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A spiritual from the Georgia Sea Islands, where African-American folk practices of the 19th century hung on in isolation well into the 20th century. This spirited performance exemplifies many African-American musical techniques: call/response patterns, variable intonation, improvisation (note how the "call" is varied), rhythmic contrast, and a cumulative intensity. The words express defiance of the practice by some slaveowners of denying their slaves a decent burial.2. Scrapper Blackwell: Down South on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, p. 173. Semper Fidelis on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
One of John Philip Sousa's earliest marches, and one of his best known. Like most marches, it is a piece made up of self-contained 16-bar sections or "strains." The form is: Introduction -- AA -- BB -- drum interlude -- CCC -- DD. The "trio" (i.e., the "C" section) starts off softly, as many trios do, but builds rapidly in intensity with each repetition.4. Eubie Blake (1969): Semper Fidelis on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Eubie Blake (1883-1983) was an early ragtime pianist and composer who wrote his first rag in 1899, the year of Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag." When he was 86 years old, he made an album that recreated the repertory of his youth. Among the tunes he played was this "ragged" version of "Semper Fidelis," which shows clearly how ragtime evolved out of the march. Note how closely Blake follows the form of the original, although he omits some repetitions: Intro -- A -- BB -- interlude (imitating the drums) -- CC -- DD.5. The Entertainer on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Scott Joplin's famous rag, written in 1902, was originally published as a piece for solo piano. But during Joplin's lifetime, several pieces were scored for dance orchestra (strings, brass, woodwinds, piano, drums) in a collection known as the Red Back Book. This performance is a recreation by the New England Conservatory Ragtime Ensemble. The form of the piece is: Intro -- AA -- BB -- A -- CC -- interlude (4 bars) -- DD.6. Bunk Johnson (1947): The Entertainer on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
This version is performed by a typical New Orleans ensemble, with a front line of cornet, clarinet, and trombone. The bandleader was Bunk Johnson, a cornet player who worked during the early ("pre-recording") days of New Orleans, and was rediscovered in time for the New Orleans revival of the 1940s. The band plays a good deal of Joplin's piece note-for-note, but loosens it up by adding a relaxed swing feeling, and embellishing the individual parts with rhythmic displacements, blue notes, and outright improvisation. Note how the clarinet in particular "takes off" in the last strain. The form is slightly abridged, with a few repetitions omitted at the beginning: Intro -- A -- B -- A -- CC -- DD.New Orleans jazz: King Oliver
See "Dippermouth Blues," SCCJ, for personnel. This is a multi-strain piece in march/ragtime form: Intro -- A -- B -- A -- CCC. Note the famous two-cornet "breaks" for Oliver and Armstrong throughout the piece.8. King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band (1923): High Society on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
"High Society" was written by an undergraduate at Yale University in 1901, and somehow found its way into the repertory of New Orleans bands in the following decade. The form is: Intro -- AA -- BB -- interlude -- C -- interlude -- C. The "C" section, or trio, is distinctive because it begins in a "block chord" homophonic texture (it may remind you of the trio of "Semper Fidelis"). Louis Armstrong can be heard making improvisatory embellishments in the trio. When the trio returns after an extended interlude, listen for the fancy clarinet "obbligato," or counter-melody, which was adapted from a part for piccolo in the original arrangement.New Orleans Jazz: Jelly Roll Morton, Sidney Bechet
This is the same piece that was recorded by Morton three years later with his small New Orleans group, the Red Hot Peppers (SCCJ -- see McCalla, pp. 13-15). The solo piano version follows the same form, except that there is a return to the opening strain at the end: Intro -- AA -- BB -- A -- CC -- Intro -- A. Notice how Morton subtly varies the strains you've heard before as he goes along.10. Sidney Bechet (1949): Tiger Rag on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
"Tiger Rag" is another famous piece from the New Orleans repertory. Like so many others, it is in march/ragtime form, with plenty of short solo "breaks." The main voice heard here is soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet (see McCalla, p. 25). During the lean years of the Depression, when New Orleans jazz fell out of favor, Bechet fell back on his expertise as a tailor. But in the 1940s, with a revival of interest in early jazz, he began recording and performing prolifically, developing a following both here and in Europe (there is a Rue Bechet in Paris). This recording gives you a chance to hear New Orleans style polyphony with the benefits of more modern recording technology.
See McCalla, p. 18.2. Bessie Smith: Young Woman's Blues on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, p. 19.Stride piano
This is a series of variations on a popular song of the 1930s in the classic "Harlem stride" piano style, by James P. Johnson, composer of "Carolina Shout" (see McCalla, p. 36).Louis Armstrong and Earl Hines
We'll hear much more about Fletcher Henderson, one of the top black dance band leaders, in connection with the Swing Era of the 1930s. In 1924 he led an 11-piece dance orchestra that relied for the most part on written arrangements. Louis Armstrong had just been hired as a "hot soloist," and his 12-bar blues solo, coming just after the first ensemble, enlivens a stiff and somewhat corny chart, complete with "exotic" Chinese gong and shouts of "whoopie-ho-ho!"5. Earl Hines (1928): Fifty-Seven Varieties on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Like James P. Johnson, Earl "Fatha" Hines was a stride pianist. But his rhythmic feeling was lighter and more subtle, and his sense of improvisation more daring and whimsical. In this solo piano piece (mostly variations on "Tiger Rag"), listen for the unexpected and startling changes in texture that are the hallmark of any Hines performance.6. Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five (1928): Skip the Gutter on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
After the opening ensemble, this piece suddenly becomes a duet -- or more precisely, a call-and-response: pianist Earl Hines improvises where the original melody of the song would be, leaving Louis Armstrong to fill in the spaces. Each tries to outdo the other with dazzling double-time passages and disorienting rhythmic tricks.7. Louis Armstrong and his Hot Seven (1928): Tight Like This on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
This is the last of the Armstrong/Hines collaborations from 1928, and one that gives something of the flavor of the cabaret shows in which Armstrong and his band appeared in Chicago. Drummer Zutty Singleton would often do comedy routines dressed in drag. He can be heard here as the falsetto voice urging Armstrong on to heroic heights in this surprisingly somber bit of salacious fun.8. Louis Armstrong (1931): Star Dust on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Armstrong the singer and entertainer, backed up by his own band. (The wobbly sound of the saxophone section reminds us that Armstrong was particularly fond of Guy Lombardo -- the "sweet" bandleader who used to play "Auld Lang Syne" on New Year's Eve.) "Star Dust" was written by Hoagy Carmichael, one of the many white musicians enraptured with the new jazz sounds of the 1920s and Louis Armstrong in particular. Armstrong returns the favor with this beautiful and heartfelt interpretation of what has become one of the best-loved American pop songs.White musicians of the 1920s
See McCalla, p. 35.
