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Larry Kart

John Swana's "Philly Gumbo"

84 posts in this topic

15 minutes ago, Peter Friedman said:

...Eric is, for me, one of the very best tenor players on the scene today.

And I have no doubt about that - and have no desire. neigh, ability,  to contest that assertion - which is why that version of "the scene" is pretty much repugnant to me.

If that is the best that "scene" has to offer to my life (my time, because what is life if not time?) , then please, keep them away from me, by all measures and by any means necessary. Whatever time I have left to pursue that type of music has already been done better, real-er, and documentation exists. My life is my time, my time is my life, and I still got a lot of shit to cover in whatever time I have left.  Eric Alexander adds nothing to my time that isn't already there. Tick-tock-tick-tock, time waits for no one, and I for damn sure ain't waiting on Eric Alexander. Hell, I could spend the rest of my time getting into Bartok, or even Brahms. Never mind Berio. And never mind ALL KINDS of String Quartets, or mid-30s swing players who never got out of the bop era alive, hell I figure I got about 20 or so years left, more or less, all things being equal, but the necessary amount of time to do just that, I don't have, no matter how long I live. But I got some time for some of that, to not waste that time. I for damn sure ain't got time for Eric Alexander, literally do not have the time. Nor Grant Stewart too, if push comes to shove. But at least Grant Stewart has good hair.

I mean, I totally get and respect that other people do have that kind of time and are rewarded by spending it. Your life- your time - belongs to you and you alone, and your choices are respected as such. But please do not act like somebody who does not have that time for that thing is "prejudiced" or otherwise "missing out" on something. Bill Evans, Wynton Marsalis, Rolling Stones, etcetcetc - there is no deficiency in my life or my thought processes that has resulted in me not having time for that shit. My time - not your time, my time.

Time = life. Waste my time =waste my life.

I know what is out there to spend time on, and more to the point, I do not know what else is out there to spend time on. Do not know what might come along, I'm very happy having been on all the paths I've been on to this point, no regrets (although that prog-rock/Canterbury year or two exploration in the mid-70s has proven to be more useful as a "name recognition" tool than anything else), but NO GOOD OFFER WILL BE REFUSED from any world and/or any time.

So between what I do know I still need to get to and leaving room for the total unknowns and what may or may not come with them...Eric Alexander and Grant Stewart are, like....no.

Just, no.

 

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Posted (edited)

On 8/27/2020 at 2:45 PM, BillF said:

So Eric's position in the present day galaxy of jazz stars is completely misplaced? All those record company executives who helped him make scores of albums were wrong? A seasoned jazz listener with 63 years experience like me hasn't got a clue?

I'm confident I'd score 100% on a name-the-tenorman blindfold test featuring Eric and George Coleman.

Yes, of course Coleman is an influence, but also others like Dexter, Coltrane, Bird and Eddie Harris, whom Eric names. And after that there is of course Eric. A couple of phrases and I know it's him and can say that of very few of today's people.

Let's hope your new record purchase will lift the veil from your eyes (ears rather). ;)

 

 

The blindfold test would be no problem. Eric has a "harder" sound.  We are also forgetting a couple of other influences on Eric - John Coltrane of the Prestige era (Bill mentions 'Trane) and Sonny Stitt.  

P.S. I love Coleman, don't get me wrong - anyone remember that great Octet record "Big George" from the late 70's? I saw Coleman once at Toronto's Bourbon Street; powerful, but his sound doesn't overwhelm you; it's really more subtle compared to some other players.

1 hour ago, Peter Friedman said:

I very much enjoy Eric Alexander's playing. I hear a variety of influences definitely including Dexter. By no means does he sound like a copy of George Coleman to my ears. Have seen Eric live a number of times and have quite a few of his recordings.  

I may slightly prefer Grant Stewart's tenor playing, but Eric is, for me, one of the very best tenor players on the scene today.

 

Agreed. Eric and Grant have made three Criss Cross CD's together under the title "Reeds and Deeds." And yes, I've got time for both players. 

BTW, since his name has been raised, Grant Stewart's new Cellar Live recording is excellent IMHO. 

