Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
mjzee

I feel vindicated

44 posts in this topic

I remember way back when, maybe in the BNBB era (but making the point a few times since then), making a comment that new jazz musicians today should not put out albums consisting of only original compositions, and that are 70+ minutes.  Rather they should include a few standards on each album, so the listener can relate to what is being played, and understand the musician's style better (because the listener already knows the compositions).  I remember getting a lot of shade in response, accusations that I was trying to stifle creativity, etc.  

Today's Mosaic Gazette linked to an interview Cuscuna gave in 2011, and he echoes what I said:

I'll tell you what I miss most from the LP era, is the lack of burnout. When you bought an LP, or just pulled it off your shelf, rarely did you play both sides. If you played one side, you'd play an 18, 20-minute program of music. When you get a new CD you pop it and when I see 74 minutes pop up, I think woah this is unbelievable. And unless I'm listening to a set that I'm working on, I've never gotten through a whole CD of anything! It's just a different way of listening now, and more exhaustive. I think a lot of young musicians don't help themselves. If I've never heard of you, but I heard something on the radio that I like, don't give me 74 minutes of originals, brand new music, with no anchors to compare you to someone else and get a fix on. Give me 60 minutes and make 20 minutes of it compositions I know, so I hear how you deal with something that I know.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would have thought that in these days of streaming, listeners are even less likely to play a whole album (to the extent that the concept of an album even remains).

I can sympathize with the view on playing standards, though. Perhaps not necessarily from the Great Songbook, but as you say, material you can relate to.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, mjzee said:

new jazz musicians today should not put out albums consisting of only original compositions... Rather they should include a few standards on each album, so the listener can relate to what is being played

For a real relationship between artist and the audience, there needs to be some underlying speaking of whatever concerns the audience and the (in this case) Jazz musician. That is to say the musician must speak of what is going on now and the audience must be prepared to hear it. I think standards are neither here nor there when it comes that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am reminded of the fact that when Monk joined Riverside, OK had him record two albums of standards before moving on to his own compositions.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why do we think "standards" - songs written 60 years ago, or more - would help people relate to what is being played?

That said, on average it is probably a good idea for jazz musicians to engage with contemporary popular music.  Less Gershwin, more Beyonce.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 minutes ago, Guy Berger said:

Less Gershwin, more Beyonce.

Or Radiohead, or Bjork, or Nirvana.

Or maybe Michael Jackson, or Tears For Fears, or David Bowie -- to think of some actual recent jazz covers I've encountered in the last 5-8 years.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
40 minutes ago, Rooster_Ties said:

Michael Jackson

Miles covered Human Nature plus Cyndi Lauper's Time after Time on "You're Under Arrest". I like both - but this is hardly classic Jazz.  I also think the originals are both better than Miles' versions. Which should give one pause.There's something not entirely conducive about pop or rock originals to Jazz performances and "standards" are not current (IMO).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, Rooster_Ties said:

Or Radiohead, or Bjork, or Nirvana.

Or maybe Michael Jackson, or Tears For Fears, or David Bowie -- to think of some actual recent jazz covers I've encountered in the last 5-8 years.

Even these artists, while not quite as dessicated as George Gershwin or Cole Porter, are 15 years or more in the past...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Although I understand MC’s point of view, if a group is not playing standards, why would they record them or play them?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People should just play better music, and if they're not up to that right now, just don't make a record. The world will survive.

Or hell, just don't play at all, stay local and remain unknown. Again, the world will survive.

60 minutes or 20 minutes, if it ain't happening, fuck it, it's too long at one minute.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Guy Berger said:

Why do we think "standards" - songs written 60 years ago, or more - would help people relate to what is being played?

That said, on average it is probably a good idea for jazz musicians to engage with contemporary popular music.  Less Gershwin, more Beyonce.

I don't know, maybe because people who listen to anything from swing thru, say, hard and post-bop, know, recognize and enjoy GAS standards?

Also, barf to your last sentence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As far as Cuscuna's comment goes - if every musician had followed the "play me something I'm familiar with" credo, we'd be without a lot of great musicians and a lot of great music. Cuscuna should know better than to make a statement like that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Daniel A said:

I would have thought that in these days of streaming, listeners are even less likely to play a whole album (to the extent that the concept of an album even remains).

I can sympathize with the view on playing standards, though. Perhaps not necessarily from the Great Songbook, but as you say, material you can relate to.

Odd,that you’d think that. Streaming an entire album is far easier. Creating customized playlists on streaming platforms is almost as big a pain in the ass as dojng the same using physical media. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Guy Berger said:

Why do we think "standards" - songs written 60 years ago, or more - would help people relate to what is being played?

That said, on average it is probably a good idea for jazz musicians to engage with contemporary popular music.  Less Gershwin, more Beyonce.

Exactly this.  We are at a point where exposing people getting into jazz to a Bud Powell or Barry Harris album as great as they are, will sound old fashioned.  This is from someone who grew up on hard bop.  This is why what people like Robert Glasper and Mark Giuliana are doing musically is so important because they draw on source material new listeners relate to.  While many here objected to what Grace Kelly is doing, guess what? It exposes more people to the music.

