Milestones

Branford slams Miles

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To the section of Branford's interview posted here, in his first mention of Miles, he says, "It's really interesting when you listen to the [1967] Miles Davis record Sorcerer. On the first song, "Prince of Darkness," Miles gets lost in the middle of the solo and he's a half beat off about the entire second half of the solo". He continues on with, "You can hear the band bring him back to where the beat is; you can hear Tony Williams banging out the tempo. And in the end, they just go where Miles goes. Because he is Miles".

I've listened to "Prince of Darkness" several times and I kinda hear Miles twisting the tempo here & there but I don't get why Branford Marsalis thinks that this isn't just something Miles wanted to do.

 

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1 hour ago, felser said:

Image result for talking heads

Hip hop/rap.

Edited by Stefan Wood

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1 hour ago, felser said:

Image result for talking heads

I love the Talking Heads, and they--like many other artists in different mediums--absorbed or displayed avant-garde influences.  Avant-garde influence often, perhaps inevitably, makes its way into the commercial mainstream.  But the Talking Heads also wrote catchy songs.  Sonic Youth, mentioned upstream and another band whom I love, also wrote songs with pop-oriented hooks (set in a very non-pop sound context,for sure)--or at least they were by 1985 and the release of Bad Moon Rising, several years before their major-label signing. (They never would have been signed on the strength of Confusion Is Sex.)  I listen to a fair amount of avant-garde jazz, and while I'm steering clear of the Marsalis good-bad-or-otherwise fracas, avant-garde jazz is never going to have commercial appeal.  I love the Art Ensemble of Chicago (have recently been making my way through the 21-CD ECM box), but they are never going to appeal to even a wide jazz audience.  I buy their records, I share my enthusiasm with other fans, but it's a more challenging form of jazz to listen to then, say, Diana Krall.  (And I don't say that to knock Diana Krall, who's actually an excellent musician).  The rewards, IMO, are certainly worth it.  How to support the jazz ecosystem for younger generations of avant-garde jazz musicians beyond simply buying their records and attending their concerts is an ongoing issue.  I don't engage with it much beyond that because I listen to just about everything on the jazz spectrum, past and present, and put some of my resources into trying to support the jazz scene in my own community.    

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2 hours ago, JSngry said:

 

I understand that they also experimented with Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong at one point!

And Arthur Blythe.... and Henry Threadgill...

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23 hours ago, chewy-chew-chew-bean-benitez said:

do we all agree that Kenny > Wynton?

Kenny Kirkland and Wynton Kelly?

I suppose I should say that I like the Branford set with the Dead. It's really strong, although one can't attribute that entirely to Marsalis's presence.

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17 minutes ago, clifford_thornton said:

Kenny Kirkland and Wynton Kelly?

I suppose I should say that I like the Branford set with the Dead. It's really strong, although one can't attribute that entirely to Marsalis's presence.

Branford was awful on 3/29/90 with the Dead. He stepped all over Bird Song, Dark Star & Eyes of the World. He apparently never even heard of these great compositions. 

Which musicians suck, Branford?

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My own view, FWIW, is that if Branford Marsalis had a different name, and watched his public statements more carefully, most people would  think he's pretty darn good, based on the music alone.  I don't like all of his music, but I do like some of it and I think he's quite a powerful and creative musician.  

On the other hand, I don't quite know what to make of Wynton  He certainly is or was, a great trumpet player, though I don't think his chops are quite what they once were.  But I never think his music quite lives up to its promise, or to even to the swinging values he professes to hold. While he may have won a Pulitzer, he's never made a record as good as this one, or at least one I want to return to as often (unfair comparison maybe, since he's no Duke Ellington).   

31F76J4z4kL._SX342_.jpg

 

 

Edited by John Tapscott

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2 hours ago, ghost of miles said:

...it's a more challenging form of jazz to listen to then, say, Diana Krall. 

if by "listen to" you start with the premise being able to stay awake and interested, I find it to be the other way around. But that's just me.

2 hours ago, Brad said:

He probably should have avoided that second glass of wine. 

That's what I was thinking too, actually. I pretty much agree with everything he says in that interview, especially about always being open to new stimuli.

But he talks like an artist and plays like a craftsman.

At some point, if you're going to be your own harshest critic about what comes out of you, that should extend to giving interviews as well.

