What is Jazz

Arrangement, instrumentation, lyric writing, music theory, inspiration… it’s all here.

Re: What is Jazz

Post by OneWorld »

GilesAnt wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 11:44 am
merlyn wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 10:46 am
Pretty lame, don't you think? :D

Yes and that is more or less my point. I was trying to suggest that jazz is characterised by syncopated rhythms more so than the harmony or melodies. Without the syncopations we have a 'lame' parlour piece of more or less classical origin.


Really?????

Listen to the following, the full 11:00 minutes, and by the way, if this isn't jazz then what is it.

Gato Barbieri

Intro/Cancion/Tango (00:00 - 11:13) from the album The Third World (1969)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pp5XcEi8cvc
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by GilesAnt »

OneWorld wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 12:17 pm
Listen to the following, the full 11:00 minutes, and by the way, if this isn't jazz then what is it.

I haven't said that isn't jazz - I'm not quite sure what specific point you are alluding to.

My remarks on suggesting that rhythm was perhaps the supreme defining characteristic of jazz were placed in a context of early jazz because we can get some glimpses there into how it emerged from earlier genres and forms.

Modern jazz is much more free of course.
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by OneWorld »

GilesAnt wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 12:31 pm
OneWorld wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 12:17 pm
Listen to the following, the full 11:00 minutes, and by the way, if this isn't jazz then what is it.

I haven't said that isn't jazz - I'm not quite sure what specific point you are alluding to.

My remarks on suggesting that rhythm was perhaps the supreme defining characteristic of jazz were placed in a context of early jazz because we can get some glimpses there into how it emerged from earlier genres and forms.

Modern jazz is much more free of course.

The point is.......just asking
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by GilesAnt »

OneWorld wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 3:41 pm The point is, jazz is many things to many people and I am perplexed as to why we have this need to put everything in a box like we do with washing powder or whatever. The original question was ‘What is Jazz’ and not ‘What were the origins of jazz’

We were discussing some of the most important musical elements that distinguish jazz. By looking at the origins of jazz it is easier to see what these elements might be. Obviously things are so diverse nowadays that the picture will be more obscured.

Jazz is about other things too of course, but we just happened to be talking about these aspects.
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by OneWorld »

GilesAnt wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 4:15 pm
OneWorld wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 3:41 pm The point is, jazz is many things to many people and I am perplexed as to why we have this need to put everything in a box like we do with washing powder or whatever. The original question was ‘What is Jazz’ and not ‘What were the origins of jazz’

We were discussing some of the most important musical elements that distinguish jazz. By looking at the origins of jazz it is easier to see what these elements might be. Obviously things are so diverse nowadays that the picture will be more obscured.

Jazz is about other things too of course, but we just happened to be talking about these aspects.

I'm still none the wiser. It seems if I play a piece of music, then add 7#9 chord it becomes jazz, really? Well I'll t'top of our stairs
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by GilesAnt »

OneWorld wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 5:12 pm I'm still none the wiser. It seems if I play a piece of music, then add 7#9 chord it becomes jazz, really? Well I'll t'top of our stairs

Nobody is saying that. There are many elements to jazz, but the 7#9 is one characteristic feature. Most of the elements individually occur elsewhere in music, but when many are combined it looks and sounds a lot like jazz.
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by ManFromGlass »

Arpangel wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 7:27 am Do we really need to ask this question?

The question is good - the answer(s)? well good luck.
For me the tune has to swing. It’s as simple as that. Swing in the way that jazz would define the word. And there is the rabbit hole.

After many years I am still trying to decide if the James Bond theme actually breaks into jazz for a few bars. That section sort of swings but in a rather straight way. The ride cymbal pattern doesn’t quite make it into the land of swing for me. I love the tune but will always be on the fence about if it swings the way jazz does.
And now a lot of the younger jazzers are taking pop, rock and other tunes and interpreting them. Steely Dan? Joni Mitchell? Some of the arrangements blow my mind.
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by RichardT »

ManFromGlass wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 6:28 pm
Arpangel wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 7:27 am Do we really need to ask this question?

The question is good - the answer(s)? well good luck.
For me the tune has to swing. It’s as simple as that. Swing in the way that jazz would define the word. And there is the rabbit hole.

