Dmitry

How do you define genius , as it pertains to jazz?

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Within the realm of this genre, which musicians and composers would you label as geniuses, and why? What are your criteria for a musical genius?

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I feel like genius -- such as it exists -- necessitates that someone is able to pull together concepts from a variety of experiences and is able to create and organize on terms that go beyond the single dimension of artistic output. In other words, a musical genius could very easily transliterate their creations into other fields, and those connections should be easy to see. 

In this music I think of Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor, Bill Dixon, Misha Mengelberg, Bengt Nordström, François Tusques, Derek Bailey, Evan Parker, John Stevens, Tony Oxley, Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell...

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Yeah, genius needs no adjective in front of it.

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Wow. What's a genius? For me it's Eric Dolphy, because he took the freedom to express himself in his own way, like Mingus did with his opinions on politics. Don't forget his compositions.

 Bird, because he changed the jazz, searching new ways.....The same for Trane and Ornette. To name a few.....

 

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I think a genius is someone who plays what sounds like a new solution to a problem, a fresh, new approach, that is instantly recognizable as "the next step forward."  It is truly bound up in the person - it is not "inevitable," and perhaps would not exist if that person had not come along.  Thelonious Monk is a good example - he put forward a new approach that others could use in their own playing.  Coltrane, too, in the way he led the power approach to playing.

Some caveats:

Genius is not eternal.  It erupts, maintains for a few years, then declines.

Genius has to be useful and enjoyable.  Many people are labeled geniuses who are just annoying.  On the classical side, Harry Partch comes to mind.  On a parallel note, mental illness should not be confused with genius.  

Some jazz musicians/composers/arrangers who I would consider geniuses: Lester Young, Fletcher Henderson, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Jimmy Smith.

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4 hours ago, Dmitry said:

Within the realm of this genre, which musicians and composers would you label as geniuses, and why? What are your criteria for a musical genius?

Ray Charles. :g

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2 hours ago, jlhoots said:

Miles Davis

yes, so much of a genius that he somehow circumvented my list ! 

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I guess I might say that "genius" involves taking a premise that the general population does not even recognize as possible and then not only creating it, but proving it to be valid, not necessarily immediately, but eventually.

Past genius there is genius as evolution, don't just prove the premise but develop it, evolve it. "1" is pretty much meaningless unless/until there becomes "2". If 1 & 2 follow from the same source, so much the better.

I guess you can have genius without creativity, there are plenty of people who don't exhibit the geius of creativity, but do have the genius of taste...perhaps that's "art". Genius and "art" are, like, two circles of a Venn diagram, they only sometimes interest. Same thing with "skill", sometimes, not always, although a skill that is specific to a particular genius/art and none other should be appreciated for its uniqueness, which may or may not involve genius and/or art.

My personal geniuses....Bach, Beethoven. Pops. Bird/Bud. Ornette. James Brown. Phil Spector. Warne Marsh. Prez. Cecil. Sonny. Elvin. Duke. Firesign Theatre. There's more, but not that many more. "Genius" is a word that's like "awesome". 99% of what it's applied to is not really that. Most of it is skills and work.

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I think any genius is someone who has an original idea.  Einstein is considered a genius because he thought of his theory of relativity before anyone else did.

So in jazz, I think a good example would be A Love Supreme.  That is not a favorite of mine, but it is unlike what came before it, so it is a work of genius.

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I think there are different kinds. One kind tells us things we already knew but didn't know we knew - or as Richard Gilman said, this kind of genius "tells us the next thing we will be thinking." Like Bird, Beckett. Prince. Miles. 

Another just has visions which they are able to express, and that describe new relationships between existing forms.

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I tend toward GA Russell's idea, so I differentiate between "brilliance" and "genius." Brilliant musicians excel and do original things within a context. For me, Prez was brilliant, but not necessarily a genius. A genius does something truly original, something that hasn't been done before. I don't think there have been many of those: Armstrong, Ellington, Mingus, Coltrane, and yes, Miles. Maybe Monk.

