My Discovery of Jazz

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While watching some YouTube videos of some of my all-time favorite acts, I happened upon one that featured the great Neil Peart playing at a Buddy Rich tribute back in the early 90's. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I became a (belated) Jazz fan. Its no-nonsense and improvisational-like approach as well as the outstanding and virtuoso musicianship appealed to me. Although it also has its own stars and prima donnas, Jazz usually lacks of some form of annoying, irritating, self-important , attention-whore front man or front woman; it's usually an ensemble and a team effort.

 

Musically speaking, I've been drifting more and more toward instrumentals, extended jam sessions, etc., because I'm becoming less and less interested in lyrical content. It seems that most of the things people are singing about (or whining about, take your pick) revolve around politics and/or failed romances of one sort or another. BORING!!!! PLAYED OUT!!! LAME!!! Personally, I'd be surprised if anyone gave a rat's ass about my love life, or lack thereof, so why should I give a fuck about someone else's? All politicians are liars and thieves, and people in general aren't that much better or different.

 

If that man or woman left you, got you fired from your job, wrecked your car, emptied your bank account, burned down your house, had kinky outdoor sex while they took turns pouring sugar in your gas tank and arranged for someone to beat the shit out of you and then throw you head-first into a full porta-potty, you probably deserved everything you got, so stop snivveling about it. Can't, can you? Why? Because there's about a billion songs that cater to dickheads and bitches just like you in a ceaseless barrage of painful reminders. Progressive Rock, or Prog Rock, at least made an attempt to address other topics and subject matter, like space phenomena and sci-fi. However, the experiment didn't last very long, and all the good Prog Rock bands eventually wound up toeing the "love song" line.

 

Jazz seems to be excellent general-purpose music. It's music to get stuff done by, but also music that you can quietly reflect upon, relying on the beauty of the notes alone to sooth your soul. It also can be very bare-boned and minimal, or very rich and fat, depending on who's playing. Because I'm so new to it, Jazz doesn't have the emotional content and/or baggage that a lot of other music has. For example, every time I hear a certain British band's music, images of a certain woman immediately go racing through my mind, and not in a good way; if I never heard anything from that band again, I'd be happy, which is kind of a shame, because I like their music for the most part.

 

I'm happy with my latest "discovery" and am enjoying it thoroughly. The classic "Laura", Weather Report and the insane bass-playing of the late Jaco Pastorius, and Frank Zappa's "Jazz From Hell" are only the beginning of what promises to be an audio renaissance of the highest order. Baby steps for sure, but it's JAZZ, BABY!!! I hope that others can also re-examine things and not be stuck in the same rut year after year, but then again, if that's your thing, then stick with it. It's a free country, after all!

Comments

Mark Hunter Added Jun 13, 2018 - 3:17am
I hate to say it, but my introduction to jazz was on the Charlie Brown Christmas Special. Which really wasn't such a bad introduction, come to think of it. In any case, although I remain a fan of movie scores and classical, jazz is another source of good voice-less music to write by.
Stone-Eater Added Jun 13, 2018 - 4:26am
Michael
 
If you happen to like Fusion Jazz too, try Frank Gambale, an Aussie guitarist. Really cool, that one. 
 
BTW: There ARE good Prog Rock bands, but most of them are kind of copying stuff like Genesis/Yes/King Crimson/Gentle Giant/Rush etc.....
Stone-Eater Added Jun 13, 2018 - 4:29am
BTW2: I really do like new Progrock bands like Soilwork, BTBAM, Galigula's Horse or Barock Project. As long as they don't GROWL LOL
Dino Manalis Added Jun 13, 2018 - 4:52pm
 Jazz is fine, but I'm a kid of the Eighties, I want music to have rythm!
Jeff Michka Added Jun 13, 2018 - 5:02pm
Glad to read Michael B  has discovered the world of jazz, but wonder if he knows that jazz is, in so many ways, the creative expression of the black experience in America.  This experience can actually be heard, but I know SEFa will say jazz and blues are African.  You know, the bars and brothel of ali and Nigeria.  But jazz is American and it mirrors the so-called "American experience when it comes to race,  To wit, until 1970, AFofM didn't allow black membership.  My first exposure/confrontation with institutional racism was in 1969 when a band I was with wanted to become a union act. Two band members were black, and when we went to the local's office, both were asked to leave. "We have nothing for them....niggers."  It took the rest of us  about a minute to figure we'd not be much of an act without them, and it didn't feel right, so we left.  The facts were there were two union gigs and over 70 bands competing for them, so we played non union gigs.  When AFofM did allow blacks, they'd absorbed the black musician unions around the US, and promptly stole their pension funds.  AF of fucking M...   One of the more famous black musician unions was Local 627 in Kansas City, MO.  627 had a stellar membership including Ben Webster, Lester Young, Count Basie, Mary Lou Williams and Charlie Parker.  Local 627's HQ  still exists and the building is a National Historic Monument.  They still hold jam sessions all night on Friday and Saturday, and claims they are the longest running jam sessions in the US.  One of the most remarkable musical experiences was sitting in on a jam session there one early Saturday morning and realizing I was playing on the same stage as Charlie Parker once played on, getting cut by fellow musicians in a "cutting contest." "You ain't good enough, Charlie!"  Reason to become a better musician, and he did.  Liquor is served after hours, too, the permission being grandfathered in from the days when Tom Pendergast and the Mob ruled Kansas City.  Side historical not on Pendergast, if not for ol Tom, Harry Truman would still be selling hats.  Jazz is America's contribution to Music, it is a real part of America, and I do hope Michael B enjoys the journey, it's an American Journey that will, hopefully, some day, bring him miles of smiles with Miles (Davis).
Stone-Eater Added Jun 13, 2018 - 5:14pm
Jeff
 
SEFa will say jazz and blues are African
 
Nope. Blues has its roots in Africa (the scales) for sure but Jazz is definitively not African. It followed Blues, I mean there was Gospel, then Ragtime, and at the same time Blues came up by people like Blind Lemon Jefferson, then Swing, then Bebop, Charlie Parker etc., then Fusion (I guess Miles was the first on that), but the source of that was the US of course.
 