See McCalla, pp. 42-44.2. Fletcher Henderson (1928): King Porter Stomp on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
"King Porter Stomp" is a Jelly Roll Morton composition (see his solo piano version on SCCJ; McCalla, p. 24) that became a Swing Era standard through the "head arrangement" created collectively by the Henderson band. The rhythmic feeling of the performance is hampered by the presence of a tuba, which large dance bands of the 1920s tended to use in the rhythm section (unlike most New Orleans combos, which favored string bass). But the dominance of improvised solos (including one early on by tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins) and ensemble riffs show the band moving in the direction of the Swing Era style of the 1930s.3. Fletcher Henderson (1933): Can You Take It? on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
This arrangement is by Fletcher Henderson himself, recorded just one year before "Wrapping it Up" (SCCJ; McCalla, pp. 44-45). All the elements of mature swing style are here: a relaxed, four-beat rhythmic drive, propelled by string bass and guitar (instead of tuba and banjo), and a streamlined series of solos subtly backed by catchy riffs.Benny Goodman (and other white bands)
See McCalla, pp. 49-50.5. Benny Goodman (1938): Don't Be That Way on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, pp. 70-71. Both this tune and the preceding ("Stomping at the Savoy") were originally written by the black saxophonist and arranger Edgar Sampson, and originally recorded by the band Sampson worked for, led by the black drummer Chick Webb (who played frequently at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom). Needless to say, Goodman's versions outsold and overshadowed Chick Webb's.6. Glenn Miller (1939): In the Mood on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, p. 76.7. Benny Goodman Quartet (1936): Dinah on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
This is the famous "band within the band," daringly featuring black musicians (pianist Teddy Wilson, vibraharpist Lionel Hampton) in addition to Goodman's regular drummer, Gene Krupa. Note that the Quartet does not use a bass player: the combination of Wilson's stride-style left hand and Krupa's bass drum provides a steady two-beat feeling which, at this brisk tempo, is relaxed and swinging.Duke Ellington
See McCalla, p. 54-56.
See McCalla, p. 61.2. Duke Ellington (1942): Main Stem on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
The following analysis is by Martin Williams:3. Duke Ellington (1940): Conga Brava on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
"On the face of it, 'Main Stem' may seem casual enough: a blues in a relatively fast tempo. It opens with a theme played by the orchestra, followed by a succession of one- chorus solos by sidemen, and a final return to the theme. It is a big band blues, then, apparently like many other casually conceived and executed big band blues of the time.
"The opening chorus of 'Main Stem' is its 12-bar theme. But the theme involves some interesting accents and phrases; it is not the usual repeated two-bar riff moved around to fit the blues chords. Then there is its orchestration: a casual listening would probably not reveal which instruments and which combinations of istruments are playing what....
"The second chorus offers Rex Stewart's cornet, apparently taking over for the band's recently departed plunger-mute soloist, Cootie Williams. However, the chorus is not a solo but an antiphonal [i.e., call/response] episode in which the saxophones deliver simple statements -- simple, but taking off from one of the phrases in the opening theme -- to which Stewart gives imitative, puzzled, plaintive or humorous responses. Next is an alto saxophone solo by Johnny Hodges, and Hodges the melodist is left by himself with no background but the rhythm section. Then Stewart returns in his own style. He gets a background, with saxes predominating, obviously in contrast to his own brass instrument. But the background is also an imaginatively simplified version of the opening theme. Then trumpeter Ray Nance solos, and behind him the theme returns more strongly, almost exactly. The next soloist is clarinetist Barney Bigard; he juxtaposes a melodic fragment, suggested by the theme, over still another simplification of the theme, this time appropriately scored with the brass predominating. And behind Joe Nanton's plunger-muted trombone solo there is another sketch of the main melody, this one with saxes predominating.
"Perhaps 'Main Stem' approaches monotony at this point. What we hear next begins with a 6-measure modulatory transition, almost lyric in contrast to what has preceded it. Then there are four measures by the ensemble and a 14- measure solo by Ben Webster, the hint of lyricism continuing in his accompaniment. We are into a second section of "Main Stem." Webster's earnestness is followed by another four measures from the ensemble and a 14-bar virtuoso trombone solo by Lawrence Brown, but with a brass accompaniment that is increasingly rhythmic, preparing for what follows. And what comes next is a recapitulation of the opening theme, but not an exact one. As if to balance both sections of the piece, Ellington extends the 12-bar theme with an 8-measure coda.
"With such organization and unity, 'Main Stem' is a far from casual performance. Yet it is relatively casual for Duke Ellington."
Trombonist Juan Tizol (the man who complained, "I'm only legit" in Richard Boyer's profile of the Ellington band, "The Hot Bach") is the lead-off voice in this "exotic" composition. Note the variety of textures -- the Latin feeling of the opening (punctuated by snarling brass chords by Cootie Williams, Tricky Sam Nanton, and Rex Stewart), the straight-ahead "blowing" chorus for tenor saxophonist Ben Webster, the virtuosic fanfares for the trumpet section -- all compressed into the usual three minutes.4. Duke Ellington (1946): Happy Go Lucky Local on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
This piece was originally a movement of the Deep South Suite, one of Ellington's extended concert pieces (it was recorded commercially on two 78 rpm sides). It is a descriptive piece, capturing the spirit of a ride on a rusty train that makes all of the stops. "The variety of train whistle, trestle-crossing, and braking effects, right up to trumpeter Cat Anderson's phenomenal final screamers, never becomes monotonous," writes Martin Williams. "And notice that the piece doesn't really settle into the blues (or any chordal movement) until the second half." You may recognize the riff theme toward the end of the piece: to Ellington's dismay, it was later plagiarized by one of his saxophonists as the melody for the rhythm-and-blues hit, "Night Train."5. Duke Ellington (1957): Prelude to a Kiss on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, p. 64.6. Duke Ellington/Johnny Hodges (1959): Stompy Jones on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, pp. 64-65.Count Basie
See McCalla, pp. 65-66.
See McCalla, pp. 48-49.2. Count Basie (1937): Boogie-Woogie on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, p. 68.3. Count Basie/Lester Young (1936): Oh, Lady Be Good on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, pp. 68-69.4. Count Basie (1956): Shiny Stockings on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, pp. 69-70.5. Harlem jam session (1941): Hold the Phone on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Horn players of the Swing Era: Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge
Monroe's Uptown House, on 133rd Street in Harlem, was one of several places that musicians would flock to "after hours" to continue playing in more informal settings for their own enjoyment. One night in September, Count Basie and his trumpet player, Harry "Sweets" Edison came in to jam. Fortunately, a young student at nearby Columbia University was on hand to record the proceedings with a portable disk recorder.
