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Teasing the Korean

Your Early Parameters for Buying or Avoiding Certain Jazz Albums

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34 minutes ago, JSngry said:

I actually had a little taste - a little taste - for Swing/Big Band, because that was what my folks played in the house that I liked... Glenn Miller records, yes, I liked that well enough. Louis Armstrong from the Glenn Miller Story OST, like that a LOT. Plus, my dad would make it a point to come into the room whenever sullivan had a Big Band on, so that reinforced for me that, ok, this is not as bad as all that, really, it isn't.

But "big bands", yeah, I had an uncle who was a stone big band freak who got ALL kinds of excited the first time the words "Stan Kenton" and "Woody Herman" came out of my mouth..out came the 78s and that was that. I got reinforcement along those lines, even if playing a Don Ellis record for him didn't go over so well. But, you know, when you're looking for support and knowledge, you don't put all your eggs in one basket, right? You take what you can use from where it's there, and what's not there, you look for someplace else.

As I mentioned, I had exposure to swing/big bands through my parents, including Ellington, Benny Goodman, and Glenn Miller.  And of course the Riddle/May charts heard with singers like Sinatra.

This provided a good context for stuff like Kenton, Don Ellis, Gerald Wilson, Legrand, Quincy Jones, Pete Rugolo, Oliver Nelson, Sauter Finegan, Shorty Rogers, Tadd Dameron, Gil Evans, and many others whom I discovered later.

I think another important thing about being exposed to the swing/big band stuff early on was understanding how jazz, pop, and show biz all intersected at one time.  This was an important reference point for me.

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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Back in 1955 I dug the excitement of the New Testament Basie band, but what really got to me was the sense in some recordings of individual instrumental personality/open-honest storytelling speech. A key instance was, from a Jazztone label collection, Peewee Russell's solo on Max Kaminsky's "Stuyvesant Blues." I could hardly believe what I was hearing:

 

Likewise with several Roy Eldridge recordings, and a bit later on Jackie McLean.

Many developments followed, but I've never lost my taste for what might be called "musical personhood."

 

 

 

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43 minutes ago, Teasing the Korean said:

I think another important thing about being exposed to the swing/big band stuff early on was understanding how jazz, pop, and show biz all intersected at one time.  This was an important reference point for me.

That uncle I mentioned earlier...I had learned about "Maynard Ferguson" at about the same time I did "Stan Kenton" (another weird confluence of time/place/stage band...in retrospect, a totally unlikely congruence of a lot of pieces being in one place at one time), so when Maynard started with his MF Horn series and I bought them, he flipped out, especially over "MacArthur Park"...and then, as Maynard's records got more and more "pop" oriented and I dropped out of them, he got all excited at a family gathering and said, "Jimmy! You won't believe who I heard on the radio the other day - MAYNARD FERGUSON"  Wow, Doyle, really? What record? "ROCKY! He's made a record of ROCKY and the radio's playing it, MAYNARD FERGUSON!!!!"

I figure he was getting that wrong (for several reasons), so I listen to a likely station - a non-Rockcentric Top 40 station (I guess they'd call it "Adult Contemporary" now?) - the next day until I heard it, and it took about an hour and a half, but there it was.

I like "MacArthur Park" a lot better than "Rocky", but yeah, sure enough, they were playing Maynard Ferguson on the radio, he did indeed have a hit record.

 

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14 hours ago, Teasing the Korean said:

I had Round Midnight and Kind of Blue before I had In a Silent Way, and before I heard Bitches Brew.  I also had Miles on the Charlie Parker Savoy box.

Not sure what you are asking about Dave Brubeck, though...

 

 

I wrote my personal "Brubeck experience" in my posting from Thursday ora 09:29 on page 1 ! That´s what I was asking. 

