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Peter Friedman

The Writer Gene

7 posts in this topic

A good friend (jazz pianist) said to me a number of times, some musicians don"t have the writer gene. His point was that too many very fine jazz musicians write the tunes they play on gigs and record them as well. He believed a large percentage of those tunes tended to be sub-par. 

Excellent jazz players such as Zoot Sims and Stan Getz are examples of recognizing that writing tunes was not their strong suit.

 

There are many excellent writers among jazz musicians. Oftentimes the tunes they write rarely get played or recorded by other than themselves.

I just yesterday played a terrific Cd that had a variety of wonderful tunes. These tunes were written by Cedar Walton, Joe Henderson, Herbie Hancock, Tom McIntosh, Kenny Dorham, McCoy Tyner and Buddy Montgomery. Each tune was a delight. I would personally love to see musicians hunt out the really good tunes (not the ones we hear frequently) and perform/ record those tunes unless they are the rare individual who has the writing gene. 

just my opinion.

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They use their own songs because they don't want to pay the fees involved in recording (and even performing) other people's material.

I recorded an album with the clarinetist Joe Dixon, and he only used songs I wrote, because he didn't want to pay anybody any fees.

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Peter,

I sometimes have the same feelings.  I remember seeing musicians like Art Farmer, James Moody, and Tommy Flanagan live, and they almost always would play tunes by the likes of Cedar Walton, Tom McIntosh, and Fritz Pauer (in the case of Farmer).  I'd add Tadd Dameron and Duke Pearson to your list of musicians with the "writing gene." There are other obvious choices like Ellington and Strayhorn, together and separately.  Unfortunately, it's often the most common songs by them that get recorded.  

I remember seeing Stan Getz play a set in which most of the tunes were written by Victor Feldman.  It must have been around the time that his Blackhawk album was fairly new.

 

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I thought this was about musicians who also were writers (not of songs) like Bill Crow.

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And some have the knack for hiring decent writers.  The perfect example is Art Blakey, who had Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter, Bobby Timmons, Cedar Walton, and countless others.  But you need to recognize the talent, plus have the clout to lure them into the band.

 

I'm curious to know if anyone can answer this.  Does it cost more to record the pieces of living jazz composers vs.deceased ones like Gillespie and Coltrane (or for that matter, the likes of Gershwin and Porter)?

 

Edited by Milestones

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Gerry Mulligan and Dave Brubeck were excellent writers as well as musicians.

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Toronto bassist Steve Wallace writes wonderfully about jazz and music in general in his blog http://wallacebass.com/ and writes lovingly about his favourite sport, baseball...

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