"Hold the Phone" (named after the phrase someone mutters toward the beginning) is a blues -- standard jam session fare. Count Basie takes the first several choruses, and then supports a string of soloists: in order, Edison, tenor saxophonist Dick Wilson, and an otherwise obscure alto saxophonist named George Johnson. On a jam session, there is plenty of room to "stretch out": the whole performance comprises twenty-three (!) choruses. But this is not just a "string of solos." While one player is soloing, another "sets a riff" behind him -- sometimes Basie, sometimes one of the horn players. Often, these background riffs are subtle accompaniment (as in Lester Young's riffs behind the trumpet player in "Oh, Lady Be Good" above). But sometimes the other horns join in, harmonizing the riff in block chord texture. This is the same process by which the "head arrangements" of the big bands took shape. What you hear here is not the final product, but the fluid working of spontaneous, collective creation.
From 1923 to 1934, tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins was the principal soloist for Fletcher Henderson's dance band. In 1934, with Henderson's career at a nadir and America in the throes of the Depression, Hawkins left for Europe, where led a comfortable life as a free-lance virtuoso. This recording finds him in the company of several European musicians, including gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. The stylish arrangement of "Honeysuckle Rose" (AABA) for four saxophones is by alto saxophonist Benny Carter, who along with Reinhardt is allotted a brief solo in the final ensemble chorus. The rest is all Hawkins.7. Coleman Hawkins (1945): Star Dust on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Coleman Hawkins's most famous recording, "Body and Soul" (1939), showed that the difficult art of harmonic improvisation could be successfully combined with an earnest, even erotic, approach to popular song. Here, Hawkins revisits the standard "Star Dust" (compare Louis Armstrong's version on Tape 3, Side B). As with "Body and Soul," Hawkins begins by paraphrasing the original melody. (The opening section, played by trumpeter Howard McGhee, is the rarely-used "verse" that precedes the song proper.) But the tune is soon engulfed by newly-improvised melodies, drawn from the underlying chord progression. Hawkins allows the tension to build and build, aiming for a climax at the end of two full choruses. You can tell when the performance is about to end, because (as with "Body and Soul") the band drops out just before the end, letting Hawkins "wind down" on his own before the last few chords.8. Gene Krupa with Roy Eldridge (1936): Swing is Here on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
The fiery trumpet of Roy Eldridge is the featured attraction of this small group recording led by Benny Goodman's drummer, Gene Krupa. You will hear solos by Chu Berry (who, like most tenor saxophonists of the period, sounds a good deal like Coleman Hawkins), Benny Goodman on clarinet, and finally a brilliant chorus by Eldridge. The performance closes with ensemble riffs.
2. Fats Waller (1934): Honeysuckle Rose on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Pianist Thomas "Fats" Waller was born and bred in Harlem, the son of a prominent minister. He perfected his stride style under the tutelage of James P. Johnson. This whirlwind performance -- recorded when Waller was only 25 -- is the sort of thing that would put him on top in any "cutting session."
"Handful of Keys," one of his original compositions, is a kind of a compromise between pop-song form and the multi- strain structure of ragtime. After a ragtime-style introduction, Waller opens with a section in 32-bar AABA form, which he repeats (with variations) in a higher register. But a short interlude leads to a new section in a new key -- just as in a ragtime piece. A crashing chord leads back to the original key, and two more choruses of the original pop-song section.
A stride pianist like Fats Waller did not need any accompaniment: his capacious left hand provided bass, harmony, and a rhythmic foundation. But Waller recorded prolifically with a small combo he called "Fats Waller and His Rhythm." This performance of one of his most famous compositions, "Honeysuckle Rose" (AABA), follows a familiar formula: a chorus for piano (accompanied by the band); a chorus featuring Waller as vocalist (with phrasing reminiscent of Louis Armstrong); and a final riff-driven "out chorus."3. Art Tatum (1933): Tiger Rag on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, p. 81-82.4. Art Tatum (1954): Cherokee on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
"Cherokee" was a pop song written in 1938 that was both admired and feared by jazz improvisers because the "B" section of its AABA form modulated rapidly through distant keys. Art Tatum's version begins by stating the melody of "Cherokee" more or less as written, while underscoring it with characteristically dissonant chords and distributing the melody over different registers of the keyboard. Note that as the improvisation heats up, Tatum frequently returns to the original melody as a kind of guidepost for the listener.5. Mary Lou Williams (1978): Little Joe from Chicago on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Mary Lou Williams (1910-1981) was an anomaly: a woman who made her mark on the jazz world as an instrumentalist. In the 1930s, she was the driving force, as both pianist and arranger, behind Andy Kirk's Clouds of Joy, a Kansas City- based swing band. Williams was both adaptable and ambitious, continuing to work as a pianist and composer during the modern jazz era. She spent her last years teaching at Duke University.
This performance comes from a jazz festival in Montreux, Switzerland. "Little Joe from Chicago" is a blues, Kansas City-style. Halfway through the performance, she settles into a rich, sonorous stride style. Up to this point, however, her treatment of the blues is percussive, abstract (you may notice strange fragmentary hints of boogie-woogie style in her left-hand, for example), and highly imaginative.
See McCalla, p. 86.7. Count Basie with Billie Holiday (1937): Swing, Brother, Swing on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, p. 87.8. Billie Holiday (1941): All of Me on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, pp. 87-88.9. Billie Holiday (1956): Strange Fruit on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
The text for "Strange Fruit" comes from a poem by Lewis Allen. The social and political context for its horrific images is obvious. When Billie Holiday first began performing this song in the late 1930s, Columbia Records refused to touch it. This version comes from her last years, by which time a starkly dramatic reading of "Strange Fruit" had become a regular and unforgettable part of her stage performances.
You will have heard guitarist Charlie Christian as part of Benny Goodman's small combo on two other selections on the SCCJ (see McCalla, p. 73). I offer this live performance because it provides a rare glimpse of one aspect of Christian's innovative playing: his accompanying. After a delightfully chaotic opening chorus, with polyphonic countermelodies from piano and vibes, Lionel Hampton takes the first solo. Underneath him, Christian breaks away from the usual chugging four-four rhythm guitar pattern and comps -- i.e., he plays rhythmically propulsive and unpredictable chords. His solo is characteristically supple -- but notice how different the groove feels once his comping ends and the regular rhythm section accompaniment returns.2. Harlem jam session (1941): Topsy on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Here is a glimpse of the famous experimentation at Minton's Playhouse, where drummer Kenny Clarke was a mainstay of the house rhythm section.