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I found big bands quite difficult. There was plenty of Glenn Miller on the radio in the late fifties. And later, when we live with my Grandma, I inherited some 78s from before my Auntie Bertha had left for California, including Hampton's 'Midnight sun'/'Ridin on the L&N' and a Gene Krupa number - 'Hop, skip and jump'. I loved the Hampton, but didn't know anything about it except that the L&N was an R&B type thing.

At work in 1960, already buying the MJQ and a couple of other things, including 'Fathead', a colleague asked me if I'd like to buy three jazz albums, two by Goodman and Armstrong's WC Handy. "What's not to like there?" I thought, so I handed over my three quid and took 'em home. The Armstrong was wonderful, but the Goodman, although it was pretty nice - and my Mum didn't mind me playing it - never really got to me. It was the two volume set from the Brussels Expo gig. 

So it was '65, when I bought Gerald Wilson's 'On stage' and THAT really HIT me. Everything was there that I liked, and very soon loved. I very soon bought his albums with Les McCann and Groove Holmes, and they turned me on to those players. Wilson was an education in two ways; the band, and these west coast players like Teddy Edwards and Paul Bryant.

MG

PS In the meantime, of course, there'd been 'One mint julep' and the Ray Charles big band. But I put Ray Charles in a different category from big bands in my mind.

By the late sixties, I'd bought Hank Crawford's 'After hours' LP and the title track was a knockout, so I looked into that tune and in sixty-nine ordered the Erskine Hawkins compilation of that name. Oh, WHAT a delicious band Hawkins had! That was and still is, my favourite big band.

MG

 

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6 hours ago, Gheorghe said:

I wrote my personal "Brubeck experience" in my posting from Thursday ora 09:29 on page 1 ! That´s what I was asking. 

Oh.  Well, his music didn't resonate with you.  We can all say that about particular artists.  

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5 hours ago, The Magnificent Goldberg said:

I found big bands quite difficult. There was plenty of Glenn Miller on the radio in the late fifties. And later, when we live with my Grandma, I inherited some 78s from before my Auntie Bertha had left for California, including Hampton's 'Midnight sun'/'Ridin on the L&N' and a Gene Krupa number - 'Hop, skip and jump'. I loved the Hampton, but didn't know anything about it except that the L&N was an R&B type thing.

At work in 1960, already buying the MJQ and a couple of other things, including 'Fathead', a colleague asked me if I'd like to buy three jazz albums, two by Goodman and Armstrong's WC Handy. "What's not to like there?" I thought, so I handed over my three quid and took 'em home. The Armstrong was wonderful, but the Goodman, although it was pretty nice - and my Mum didn't mind me playing it - never really got to me. It was the two volume set from the Brussels Expo gig. 

So it was '65, when I bought Gerald Wilson's 'On stage' and THAT really HIT me. Everything was there that I liked, and very soon loved. I very soon bought his albums with Les McCann and Groove Holmes, and they turned me on to those players. Wilson was an education in two ways; the band, and these west coast players like Teddy Edwards and Paul Bryant.

MG

PS In the meantime, of course, there'd been 'One mint julep' and the Ray Charles big band. But I put Ray Charles in a different category from big bands in my mind.

By the late sixties, I'd bought Hank Crawford's 'After hours' LP and the title track was a knockout, so I looked into that tune and in sixty-nine ordered the Erskine Hawkins compilation of that name. Oh, WHAT a delicious band Hawkins had! That was and still is, my favourite big band.

MG

 

Big bands were really easy for me to get into in the early 70s. There was a resurgence of the idiom, and almost all of it featuring updated material that reflected the changings of popular taste. Don Ellis, Gerald Wilson, the afore mentioned Maynard Ferguson, Woody Herman, Buddy Rich...Count Basie still going strong with his "swing machine" groove (and with Lockjaw on the gig when I first saw them in 1970!), Stan Kenton, and of course, Duke Ellington...that Great Paris Concert album came out in either my freshman or sophomore year o high school, and one of the band geek bought it for Cat Anderson, but OMG, that's one of the great Ellington albums, period, forever and ever. Afro-Eurasian Eclipse, another one. All these people were alive and making new music, no reason to avoid it, it wasn't for jitterbugging, that's for sure!

