king ubu

***** Max Roach Corner *****

114 posts in this topic

Jim -

it's a much different thing in a group performance than it is in a duet like the one with Roach and Braxton. And Braxton loved that performance and still talks about it -

I can see that you think I am over-analyzing the whole bad-modality thing but I have worked with enough mainstream musicians (meaning players who come from the bebop or the swing-to-bebop era) to know how those guys felt when they tried to conceptualize something which was just so outside of their experience and aesthetic as to be like a foreign language - they just didn't see how you could play something so outside and still resolve it to the inside; they had no real belief in the truth of this type of playing and so could only flail away in a simple and shallow scale-like fashion. It pains me to say it, but one of the real problems with Al Haig's late playing was his admiration for pianists who could work scales in this poly-tonal way; his method was to run major/minor scales with great speed, and his problem was that he ended up repeating himself because he was so tied to an "inside" way of playing that he just could not hear a way out of the bind he was in -

also, I used to hear Barry Harris play "Un Poco Loco" and really fail, on the modal blowing section, to really get inside of it - same problem, same generation of musician - some could do it, but many could not -

Edited by AllenLowe

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SWell, at least you've gone from Max to Al Haig & Barry Harris. That I can handle. But I gotta say, sometimes I think it's not a good thing for a musician to think too much like a critic. The musician's role is to do, the critic's to interpret/understand/whatever, and if you think about it, if all the Art Pepper on record there was was from the 1970s on, what would you think about it? I think you'd have to say that this was a highly distinctive & personalized voice with a unique combination of elements. Which is exactly what it was. How you you not? All this other stuff is not really "critical" thinking as much as it is comparison thorugh the lens of personal preference (including but not liited to nostalgia and a sense of emotional "ownership" towards a particular period of an artist's career). Which hey, that's fine, we all do it, but let's call it waht it is and let it go at that, ok?

And no, I don't necessarily think you're over-intellectualizing the vertical/horizontal thing w/Max, not as a general thing. But lordy mercy, I listen to Max - group, duet, solo, up until almost the very end, and there's just so much power and conviction there, so much. for lack of a bettter term, life force there that it just trumps all that other stuff. for me anyways. Lifeforce is always gonna grab me. It's the power, the pure freakin' power, musical, sonic, personal, wahtever, in the cats playing that hits me where I live and makes me sit up striaght. Very, very few musicians have had that effect on me.

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Jim -

it's a much different thing in a group performance than it is in a duet like the one with Roach and Braxton. And Braxton loved that performance and still talks about it -

And how much differently did Max play in a group than he did in those duet situations? Not particularly much, not that I can hear.

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I mean, is there a problem here? http://youtube.com/watch?v=UGzAvbYOFr4

Especuially once Cecil Bridgewater finishes?

Does this sound like a man out of his element?

Is there any kind of a problem here at all?

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Is there any kind of a problem here at all?

He's too good?

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One of my best friends of college, now a music professor--the esteemed Ramon Satyendra-- has described Max's hi-hat playing to me as a "force of nature."

Not saying I disagree!

Edited by jazzbo

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off topic, but iirc in the synchronized german version of Ken Burns Jazz they say Kenny Clarke played the bass drum with his left hand

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"The musician's role is to do, the critic's to interpret/understand/"

Jim - once again I strongly disagree - and I think, in this way, jazz is WAY behind the other arts, in which many great and important practicioners were also great critical thinkers - Beckett, Henry James, Thomas Hardy, Chekov, Charles Ives, George Bernard Shaw, Isaac Rosenfeld, Robert Lowell - all great artists who were also incisive critical thinkers. The fact that this kind of intellectual tradition is virtually non-existent in jazz, outside of academia, has hurt the music, I think - and off all people to complain, I find that you fit quite well into this perspective.

and yes, it's personal preference, but not in some abstract uninformed way (I hope) but based on very specific musical reasoning -

and once again, I think if musicians had more critical understanding of what they do, their creativity would not tend to wane in their elder years, as it so often does -

Edited by AllenLowe

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If musicians - hell, if people in general - wouldn't get so damn complacent about confusing "being who they are" with who they've let themself settle into being, then their creativity would not tend to wane in their elder years, as it so often does.