Most soloists of the time relied heavily on the unflagging momentum of the underlying 4/4 dance pulse, even as they actively resisted it in places with syncopation. Charlie Christian's lines dissolve the usual hierarchical distinctions between strong and weak beats (and strong and weak parts of the beat), allowing him to shift effortlessly between sharply contrasting grooves. Although the downbeat retains its overall structural importance -- it is still the place at which the listener (or dancer) begins to count "1, 2, 3, 4" -- Christian treats the rhythmic flow as an undifferentiated stream of eighth notes that can be shaped instantaneously into any number of unpredictable patterns. These deliberate discontinuities virtually invited a rhythmic partnership with Clarke's drumming. Within the confines of Minton's, they quickly adopted a mode of playing that owed little to the chugging foundation of dance music.
See McCalla, pp. 99-100.4. Charlie Parker (1946): Ornithology on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, p. 105-106.6. Charlie Parker (1946): Lover Man on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
In mid-1946, Charlie Parker was in Los Angeles, far from home and ready to crack from an uncertain supply of heroin. "Lover Man" is a document of a harrowing recording session, described by Howard McGhee in the interview in your packet. Barely able to control his frayed nerves, Parker misses his cue (you can hear the piano player playing chords to mark time). When he finally enters, he plays slowly, haltingly, and straight from the gut. "He played the shit out of 'Lover Man,'" McGhee remembered. "I still like that tune, the way he played it -- so sad. It has just hung with me, after all these years."7. Charlie Parker and Strings (1949): Just Friends on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
A sugary orchestra of strings and woodwinds may seem a peculiar backdrop for a bebop soloist, but this is the way Charlie Parker preferred to present himself during much of his later career. Parker's treatment of the pop song "Just Friends" is unabashedly romantic, and the accompaniment brings out the lavishly lyrical conception of his playing.Dizzy Gillespie
See McCalla, pp. 108-109.
See McCalla, pp. 109-110.2. Dizzy Gillespie (1947): Manteca on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
This recording was made just a few months after Cuban percussionist Chano Pozo joined Dizzy Gillespie's big band, culminating the trumpet player's long-standing interest in merging elements from Latin and Afro-Cuban rhythms into jazz. "Manteca" begins, Latin-style, with a layering of highly syncopated 2-bar patterns (or montunos). Gillespie adds his virtuosic playing to the mix before the AABA tune itself begins. The "A" section is a brassy call and response in Latin rhythm, while the bridge (or "B" section) features sustained chords and a wandering chromatic chord progression. The arrangement juxtaposes this Latin theme with a straight-ahead section, featuring a booming tenor saxophone solo by "Big Nick" Nicholas.Bud Powell
See McCalla, pp. 116-117.4. Bud Powell (1953): Glass Enclosure on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, p. 117.Thelonious Monk
6. Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane (1957): Ruby, My Dear on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
"Rhythm-a-ning" makes a good introduction to the world of Thelonious Monk, because its ties to the jazz tradition are so evident. As the title suggests, this is a "rhythm" tune, based (like so many bop tunes) on the chord progression to "I Got Rhythm." The opening riff is also common property -- it can be heard on a Mary Lou Williams arrangement from the 1930s. But listen to the distinctive sense of rhythmic unpredictability and the characteristic clipped dissonances: this could only be Monk.
There are several levels on which you can explore this example of Monk's creativity: you can listen to the composition; you can listen to the way Monk "comps" behind tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse (sometimes creating an unusual effect by "laying out" -- i.e., not playing); and of course, you can listen to Monk's solo.
7. Wynton Marsalis (1982): Think of One on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
In the latter half of 1957, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, who had temporarily left Miles Davis's Quintet, joined Monk for an engagement at the Five Spot in New York. "Ruby, My Dear," one of Monk's loveliest ballads (the rhythm of the opening phrase probably suggested the title to Monk), is one of several tunes the two recorded together.
Their collaboration is intriguing, because Coltrane is best known for flooding chord progressions with a superabundance of notes (or "sheets of sound," as critic Ira Gitler put it), while Monk was known for insisting on his musicians using the melody as well as the chord progression of his tunes for their improvisations. Listen how Monk keeps Coltrane on track throughout his solo by insistently playing the melody underneath it.
Coltrane: "Working with Monk brought me close to a musical architect of the highest order. I learned from him in every way."
As the jazz tradition continues on into the late twentieth century, one of the more pressing questions is that of repertory. Can the music of past greats be kept alive -- not just on recordings, but in new live performances? Should performers try to be faithful to the original performances, or recreate the music according to their own tastes?
Wynton Marsalis's career began just as Monk's was ending. One of his first albums, Think of One, appeared in the year of Monk's death, and featured Marsalis's interpretation of a Monk composition. (The title? When record producer Orrin Keepnews pressed him for the name of one of his latest recordings, an exasperated Monk shot back, "think of one!")
"Think of One" is a characteristic Monk tune: a standard 32-bar AABA form, but full of sly, witty, and idiosyncratic twists. At the end of each "A" section, Monk leaves 2 bars of rest. Notice how the musicians in the band fill up that space differently each time. And of course, notice Marsalis adds twists of his own, in the form of unexpected changes of dynamics and tempo.
Just at the time when jazz was declaring its independence from popular culture, musicians like Louis Jordan were showing how a simplified, hard-swinging groove could provide the foundation for a new style of black popular music. By the late 1940s it was dubbed "rhythm and blues," and would eventually lead to the rock'n'roll of the 1950s.
Louis Jordan's small combo, the Tympany Five, had a string of hits in the 1940s, including "Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby?", "Saturday Night Fish Fry," and "Caldonia." "Caldonia" is a straight-forward 12-bar riff blues.
See McCalla, pp. 129-130.3. Miles Davis ("Birth of the Cool"): Jeru on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, p. 132.4. Gerry Mulligan and Lee Konitz (1953): All the Things You Are on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, pp. 134-135.5. Modern Jazz Quartet with Jimmy Giuffre (1956): A Fugue for Music Inn on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
6. Dave Brubeck with Paul Desmond (1959): Take Five on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Like many compositions performed by the Modern Jazz Quartet, this piece is a hybrid: it combines straight- forward jazz improvisation with a particular technique of European composition known as a fugue.