After many years I am still trying to decide if the James Bond theme actually breaks into jazz for a few bars. That section sort of swings but in a rather straight way. The ride cymbal pattern doesn’t quite make it into the land of swing for me. I love the tune but will always be on the fence about if it swings the way jazz does.
And now a lot of the younger jazzers are taking pop, rock and other tunes and interpreting them. Steely Dan? Joni Mitchell? Some of the arrangements blow my mind.

Swing is definitely an important factor. It’s key to the sound of big bands from mid last century, which is repertoire I’m very familiar with personally. It’s not so universal now as jazz has expanded to include elements from other genres such as rock and funk.

I think the James Bond theme does include swing sections.
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by OneWorld »

ManFromGlass wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 6:28 pm
Arpangel wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 7:27 am Do we really need to ask this question?

The question is good - the answer(s)? well good luck.
For me the tune has to swing.

Why? The question is hardly novel, it’s been asked before, an£ no one can come up with a definitive answer because like music itself, it takes many forms and is perceived in many different ways. Ok there are some fixed representations - a waltz has to be in 3/4 but an identity that establishes the ingredients of Jazz is more elusive. It certainly doesn’t have to have swing, listen to the likes of Egberto Gismonti, Keith Jarrett, Jan Garbarek et al Defining what is jazz is equally as futile as laying down a formula for classical music.

Last night I was noodling away on the piano, playing around with Mozart’s Lacrimosa, one of the most soulful compositions ever written, and definitely classical of course. Then something occurred, Gershwin’s Summertime, which lends itself to an infinity of ‘jazzy’ extemporisations, would sit right on top of Lacrimosa, I was in my element. Then I asked myself “Is this classical or is this jazz?” Of course I concluded it was jazz, because jazz allows the opportunity to be whimsical and carefree, but working within a framework, and that includes or can include all the complexity of what a classical piece may consist of, but having the luxury of tossing in the Blue 3rd, flattened 7th etc or go the whole hog and pull in some chromaticism, or simply hunkering down and getting a groove going, whatever tickles your fancy.

So jazz is the interface between all flavours of music, and one puts their own take on it. I haven’t heard anyone play jazz on the bagpipes yet, but I’m open to persuasion. If someone says “Jazz is this” someone will rock up and say “Well what about this then?”

What is Jazz? Well any fool knows the answer to that - it’s Freedom. In a musical sense of course
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by tea for two »

OneWorld wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 9:05 pm What is Jazz? Well any fool knows the answer to that - it’s Freedom. In a musical sense of course

I'm so proud of you OW. You got it.
I'd treat you to your favourite cake.
I feel like patting your head.
I'm glad you are the fool that got it lol.
We are all fools one way or another.
It's our foolishness that's the common link of human beings.

Yes !
Freedom.

::

Freedom from Slavery.

Slavery can take many forms as we are aware.

Our personal slavery in our life from various factors : metal health issues, anxiety stress, struggles, mortgage, relationship, work, whichever.

Literal slavery as was faced by a large group of the audience at that time.
Hence my opening paragraph

tea for two wrote: Sat Feb 04, 2023 10:07 am goodness knows the struggles a particular large section of audience went through in those times.


::

Arpangel wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 7:27 am Do we really need to ask this question?

The purpose of this thread is was to see Jazz not merely something musical technical rather something that represented the Humanity.

Hence the opening paragraphs of this thread.

tea for two wrote: Sat Feb 04, 2023 10:07 am Jazz, for me, up to and including Civil Rights era was on the whole to uplift those that were struggling, help them for a little while fly away from their struggles, help people dance and laugh have whale of a time, to find affinity within the music of their struggles :
goodness knows the struggles a particular large section of audience went through in those times.

Nina Simone said after the Civil Rights movement ended, She lost her purpose to make music to sing even.

Jazz after Civil Rights movement ended, from 70s onwards to now doesn't have that connection to those struggles.

::

I also understand that such a question will also open up technical discussions.
I'm glad it has as this is a Theory forum.

tea for two wrote: Sat Feb 04, 2023 10:07 am Perhaps this thread will include posts about certain technicalities of certain types of Jazz, appropriate as this is a Theory forum.
Every such is welcome.

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Re: What is Jazz

Post by RichardT »

Actually I think jazz is as much or more about discipline than freedom - the great players have gone through the tough discipline of learning how to improvise which takes enormous work to master. Without the discipline they wouldn't be able to express themselves freely. The freedom is almost a by-product of the discipline.

Dave Brubeck said:

Jazz is about freedom within discipline. Usually a dictatorship like in Russia and Germany will prevent jazz from being played because it just seemed to represent freedom, democracy and the United States.