And yet when some "name brands" do confront that complacency head-on, and apply directly to the forehead, they catch hell from some "critical thinkers" who bemoan the loss of some perceived "essential quality".

Why doesn't somebody just write up the rules in advance and send it out? You know, "Mr. X, feel free to experiment with this, but you better leave that alone. "Mr. Y, you on the other hand cand go there all you want to, but whatever you do, don't mess with this here". You know, tell everybody in advance what is or isn't gonnna be good for them and then see who's a good boy, and who's not.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

Rejection of a specific critical position or set of positions does not necessarily equate with a rejection of critical thinking in general. I'm very confident of my opinion of Max Roach as it relates to me, and I don't think that it is without such thinking. To that end, I challenge you to answer this question - how would you have had Max play from about 1964 or so onward and still remain true to Max Roach the person as well as Max Roach the musician as well as that person and that musician in those times that would be substantially different than how he actually did end up playing? You're not crazy about how he did it, fine, come up with an alternative. If the musician's primary duty is not necessarily to do, then hey, here's an opening for you to prove it. Come up with a plausible alternative Max Roach.

In the meantime, I hear what he did do, take into account who he was as a person, as a musician, and as a musician in those times, and frankly, I am usually riveted by the reality of the results.

Watch that video again and tell me - is there a problem there?

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Why doesn't somebody just write up the rules in advance and send it out? You know, "Mr. X, feel free to experiment with this, but you better leave that alone. "Mr. Y, you on the other hand cand go there all you want to, but whatever you do, don't mess with this here". You know, tell everybody in advance what is or isn't gonnna be good for them and then see who's a good boy, and who's not.

It's always imprudent to step into the no-man's-land of someone else's debate, but here goes. Seems to me Allen isn't saying "Max shouldn't have experimented with this or that"--what he's saying is that he believes Max's efforts to those ends weren't entirely successful. Same with his comments about Pepper/Morgan and "misunderstood modality"--I don't think he's saying they shouldn't have gone in that direction. Rather, he, like you, hears "the reality" of what they played but hears it differently, and judges it somewhat harshly. Further, he speculates that the results might have been better if the musicians had been more given to conscious critical thought about their own music.

It seems to me that what you're saying is that if a musician follows his or her muse into uncharted (for them) territory, that approach is so laudable and honest in its intentions that someone who feels the direction proved fruitless isn't allowed to criticize and analyze the move because that would be tantamount to "telling everybody what's good for them and who's a good boy." But you could say that about any negative criticism of the arts.

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"how would you have had Max play from about 1964 or so onward and still remain true to Max Roach the person as well as Max Roach the musician as well as that person and that musician in those times that would be substantially different than how he actually did end up playing? You're not crazy about how he did it, fine, come up with an alternative. If the musician's primary duty is not necessarily to do, then hey, here's an opening for you to prove it. Come up with a plausible alternative Max Roach."

c'mon, this is silly and besides the point -

and thanks, Tom, for making those points far better than I did -

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Why doesn't somebody just write up the rules in advance and send it out? You know, "Mr. X, feel free to experiment with this, but you better leave that alone. "Mr. Y, you on the other hand cand go there all you want to, but whatever you do, don't mess with this here". You know, tell everybody in advance what is or isn't gonnna be good for them and then see who's a good boy, and who's not.

It's always imprudent to step into the no-man's-land of someone else's debate, but here goes. Seems to me Allen isn't saying "Max shouldn't have experimented with this or that"--what he's saying is that he believes Max's efforts to those ends weren't entirely successful. Same with his comments about Pepper/Morgan and "misunderstood modality"--I don't think he's saying they shouldn't have gone in that direction. Rather, he, like you, hears "the reality" of what they played but hears it differently, and judges it somewhat harshly. Further, he speculates that the results might have been better if the musicians had been more given to conscious critical thought about their own music.

It seems to me that what you're saying is that if a musician follows his or her muse into uncharted (for them) territory, that approach is so laudable and honest in its intentions that someone who feels the direction proved fruitless isn't allowed to criticize and analyze the move because that would be tantamount to "telling everybody what's good for them and who's a good boy." But you could say that about any negative criticism of the arts.