A fugue is a form in which a short melody, or theme, is stated successively by different instruments until a polyphonic texture is created. In the beginning of this jazz fugue, you can hear the fugue theme being passed around the instruments of the ensemble: vibes, bass, piano, and the clarinet of guest artist Jimmy Giuffre. Once the fugue is established, the piece shifts to the more familiar jazz technique of improvisation over a harmonic progression (this one is AABA).
Halfway through the piece, the texture thins out and the fugue starts again, beginning with the piano. If you listen closely, you will hear that this theme is very similar to the opening: the same rhythm and many of the same pitches. In fact, it is the first theme turned upside down. This is called an inversion, and it is a standard device for fugal composition.
Dave Brubeck was famous for his experimentation with unusual meters in original compositions such as "Blue Rondo a la Turk" and "It's a Raggy Waltz." But his most famous piece was actually written by alto saxophonist Paul Desmond. "Take Five" is in a meter of 5 -- actually, 3 + 2. Dave Brubeck's accompaniment figure establishes the meter right from the beginning through to the end -- even during an extended solo by drummer Joe Morello. Although the lopsided meter made this piece controversial, it was Desmond's haunting and lilting melody that made it unforgettable.
Note that although the tune is AABA, the improvisation is restricted to the A section, which remains on the tonic. This means that Paul Desmond's solo is actually modal -- an open-ended improvisation over Brubeck's rhythmic vamp.
See McCalla, pp. 120-121.8. Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers (1955): The Preacher on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
The Jazz Messengers was started in the early 1950s as a collaborative effort by drummer Art Blakey and pianist Horace Silver. Its repertory virtually defined the range of hard bop -- from straight-forward, uncompromising bebop to the "funky" soul-jazz that tried to reconnect to contemporary black audiences. "The Preacher" is an example of the latter. The gospel theme announced by the title, the relaxed, finger-popping groove, the simple and direct harmonies are exemplary of the more accessible "funky" side of hard bop. After the horns state the 16-bar theme, we hear solos by trumpeter Kenny Dorham, tenor saxophonist Hank Mobley, and Horace Silver. (This excerpt fades out before the return of the "head.")
See McCalla, pp. 124-125.2. Sonny Rollins (1956): St. Thomas on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Although Rollins grew up in New York City, his music has been influenced by the Caribbean. "My playing calypso is mainly due to my mother coming from the Virgin Islands," he later explained. "I went with her to a lot of calypso dances at a fairly early age." "St. Thomas" is a lively evocation of that heritage. The typically melodic drum solo by Max Roach is a perfect complement to the jagged rhythms of Rollins's melodic line.3. Cannonball Adderley (1966): Mercy, Mercy, Mercy on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
The populist "funky" side of hard bop continued well past the 1950s. This composition by Viennese keyboardist Joe Zawinul (who went on to found the fusion group Weather Report a few years later) was recorded live at The Club on Chicago's South Side. Nothing exemplifies better the blurring of the lines between black sacred (gospel) and secular (soul) music than Julian "Cannonball" Adderley's "preaching" introduction and the churchy sound of Zawinul's piano. Although no one would mistake the drunken Saturday night crowd for a Sunday morning congregation, the vigorous reaction by the audience to the soulful gestures of the musicians is strongly reminiscent of the call and response of the black church.Miles Davis in the 1950s
5. Miles Davis Quintet (1956): Oleo on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
At the beginning of the 1950s, Miles Davis was, in his own words, in a "deep fog" due to drugs. But by the fall of 1953, he had kicked his heroin addiction "cold turkey" and returned to the jazz scene with a vengeance.
Instead of continuing the "cool jazz" experiments of the Birth of the Cool band, he put together a band that included Kenny Clarke and Horace Silver. "That record was a mother, man," he wrote later, "with Horace laying down that funky piano of his and Art playing them bad rhythms behind us on the drums....I wanted to take the music back to the fire and improvisations of bebop, that kind of thing that Diz and Bird had started. But also I wanted to take the music forward into a more funky kind of blues, the kind of thing that Horace would take us to."
"Walkin'" begins with a hard-driving introduction leading to an angular, dissonant blues theme. The early 1950s was the beginning of the long-playing (LP) record era, and the soloists on "Walkin'" have room to stretch out far beyond what would have been possible on a 78 rpm record. In his solo, Miles brings the lyricism of his "cool" approach to bear on the down-home funkiness of the blues. It is this synthesis -- controlled understatement yoked to finely honed blues nuance -- that defined Miles's aesthetic in the 1950s. "Man, that album [Walkin'] turned my whole life and career around."
See McCalla, pp. 138-139 (this excerpt fades before final "head").
2. Miles Davis Sextet (1958): Milestones on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
From 1957 to 1959, Miles recorded three albums as the principal soloist for a large jazz orchestra arranged and conducted by Gil Evans (see McCalla, pp. 139-142). One of the albums was a jazz reworking of George Gershwin's "folk opera," Porgy and Bess. Arrayed behind Miles was an eighteen-piece band, including four trumpets, four trombones, three orchestral horns, tuba (as part of the brass section, not a bass instrument), two saxes, two flutes, and bass and drums (his regular rhythm section, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones).
"Bess, You Is My Woman Now" is the emotional climax of the opera, sung by the crippled hero Porgy at the moment when he thinks he has won the love of beautiful, troubled Bess. This is a lengthy piece, with several different sections. Miles does not improvise so much as embellish the original melody with his usual sensitivity to nuance. Underneath the solo line, Gil Evans draws out an astonishing variety of timbres: sometimes warm and full, other times astringent, dissonant, and bluesy.
"Milestones" is a good example of Miles Davis's experiments with modal improvisation, a full year before the 1959 album Kind of Blue. The form of the tune is AABA (or more precisely, AABBA, since the bridge is 16 bars). Each section is harmonically static -- i.e., there is no real chord progression, just a key area over which the improviser can play a scale or mode. You should be able to hear the difference between the "A" and "B" sections -- if you miss the change of mode, listen for the change in texture: straight- forward walking bass for "A," a kind of odd backbeat feeling for "B." The soloists are (in order): Cannonball Adderley, Miles, and John Coltrane.3. Miles Davis (1959): Blue in Green on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, p. 143John Coltrane
See McCalla, pp. 145-146. The "luckless pianist" referred to by McCalla is Tommy Flanagan, one of the most respected keyboardists in jazz. It was hardly his fault that his solo was hesitant and stumbling, since he saw the difficult chord changes to "Giant Steps" for the first time in the recording studio!5. John Coltrane (1960) [excerpt]: My Favorite Things on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, pp. 146-147. This excerpt begins partway through the performance, fading into McCoy Tyner's lengthy piano solo. You will then hear a theme statement, and a John Coltrane soprano saxophone solo.