Edited by CJ Shearn

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Dan Gould said:

I don't know, maybe because people who listen to anything from swing thru, say, hard and post-bop, know, recognize and enjoy GAS standards?

Also, barf to your last sentence.

I’m sure that among older listeners, recognition/enjoyment of GAS standards is a selling point.  Rod Stewart is a testament to that.  So if jazz musicians’ aim is to cater to that audience, sure, why not.  That said, it might just be they aren’t that interested in this audience?

2 hours ago, Scott Dolan said:

Odd,that you’d think that. Streaming an entire album is far easier. Creating customized playlists on streaming platforms is almost as big a pain in the ass as dojng the same using physical media. 

My sense is people like Spotify/pandora-generated playlists?  That doesn’t require much playlist creation. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I started collecting jazz in 1998 the old standards were important reference points. Then hearing what the Miles Davis Quintet did to them at the Plugged Nickel was mind-blowing. These days however, I have no need for new recordings of these old standards. Any post-60s or -70s recording of them might turn me off an album, a few exceptions aside. Today's new listeners are just as likely to start out with a healthy dose of Columbia Miles Davis, so I doubt new recordings of the old standards are necessary. After a certain amount of exploring jazz people don't need handholding.

Edited by erwbol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, Guy Berger said:

I’m sure that among older listeners, recognition/enjoyment of GAS standards is a selling point.  Rod Stewart is a testament to that.  So if jazz musicians’ aim is to cater to that audience, sure, why not.  That said, it might just be they aren’t that interested in this audience?

My sense is people like Spotify/pandora-generated playlists?  That doesn’t require much playlist creation. 

It's really no different than buying a greatest hits comp. I guess it could be a generational thing, but myself and the few others I know that stream all listen to full albums at least 95% of the time.

Also, Pandora plays a bunch of artists similar to the one you initially choose. So that's really a whole different animal. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Surely one test -- perhaps THE test -- is whether musicians want to play, feel they have something meaningful to say on or about GAS standards and whether they feel they have something meaningful to say on or about popular music of the present day. If they don't in the latter case, I would think that the issue of reaching out to today's more or less non-jazz audience hardly matters because what that "reach out" will consist of probably will not matter much if at all to both the musicians and their would-be audience.  If the musicians do feel otherwise, we shall see.

A related question that I'm sure has come up before is how much contemporary popular music is open to that much variation of the sort that jazz of some/any sort usually involves. I'm no expert, but in much contemporary popular music, isn't the version that is out there --  performed/recorded and often fairly well shaped by a good deal of studio production elements -- then felt to be THE piece or THE thing  more or less?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Compositions I Know" don't consist only of GAS, but rather melodies and songs people can recognize.  The Bad Plus have made a cottage industry out of this.  The (rather obvious) point is that a performer, especially a new performer, releasing an album of only original compositions is probably not going to appeal to a lot of people.  Expand your appeal by meeting the audience halfway.  Playing a standard (or a recognizable tune) opens a window onto your conception.

(Album produced by Michael Cuscuna)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Again, though -- and I'm no expert on the contemporary pop scene -- do those "compositions I know" on today's scene, while of course recognizable by today's audience, leave much room for meaningful musical expression/variation on the part of musicians and/or much room for expression/variation that will be found meaningful/attractive  (beyond the point of some sense of familiarity or we're being flattered) by the mass pop audience one is reaching out to. Surely, this sort of thing will work only when results are as compelling, and will be regarded as such, as the original already widely popular pieces that are out there and that one is trying to work variations on.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Bad Plus' last album with Ethan Iverson at the piano, It's Hard, contained all pop, rock, & country covers and was a horrible dud. A showcase for keeping the amount of pop covers to a minimum. The best thing about that band was their original compositions.

Edited by erwbol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Ghosts" is a composition I know. "Enter Evening" is a composition I know. "Birds Of Fire" is a composition I know. Etc.

"Compositions I know" does not equate to "pop songs" (standards or otherwise).

I still say, if you play better (meaning...all kinds of things) than what came before you, it'll be good. If you don't, there'll just be more articles about hey we got more records than ever and nobody's paying attention, what's wrong?

The elephant in the room is that most people aren't playing better, they're playing the same. And in this case, audience indifference is the canary in the coalmine. so between elephants and canaries, what is that, a flying elephant?

open-uri20150608-27674-1mrc2ji_6856beb4.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
28 minutes ago, mjzee said:

 

 

I have that Kikoski album and like the whole thing, but I wouldn't say that this piece is contemporary pop material  -- in terms of time, familiarity on the part of today's mass audience, or in its original musical nature. Also, I think Kikoski and friends just found it musically attractive and part of their own musical/social background; they weren't trying to reach out/win over anyone that much if at all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can't see the video at work, but I can tell you that Dave Kikoski has played, very, very, very well on some Monday Michiru albums. Didn't sound like he was playing down to or outside from the material, just sounded like he was playing, period, engaged not in "style" but in playing music of the moment, in the moment. That's what I like to hear.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.