No, what I'm saying is that Allen has made a bunch of blanket generalities that just don't hold up. Tony Williamas lost his individuality. Max lost swing by going to a more "vertical" approach. Art Pepper sounded artificial (or something...).

I'm saying that that is so much over-generalized, pseudo-critical soundbite hooey. If you want real critical thought about the matter, you'd have to see that Tony Williams never sounded like anybody else, Max never stopped swinging HARD, and that Art Pepper...remained the tightly would head case that he always was.

Which is not to say that it was always good, because it wasn't. Tony's 2nd Columbia album, that Legs thing, pretty much sucked dead donquis dix (so much sothat i refuse to call it by name), Max's later Soul Note sides were more style than substance (but what style it was!), and I've got a private recording of Pepper sitting in w/Warne Marsh @ Donte's ca. 1977 that is freakin' hilarious in the way that Pepper goes out of his way to be "hip" in the face of Warne's steadfastly resolute genius. He sounds like a f-in' idiot, he does.

So yeah, it all could, and sometimes did, go horribly wrong. But sometimes, a lot of times it didn't. In fact, I'd say on the balance that it went right most of the time, at least to their satisfaction, because there it stayed in some form or fashion up until the end. It's hard for me to accept that once keen minds and ears just totally lost it all and couln't hear how horrible they sounded. It's much easier for me to consider the possibility that they were getting to where they wanted to get, and that out of respect for them and out of a sense of humilty in the face of the individual creative process in general, that I might just have a "criticval" responsibility to try and hear things from their POV, to hear the whats & whys of what it was they were telling me NOW as opposed to what they used to be telling me. Because these were not people to be dismissed lightly, dig?

And comments like Allen's been making don't allow for that, nor do they concede the reality that people like Tony, Max, & Pepper weren't exactly esthetic lightweights in the first place and were not going to be prone to shallow/superficial trendiness in their music. Whatever changes they made were going to be for some serious reasons. These were not players prone to dabbling or dilletantism (sp?). No, they made the moves that they made for a reason (hello "critical thinking"?!?!?!?!?!), and if part of those reasons were one form or another of the desire to "stay relevant", well shit, Allen was just bemoaning how cats lose their edge as they get older. Here's some cats who conscientiously fought that, and he's displeased with the results. Lose/lose? WTF is that all about? There must be a foolproof way to go about it, becuase apparently just diving in and stepping on your dick as you go along until you get it to where you (or more where) want it to be is "critically" unacceptable.

Or something.

Besides, I can't believe that any serious musician would think like that. Any serious musician knows that it ain't always easy and it damn sure ain't always pretty. As well as that sometimes, quiet as it's kept, it's easier to just keep it a secret to yourself and only go public with it on "special occasions" for fear of upsetting the people who keep your career afloat. Or, like Cannonball, find a way to do it in such "commercial" setting that "nobody" notices. I can't believe that a serious musician such as Allen would take such a hypothetical, idealized, unrooted in reality stance. Yeah, I do tend to be a "thinking" musician myself (or am when I am a musician, which is less and less these dyas, but oh well about that, at least for now), I can give all but the most prolix a semi-respectable "critical" yadda-yadda (and actually MEAN it, such as here), but damn - when you forget what things are really like when you really are doing it, man, that's just....I don't know what that is. I don't understand that. Not at all.

But that's not what I'm saying. Really. it isn't.

What I'm saying is that sometimes players, sometimes some very good players, want/need to move out of their comfort zone but not all the way into somebody else's comfort zone. That would indeed be forfeiting your individuality. So they check stuff out, take what they can use, work it out, keep it or drop it, etc. If you want to hold on to your old illusions about who they "are", then oh well, you feel the loss. But that is an entirely subjective feeling, just as is my feeling that if you listen to what is there now instead of what's not there that used to be, you can have a pretty good time there too.

Case in pooint -

I only heard Max live once, 1979, Carnegie Hall(?, maybe Lincoln Center, I don't remember). Newport NY w/the quartet. Odean had just joined. Max was freakin' levitating the whole joint. It was hot up in there, jack! So on the way out, this old guy in a suit and shit says to his wife "I though he was still playing like he did with Clifford Brown. I sure did miss that".