A Love Supreme was Coltrane's most popular album, selling nearly half a million copies in its first year. Its four movements -- "Acknowledgement," "Resolution," "Pursuance," and "Psalm" -- suggest a direct analogy with Coltrane's spiritual search.
After an opening fanfare in "free" rhythm, "Acknowledgement" begins with a four-note bass riff. This riff is the backbone of the performance: it is used as a bass ostinato, as a motive for Coltrane to toss around in his improvisation, and as a hidden driving force throughout. At the end of the piece, it is suddenly (and mysteriously) fitted with words: "A love su-preme." In and around this loose framework, Elvin Jones's polyrhythmic drumming, McCoy Tyner's power chromatic chords, and Coltrane's relentless flow of notes ebb and flow in intensity. The improvisations threaten at any time to break loose from tonality, but always return to a basic home key -- the key of the four-note bass riff. (When the riff does sink to a new key, toward the very end, it is obvious that this movement is over and another is about to begin.)
Bill Evans's piano playing is discussed in McCalla, pp. 143-144. Instead of his first trio with bassist Scott LaFaro (who died in a car crash in 1961 at age 25), we will hear a later trio, featuring bassist Eddie Gomez. This is a live performance, from the Village Vanguard in downtown New York City.
"Turn Out the Stars" is Evans's own composition. Like "Ruby, My Dear," the title was probably suggested by the rhythm of the four-note phrase that dominates the piece. It is not a tune that falls into any familiar pattern. Instead, one section seems to flow into the next without pause, led on by the chord progression. Note the freedom allotted to the bass player in Evans's combos. There is no formal bass solo -- and there doesn't need to be one. Eddie Gomez is free at any moment to break away from strict time- keeping and intertwine his improvisations with that of the pianist/leader.
See McCalla, p. 128.4. Charles Mingus (1959): Far Wells, Mill Valley on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
"Far Wells, Mill Valley" was dedicated to Farwell Taylor, a painter friend of Mingus's from California. It is scored for the unusual combination of trumpet, trombone, three saxophones, flute, vibes, piano, drums, and bass (played in the opening passage with a bow). LIke many Mingus compositions, it boasts an almost bewildering variety of textures and moods. Note among other things the snarling brass a la Ellington and the sharp, disjunct dissonances accompanying Mingus's bass solo. Although the piece has a spontaneous flow, it is firmly under the control of the composer. Mingus later worried that the solos by John Handy (alto sax) and Richard Williams (trumpet) did not "achieve the compositional continuity" he was looking for.5. Charles Mingus (1959): Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
6. Charles Mingus (1963) [excerpt]: Hora Decubitus on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Throughout the 1950s, the black church remained the touchstone of ethnic authenticity for jazz (e.g., "The Preacher" above). But no one captured the spirit of African-American worship services like Mingus. As a youth, his grandmother took him to her Penecostal church in Los Angeles, where those possessed by the Holy Spirit would talk in tongues. He drew upon that intense, collective experience in many of his compositions.
"Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting" is a blues in 6/8 time (count one-and-a-two-and-a to a bar). Although the format is essentially a string of solos, Mingus manages to make his band sound like a congregation, seconding and encouraging the solo efforts with riffs, shouts, and handclaps. The effect -- as in so much of Mingus -- is a dense, constantly changing polyphonic texture, full of overlapping lines and intense rhythmic drive.
See McCalla, p. 129. This excerpt fades out after the opening ensemble, just as Eric Dolphy's alto saxophone solo begins.
2. Ornette Coleman (1960): Blues Connotation on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
In the fall of 1957, three years after the Brown v. Board of Education ruling that mandated school integration "with all deliberate speed," nine black schoolchildren attempted to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. They were met at the doors by the Arkansas National Guard, with drawn bayonets. The Guard had been called out by Gov. Orval Faubus, ostensibly to protect the students from an unruly white crowd (which the Guard did nothing to control), but in fact to keep them from entering the school. The standoff continued for nearly three weeks until President Eisenhower reluctantly called in federal troops to allow the legal integration to proceed.
When Mingus first composed "Fables of Faubus," Columbia Records refused to allow him to record it as he intended it -- as a piece of political theater with spoken parts. This version appeared on Mingus's own label, Candid. By this point, Mingus had come under the influence of Ornette Coleman, and was performing with a pianoless quartet (featuring Eric Dolphy). "The fact remains that his notes and lines are so fresh," he commented about Ornette. "I'm not saying everybody's going to have to play like Coleman. But they're going to have to stop playing like Bird."
Since Mingus's spoken voice is not always easy to understand, here is a transcription of the text:Oh, Lord, don't let 'em shoot us Oh, Lord, don't let 'em stab us Oh, Lord, don't let 'em tar and feather us Oh, Lord, no more swastikas Oh, Lord, no more Ku Klux Klan Name me someone who's ridiculous....Dannie? [drummer Dannie Richmond]: "Governooooorrrr Faubus!" Why is he so sick and ridiculous? [Richmond]: "He won't permit us in his schools!" Then he's a fool! Boo! Nazi fascist supremist! Boo! Ku Klux Klan (with your Jim Crow plan)! Name me a handful that's ridiculous...Dannie Richmond? [Richmond]: "Bilbo, Thomas, Faubus, Russell, Rockefeller, Burns, Eisenhower!" Why are they so sick and ridiculous? [together]: 2, 4, 6, 8, brainwash and teach you hate!
3. Eric Dolphy (1964) [excerpt]: Out to Lunch on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Ornette's own description of this piece (from the liner notes to This is Our Music): "'Blues Connotation' is played in the blues tradition, which makes it sound like a blues, but as you listen throughout you hear that the minor [blue] thirds do not dominate but act as a basis for melody. And as you get accustomed to my music, you will realize that this is happening all through it."
Because of the blues influence (in phrasing and melodic gesture, if not in form), this piece may sound more like bebop to you than most Ornette performances. The solos are by Ornette, trumpeter Don Cherry, and a delightfully melodic interlude by drummer Ed Blackwell.