Then there were the "horn bands"...really just rock/pop bands with fancy arrangements for horn sections, but they fit well within the overall fabric of the time. A buddy of mine and me got into a tag-team game once, first one who could not come up with a jazz-roc and/or horn band, no matter how obscure or tangential, lost. The game went on a lot longer than either of us expected! Who won? I don't remember, but it was an epic battle, that much I remember!

I was also part of the generation that began to reap the benefits of the "stage band" movement, where band instructors weren't afraid to talk about this music (well, the part of it they knew about), and actually give it to their students to play. Our band had real Stan Kenton charts, purchased directly from Creative World, and we mostly sucked at playing them...but we had the experience of how that music worked. And of course there was a huge incipient movement for student-appropriate charts by people like Don Sebesky, Benny Golson, John LaPorta, ao. It was a great time to be a kid with a horn and a hip(enough) band director. You were encouraged to get in there!

Point just being that "swing" bands, yeah, that was my parents music, but by the time I began to engage with "big bands", it was a totally different landscape, one that was not at all retro...except that it kind of was, just because of the instrumentation. But it felt new, what with rock beats and electrical outlets for the bass and guitars and all that. And they were ALL touring, the college market was open and ready for business, Brubeck all over again. But I did catch the Kenton band playing an honest to god dance gig (after hearing them at 2-3 concert jobs), and the difference was...steep. But still, live big bands, playing for real people, paying customers, right there in front of you.

Fun, that's what it was!

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19 minutes ago, JSngry said:

I was also part of the generation that began to reap the benefits of the "stage band" movement, where band instructors weren't afraid to talk about this music (well, the part of it they knew about), and actually give it to their students to play. Our band had real Stan Kenton charts, purchased directly from Creative World, and we mostly sucked at playing them...but we had the experience of how that music worked. And of course there was a huge incipient movement for student-appropriate charts by people like Don Sebesky, Benny Golson, John LaPorta, ao. It was a great time to be a kid with a horn and a hip(enough) band director. You were encouraged to get in there!

What was it like before that?

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I don't know, I wasn't there, too young, didn't get to high school until fall of 1970, and we got a new band director who was a player himself. this guy wanted to get out there and let his best players play.. So, new charts, new rhythm section instruments, everything new, nothing from the old director's program.

But there had always been "dance band" charts for student bands, some of which might have been ok"? Our school had a library of them from the previous band directors, and they were nothing to get excited about. Glen Osser is a name that showed up a lot, and he did charts for Johnny Mathis and the like, but there were just basic dance band charts, thigs to play for your parents and shit, like an Ozzie & Harriet gig.

I forgot to add Gil Evans to the list of people who were making new records during the time, epic records,

Section playing, I still enjoy section playing. done right, it's a utopian collective creation experience of a better/higher good. Not done right, it's borderline fascism and/or dehumanizing manual labor. But done right....yeah.

 

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I do recall there also being some Neal Hefti charts, published (by Kendor?) charts of "Cute", "L'il Darlin'", and some things he had written for Harry James, like "Teddy The Toad"..."boogaloo" stuff, none of it relevant to our age group, none of it post-BS&T. etc. But it was there.

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8 hours ago, JSngry said:

I do recall there also being some Neal Hefti charts, published (by Kendor?) charts of "Cute", "L'il Darlin'", and some things he had written for Harry James, like "Teddy The Toad"..."boogaloo" stuff, none of it relevant to our age group, none of it post-BS&T. etc. But it was there.

The stage band angle is worth mentioning.  I was in a high school stage band in the late 70s/early 80s.  We were pretty well respected regionally, which probably says less about our ability than it does about the ears of the judges.  

Our repertoire was all over the map. As I was still discovering jazz, I remember playing some tunes like "Land of Make Believe" by Chuck Mangione and thinking to myself, "I don't ever want to own an album that sounds even remotely like this."  I thought the same of Maynard, although decades later, I appreciated his early-70s albums as Bizarro World pop music time capsules.