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Re: What is Jazz

Post by Sam Spoons »

OneWorld wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 9:05 pm I haven’t heard anyone play jazz on the bagpipes yet, but I’m open to persuasion.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8RbVuDuCYMY

I never said it was good jazz :blush:
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by GilesAnt »

RichardT wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 10:31 pm Actually I think jazz is as much or more about discipline than freedom - the great players have gone through the tough discipline of learning how to improvise which takes enormous work to master. Without the discipline they wouldn't be able to express themselves freely. The freedom is almost a by-product of the discipline.

Dave Brubeck said:

Jazz is about freedom within discipline. Usually a dictatorship like in Russia and Germany will prevent jazz from being played because it just seemed to represent freedom, democracy and the United States.


Anyone who tries to play jazz will see the truth of this. It's easy to say 'just improvise', but it takes a lot of technical skill and musical ability to actually do it.
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by OneWorld »

RichardT wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 10:31 pm Actually I think jazz is as much or more about discipline than freedom - the great players have gone through the tough discipline of learning how to improvise which takes enormous work to master. Without the discipline they wouldn't be able to express themselves freely. The freedom is almost a by-product of the discipline.

Dave Brubeck said:

Jazz is about freedom within discipline. Usually a dictatorship like in Russia and Germany will prevent jazz from being played because it just seemed to represent freedom, democracy and the United States.


".....more about discipline than freedom - the great players have gone through the tough discipline of learning how to improvise which takes enormous work to master.."

So you are claiming discipline and freedom are mutually exclusive - that is fundamentally, philosophically dissonant. It's like a bishop not believing in god. Consider the logic of it. Do I really need to elaborate?

In fact the explanation is there in your quote from Dave Brubeck
"Jazz is about freedom within discipline" Usually a dictatorship like in Russia and Germany will prevent jazz from being played because it just seemed to represent freedom, democracy and the United States.

But the second part "Usually a dictatorship like in Russia and Germany will prevent jazz from being played" is absolute bosh.

A friend of mine, a producer, spent considerable time in Russia - albeit some years ago, and he sent himself on a quest to discover music of Russia, he said he felt instinctively that a country so big, and had experienced such a tortured and extreme history, and had produced the likes of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Scriabin, Stravinski, the list goes on and on and on, could only produce mundane balalaika music. And my friend was soon proved correct. He came across legions of musicians trained at the conservatories (Disciplined) but outside of their formal trained played everything from punk, goth, to modern jazz.

My friend started to bring the best of these to tour in the UK - one of his better failures, after all certainly back in the day (and more so right now) who would go to a club and pay to watch the Lenigrad Be-Bopskis?

Well I did. I tipped up my fiver went upstairs to the club and was confront by 2 gals bouncing off the walls and singing retro-revolutionary pop, a drummer that who thrashed the drums so hard I am sure he was hard of hearing, a double bass player who put his bass through a cluster of effects that made his playing quite eccentric, a lead guitarist who was in complete command of his instrument, and didn't play to impress us with speed but with versatility - it was complete chaos. That said they described themselves Thrash-Jazz, and at first I thought well yep, but it's more thrash than jazz.

However, they settled into their set, and I became acclimatized to it, after all I'd paid my fiver and got my beer, I wasn't about to run for cover. And I thought, hang on a minute, this isn't half bad, I get it, in fact it is quite impressive and they certainly blew the local pub rock bands off stage.

After they finished their set, I bought them all a pint and was interested in having a chat to them - they were such a fun and engaging combo. I asked about life in Russia and their circumstances - they said "We do whatever anyone else does - we get on with things, what do people expect us to do, give up? No difficulties drive us on"

Did the roots of jazz flourish and come into creation in a climate of lush days and langorous nights, or a lifetime of dictatorship? If slavery wasn't dictatorship then what was it? Many forms of music come into being in difficult times, the lamentable lives these people live leads them to at least find some relief in music, and that remains today, hip-hop and rap came up from the ghettoes, not Sunset Boulevard. If you are so poor you don't have a pot to pi*s in nor a window to throw it out of, you don't give a hoot whether you live in a dictatorship or de-mock-racy.

And remember, when 'Black' music first left the plantations and ghettoes, it was verboten, in fact before 1962 a black person couldn't even sit on any seat they chose on the bus! What kind of freedom was that?
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by OneWorld »

tea for two wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 9:30 pm
OneWorld wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 9:05 pm What is Jazz? Well any fool knows the answer to that - it’s Freedom. In a musical sense of course


I'm glad you are the fool that got it lol.