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2 hours ago, ghost of miles said:

I love the Talking Heads, and they--like many other artists in different mediums--absorbed or displayed avant-garde influences.  Avant-garde influence often, perhaps inevitably, makes its way into the commercial mainstream.  But the Talking Heads also wrote catchy songs.  Sonic Youth, mentioned upstream and another band whom I love, also wrote songs with pop-oriented hooks (set in a very non-pop sound context,for sure)--or at least they were by 1985 and the release of Bad Moon Rising, several years before their major-label signing. (They never would have been signed on the strength of Confusion Is Sex.)  I listen to a fair amount of avant-garde jazz, and while I'm steering clear of the Marsalis good-bad-or-otherwise fracas, avant-garde jazz is never going to have commercial appeal.  I love the Art Ensemble of Chicago (have recently been making my way through the 21-CD ECM box), but they are never going to appeal to even a wide jazz audience.  I buy their records, I share my enthusiasm with other fans, but it's a more challenging form of jazz to listen to then, say, Diana Krall.  (And I don't say that to knock Diana Krall, who's actually an excellent musician).  The rewards, IMO, are certainly worth it.  How to support the jazz ecosystem for younger generations of avant-garde jazz musicians beyond simply buying their records and attending their concerts is an ongoing issue.  I don't engage with it much beyond that because I listen to just about everything on the jazz spectrum, past and present, and put some of my resources into trying to support the jazz scene in my own community.    

Quoted for truth. 

I had a while other diatribe in response, but ghost presented the perfect summation. 

The Talking Heads were anything but avant garde. They were certainly ahead of the curve, but they also wrote incredibly catchy, and easily digestable tunes. 

Psycho Killer and Burning Down The House were FM radio ready. 

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I'd not want to play the "avant-garde" card too strongly with Talking Heads, but I feel confident in saying that it is impossible to stress just how fucking weird that first album sounded in 1977. No, Psycho Killer was NOT FM radio ready in 1977. The first TH song I heard on FM was "Take Me To The River", and it was weird as fuck compared to the other Rock FM fare of the time (and only got played every once in a while. It, uh....stood out, let's put it that way). They were indeed "ahead of the curve", but the extent to which they actually built that curve themselves cannot be underestimated.

A few years ago, I took a week to revisit Talking Heads: 77 and it took me a few days to really get back to that place in my head that had never heard it before, that's how ingrained it has become. It's difficult to remember how the band sounded pre-Eno (and how fucking weird Eno himself seemed in those days). A lot of people, "rock fans" thought the whole thing was a joke. And it was NOT on the radio, not even a little, at least not anywhere I was. No surprise there!

Offhand, I can think of four "popular music" records in my lifetime that came on the radio that were like seriously WTF?!?!?!?! -  "Good Vibrations", "Dance To The Music", "Chocolate City", and "Flashlight". Those are still four pretty "avant-garde" records when looked at apart from the marketplace. Their constructions, their productions, their whole end game musically was just...off the wall and quite unprecedented (not the components, in their whole).  But the public was more than ready, so yeah, they made their own curve and negotiated it perfectly. Sometimes "avant-garde" takes root so fast that it doesn't stay avant-garde all that long. But seriously, how is something like "Chocolate City" anything but avant-garde? That one I had to pull of the road to process.

"Avant-garde" as a trailing indicator is basically a self-fulfilling prophecy, whatever the logic term for that is. True "avant-garde" is a leading indicator, it either is or isn't at the time it gets made. I try to imagine hearing Louis Armstrong for the first time, not in my life, but in the culture's life. Just what the hell did THAT sound like, even to people who had already heard "jazz"? I can't begin to imagine the shock that must have been, in any number of ways. Same with Debussy, Stravinsky, even Schoenberg, there is no part of any but the most isolated parts of Western Civilization where those "sounds" are not familiar. Not "popular" mind you, but familiar, that shit's just there, period. Be Bop too.

Anyway...Talking Heads: 77 weird as fuck in actual 1977. If you weren't there, it may be impossible to fully understand.

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I find it amazing this thread continues. Do I really want to be part of this?

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Not if you have something productive going on, no. Me, I don't, it's a vacation week here.

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Best of luck with that.

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I know, spend a vacation wasting time. Not very Avant-Garde!