In terms of the music we played that I liked, the main two names were Neal Hefti, who I somehow knew had written the Batman theme, and Sammy Nestico.  We played Hefti's "L'il Darlin'" and Nestico's "Basie Straight Ahead."  This latter tune stayed engrained in my memory for decades, and I was happy to hear it again when I bought Inside the Score, in which the tune is featured.  I also remember playing a nice arrangement of "On Green Dolphin Street," but I don't remember the arranger.

Edited by Teasing the Korean

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I played in my HS Concert Band (Clarinet), so I was able to convince the band teacher to let me into the HS Stage Band.on guitar. It was a lot of fun, because I was the only one who could improvise in the band, so I got all the solos and played fills instead of comping (like I should have been doing). The band teacher was also the stage band teacher, and he was in the Army with Tadd Dameron, and showed me one of TD's tunes in TD's handwriting, that he wrote out for my teacher, who played the trombone.

We played all of the standard 'cornball' charts, and I learned a lot about what I didn't want to play and write. I wanted to be creative, man!:excited:

I even wrote my own chart for Monk's "Well You Needn't" for the band that we played at a concert. I was completely self taught in arranging, and it was a major PITA to transpose for all the instruments. I liked the weirdest sounding things back then, and had a section where the rhythm section dropped out, and I wrote the entire section using only the two Whole Tone scales. The teacher annoyed the hell out of me by writing "Mysterious and FUNKY!" on the horn parts for that section.I felt like he was trying to cornball up my great work of art!:o A friend of mine, who also didn't know what the hell he was doing, played a clarinet solo on it, and tried to sound like our hero, Eric Dolphy, but it sounded horrible, and i felt like I was in some type of Twilight Zone nightmare.:alien:

Of course, the audience gave me a standing ovation, but i just wanted to kill the clarinet player, and get out of there.:angry:

Then I saw an ad in the newspaper that got me very excited. Joe Dixon was putting together a band of the best HS players from the County, and forming a Neophonic Big Band. I auditioned, and got in, and we played only charts by his friends,, Rod Leavitt, Manny Albam, Johnny Carisi, and others. I was in heaven.

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1 hour ago, Teasing the Korean said:

The stage band angle is worth mentioning.  I was in a high school stage band in the late 70s/early 80s.  We were pretty well respected regionally, which probably says less about our ability than it does about the ears of the judges. 

There was a quantum leap in both available repertoire between the time I started and you started. Kendor was publishing a lot of stuff, including Thad Jones charts, and that was just for starters. Plus the whole "jazz education" thing just grew exponentially, among both available teachers, enthusiastic students, and no-longer paranoid parents.

I'm kinda glad that I was where I was when I was, because those of us who were into it (and believe it or not, there were about 10 of us total who were into at least some parts of it, and in a really small school like ours, it was a totally self-sufficient and self-justifying clique, ready to do battle with anybody and everybody who tried to throw shade on the band program at all. so we kinda went where we wanted to go with it, and the director was happy to stay out of our way while we did.

OTOH...I graduated high school not having learned one bit of even rudimentary theory, and no real lessons on the horn. Sure, I could feel my way around shit, but as far as actually KNOWING what I was doing, that came in college, and the degree to which I was behind the really prepared people was not insignificant.

All things considered, though, hey, it was a trip, one that I'm still on, and by now I couldn't do it any other way even if I wanted to.

But hey - exponentially better version here than by Sammy Davis, Jr.

And there were marching band arrangements too, Shaft was the first Crossover Hit of the Integration Era, at least where I lived, and that was no insignificant accomplishment. People today, they don't know what I'm talking about, I'm afraid...

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35 minutes ago, JSngry said:

OTOH...I graduated high school not having learned one bit of even rudimentary theory, and no real lessons on the horn. Sure, I could feel my way around shit, but as far as actually KNOWING what I was doing, that came in college, and the degree to which I was behind the really prepared people was not insignificant.