"I'm glad you are the fool that got it lol." Seems like I am in good company then! :bouncy:
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by awjoe »

GilesAnt wrote: Mon Feb 06, 2023 12:27 am
RichardT wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 10:31 pm Actually I think jazz is as much or more about discipline than freedom - the great players have gone through the tough discipline of learning how to improvise which takes enormous work to master. Without the discipline they wouldn't be able to express themselves freely. The freedom is almost a by-product of the discipline.

Dave Brubeck said:

Jazz is about freedom within discipline. Usually a dictatorship like in Russia and Germany will prevent jazz from being played because it just seemed to represent freedom, democracy and the United States.


Anyone who tries to play jazz will see the truth of this. It's easy to say 'just improvise', but it takes a lot of technical skill and musical ability to actually do it.

And the danger, the ironic danger of all that is that, even having the technical skill and musical ability to do it, you can come up with stuff that sounds so similar to other musicians of similar ability who are also improvising within or around a very clear overall structure. So you have to also think of ways to make your improvising sound different and interesting - it has to be creative as well as disciplined. The easiest and most direct way to achieve it is with a singer, I think. The improv supports and/or counterpoints voice and lyrics, which are inherently engaging and immediately supply difference and character. Magic. Diana Krall, Joni Mitchell.

Ms Krall -

https://youtu.be/Yr8xDSPjII8

Joni -

https://youtu.be/DHQfIwyEVzY
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by merlyn »

@OneWorld Could your arguments be summarised as "just feel it, man"? That's fine, you are free to align with the "just feel it, man" camp, but if you do so you only have one thing to say, and that's "just feel it, man", and I heard you the first time. :D
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by adrian_k »

Interesting thread :)

This caught my eye:

awjoe wrote: Mon Feb 06, 2023 3:19 am
{snip}

So you have to also think of ways to make your improvising sound different and interesting - it has to be creative as well as disciplined.

My personal perspective is that improvisation doesn’t have to sound interesting, but it should mean something to you when you do it. I’ve heard one note improvisations that take you on a journey.

I like Kenny Werner’s take on this in “Effortless Mastery” - sure you need the skill to express yourself, but equally you should be able to express yourself within your level of skill. And there are no wrong notes :D
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by RichardT »

@Awjoe - I agree! There are some improvisers who have great skill and musicianship but don’t seem to have the ability to create something original or beautiful.
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by RichardT »

@Oneworld - I’m not saying freedom and discipline are mutually exclusive - I think true freedom as an improviser comes when the player has internalised the changes, the scales and the musical ideas.

As Charlie Parker said - ‘learn the changes, then forget them’

I think what he meant is exactly what I’m saying - discipline first, and then freedom.

I agree with you about the second part of Dave Brubeck’s quote!
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by tea for two »

OneWorld wrote: Mon Feb 06, 2023 12:32 am
tea for two wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 9:30 pm
OneWorld wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 9:05 pm What is Jazz? Well any fool knows the answer to that - it’s Freedom. In a musical sense of course

I'm glad you are the fool that got it lol.

"I'm glad you are the fool that got it lol." Seems like I am in good company then! :bouncy:

Thus far you and I are the only fools :bouncy: on this thread that have said Jazz is about emancipation.

OneWorld wrote: Mon Feb 06, 2023 12:29 am And remember, when 'Black' music first left the plantations and ghettoes, it was verboten, in fact before 1962 a black person couldn't even sit on any seat they chose on the bus! What kind of freedom was that?


tea for two wrote: Sun Feb 05, 2023 9:30 pm Yes !
Freedom.

::

Freedom from Slavery.

Slavery can take many forms as we are aware.

::

Jazz is emancipation from slavery from struggles.

This is the whole reason I made this thread.

tea for two wrote: Sat Feb 04, 2023 10:07 am goodness knows the struggles a particular large section of audience went through in those times.

Nina Simone said after the Civil Rights movement ended, She lost her purpose to make music to sing even.

It is understandable we (us on SoS, various musicians audiences worldwide) are so far from that era we never experienced the struggles,
easy for us to see Jazz as just a music, creativity, technical ability.

When the essence of Jazz is emancipation.
Emancipation from slavery from struggles.