See McCalla, pp. 154-156. Most, but not all, of the performance is heard here, through three "solos" by Dolphy, trumpet player Freddie Hubbard, and vibraharpist Bobby Hutcherson.4. John Coltrane (1965) [excerpt]: Ascension on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
With Ascension, John Coltrane assumed unquestioned leadership of the free jazz movement. Like Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz, Ascension is a continuous 38-minute performance (the most that LPs of the time could hold) by an eleven-piece band, including Freddie Hubbard and avant garde tenor saxophonists Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp. In this excerpt, the opening ensemble, a dense polyphony loosely organized around shifting pedal points, yields to the first "solo" section: Coltrane, backed up by his usual rhythm section (McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison), but unencumbered by any chord progression, or even a sense of tonality.
Archie Shepp: "The emphasis was on textures rather than the making of an organizational entity....a unity of sounds and textures rather than like an AABA approach....
"The idea is similar to what the action painters [like Jackson Pollock] do in that it creates various surfaces of color which push into each other, creates tensiona dn counter tensions and various fields of energy...
"The precedent for what John did here goes all the way back to New Orleans, where the voicings were certainly separate even though the group idea held. This is like a New Orleans concept, but with 1965 people."
Saxophonist Marion Brown: "[The session was] wildly exciting. We did two takes, and they both had that kind of thing in them that makes people scream. The people who were in the studio were screaming. I don't know how the engineers kept the screams out of the record."
2. Miles Davis Quintet (1965): E.S.P. on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
The Art Ensemble of Chicago's unpredictable blend of avant garde jazz and performance art is virtually impossible to capture on recording. "Barnyard Scuffel Shuffle" is a good example of one kind of AEC piece: the downhome groove yoked to avant garde dissonance and freedom of texture.
The piece (credited to trumpet player Lester Bowie) begins with a moody stride piano solo by guest artist Muhal Richard Abrams, one of the original founders of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Muhal's musings are rudely interrupted by a chaotic blast from the band, which eventually leads into the "scuffel shuffel" of the title: a loose-jointed, tongue-in- cheek boogie-woogie, spiced by dissonant riffs and ecstatic, honking solos.
3. Miles Davis (1968) [excerpt]: Filles de Kilimanjaro on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
By the mid-1960s, Miles had completely reconstituted his quintet: Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Tony Williams (drums), and Ron Carter (bass). "E.S.P." may sound conservative in comparison with contemporary performances by Ornette or Coltrane, but it is worlds away from the 1950s Quintet in its approach to jazz improvisation and composition.
"E.S.P." is a Wayne Shorter composition -- in standard 32- bar form, but with an ingeniously ambiguous, open-ended chord progression. You will hear the head twice before a string of solos (Shorter, Miles, Hancock). Miles's solo begins in his usual middle register, but quickly explodes into the upper register: the 1960s were a more "extroverted" period for his playing.
4. Miles Davis (1969) [excerpt]: Miles Runs the Voodoo Down on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
In the late 1960s, Miles began to break through the barriers separating jazz from contemporary pop music. The personnel is the same as on "E.S.P.," but the piano and bass are now electric, and Tony Williams plays the even eighth notes of rock.
"Filles" is an odd succession of melodic fragments, beginning jauntily, but soon delving into more complex harmonic twists. We hear the melody three times -- the first time over a syncopated bass figure, the next two times over a pulsating pedal point that is occasionally interrupted by a descending four-note figure. Finally, Miles begins to solo over this mix -- or more precisely, to engage in a free- floating call-and-response with Herbie Hancock's piano chords.
See McCalla, pp. 164-165.5. Mahavishnu Orchestra (John McLaughlin) (1971): Awakening on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
6. Weather Report (1976): Birdland on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
The first, hard-edged phase of jazz/rock "fusion" was defined by groups like guitarist John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra -- essentially an avant garde version of a heavy metal quintet.
In its frenetic intensity, and reliance on the electronically distorted sound of acid rock, "Awakening" is a representative early fusion performance. Rapid-fire unison figures announce the high energy level from the very beginning; these figures return periodically throughout the tune, to separate one solo from another. The solos are by Jerry Goodman (electric violin), Jan Hammer (keyboards), McLaughlin (guitar), and Billy Cobham (drums).
With the maturation of synthesizers and other forms of electronic sound manipulation, fusion moved from raw performance energy to the cool control of the recording studio. No one had a firmer early grasp on the potential of synthesizers than Joe Zawinul, who formed the group Weather Report with Wayne Shorter in 1970. In 1975, they were joined by electric bassist Jaco Pastorius, who was perhaps the first player to develop an expressive individual timbre on that instrument.
"Birdland" is probably Weather Report's most famous performance. It is described in some detail in the chapter entitled "Fusion" in your packet (p. 388, original pagination).
2. Wynton Marsalis Septet (1992): Processional on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Wynton Marsalis's rapid rise to prominence in the jazz world in the early 1980s was not due, as in previous generations, to the innovativeness of his musical concept, but to the fierce integrity and technical brilliance he brought to bear on what he saw as a tradition languishing from neglect. Much of the music on his 1985 album J Mood would not have sounded out of place in the repertory of the Miles Davis Quintet of the 1960s. But Miles wasn't playing that way any more. By reclaiming his style, Wynton rejected both Miles's hybrid fusion and the relentless modernism of the avant garde. As his loyal polemicist, Stanley Crouch, wrote in the liner notes to J Mood:
"This is obviously the work of musicians who have spurned the misconceptions that abound in the contemporary jazz world, where pop forms, ineptitude, and trivial trends are discussed with a sociological seriousness that avoids the issue of artistry and of professional levels of technical control. Sellouts are applauded and frauds are showered with explanatory ink. Fumbling or pretentious eccentricities are misconstrued as innovative. But the freshness brought to blues, ballads, and swing on this collection results from a commitment to craft inspired by musicians like Armstrong, Ellington, Parker, and Monk."
"Skain's Domain" is an elusive, tricky tune -- it is easier to make out the head at the end of the performance than the beginning. Wynton's solo is followed by pianist Marcus Roberts's, with drummer Jeff "Tain" Watts filling in the textures much as Tony Williams did with the mid-1960s Miles Davis Quintet.
Jazz in the 1980s
By the late 1980s, the focus of Wynton's music had undergone a dramatic change. He began working regularly with a septet, with a trombone, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone (doubling on clarinet) joining him in the front line. His work became simultaneously historicist -- reclaiming vast swatches of jazz history, including the early jazz of his birthplace, New Orleans -- and wildly eclectic. He also devoted a tremendous amount of energy to writing lengthy and intricate compositions.
In This House, On This Morning was premiered in 1992 in New York's Lincoln Center, where Wynton has served as artistic director for a jazz repertory series. It is a piece for jazz septet lasting nearly two hours that tries to capture the breadth and "majesty" (to use Stanley Crouch's favorite adjective) of emotional experience in African- American worship. "Processional" comes early in the piece. According to Crouch, it "depicts the choir, the deacons, and the minister coming down the aisles and taking their places at the front of the church. This is always a moment of jubilation, with the robes flowing and the sound of a mighty song beginning in the back of the church, choir members smacking tambourines as they walk, the deacons and the minister turning and smiling at the congregation."