Well, so you did, I thought to myself, but you're also missing - in a whole 'nother way - the way the cat's playing NOW. And now is where we are whether you want to/are able to be there or not. And I just heard Max Roach play with the power of God NOW.

Sorry you missed it, buddy. Glad as hell that I didn't.

No, not everything works for everybody all the time. But don't tell me that it never did, or that they would have been better off not making the move, unless it really never did work. And there ain't no way that I'm going to hear what I've heard and be convinced that it never worked for Tony, Pepper, or, especially, Max. "Critical thinking" does not = convenient soundbite generalizations that ultimately lie by not telling the whole truth, or in Max's case, even the largest part of it.

Has this been enough "oppositional critical thinking" for one sitting? God, I sure hope so! :g :g :g

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[looks up from foxhole]

[scurries out of no-man's land]

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"how would you have had Max play from about 1964 or so onward and still remain true to Max Roach the person as well as Max Roach the musician as well as that person and that musician in those times that would be substantially different than how he actually did end up playing? You're not crazy about how he did it, fine, come up with an alternative. If the musician's primary duty is not necessarily to do, then hey, here's an opening for you to prove it. Come up with a plausible alternative Max Roach."

c'mon, this is silly and besides the point -

Well, is it? You're going to break it down as to waht, in your opinion was "wrong", so you must have a well-formed idea of what would have been "right". That's what a "crtitcal thinking" musician should do, right?

Right?

Or is it possible that the reality of what was was the best possible outcome and that your personal preferences lie elsewhere.

That I can respect, even if I totally disagree with it. But dammit man, don't sit there with a straight face (presumably) and give me this spiel about how the increased "verticality" led to a loss of propulsive swinging horizonticalism or whatever it was when I know good and damn well that Max Roach was on fire up until almost the very end.

You don't "like" that type of heat, fair enough. But don't insult me by trying to get me to believe that that heat still didn't peel paint. You can get people hurt with lies like that, especially if they're fool enough to believe 'em.

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[looks up from foxhole]

[scurries out of no-man's land]

:g

No man, you're cool. Allen's cool. He's just talking like he's gotta fill out a 100 word review for a ghost-written AMG piece or some shit rather than thinking about what he really knows.

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hmmmmmmm..............................

never wrote for amg -

will have to lie down - horizontally - and think about this -

or, will have to stand up - vertically - after the blood has rushed to my head - and think about it some more -

but to answer your original question - about how he SHOULD have done it -

Max should have called me first. I would have said:

well, Max, think:royhayneselvinjonestonywilliamsbeforehefuckedupbywayofjojonesmaybealittlear

ttaylorbutwithbettertimeanddon'tforgetshadowwilsonaltschsulalimichaelcarvinanddavetoughmaybealsotommybenfor

butwhatthefuckdoiknowifallelsefailscallsangrey

orgetadrummachine

and have a nice day -

Edited by AllenLowe

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hmmmmmmm..............................

never wrote for amg -

will have to lie down - horizontally - and think about this -

or, will have to stand up - vertically - after the blood has rushed to my head - and think about it some more -

but to answer your original question - about how he SHOULD have done it -

Max should have called me first. I would have said:

well, Max, think:royhayneselvinjonestonywilliamsbeforehefuckedupbywayofjojonesmaybealittlear

ttaylorbutwithbettertimeanddon'tforgetshadowwilsonaltschsulalimichaelcarvinanddavetoughmaybealsotommybenfor

butwhatthefuckdoiknowifallelsefailscallsangrey

orgetadrummachine

and have a nice day -

Oh my! :g:g:g:g:g:g:g:g:g:g

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Bringing this back up as I'm listening to more of my Roach CDs right now...

Some more impressions:

Percussion Bitter Suite - that plaintive Booker Little solo on the opening "Garvey's Ghost" is a highlight! Julian Priester gets more and more away from just playing with a stunningly beautiful sound as he did in the Turrentines band. He gets more of that vocal quality that I like very much on the trombone.

Dolphy's presence is much felt, in a good way, I'd say. His alto solo on "Mendacity" is stunning, another highlight of the album!

It's Time - one of the best of those chorus albums. Max stands out here, his playing is so poised - awesome! Jordan has many fine spots and so has Richard Williams - too bad he wasn't getting more exposure, a very fine musician in any context I've heard him in (Jones/Lewis big band, Gigi Gryce, Mingus, his sole leader album on Candid, Lateef...)