GRANT STEWART QUARTET - Rise and Shine

Edited by John Tapscott

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16 minutes ago, John Tapscott said:

The blindfold test would be no problem. Eric has a "harder" sound.  We are also forgetting a couple of other influences on Eric - John Coltrane of the Prestige era (Bill mentions 'Trane) and Sonny Stitt.  

P.S. I love Coleman, don't get me wrong - anyone remember that great Octet record "Big George" from the late 70's? I saw Coleman once at Toronto's Bourbon Street; powerful, but his sound doesn't overwhelm you; it's really more subtle compared to some other players.

Agreed. Eric and Grant have made three Criss Cross CD's together under the title "Reeds and Deeds." And yes, I've got time for both players. 

BTW, since his name has been raised, Grant Stewart's new Cellar Live recording is excellent IMHO. 

GRANT STEWART QUARTET - Rise and Shine

Nice to hear from you, John and Peter.

To change direction slightly in this thread for a moment, I recently discovered that my friend Malcolm Frazer had had Grant Stewart playing in his front room and  had forgotten (?) to include me in his invitation list. Particularly disappointing as Grant has long been top of my "would-like-to-see" list. At least I, like you, can watch these videos that Malcolm made:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qU9pDQR9ZhU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDBHAjP-TVs

 

 

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You can see Grant Stewart live tomorrow (Sunday). Grant's Quartet will be at Smalls Jazz Club.  You can stream it at no cost.

Smalls does a concert with a wide range of musicians every single day that can be streamed. Google Smallslive to get the information.

We purchased a connector that allows us to connect our laptop (could use tablet or phone) to our large screen tv. During the past 4 months we have viewed via streaming,about a dozen live concerts from Smalls.

 

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Posted (edited)

30 minutes ago, Peter Friedman said:

You can see Grant Stewart live tomorrow (Sunday). Grant's Quartet will be at Smalls Jazz Club.  You can stream it at no cost.

Smalls does a concert with a wide range of musicians every single day that can be streamed. Google Smallslive to get the information.

We purchased a connector that allows us to connect our laptop (could use tablet or phone) to our large screen tv. During the past 4 months we have viewed via streaming,about a dozen live concerts from Smalls.

 

Nice, Peter. I have watched some Smalls streaming. The problem is the 5 hour time difference between there and here. I'm not particularly a night bird! :)

Edited by BillF

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Posted (edited)

I've had the privilege of seeing Grant Stewart live an in person at Smalls (obviously several years ago). After seeing him live, I've seemed to pick up anything he's on. Great show and great experience.

FYI I'm also a fan of Eric Alexander and have seen him live with One For All. Since I'm too young to have seen the original masters at their prime, I perhaps am more inclined to appreciate and even be influenced by the those living the scene today. Who knows. Perhaps it is a function of, for example, only having seen a shell of Lou Donaldson at his age live. [shrugs] Sonny Rollins on the other hand was still bringing it even ~five years ago when I saw him.

Maybe my perspective is skewed given my age. I'm just happy people are still making vibrant music and this jazz music we all love is managing to carry on. 

As for Smalls I've been a longtime financial supporter and may even sponsor a show one of these days. It's a great venue and I always try to visit when I am visiting New York.

Edited by David

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" I'm just happy people are still making vibrant music and this jazz music we all love is managing to carry on."

Well, I'm not that happy that people are making music that more or less imitates vibrant music. If such imitative music leads you to return to and explore its sources, good -- those sources are readily available, even if the men who created them are no longer alive (or even if, in more than a few cases, they still are). But the ability to distinguish the original from the would-be reproduction is is not unimportant, no? In particular -- and I admit that here it gets tricky, though I myself have no problem with it -- it can give one the ability to, in the case of a player who has been affected by and absorbed powerful  influences and yet has come out the other side as his own man (the late Clifford Jordan would be one example, the man you cited, Lou Donaldson, would be another; and what of all the tenor men who were powerfully swayed by Coleman Hawkins or Lester Young?) ... as I was about say, it can give one the ability to detect and sort out those artists' paths of assimilation from others and see just where and how their influences were transformed into each artist's own unmistakably genuine sensibility. In a world where one not only can't detect the difference between, say, Brew Moore, Bill Perkins, and Harry Allen but also is forbidden to say that there are such differences, I might as well slit my wrists.