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12 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

One thing absent from most discussions about the M clan is that, had they all been abducted by aliens on December 31, 1979, someone else would have assumed their place in the 1980s.  What happened with Wynton and jazz is very much reflective of what was going on in the US with regards to cinema, fashion, pop music, architecture, politics, and probably other spheres that I'm not thinking about.  In the wake of Vietnam and Watergate, it was as if the entire US experienced a self-imposed mass delusion that it was the 1950s again, America was prosperous, and everything was going to be OK.  Electing a mummified 1950s Dad for president was just one manifestation of this mentality.  The Marsalises were as much as symptom as they were a cause.  But I believe the same things would have happened, more or less, with or without them.   There were plenty of other well-dressed young men playing more conservative forms of "jazz."

I agree with the dint of what you're saying--and this is the crux of what I'm saying: the fundamental economic value of something like revivalist/young lion jazz is tied up in broader social and cultural mechanics.

As Jim sort of said (much more pithily) like five or six pages ago, a guy like Branford serves as a kind of cultural role player/placeholder--but as such it's impossible to disassociate that music from its historical location. Revivalist jazz was expedient in an era confronting the question and scope of American cultural hegemony--a question that kind of resolved itself center-right. I take no joy in saying that none of this, apropos of what some of the others on here are saying, necessarily applies to the value of the music as artistic content--but then we're never going to talk about, say, Archie Shepp independent of the nationalist rhetoric that he so overtly tied himself up in, so when the artist is thus preoccupied, why bother otherwise?

And lest it go unsaid, I absolutely get where some of you are coming from in terms of this discussion about avant-garde music and its mainstream appeal--but I get the distinct sense that setting up this distinction between avant-garde musics vs. mainstream stuff is itself an expedient way of ghettoizing music that we feel is subjectively inaccessible--as if economic failure, rather than any particular practical attribute, were a marker of what constitutes experimental or avant-garde music. 

I recognize that this is a bit of a truism, but weren't a lot of what we now consider to be mainstream musics considered avant-garde at some point? Did they cease to be "avant-garde" the minute the mainstream caught up with them--in which case where do we leave something like late Coltrane (respectably integrated into a healthy bit of the jazz mainstream at this point)? These distinctions seem arbitrary to me, especially when the second best selling jazz album of 2018 was Both Directions at Once--music that was called anti-jazz over a half-century ago. 

To put it another way, I know from reliable sources (who I can't quote here because I can't speak on their behalf(s)--I swear it's not because I'm being dorkishly cryptic) that there are certain musicians who would very easily be considered part of jazz's historical avant-garde whose asking prices eclipse those of some very mainstream artists (and I'm not talking straightahead guys--I mean Diana Krall and whatnot). If such individuals have been able to persevere for decades in an economy unresponsive to their artistic approaches--and wind up on the other side, in 2019, with better financial prospects--I can't imagine we're looking at a full, real picture of what it means to be viable, sellable product in 2019. 

Edited by ep1str0phy

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Speaking of "viable, sellable product" -- new technology helped boost the initial popularity of both Marsalis'.  In 1985, when CDs in long boxes began to appear in record stores (a premium product given only a couple rows of bin space) Columbia made sure that Marsalis product was recorded in DDD and among the few jazz titles in those bins.  And the sonics of those DDD recordings sounded amazing on our new CD players.  New product adoption came easily with those Marsalis discs.   

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3 hours ago, ep1str0phy said:

And lest it go unsaid, I absolutely get where some of you are coming from in terms of this discussion about avant-garde music and its mainstream appeal--but I get the distinct sense that setting up this distinction between avant-garde musics vs. mainstream stuff is itself an expedient way of ghettoizing music that we feel is subjectively inaccessible--as if economic failure, rather than any particular practical attribute, were a marker of what constitutes experimental or avant-garde music.

Yeah, using "avant-garde" as a noun instead of an adjective was not the best idea then. It's an even worse one now. Lazy thinking that gets everybody involved off the hook for what they do or don't do in real time.

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4 hours ago, ep1str0phy said:

I recognize that this is a bit of a truism, but weren't a lot of what we now consider to be mainstream musics considered avant-garde at some point? Did they cease to be "avant-garde" the minute the mainstream caught up with them--in which case where do we leave something like late Coltrane (respectably integrated into a healthy bit of the jazz mainstream at this point)? These distinctions seem arbitrary to me, especially when the second best selling jazz album of 2018 was Both Directions at Once--music that was called anti-jazz over a half-century ago.