The opening of "Processional" is delightfully uncomplicated -- a joyous blend of gospel and New Orleans jazz. But Wynton quickly asserts his control as composer with decidedly untraditional rhythmic twists. As the music unfolds, you may notice traces of Ellington, and later bebop phrasing, in the written-out lines for the horns. Eventually, the two-beat bounce yields to a straight-ahead swing feeling, and "trading fours" between the two saxophonist (Wessell Anderson on alto, Todd Williams on tenor). The successful blending of so many different textures and styles into one continuous flow is a hallmark of Wynton's recent compositions.
See McCalla, pp. 167-168.4. David Murray Big Band (1984) [excerpt]: Lovers on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
See McCalla, pp. 179-181. This excerpt comprises the opening ensemble and David Murray's tenor saxophone solo, omitting a trumpet solo and the closing ensemble.5. Ornette Coleman and Prime Time (1979): Sleep Talk on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
6. Miles Davis (1986): Tutu on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Throughout most of the 1980s, Ornette Coleman has worked with the electric jazz/funk group he called Prime Time. The inspiration was a trip to Morocco, where he heard music that spoke simultaneously to the head and the body. He later said that all his life he'd played either dance music, which restricted him, or his own music, which gave him freedom but not the visceral connection with audiences he'd felt as an R&B musician. Prime Time gave him the chance to try for both.
"Sleep Talk," from Of Human Feelings, begins with a hard-driving funk groove, powered by electric bassist Jamaaladeen Tacuma, the drummer, Ornette's son Denardo, and a chattering rhythm guitar. Ornette's melody floats above the mix. After an ensemble passage that serves as a "bridge," the distinction between "melody" (Ornette's sax) and "accompaniment" (the funk groove) begins to break down, with intriguing results.
7. Lester Bowie's Brass Fantasy (1986) [excerpt]: Crazy on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
Miles Davis returned to playing in 1981, after a six- year hiatus. "I knew I had to go someplace different from where I had been," he later said, "but I also knew I couldn't go back to the real old music, either."
"Tutu" is dedicated to Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa. The music reflects the changes in the technology of music production and recording that swept through the music world in the 1980s. The accompaniment for Miles's solo, with synthesized drum tracks, was created in the studio by bassist/producer Marcus Miller: "He would just put down some tracks and I would come in and record over them."
Brass Fantasy (see McCalla, pp. 178-179) is an all- brass group comprising four trumpets, two trombones, horn, tuba (played by the indefatigable Bob Stewart) and drums. It is the perfect outlet for Lester Bowie's tongue-in-cheek sensibility and a perfect backdrop for his quirky sense of timbre and phrasing.
"Crazy" is, of course, the classic country song written by Willie Nelson and made famous by Patsy Cline. The arrangement by trombonist Steve Turre is surprisingly faithful to the melody and the spirit of the original, while leaving plenty of room for Bowie and the other musicians to give the song their distinctive interpretive stamp.
See McCalla, pp. 163-164.2. Herbie Hancock (1973) [excerpt]: Sly on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
With the album Headhunters, Herbie Hancock abruptly turned away from the avant-garde influenced music he had been making to embrace the instrumentation and rhythmic structure of funk. "Sly" is dedicated to Sly Stone (see pp. 383-384 of the article on "Fusion" in your packet). In this brief excerpt, you hear the opening ensemble and a Hancock electric piano solo.3. Herbie Hancock (1983) [excerpt]: Earth Beat on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
After a mercifully brief foray into disco in the late 1970s, Herbie Hancock finally achieved his dream of connecting with a mass audience through a collaboration with producer Bill Laswell. "Earth Beat" comes from Future Shock, the same album that contained the hit single "Rockit." The point of this music is not improvisation in the usual jazz sense, but the variety of timbres and textures that can be created in the studio through new digital technology. Hancock adds his floating synthesizer lines to Laswell's funky bass lines, programmed drums, turntable scratching, and an Afro-Cuban bata drum.Chick Corea
See McCalla, p. 162.5. Chick Corea (1972) [excerpt]: Spain on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
6. Chick Corea (1986): Sophisticated Lady on-Grounds version | off-Grounds version
In 1968, Chick Corea joined Miles Davis's band, just in time to participate in the trumpet player's ground-breaking foray into jazz/rock fusion. His exposure to the free- floating textures and dissonant fabric of Bitches Brew and In a Silent Way sent him at first in the direction of the avant garde. But with the formation in 1971 of the first of several bands to share the title "Return to Forever," he deliberately tamed his impulse toward abstraction and set himself the goal of communicating directly with his audiences. Return to Forever, which marked the beginning of an enduring partnership with Stanley Clarke (bass) and Joe Farrell (saxophones, flute), became the evolving vehicle for Corea's eclectic musical vision. On Light as a Feather, aided by the distinctive Brazilian flair of vocalist Flora Purim, percussionist Airto Moreira, and Clarke's nimble bass lines, he aimed for a relaxed, dancing sound.
This abridged version of "Spain" omits the free-rhythm introduction, beginning directly with the up-tempo tune itself. It is a long tune, combining several distinct ideas and punctuated by a stunning syncopated "break" for all instruments. Each soloist in turn (Farrell on flute, Corea on electric piano, Clarke on acoustic bass) negotiates the harmonic progression of the second half of the tune.
Info and Materials page
As of this writing, Corea divides his energies between a "contemporary jazz" quintet, the Elektric Band, and an acoustic jazz trio known, logically, as the Akoustic Band. (The drummer and bassist -- Dave Weckl and John Patitucci -- are the same in both groups.)
"Sophisticated Lady" is, of course, the well-known Duke Ellington ballad (in AABA form). To follow Corea's version, it helps if you know the melody well. Indeed, one might say that the whole point of performing "standards" is that listeners are familiar with the tunes, leaving the performers the freedom to reshape them in surprising and unexpected ways. Corea begins his solo, stating the tune in an angular, disjointed (one is tempted to say "Cubist") and percussive manner: one can hear the influence of Thelonious Monk in the aggressive use of dissonance and the "crushed" chords. When the rest of the trio enters for the second chorus, the drums and bass help to fill in the gaps. Corea's performance is both an homage to tradition -- and thus historicist -- as well as an ongoing exploration of his own contributions to that tradition.