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BTW, there was the case of Han van Meegeren (see Wikipedia), the 20th Century forger who created a great many fake Vermeers and reaped a good-sized fortune from selling them -- this process fueled in good part because Vermeer left behind  distressingly few paintings. Because van Meegeren was such a talented forger, and thus in some respects a highly talented painter per se, there were some who said "So what's the difference between a genuine Vermeer and a Vermeer that van Meegeren faked/made up?"

Well one simple difference would be that Vermeer was Vermeer and Van Meegeren was Van Meegeren -- which meant, among other things, that any genuine Vermeer we do have was an expression of Vermeer's sensibility, of who Vermeer actually was, and thus was to some degree connected to all prior and subsequent  genuine Vermeer paintings in a continuing narrative, if you will. But Meegeren's fake Vermeer's were expressions only of Van Maeegeren's desire to imitate Vermeer and his ability  to do so in a manner that would fool many experts. Further, any Vermeer that was genuine that differed from earlier Vermeers would be evidence of a possible notable change in Vermeer's sensibility, while none of Van Meegren Vermeer's could be allowed by him to differ much if at all from the "Vermeers" he had already forged and put on the market.

 

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Larry, EA only has a " desire to imitate ... and his ability  to do so in a manner that would fool many experts."???

That's unbelievably harsh not to mention completely unsupportable.  

And no one is saying anything that should make you want to slit your wrists.

 

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Oh Chirst, now Harry Allen's in the mix...all this ephemeral flippancy of insufficient individual identity springing forth from an apparently good record with the definitely good Bootie Barnes?

Proof perhaps that the cream starts at the top but the flatulence keeps rising forever?

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13 minutes ago, Dan Gould said:

Larry, EA only has a " desire to imitate ... and his ability  to do so in a manner that would fool many experts."???

That's unbelievably harsh not to mention completely unsupportable.  

And no one is saying anything that should make you want to slit your wrists.

 

I didn't say that EA has a desire to imitate -- that's what I said  Van Meergren had; he was a forger, that was his practice. I only brought up Van Meergren so I could make the point that with Vermeer there was a continuity of personal expression; with Van Meereen, for all his skills, there was not.

 EA may have no desire to imitate, I can't read this mind, but IMO that is more or less what I think he does; and so far in my listening experience without the saving grace, as in the examples of other players I cited above (Clifford Jordan, Lou Donaldson, Brew Moore, Bill Perkins), of taking what in his model or models appeals to him and transforming into his own personal expression of who HE is. The latter process is how genuine influence in art works, and it does so quite beautifully and effectively, always has.

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1 hour ago, Larry Kart said:

 But Meegeren's fake Vermeer's were expressions only of Van Maeegeren's desire to imitate Vermeer and his ability  to do so in a manner that would fool many experts.

 

1024px-EmmausgangersVanMeegeren1937.jpg

I would argue (have read that elsewhere and found it convincing) that even if simply fooling people was van Meegeren's intention, there is something about (e.g.) this painting which is genuinely expressing the sensibility of 1937... (e.g. it has a bleakness which is not in the real thing... it's easy to believe that this guy comes from generation of socialst realism etc).

back to the original topic: played the Swana album a few times over the past few days, it's great, thanks for the recommendation...

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16 minutes ago, Larry Kart said:

I didn't say that EA has a desire to imitate -- that's what I said  Van Meergren had; he was a forger, that was his practice. I only brought up Van Meergren so I could make the point that with Vermeer there was a continuity of personal expression; with Van Meereen, for all his skills, there was not.

 


What was the point then of bringing up these two artists in this context, then to be comparing EA to the forger? No you didn't say it explicitly but that's the only way to read that second post.

