miles65

Mingus Workshops 1964-65

236 posts in this topic

Maybe it's from a later time period's perspective, but for me the Contemporary recordings don't hide the fact that Ornette was fluent enough in the jazz that came before him. I'm not sure he "gained" enough respect. . . but it was clear he could play.

There are variuos opinions about that. Herb Geller has one of the stronger ones:

In the late fifties Don Cherry stayed at my house for a while, when he and his wife were evicted from their apartment, but I never really cared for his music. He was playing in a “free” way even then, because he couldn’t play normally. People said that he and Ornette Coleman could play changes, but I don’t believe it, man. I heard Ornette’s recording of “Embraceable You”, and it’s a laugh. I’m sorry, but that’s not “Embraceable You”. I mean, put him to the test, the Emperor has no clothes. They both played some nice, folksy, rather primitive, naïve –sounding things that had a certain charm, but I couldn’t take their approach seriously, even to this day (1994). Ornette came to my house once because he wanted to have his music corrected. He showed me his tunes, and they were a catastrophe, because the bar lines were in the wrong place and there were no chord symbols. He took his saxophone out, and I notated what he played. I asked him what chord he was using, and he blew the arpeggio of a G chord, thinking it was a B minor. He just didn’t know anything about chords. Years later he was talking about George Russell’s Lydian Concept, so I asked him if he had found out the difference between B minor and G yet! I liked Ornette as a person, and he did a sweet thing after my wife died. He wrote a piece which I think he called “Lorraine”, and I was very touched by that. Some of his tunes have haunting melodies, but I don’t really care for that kind of playing. I can play “free”, but it’s just a lot of meandering, and anybody can meander; you buy an instrument and make a record in two weeks!

Herb Geller

From "Fifties Jazz Talk" – Gordon Jack

Scarecrow Press Inc. (p. 93).

Q

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Okay, but playing music and knowing chords and music theory are two different things. In my musical adventures I've known both musicians who did and didn't, and neither group had an advantage in plyaing the hell out of their instruments or knowing the music genre they were passionate about.

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I seldom (ever??) disagree with Lon, but this reminds me of some students I've had who wrote badly. When I corrected their papers, they objected, arguing that they should have "artistic license." I told them that a license was something you had to earn. Only once you'd mastered the essentials could you take liberties with them. I've always felt the same about music. I don't always like the later stuff that Miles and Trane did, but I can respect it because I know that they knew what they were doing. They had earned the license.

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Well, I think Ornette had earned his wings, and I don't really consider his new conception taking "license." And I personally think book learning is a bit overrated. Especially by the book learned and teaching. (No offense meant!)

Anyway, just the way I hear it, but I don't have the personal experience that Herb Geller did.

Edited by jazzbo

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Lon - I think that it is very difficult to go back in time and listen to Ornette in the late 50s with ears from the late 50s. Yes, he was certainly deep in the tradition. But the sound was revolutionary, even on the Contemporary albums, and coming from someone who had not yet gained respect of his peers on the inside.

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Some people pay their dues with their lives and lifestyles. If you devote yourself to this style of music, you're excluding yourself from other, better-paying gigs and communal respect. Didn't Ornette regularly get beat up for playing in this style before he went to L.A.? I'd give the same kind of props to the ESP guys.

However, this type of respect has its limits. One could give Jandek the same sort of "respect," but like Ornette, Dolphy, and a lot of the ESP guys, I don't want to spend a lot of my time actually listening to it.

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Lon - I think that it is very difficult to go back in time and listen to Ornette in the late 50s with ears from the late 50s. Yes, he was certainly deep in the tradition. But the sound was revolutionary, even on the Contemporary albums, and coming from someone who had not yet gained respect of his peers on the inside.

John, I agree it's hard to do so, and I did say "to me." But I'm agreeing with your points, he was in the tradition, and his was a revolutionary change, not just taking license with the forms of the day.

It doesn't matter at this point, he was a titan in jazz and is still relevant.

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Lon - I think that it is very difficult to go back in time and listen to Ornette in the late 50s with ears from the late 50s. Yes, he was certainly deep in the tradition. But the sound was revolutionary, even on the Contemporary albums, and coming from someone who had not yet gained respect of his peers on the inside.

John, I agree it's hard to do so, and I did say "to me." But I'm agreeing with your points, he was in the tradition, and his was a revolutionary change, not just taking license with the forms of the day.

It doesn't matter at this point, he was a titan in jazz and is still relevant.

Amen to that!

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Different paths lead to different places. Herb Geller's path could and did lead to working with Bert Kaempfert. Nothing wrong with that. Skills put to use.