Hence I wrote on thread starter

tea for two wrote: Sat Feb 04, 2023 10:07 am Were I to make a Jazz album, I never have,
I would have to in my mind link it to struggles people are facing :
some persons on this forum, some person I see in town, some person in my life, some group of people struggling on earth, some struggles untold people on earth go through including us on this forum.

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Re: What is Jazz

Post by GilesAnt »

tea for two wrote: Mon Feb 06, 2023 9:24 am
Jazz is emancipation from slavery from struggles.
This is the whole reason I made this thread.

It is understandable we (us on SoS, various musicians audiences worldwide) are so far from that era we never experienced the struggles,
easy for us to see Jazz as just a music, creativity, technical ability.

When the essence of Jazz is emancipation.
Emancipation from slavery from struggles.

Well since this is a music composition/theory forum you can see why some of us might be talking about the musical elements of jazz.

In any case I'm not sure Jazz is emancipation/freedom etc. The jazz genre emerged quite some time after US emancipation in any case. The composers of the Classical era possibly thought they were discovering freedom as they broke away from the earlier Baroque styles. European folk music was a kind of freedom too - the freedom to make secular rather than sacred music.

But even if the essence of jazz is emancipation, that doesn't really help to answer the question of 'what is jazz', any more than saying 'just feel it'.
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by RichardT »

I think the story of jazz is complicated and multi-faceted. For sure it was very important as a badge of identity for the civil rights movement, and a source of pleasure and release for struggling people, but it was many other things to many other people as well.

The soundtrack to the roaring twenties for example...
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by Arpangel »

Jazz very much, used to be Jazz, the word suited perfectly, but it has no meaning today, musically, or socially, it’s an outdated word.
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by OneWorld »

RichardT wrote: Mon Feb 06, 2023 9:07 am @Oneworld - I’m not saying freedom and discipline are mutually exclusive - I think true freedom as an improviser comes when the player has internalised the changes, the scales and the musical ideas.

As Charlie Parker said - ‘learn the changes, then forget them’

I think what he meant is exactly what I’m saying - discipline first, and then freedom.

I agree with you about the second part of Dave Brubeck’s quote!

Yes that is what I am saying, Surely one can best appreciate freedom if they have known the rigours and restrictions of discipline
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by OneWorld »

GilesAnt wrote: Mon Feb 06, 2023 10:04 am
tea for two wrote: Mon Feb 06, 2023 9:24 am
Jazz is emancipation from slavery from struggles.
This is the whole reason I made this thread.

It is understandable we (us on SoS, various musicians audiences worldwide) are so far from that era we never experienced the struggles,
easy for us to see Jazz as just a music, creativity, technical ability.

When the essence of Jazz is emancipation.
Emancipation from slavery from struggles.

Well since this is a music composition/theory forum you can see why some of us might be talking about the musical elements of jazz.

In any case I'm not sure Jazz is emancipation/freedom etc. The jazz genre emerged quite some time after US emancipation in any case. The composers of the Classical era possibly thought they were discovering freedom as they broke away from the earlier Baroque styles. European folk music was a kind of freedom too - the freedom to make secular rather than sacred music.

But even if the essence of jazz is emancipation, that doesn't really help to answer the question of 'what is jazz', any more than saying 'just feel it'.


It is a music, composition, theory and songwriting forum, and surely songwriting is all embracing? There's more to jazz than theory?
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by Arpangel »

In the quest for musical freedom, all that happens is that you end up creating new boundaries, and restrictions, freedom itself, becomes just another cage.
That’s why I left the Free-Improv scene, inverted snobbery abounded, it appeared there were no boundaries, until you did something "unacceptable" even then, the boundaries would be denied.
And freedom, is always at the expense of somebody else’s.
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by OneWorld »

This is a jazzy topic, brings in a whole gumbo of opinions!
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by Arpangel »

OneWorld wrote: Mon Feb 06, 2023 12:05 pm This is a jazzy topic, brings in a whole gumbo of opinions!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-z4d0VAXmw

:D

And I can’t play properly at all, until I’ve got a Zawinul hat.
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Re: What is Jazz

Post by RichardT »

Arpangel wrote: Mon Feb 06, 2023 12:11 pm
OneWorld wrote: Mon Feb 06, 2023 12:05 pm This is a jazzy topic, brings in a whole gumbo of opinions!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-z4d0VAXmw

:D

And I can’t play properly at all, until I’ve got a Zawinul hat.

Perhaps I should get one then….
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