 

 

gregmo

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2 hours ago, gmonahan said:

I tend toward GA Russell's idea, so I differentiate between "brilliance" and "genius." Brilliant musicians excel and do original things within a context. For me, Prez was brilliant, but not necessarily a genius. A genius does something truly original, something that hasn't been done before. I don't think there have been many of those: Armstrong, Ellington, Mingus, Coltrane, and yes, Miles. Maybe Monk.

 

 

gregmo

"A genius does something truly original, something that hasn't been done before" = Pres.

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I'll let MacArthur folks decide who's a genius and who's not. I'm happy just listening to the music.

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Oh geez, I left out Monk. By any standard, Monk. And not just "Genius Of Modern Music" genius. real genius, created a reality that becomes more true as time goes by, Alpha and Omega, Monk's music is.

2 hours ago, paul secor said:

I'll let MacArthur folks decide who's a genius and who's not. I'm happy just listening to the music.

They'll decide who gets money, that's about it. Time will decide who's a genius and for how long.

MacArthurReturnsLeaf.jpg

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Roscoe, I forgot Roscoe too. Meets all criteria. Braxton, too.

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Sun Ra & LesterBowie and i don't know if Coleman Hawkins has been mentioned

Edited by uli

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17 hours ago, mjzee said:

I think a genius is someone who plays what sounds like a new solution to a problem, a fresh, new approach, that is instantly recognizable as "the next step forward."  It is truly bound up in the person - it is not "inevitable," and perhaps would not exist if that person had not come along.  Thelonious Monk is a good example - he put forward a new approach that others could use in their own playing.  Coltrane, too, in the way he led the power approach to playing.

Some caveats:

Genius is not eternal.  It erupts, maintains for a few years, then declines.

Genius has to be useful and enjoyable.  Many people are labeled geniuses who are just annoying.  On the classical side, Harry Partch comes to mind.  On a parallel note, mental illness should not be confused with genius.  Some jazz musicians/composers/arrangers who I would consider geniuses: Lester Young, Fletcher Henderson, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Jimmy Smith.

I like a lot of what's in this post, particularly Genius has to be useful and enjoyable.  Which seems to me to make the issue Jim Sangrey raised, of who's deciding who gets paid irrelevant. If it IS indeed useful and enjoyable, the creator will get paid. Armstrong, Ellington, Hawk, Bird never had any trouble getting paid good money. I doubt if Ornette or Monk did either.

At the same time, however, so much of what everyone has been saying is predicated on the notion that progress is what it's all about. This is a local problem confined to the western world. Except insofar as it's been influenced by the west, the rest of the world doesn't give a toss about progress; in fact they'd greatly prefer things NOT to change. And you can include in the non-west, all those in the west who 'don't know anything about art, just know what they like'. And so the question arises; by what standards do we who are pronouncing on this consider our opinions to be better than those of the other group?

Now, if you're, like me, playing on the OTHER team, you'd pick a different bunch entirely; Gene Ammons, Sonny Criss, Wild Bill Davis, Jaws, George Freeman, Ike Quebec etc etc.

MG

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If genius has to be "useful and enjoyable", then a good dog is a genius.

bgd_lab_i.jpg

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6 hours ago, JSngry said:

If genius has to be "useful and enjoyable", then a good dog is a genius.

bgd_lab_i.jpg

Note that the thread title includes the words 'as it pertains to jazz'.

MG

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I can understand enjoyable, but where exactly does "useful" come into play in music?

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I like Clifford's approach

I will add Joe Maneri and his son Mat plus Agusti Fernandez & Paul Bley for two amazing pianists

new potential younger voices like Nate Wooley, Mary  Halvorsen & Ches Smith

I hear it in them and others but we all hear differently or some don't hear it or listen at all.....

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2 hours ago, The Magnificent Goldberg said:

Note that the thread title includes the words 'as it pertains to jazz'.

MG

introC.jpg

13 hours ago, The Magnificent Goldberg said:

If it IS indeed useful and enjoyable, the creator will get paid.

flyingmachine4_l.jpg

GOOD GENIUS!!!

11924685.gif

 

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useful and enjoyable, so much genius, hands no needed!

Dizzy-Dog-Jazz.jpg

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