Ornette's path couldn't and didn't lead to working with Bert Kaempfert. Nothing wrong with that either. Different skills still put to different use.

but -

I put Herb Geller's opinion about Ornette's in the same class as I do Phil Woods' about Anthony Braxton - which is simply hey, you do what you do really well, and you've seen a lot, heard a lot, done a lot, and you understand a lot. But you don't understand everything, nor should you be expected to. So just go ahead and be wrong. It's ok.

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And I personally think book learning is a bit overrated. Especially by the book learned and teaching. (No offense meant!)

Well, I think the past 30 years has certainly borne that out, with the "note perfect" recreations of the Miles Davis classic quintet sound, etc. Have heard a few thousand mainstream CD's from the last three decades that are technically proficient, but ultimately sound bloodless to me. Started with the rush by the majors to find the next Wynton Marsalis, and then extended to the first Wynton Marsalis when he decided that his recordings should be history lessons pulling in 60 years of styles (yawn...). I love "Live At Blues Alley", but everything since then has been different degrees of problematic. And the majors were looking for well-trained youngsters in spiffy hats, and a lot of pretty good musicians were recording as leaders years before they should have (Antonio Hart, Geoff Keezer, Javon Jackson, Roy Hargrove, David Sanchez, Joey DeFrancisco, the list goes on and on and on). All technically proficient, all ultimately dull in those recordings. Interestingly, one young guy who did catch my ear, Christopher Hollyday, instantly faded away into oblivion. And another group that seemed above it was Blanchard/Harrison, because Blanchard is such a good writer. But overall, something has been lost by academia replacing the apprentice system. Of course, there probably aren't enough opportunities to play anymore for the apprentice system to work. But I look at how strong someone like an Eric Alexander has been on his leader dates, and remember that he spent years playing with Charles Earland, etc. before recording as a leader.

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Hm. I thought I'd be all over this one when it was announced, but looking at what's included started me thinking. I have a cd issue of the Town Hall Concert, the 2 lp Ulysse/East Coasting 2 LP set, the original 2 lp Jazz Workshop issue of Mingus at Monterey (plus a 2 lp Japanese reissue of same), and a Japanese lp reissue of My Favorite Quintet.

So it looks like there's about an hour and 40 minutes of music I don't have. Tough call if I want to spend $102 + shipping, not to mention the space that the Mosaic Box will take up.

Earlier on in my life, I'd have gone for it without thinking. Now, I'm not so sure.

I used to own the he 2 lp Ulysse/East Coasting 2 LP set, but several minutes of a Mingus solo were excised to fit it onto LP. The Mosaic set restores it.

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And another group that seemed above it was Blanchard/Harrison, because Blanchard is such a good writer. But overall, something has been lost by academia replacing the apprentice system. Of course, there probably aren't enough opportunities to play anymore for the apprentice system to work. But I look at how strong someone like an Eric Alexander has been on his leader dates, and remember that he spent years playing with Charles Earland, etc. before recording as a leader.

I'm with you on all points here! I admit that I was less than enthralled with Alexander initially, but especially in the last five years or so, all his leader dates have been top notch to these ears. Seeing him live with One For All and leading his own quartet has also been quite rewarding. I had forgotten about his apprenticeship with Charles Earland before you brought that up. Certainly, I think his long association Harold Mabern has probably also helped with his development, too.

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Hm. I thought I'd be all over this one when it was announced, but looking at what's included started me thinking. I have a cd issue of the Town Hall Concert, the 2 lp Ulysse/East Coasting 2 LP set, the original 2 lp Jazz Workshop issue of Mingus at Monterey (plus a 2 lp Japanese reissue of same), and a Japanese lp reissue of My Favorite Quintet.

So it looks like there's about an hour and 40 minutes of music I don't have. Tough call if I want to spend $102 + shipping, not to mention the space that the Mosaic Box will take up.

Earlier on in my life, I'd have gone for it without thinking. Now, I'm not so sure.

I used to own the he 2 lp Ulysse/East Coasting 2 LP set, but several minutes of a Mingus solo were excised to fit it onto LP. The Mosaic set restores it.

Actually I think it was less than thirty seconds removed.

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I think Mingus would have punched Erik Alexander in the face.

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I think Mingus would have punched Erik Alexander in the face.

There's lot of people he would have punched in the face, including the great Jimmy Knepper (whose chops were wrecked for at least for a time by a blow from Mingus' fist). I've always been curious as to who the sideman was who carried a revolver on stage when he played with Mingus.

BTW, Eric A. is a he**uva player IMHO.

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I've always been curious as to who the sideman was who carried a revolver on stage when he played with Mingus.

Dannie Richmond?

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Richmond is also my recollection.

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I seldom (ever??) disagree with Lon, but this reminds me of some students I've had who wrote badly. When I corrected their papers, they objected, arguing that they should have "artistic license." I told them that a license was something you had to earn. Only once you'd mastered the essentials could you take liberties with them. I've always felt the same about music. I don't always like the later stuff that Miles and Trane did, but I can respect it because I know that they knew what they were doing. They had earned the license.