Our stage band director's heart was in the right place, but I wish he would have gone into contours of the tunes and arrangements as we were learning them.  For example, pointing out if it was an AABA tune, how many bars the intro had, who had the melody in the first A section, second, etc.  There was none of this.  It would have been very helpful.

I had a similar experience to yours when starting college, as I wrote in that other thread, of having not been properly assessed by the faculty.  I was miles ahead in some classes, and miles behind in others.  

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Our director was a gigging pianist for....forever, it seemed. He didn't go out of this way to teach us anything technical, but when he did, it was succinct. I asked him what "the bridge" of a song was, and I could see him trying to come up with a non-technical answer, and what he came up with was - the part in the middle that doesn't sound like the rest of the song.

Let me give him credit tho - he did try to start a theory class for his "better" students during an otherwise study hall period. But it was a small town, small school, "band parent" politics, so...people/majorettes were in there who had no idea why they were in there, and...shit fell apart as far as an organized attempt to educate about theory. Every once in a while, he'd drop some science on us along the lines of "dammit, Jim, you can't do THAT, becuase..." but usually he just got a kick out of watching us propel ourselves on our own enthusiasm, probably because, you know, who from HERE is actually going to pursue this stuff for very long, right? Well...at least one, and as far as I know, two. Possible three!

Plus, we had some of those old MMO records, the very first ones, so I could see what the changes were, even if I didn't have a clue that a Major or Minor chord were not determined by the black or white kets, you know, there were actual INTERVALS involved...learning that in, like, the first week of theory class was, like OH....NOW I SEE!!!! Like, ok, if a C Major chord is C-E-g, then a D Major chord is NOT D-F-A, even if they are all white keys, just like the C Major. WHO KNEW?!?!?!?!? :g

 

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I tended to gravitate to smaller bands when I started buying jazz in the early '70s.  I'd heard Goodman and Ellington growing up, and liked them fine, and even saw Ellington.  But part of the evolution as a more serious rock listener was to see the trees as well as the forest and I found that so much easier with smaller bands.  There were no hard 'n fast rules - I was a sketches fan early on for instance.  And as a blues/soul/R&B fan I had no aversion to horns, and bought a somewhat random variety of instrumentations.  But was basically a 4/5/6 players guy when I started buying jazz.  Economy of means, no more than what you need, was important to me and still is - you can use as many voices as you need, but they all need to be doing something necessary, no padding.  When I bought swing era stuff, which wasn't real often, it was stuff like the Goodman sextets.  And the few really large ensemble things tended to be ways of framing a soloist, like Miles with Gil or Gato Chpt.3.  I still am not a huge big band guy, mid-sized is where it's at to me, 6-10 is enough for more texture, counterpoint, whathaveyou, but every voice making a difference.  It wasn't well planned, and if it followed my developing interests as much as time & money allowed, it lead to some pretty big gaps = not that I should have had x, but I might have enjoyed it and eventually did.  I played a bit in a student led stage band in college, but was still struggling with the rudiments of playing my instrument and never developed into  a connoisseur of the fine art of section playing.  What I played in that band had little intersection with my listening at all, other than my undying love of Night Train.

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Posted (edited)

I was just shy of 21-years-old and started my collection with Bitches Brew, and followed the branches.  Then it was Kind of Blue and following those players.  This gave me two ways to go: post-bop/modal and fusion.  I was able to explore all kinds of major figures: Coltrane, Evans, McLaughlin, Hancock, Shorter, etc. 

Reading helped too.  A big one for me was the 101 Best Jazz Records by Len Lyons.  That gave me a sense of history from the beginning through most of the 1970s.  

Like most of us, I was able to find plenty of good stuff in the bargain bins, and of course the "twofers" were a great bargain.

Libraries, for sure.  In fact, libraries remain a major way to hear new and old jazz.

 

Edited by Milestones

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