished I'd listened to him in hind sight.
    or you could have learned every fusion and rock tune. And that would have had as much value.

    good musicians deal with music. That’s the real takeaway for me.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    Just because one loves jazz and playing it on guitar, doesn't mean one will ever attain a professional level. I'm living proof of that. It takes inborn talent. Some people have a disproportionate share of it, and some of us have very little. Just like there are 1352 guitar pickers in Nashville better than you, there are more than that in New York City. If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, at least according to the song, so that's where the talented and the wannabes go. It was the same in the '50s, '60s, and '70s, just as it was for decades before.
    yeah and there are some great players who are amateurs and players who do it for a bit and can’t be bothered with the grind of it.

    Yes you do need to be good.... but you also have to put up with the BS, turn up on time, not be a dick and get on well with people, be organised, learn tunes, book gigs, drive long distances, deal with airport check ins with an instrument, organise rehearsals, operate computers, write emails, deal with paper work, run social media, edit videos, design and maintain a website, update your gig listings, run more social media, get people along to those bloody local gigs, book flights because your band thought you were doing it, book a van, deal with endless incessant questions from your band, organise meals, book hotels and explain to the promoter why the drummers late.

    cos you are doing all of this esp if you have your own band. Somebody does not do this for you.

    sometimes you get to play your instrument.

    it’s a complicated skill set. Some people are super talented at the playing, but some are super talented at explaining why the drummer’s late. No really. It all keeps the thing going.

    Plus, you know, most people teach as well. It’s a complex business.

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    or you could have learned every fusion and rock tune. And that would have had as much value.
    good musicians deal with music. That’s the real takeaway for me.
    Very true. I was gigging mostly originals in 70's and 80's. Now I'm retired and living in a small western town where if you want to jam with some decent jazz players you need to know the old tunes. It's the only language they all speak. Around here you can't be called a jazz musician without 'em, and I just played Autumn Leaves for the very first time about 8 months ago.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    It’s a complex business.
    The guys I know that work the most, their business savvy mostly transcends their mediocre musical skills.

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    The guys I know that work the most, their business savvy mostly transcends their mediocre musical skills.
    ha I know some guys like that. The best of them know this about themselves.

  51. #50

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    I could never have been a professional musician, or even a good jazz musician. I'm not interested in the job, too many material and relational difficulties. The world of musicians does not attract me, too much dishonest competition, too many men (not enough women). And I'm not interested in pedagogy either, or at least I wouldn't want to be a teacher. I am not interested in the art trade, whether in painting, literature or music. I made a living differently, and I never sold my artwork

    When I take the guitar, to play or compose, there is 100% music, no others problems. I know it's stupid, I have virtually no audience, but I don't care

    So I have a lot of respect for the vast majority of jazz musicians. They are proletarians of music. In movies, commercials... you never see their name written, while all the technicians are on the credits. It's theft! and lack of the most basic respect. To live, most are forced to play music they don't necessarily like: where is the pleasure of creation?

    How many standards do I know? Maybe 50. It's really not enough. In France, I don't see the reason to play only American tunes, but jazz musicians do mostly that
    Last edited by Patlotch; 01-26-2020 at 07:23 AM.