Years ago we had a conversation about Scott Hamilton and his influences. I am legitimately curious about how you would react to Scott as he performs now but that is another tangent.  Actually - this was a tangent from Swana's CD to a different CD with EA so what the hell. Here's a brand new Scott Hamilton performance:

Do you hear someone with a personal expression yet? 

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36 minutes ago, JSngry said:

 

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Alexander's problem is not the imitation part - as others rightly point out, he's not JUST a George Coleman clone - but it's jsut that the guy has no imagination. None. Zero. Extraordinarily competent, swings well enough, all the means to say something but unfortunately absolutely nothing to say. Nothing.

Scottt Hamilton really bugged me the same way for a long time until finally, for whatever reason, it seemed like he finally let the copyist drop off and let the individual (such as it was) come outside and play. And then he stopped bugging me, and I could, in limited amounts, actually enjoy him.

Alexander is always on all the records these days, at least the ones that get played on local jazz radio, and I can always tell it's him because he bugs me in the same way every time out, for the same reasons - so gifted in tools, so empty in to what use those tools are put, and always, still, now, and probably always, almost sounding like George Coleman.

But then there's Houston Person - never a heavyweight of a tenor player but one of the most personal voices "on the scene today" (and really, the notion of "the scene today" is laughable, there's no scene, there's at best a spot or two) but you know, Houston Person made a LOT of records becuase Bob Prter wanted him to, not becuase he was ready to step up as a "major creative voice" or anything. But Houston Person kept making records, ALL kinds of records, and one day, eventually, that little bit of stick up his ass dropped out, and there was Houston Person, not really a "better player", just a "better voice".  One critical layer of constriction finally got shed, and it made some of the all the difference in the world.

That looseness, that comfort of knowing that finally you got your own thing, even if it's not particularly "original" in it's components but it still comes out of you and nobody else...I don't get that out of Eric Alexander to this day. I'm sure he does feel it, else why otherwise would he keep doing it? But I don't hear it or feel it, and in the end, that's ok, because apparently outside of a few people on this board, what anybody thinks about Eric Alexander is not critically important except between him and the people who can get him paid as either buyer or seller, which is really how it should be.

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14 minutes ago, Dan Gould said:


What was the point then of bringing up these two artists in this context, then to be comparing EA to the forger? No you didn't say it explicitly but that's the only way to read that second post.

Years ago we had a conversation about Scott Hamilton and his influences. I am legitimately curious about how you would react to Scott as he performs now but that is another tangent.  Actually - this was a tangent from Swana's CD to a different CD with EA so what the hell. Here's a brand new Scott Hamilton performance:

Do you hear someone with a personal expression yet? 

I explained in a preceding post what my point was in bringing up Van Meergren; it was to explain one of the reasons why the genuine artist's works differ from those of the imitator (in this extreme case a deliberate forger) -- that the former are to some degree going to be part of a continuing narrative of that artist's self expression while the latter are not or are far less likely to be such. Patterns/narratives of self-expression are among the things in all art that interest me.

 Will lsten to the Hamilton clip but will admit that though I haven't followed him that much through the years, I recall one album from the past, a pairing with Scott and Gerry Mulligan, where the quality and genuineness of Scott's work seemed undeniable to me.

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2 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Alexander's problem is not the imitation part - as others rightly point out, he's not JUST a George Coleman clone - but it's jsut that the guy has no imagination. None. Zero. Extraordinarily competent, swings well enough, all the means to say something but unfortunately absolutely nothing to say. Nothing.

Scottt Hamilton really bugged me the same way for a long time until finally, for whatever reason, it seemed like he finally let the copyist drop off and let the individual (such as it was) come outside and play. And then he stopped bugging me, and I could, in limited amounts, actually enjoy him.

Alexander is always on all the records these days, at least the ones that get played on local jazz radio, and I can always tell it's him because he bugs me in the same way every time out, for the same reasons - so gifted in tools, so empty in to what use those tools are put, and always, still, now, and probably always, almost sounding like George Coleman.