Let's go back beyond that. I just got back from hearing a REALLY good performance of Beethoven 7, and in the program notes it talks about how plenty of "prominent" people in the music world at that time were appalled by it's "wandering" tonalities and other quirks. One guy said it sounded like Beethoven must have been drunk when he wrote it!

And listening to it as best as I could without hearing almost 300+ years of what came after, yeah, I totally get how unsettling it could have been. Our popular musics today are still very tonal, and mostly very diatonic-tonal at that. If they really care about tonality at all, that is, so much of it being more drone/groove based with tonality being something that's just there because hey, people be go for what they know, and if they don't know it, they ain't going for it unless truly inspired to find it. But if you can clear your head of that and recall how basic/predictable even the most "advanced" pop songs tend to be...whoa. Some of this Beethoven shit IS unsettling, where did THAT come from, and why the hell does it go THERE?

Point just being (and an admittedly pedantic point it is), there has been "avant-garde" music for as long as music has been about personal choice rather than tribal imperative, because there have ALWAYS been forward thinkers. Once people start to consciously choose, some will chose to move ahead. Pedantic Point - "avant-garde" literally means "advance guard" as opposed to "rear guard". It was a military term before it was an artistic one, and it referred to the troops that went ahead of the rest. The implication is obvious - if they are ahead of the rest, then there IS a rest, they're coming along, be patient. If a group of troops wanders off on their own and nobody comes, they're not ahead of anybody, are they? They lost. They're FUCKED!

Allowing this word to assume a permanent value as a noun...think about the implications of that - anything that is "out in front" is by inferencedoomed to be cut off from the natural, organic movement. The "avant garde" ceases to be ahead of the rest, they are made APART from the rest, they're lost, they're FUCKED. Who wants THAT? But also - the "rest" - they are then dis-incentivized to move as well. I ain't a-goin' THERE, noooooooosir, that's where you get KILLED! I'm onna stay right here yessir I am.

So yes, vocabulary as retardant, a very real thing, and weaponized in ways both naively and knowingly, never with "good" outcomes. It's harder to hit a moving target, they say. When the people who remember that are the ones aiming at the people who are not remembering that....

And yet, shit keeps evolving anyway. It's not new anymore, this noun-ed avant-garde, and as unpleasant as it may be to some, nobody can really say it's wholly unfamiliar. People have either heard it directly or indirectly. It's there, period.

and Beethoven - still avant garde as fuck!

 

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11 hours ago, JSngry said:

I'd not want to play the "avant-garde" card too strongly with Talking Heads, but I feel confident in saying that it is impossible to stress just how fucking weird that first album sounded in 1977. No, Psycho Killer was NOT FM radio ready in 1977. The first TH song I heard on FM was "Take Me To The River", and it was weird as fuck compared to the other Rock FM fare of the time (and only got played every once in a while. It, uh....stood out, let's put it that way). They were indeed "ahead of the curve", but the extent to which they actually built that curve themselves cannot be underestimated.

A few years ago, I took a week to revisit Talking Heads: 77 and it took me a few days to really get back to that place in my head that had never heard it before, that's how ingrained it has become. It's difficult to remember how the band sounded pre-Eno (and how fucking weird Eno himself seemed in those days). A lot of people, "rock fans" thought the whole thing was a joke. And it was NOT on the radio, not even a little, at least not anywhere I was. No surprise there!

Offhand, I can think of four "popular music" records in my lifetime that came on the radio that were like seriously WTF?!?!?!?! -  "Good Vibrations", "Dance To The Music", "Chocolate City", and "Flashlight". Those are still four pretty "avant-garde" records when looked at apart from the marketplace. Their constructions, their productions, their whole end game musically was just...off the wall and quite unprecedented (not the components, in their whole).  But the public was more than ready, so yeah, they made their own curve and negotiated it perfectly. Sometimes "avant-garde" takes root so fast that it doesn't stay avant-garde all that long. But seriously, how is something like "Chocolate City" anything but avant-garde? That one I had to pull of the road to process.

