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SUBJECT: Jazz with the blues in it Back to Subjects
owen
Apr 18 2011
at 4:30 PM
First, a couple of quotations I remember reading a good while ago. 1) John McLaughlin: ’take the rhythm and blues elements out of jazz and you’ll find there’s nothing left’ 2) Pat Metheny: ’in a sense, everything I play is the blues’ What do y’all feel about the importance of the blues elements, and blues scales, to jazz? Is the highly individual, personal expression, element involved in jazz improvisation, which Pat speaks so often about, a ’blues thing’ essentially? It often seems to me that many music listeners, especially followers of electric guitarists, see a blues element as essential to being "soulful". In my teens, as a ’classic rock guitar fan’ (for want of a better description: blues-rock might be more accurate), I often felt that way. Later, though, when i came to enjoy classical music and classical guitar, my perspective completely changed. I now prefer form and composition. These days, I actually don’t like a strong blues element in music, not unless it’s as part of wonderfully melodic playing, ala Pat. I also like some DiMeola but the fact that he never plays the blues or blues scales (he sticks to classical ones) often makes me think: ’he’s not really a jazz musician, even though he’s an improvisor’. So, any thoughts on the centrality, or lack thereof, of the blues to jazz?
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yossarian
Apr 28 2011
at 7:13 PM
Bookmark and Share Jazz and the blues can’t really be separated. It’s about the harmony really. The kind of blues scales used by blues players 100 years ago pop up in jazz soloists playing now. and the chord structures in the blues (many, many variations) are devices used in jazz all the time. Inseparable.
HAMBONE
Apr 25 2011
at 11:56 AM
Bookmark and Share Great insight here. I think it’s fair to say that the evolution of music has tied the blues to jazz fairly tight and most of us here are grateful for it.
dsahadi
Apr 24 2011
at 8:42 PM
Bookmark and Share Music, in any form is really tension and release. Blues is classic tension and release. Modern Jazz evolved from blues so, especially as Jazz evolved during the 40s, 50s, and 60s, evidence of blues is strong in mainstream Jazz. But Jazz is also the incorporation European progressions and Blues. I think starting to the seventies that there has been more of leaning towards more European forms of tension and release. This is not to negate blues from the modern Jazz. Today, Jazz is really a slurry of musical influences to improvise over. Bottom line, though, I think Jazz is defined by the player. What is Jazz will be the result of evolution. My opinion.
wshartsell
Apr 24 2011
at 9:42 AM
Bookmark and Share Jazz and blues are inexorably linked. To be a serious jazz player, you have to have the blues down cold. So many standards are just blues changes with modifications. However, not all blues translates into jazz, and we all know musicians who can play blues all night, but put "I Remember Clifford" in front of them, or even rhythm changes, and they’re quickly lost. I don’t mean this to sound disparaging of blues or its’ players, just making the point that jazz has evolved from blues, and jazz still owes a great debt to the blues and still incorporates the blues quite significantly in its’ forms. I love them both, but if you choose jazz, you get both! If you choose blues, you don’t necessarily get the jazz.
owen
Apr 23 2011
at 5:41 AM
Bookmark and Share I’m not a fan of many 30s-40s-50s jazz artists, with the noticeable exception of Django. I take Hambone’s point though that recordings of that era do reflect a different world of blues music, maybe mostly because it isn’t electrified or rock’n’roll style blues. As to 50s-60s, Grant Green is maybe even more bluesy than Wes on guitar. Anyway, the point of my original message was thinking about how essential blues elements are to jazz or not? As an example, perhaps, take the type of recordings ECM did in the 70s. Not a lot of blues were recorded in those ’chamber jazz’ sessions, but surely it’s still jazz? To this day,though, record shops often file jazz and blues together as if they’re inherent bedfellows. Are there many jazz fans who don’t like blues music? If people don’t like blues, is that a reason why they won’t ever consider buying, supporting or going to see jazz music? This might be a reason why ’under-appreciation of jazz’ is a big thing.
robby27
Apr 22 2011
at 11:37 PM
Bookmark and Share This is an interesting issue. American jazz grew out American blues so naturally there’s an American blues basis present in a lot of it and the blues element is fundamental to what we call jazz. But I think that one of the fundamental themes of the blues is acknowledging the day to day "B S" of living, but then putting it in context, and yearning for something other than what’s happening now. Something better. There’s a lot of that in the folk music of other cultures. Slavic, eastern european music for example. Mahler captured a lot of that in his symphonies. I read once that the first time Django Reinhart heard Louis Armstrong play he became ecstatic shouted excitedly, "he is my brother!" At least 20+ years ago, I read a comment by bassist Marcus Miller, where he mentioned Pat Metheny as one of the fellow artists he liked to listen to because "his music takes you to another place". My impression of PMG exactly and a basis of my own attraction to his music for 30 years now. No modern composer does that one thing better than Pat Metheny ( and Lyle Mays and others he has collaborated with). There’s a lot of blues in this world and a lot of different ways to express it artistically and they all don’t necessarily have to fit any particular "form" but its all jazz and when its good its all good. In my humble opinion.
tokeyozi
Apr 21 2011
at 1:50 PM
Bookmark and Share Jazz or blues? Jazz! But jazz with a bluesy feel, even better. Just listen to Wes (which many of you do, I’m sure), and you’ll know what I mean.
bluepno
Apr 21 2011
at 10:54 AM
Bookmark and Share Hi dpruitt, Kenny is right up there. I was just trying to give a solid 40 minute example.The Mingus(x5) album includes Jaki Byard and Eric Dolphy w/ Mingus and Danny Richmond, an earful to say the least.
Dazedcat
Apr 20 2011
at 8:54 PM
Bookmark and Share I’d have to take the bullet Barley because I really couldn’t choose between the two. Really, I couldn’t do it.
dpruitt
Apr 20 2011
at 6:06 PM
Bookmark and Share Mingus is a good call. How about one of Pat’s major influences, Kenny Burrell? Also I’ve noticed that almost every jazz song with the word blues in the title…..I like!
barley
Apr 20 2011
at 4:25 PM
Bookmark and Share At the end of the day, when push comes to shove, with a pistol at my head, asked the question "Choose blues or jazz". I would choose blues.
bluepno
Apr 20 2011
at 3:03 PM
Bookmark and Share The epitome of a Jazz with Blues influence is Mingus...especially Mingus,Mingus,Mingus,Mingus,Mingus.
HAMBONE
Apr 20 2011
at 11:49 AM
Bookmark and Share Like a lot of us, I grew up listening to the blues-influenced rocknroll bands of the 60’s, and still do. But I never really appreciated the blues until I started listening to jazz from the 40’s and 50’s. It opened my eyes and ears to a whole new world.
mugsy
Apr 19 2011
at 4:56 PM
Bookmark and Share I just started studying jazz piano and my teacher is covering a lot of blues in our lessons. I would venture to say that most of Miles’ and Monk’s music has a lot of blues in it. And, there are many more artists that have a blues foundation.
HAMBONE
Apr 19 2011
at 12:13 PM
Bookmark and Share Well said, Dazedcat. My impression is that there has always been a stronger element of blues that is found in jazz than jazz found in the blues. But the equal balance of the two is very rare, with the exception of Miles, Monk and a few others.
Dazedcat
Apr 18 2011
at 10:39 PM
Bookmark and Share If the blues are derivative there’s nothing more boring in the world. If the blues are fully integrated in the song or in the playing (or both), in my humble opinion there’s nothing better.
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