Speak, Brother, Speak! - Much better than most reviews want us to think! Jordan is on fire, Waldron does his long meandering lines. And Eddie Khan holds his own with a much earthier sound and delivery than Art Davis, more a felt bass player, but very much there, all of the time! And again Roach is doing great! This is a fairly simple, blowing album (though the two long numbers, or at least the first 25 minute long title track, are some kind of suites with various parts in changing tempos), other than the music preceeding it - the last Mercury albums, the Candid and the two Impulses all had larger line-ups and/or more thorough concepts and arrangements. Here they just blow, and it's good to hear them doing that! And the music is earthy and soulful, and yes, it swings!

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Speak, Brother, Speak! - Much better than most reviews want us to think! Jordan is on fire, Waldron does his long meandering lines. And Eddie Khan holds his own with a much earthier sound and delivery than Art Davis, more a felt bass player, but very much there, all of the time! And again Roach is doing great! This is a fairly simple, blowing album (though the two long numbers, or at least the first 25 minute long title track, are some kind of suites with various parts in changing tempos), other than the music preceeding it - the last Mercury albums, the Candid and the two Impulses all had larger line-ups and/or more thorough concepts and arrangements. Here they just blow, and it's good to hear them doing that! And the music is earthy and soulful, and yes, it swings!

As a matter of fact, "A Variation", the second track on this record, is Heitor Villa-Lobos' Prelude no.3 for guitar.

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Speak, Brother, Speak! - Much better than most reviews want us to think!

Most reviews are negative about "Speak, Brother, Speak?" The only negative review I have ever seen is the bullshit entry in the Penguin Guide to Recorded Jazz. I have always really loved this album.

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Speak, Brother, Speak! - Much better than most reviews want us to think!

Most reviews are negative about "Speak, Brother, Speak?" The only negative review I have ever seen is the bullshit entry in the Penguin Guide to Recorded Jazz. I have always really loved this album.

Not downright negative - check AMG for an example - more like "the outcome is nice but inessential" and crap like that...

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Drums Unlimited - Very nice one! The short solos are terrific, and the groove hit by Jymie Merritt and Ronnie Mathews (he sounds a lot like Bobby Timmons here) on "Nommo" is terrific! Freddie Hubbard is at his aggressive best - I quite like him as a sideman on most album's I've heard him (he appears on so many important albums!), while I don't like his leader dates that much... or I rather listen to them for the bands, not for him. Anyway, he's serious here! There's also the live date from the band's tour in late '66 where Hubbard asks the (white, of course) audience in Graz, Austria, to kiss his black ass... I'll have to play that again soon!

Lift Every Voice and Sing - A collection of spirituals (except for #2 by one Patricia Curtis and Max Roach), arranged for choir and the Roach group, at that stage (1971) including Cecil Bridgewater and the great Billy Harper who does some apeshit soloing here - great! George Cables is on electric piano. I like this one a lot. It's more of its time and less a great piece of art than "It's Time", I think, but it has a lot going on, there's a certain aggressiveness in the music that reaches out and grabs me!

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Now playing Members, Don't Git Weary - and guess what, this (and also Lift Every Voice) is where for me - unintentionally - the focus while listening shifts away more and more from Max, towards the other musicians. Tolliver is great, Bartz also contributes a few nice solos (and his composition "Libra"), and Stanley Cowell is great to have on any album from that period... I'd have preferred Merritt on double bass, though... his sound on "Nommo" (Drums Unlimited) is so fat and boomy, he'd have had a better groove than on electric bass... and about Roach, I guess this is where the stuff happened, or started to happen, that the grown-ups have talked of at length, above... let me just say with respect to that discussion, that I'm quite clearly on Allen's side... now this doesn't mean "Members" is a bad album, not even a mediocre one, there's plenty of good music on it, but Max' own playing ain't quite so exciting any longer... (even though - I doubt I could, though - some may hear it's Max within one bar from any of the tunes...)

edit: Merritt is partly on double bass (for instance on the title track) - but I'd wished he'd be on it on the funky opening number, for instance!

Edited by king ubu

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