I don't think this is an appropriate analogy. Unless we are talking about a creative writing class, the purpose of writing papers is to communicate clearly to the reader. There is no such clear-cut purpose to making music.

I am surprised that Ornette and Ayler's legitimacy as musicians is still questioned today.

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I seldom (ever??) disagree with Lon, but this reminds me of some students I've had who wrote badly. When I corrected their papers, they objected, arguing that they should have "artistic license." I told them that a license was something you had to earn. Only once you'd mastered the essentials could you take liberties with them. I've always felt the same about music. I don't always like the later stuff that Miles and Trane did, but I can respect it because I know that they knew what they were doing. They had earned the license.

I don't think this is an appropriate analogy. Unless we are talking about a creative writing class, the purpose of writing papers is to communicate clearly to the reader. There is no such clear-cut purpose to making music.

I am surprised that Ornette and Ayler's legitimacy as musicians is still questioned today.

I view it as very similar to the creative arts. While some people have no problem with the newer generation who (apparently) have limited ability to draw in correct perspective or to draw human figures before they move into more abstract areas (or who primarily work in computer generated art), I vastly prefer the earlier artists, such as Picasso or Matisse, who clearly had great technical abilities and then went abstract.

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And I personally think book learning is a bit overrated. Especially by the book learned and teaching. (No offense meant!)

Well, I think the past 30 years has certainly borne that out, with the "note perfect" recreations of the Miles Davis classic quintet sound, etc. Have heard a few thousand mainstream CD's from the last three decades that are technically proficient, but ultimately sound bloodless to me. Started with the rush by the majors to find the next Wynton Marsalis, and then extended to the first Wynton Marsalis when he decided that his recordings should be history lessons pulling in 60 years of styles (yawn...). I love "Live At Blues Alley", but everything since then has been different degrees of problematic. And the majors were looking for well-trained youngsters in spiffy hats, and a lot of pretty good musicians were recording as leaders years before they should have (Antonio Hart, Geoff Keezer, Javon Jackson, Roy Hargrove, David Sanchez, Joey DeFrancisco, the list goes on and on and on). All technically proficient, all ultimately dull in those recordings. Interestingly, one young guy who did catch my ear, Christopher Hollyday, instantly faded away into oblivion. And another group that seemed above it was Blanchard/Harrison, because Blanchard is such a good writer. But overall, something has been lost by academia replacing the apprentice system. Of course, there probably aren't enough opportunities to play anymore for the apprentice system to work. But I look at how strong someone like an Eric Alexander has been on his leader dates, and remember that he spent years playing with Charles Earland, etc. before recording as a leader.

I emceed a show in Chattanooga around 1990 when a young Brad Mehldau was playing with Christopher Hollyday (both men were born in 1970, so it might have been 1989 for the performance). The alto saxophonist burned out his audience by playing everything uptempo, he didn't know how to pace a set but displayed show technical mastery and played some good solos. Mehldau made a greater impression on me that night.

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I saw the same group in an outdoor show at Penn's Landing, and Mehldau had a courageous night. He started the night playing one style of solo, but he (and we) quickly realized he had a dreadfully out of tune piano (Waldron at the Five Spot with Dolphy and Little out of tune, for those who understand the reference), and he then changed his whole style to these nice, compact, Cedar Walton with the 1963 Jazz Messengers type of solos which the piano was much more forgiving on. As for me, I don't really want to hear 19 year old alto players doing ballads, because it tends to be painful!

Edited by felser

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I just love the stop-start way the group does the head to Peggy's Blue Skylight on Disc 7 - just brings out the beauty of this melody!!!

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I'm giving my trumpet-playing 19 year old nephew Graham Armstrong six Mingus discs as his Christmas present. It will be interesting to learn his impressions. He mostly knows contemporary jazz.

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Does anyone know who much was edited from the end of Dolphy's solo on So Long Eric at the Town Hall Concert? Priestley doesn't mention it in the booklet, but I think there's an audible edit at around 15.36 as the band decelerate from the double-time section and the theme statement immediately reappears. At Amsterdam, Eric solos for several more minutes after the double-time section.

Edited by docwilko

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Please, can you tell me, if that Mosaic box set (7 CD) includes the quintet date from Mai 13th 1965, Minneapolis ?

If I´m right, the tunes from that date might be "So long Eric" , a ballad medley including "She´s funny that way, Embraceable You, Old Portraits", and "Cocktails for Two" ?

Once it might have been an LP titled "My Favourite Quintet" on the french "America Label", but it seems it never was reissued on CD.

I´d purchase that box only for that Minneapolis date, since I think I got the other material (the dates with Dolphy, the great "Right Now at San Francisco Jazz Workshop", the "Mingus at Monterey" and the "UCLA 1965"......

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