"Avant-garde" as a trailing indicator is basically a self-fulfilling prophecy, whatever the logic term for that is. True "avant-garde" is a leading indicator, it either is or isn't at the time it gets made. I try to imagine hearing Louis Armstrong for the first time, not in my life, but in the culture's life. Just what the hell did THAT sound like, even to people who had already heard "jazz"? I can't begin to imagine the shock that must have been, in any number of ways. Same with Debussy, Stravinsky, even Schoenberg, there is no part of any but the most isolated parts of Western Civilization where those "sounds" are not familiar. Not "popular" mind you, but familiar, that shit's just there, period. Be Bop too.

Anyway...Talking Heads: 77 weird as fuck in actual 1977. If you weren't there, it may be impossible to fully understand.

Not to my ears, but then again I grew up listening to The Beatles (mostly the more psychedelic stuff) and KISS. My sister always had Elton John or Hard Rock playing. My brother listened to the whole Chicago, Chuck Mangione lite-Jazz/Rock thing. My father loved Classical, and my mother was big into old school Country as well as Gospel. So in ‘77 I’d already developed a pretty eclectic ear. 

Frank Zappa sounded weird as fuck, the Talking Heads did not. 

11 hours ago, Chuck Nessa said:

I find it amazing this thread continues. Do I really want to be part of this?

Very insightful, as always. You always bring a wealth of knowledge to the table in every conversation. 

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you know it is a pretty insnane topic, I admit i dont undertstand most of it, these guys were never really on my radar.  i did see branford quartet once a long time ago.  i dinstincly recall him talking to a group of students before the show and he was saying how learning jazz cant be a learn-how-to-solo-in-30-days type thing.  it seemed sensible.  show didint wow me.  

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10 hours ago, ep1str0phy said:

I agree with the dint of what you're saying--and this is the crux of what I'm saying: the fundamental economic value of something like revivalist/young lion jazz is tied up in broader social and cultural mechanics.

As Jim sort of said (much more pithily) like five or six pages ago, a guy like Branford serves as a kind of cultural role player/placeholder--but as such it's impossible to disassociate that music from its historical location. Revivalist jazz was expedient in an era confronting the question and scope of American cultural hegemony--a question that kind of resolved itself center-right. I take no joy in saying that none of this, apropos of what some of the others on here are saying, necessarily applies to the value of the music as artistic content--but then we're never going to talk about, say, Archie Shepp independent of the nationalist rhetoric that he so overtly tied himself up in, so when the artist is thus preoccupied, why bother otherwise?

And lest it go unsaid, I absolutely get where some of you are coming from in terms of this discussion about avant-garde music and its mainstream appeal--but I get the distinct sense that setting up this distinction between avant-garde musics vs. mainstream stuff is itself an expedient way of ghettoizing music that we feel is subjectively inaccessible--as if economic failure, rather than any particular practical attribute, were a marker of what constitutes experimental or avant-garde music. 

I recognize that this is a bit of a truism, but weren't a lot of what we now consider to be mainstream musics considered avant-garde at some point? Did they cease to be "avant-garde" the minute the mainstream caught up with them--in which case where do we leave something like late Coltrane (respectably integrated into a healthy bit of the jazz mainstream at this point)? These distinctions seem arbitrary to me, especially when the second best selling jazz album of 2018 was Both Directions at Once--music that was called anti-jazz over a half-century ago. 

To put it another way, I know from reliable sources (who I can't quote here because I can't speak on their behalf(s)--I swear it's not because I'm being dorkishly cryptic) that there are certain musicians who would very easily be considered part of jazz's historical avant-garde whose asking prices eclipse those of some very mainstream artists (and I'm not talking straightahead guys--I mean Diana Krall and whatnot). If such individuals have been able to persevere for decades in an economy unresponsive to their artistic approaches--and wind up on the other side, in 2019, with better financial prospects--I can't imagine we're looking at a full, real picture of what it means to be viable, sellable product in 2019. 

“Subjectively inaccessible”? The Beatles vs Frank Zappa. Which is accesible, which one not so much? Miles Davis vs Peter Evans. Which one is accessible, which one not so much? There may be a borderline of subjectivity, a sort of accessible prime meridian. But those artists will be very few. 

As for genre’s/artists that were avant garde at the time that we consider mainstream now, can you provide some examples? 

Edited by Scott Dolan

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