But then there's Houston Person - never a heavyweight of a tenor player but one of the most personal voices "on the scene today" (and really, the notion of "the scene today" is laughable, there's no scene, there's at best a spot or two) but you know, Houston Person made a LOT of records becuase Bob Prter wanted him to, not becuase he was ready to step up as a "major creative voice" or anything. But Houston Person kept making records, ALL kinds of records, and one day, eventually, that little bit of stick up his ass dropped out, and there was Houston Person, not really a "better player", just a "better voice".  One critical layer of constriction finally got shed, and it made some of the all the difference in the world.

That looseness, that comfort of knowing that finally you got your own thing, even if it's not particularly "original" in it's components but it still comes out of you and nobody else...I don't get that out of Eric Alexander to this day. I'm sure he does feel it, else why otherwise would he keep doing it? But I don't hear it or feel it, and in the end, that's ok, because apparently outside of a few people on this board, what anybody thinks about Eric Alexander is not critically important except between him and the people who can get him paid as either buyer or seller, which is really how it should be.

Wow, no imagination. If that's true of such "an extraordinarily competent" player, then I may be underrating or misunderstanding EA -- because to have all those tools and no imagination, "absolutely nothing to say," would be quite a feat. We've had post-modern players before, but post-imagination players? 

 Actually, aside from my annoying tendency to say "Carthage delenda est" over and over,  I think that what Jim says above about Houston Person and "voice" is important. I agree completely about the importance of "voice" in general and its relevance to the things we've been talking about on this thread but remain somewhat nonplussed, although I do it myself all the time, about how one estimates the presence or the absence of "voice." Jim speaks of how it happened for him with Houston Person, and I've had similar experience there. But what specifically did the conversation between our selves and first Person's yet to be "voiced" self and then his  eventually "voiced" self consist of? How did we detect, or think we had detected, the difference?

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 How it happens for me with anybody is when I sense that there's been just that scintilla of a degree of seperation removed  between template and self. A post-Piinochio state of being, and pointing out ASAP that at least as often as not, we are our own Gepetto.   

Influences are hardly the problem for anybody.

Also, this is The Golden Age Of Post-Imagination, and not just in music 

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Track Two of Swana's "Bright Moments," "Chillin Out": EA takes the theme, Dave Hazeltine solos, Stewart next, followed by EA. On the one hand this is just me, but I think it would be fair to say that Stewart's solo primarily consists of (spontaneously?) linked melodies,while EA's solo is primarily made up of licks. You may find EA's licks attractive/interesting, but licks is licks (if you agree that that is what they are), and licks for me more or less come from the lick factory.

 

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About the Scott Hamilton clip, it doesn't strike me as particularly emulative but I didn't find it very interesting -- warm, amiable, but rather too low key for my taste. BTW, by low-key I don't mean choice of tempo or mood but rate and force/flow of ideas.

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1 hour ago, Larry Kart said:

... EA's solo is primarily made up of licks. You may find EA's licks attractive/interesting, but licks is licks (if you agree that that is what they are), and licks for me more or less come from the lick factory....

and here is where I have to speak very carefully, but...it's not entirely unreasonable to look at "George Coleman" as nothing but (or almost nothing but) a one-man lick factory...I had to listen to a lot of him for a long-ish time to get past that about him. But that has been, for a very long time, sort of what he bases his playings on - licks of some variety. And if he's not careful, there would be whole solos that were really elaborate running of licks and sequences across keys that were dazzling as long as you didn't bother to expect anything else.

But, about George Coleman:

  • he came from a very solid "blues" background, it was his original/native tongue, in the voice as it is for all of us, our voice we grew up hearing being one that we never really  lose
  • he also knew better than to do JUST that one thing with the licks. well, he often knew better , not always.
  • and most importantly - he did it with an end in sight, he knew there was "the other side" to all of that, and he got through there.

But you talk about he Golden Age Of Post-Imagination...A George Coleman incompletely considered/understood could easily be seen as one of the Accidental Predictors of it.

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Nice account of Coleman, Jim. His licks had a cumulative force at best. There was pressure in that hose.

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I try to think about this shit before going off on somebody, really, I do.

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I should try to think harder beforehand myself.

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