Bill H. Added Jun 13, 2018 - 5:19pm
My classic favorites were Gabor Szabo, Cannonball Adderley, and Tim Weisberg. I was able to see all of them in concert back in the late '60s and early '70s.
Stone-Eater Added Jun 13, 2018 - 5:20pm
Jeff Michka Added Jun 13, 2018 - 5:24pm
True, Bill H.  Swing was a Kansas City thing, taken and expanded on by every major musical act in the 30s and 40s, I like to call swing, "the Music that killed Hitler.  LOL  Miles was a bit before fusion time wise.
Luther Wu Added Jun 13, 2018 - 7:47pm
I remember watching a video of one of Miles Davis' European performances, near the end of his life. It's been  25 years since I saw it, so apologies for not being able to pinpoint the exact performance.
The film began with the band starting their warm- up session, before Miles entered the stage. Then, Miles entered and spent a few minutes watching and listening, walking around the stage "tuning" the various artists with hints and suggestions.
Suddenly, Miles walked with his trumpet to the front of the stage and bent over so that his horn was pointed straight down to the floor. His first note was actually a riff, the kind of riff that brass players know is  impossible for those not fully master of their instrument. He did that with cold lips and cold horn, no warmup. I don't know how many in the audience would have recognized and understood what they had just witnessed.
Perfection.
Jeff Michka Added Jun 13, 2018 - 8:40pm
Miles Davis was a truly remarkable performer, as you not Luther.  My understanding is performers like Parker and Coltrane were in many ways, like the Miles Davis you saw.  Have you ever seen sax player Dexter Gordon in "'round Midnight?"  Well worth a look for people interested in Jazz.  If memory serves, Gordon was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in that film.  One of the worst cinema portraits of jazz was Ken Burns' series "Jazz," for a whole bunch of reasons.  The Kaufman Foundation that helped fund Burns, lobbied to downplay the KCMO jazz scene because they're "embarrassed" by the mob connections to this day in KC.  Well you can pay off filmmakers to change the story, but it doesn't change history.
Luther Wu Added Jun 13, 2018 - 9:08pm
My brother and I have a substantial collection of Miles' work, between us. When he died, it didn't come as too much of a shock, knowing so much of what had been published about his life, but something had definitely gone missing from the world.  I went looking for something else, exploring jazz nooks and crannies and found and couldn't believe that Ornette Coleman had slipped past me all those years. His work reminds me of the good things flowing from Coltrane and Miles in some sparky collaboration. I'm listening to the Double Quartet "Free Jazz" album, as we speak.
Even A Broken Clock Added Jun 13, 2018 - 9:14pm
Michael, where have you been these long decades? Back in high school, our jazz band (yes, we actually had a jazz band supported in our high school) got addicted to a progressive jazz musician named Don Ellis. If you've never heard his big band progressive rock / jazz mixture, here is a wonderful track that is one of my favorite earworms.
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a-UqLFvE_bM
 
Hope you enjoy.
Mustafa Kemal Added Jun 13, 2018 - 9:29pm
Michael B. 
You have hit a jackpot. After years of rock and blues 1-4-5 progression, the discovery of jazz is surely a mind blower. Im afraid if I started making recommendations it would be hard to stop. Just dont forget, A Love Supreme by Coltrane, Django Reinhardt, Billy Holiday, Thelonius Monk,  Keith Jarret,  Mile’ Sketches of Spain, …… Chic Corea and Dave McLaughlin…….
 
Since you mentioned Zappa, I just saw a very interesting thing on 
Zappa’s 
Freak Out List
I think you might enjoy.
 
Personally, if it doesnt have a pickup truck in it I cant listen.
Mustafa
Luther Wu Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:04pm
EABC- Our high school had a jazz band, too! Listening to them at a school concert with my 4th grade classmates converted me into a musician.
 
Mustafa- is that you and the pygmy pony, over by the dennal floss bush?
 
Jeff- Ken Burns is... I'm no fan. That's enough about that.
 
Mustafa Kemal Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:18pm
Luther, could be.
 
The way you can spot me  is when you hear a 
 
Mudshark Arpeggio
 
 
Michael B. Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:40pm
@ Mark H. - Funny you mention Charlie Brown in a Jazz context; the teacher's voice could easily have been a clarinet, lol. I can see your appreciation of Jazz as "music to write by"!
Michael B. Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:41pm
@ Stone - Jazz Fusion is actually kind of a stepping-stone for me, as it is close to what I'm more accustomed to. Your taste in music is pretty solid, so I'll check those out!
Michael B. Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:41pm
@ Jeff M. - Jeff, thank you very much for sharing that! I'll definitely catch up on the history of Jazz at some point, but as it's my habit not to look a gift horse in the mouth, I'm too busy enjoying it and not currently disposed toward questioning it, lol. You've obviously been around, and playing on the same stage as Charlie Parker is totally fucking awesome!
Michael B. Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:41pm
@ Bill H. - I'll check those out too! Despite our differences, you're a pretty cool dude, so I don't think I'll be disappointed!
Michael B. Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:42pm
@ Luther W. - Awesome! It sounds like you had a singularly unique and a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Michael B. Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:42pm
@ EABC - Go ahead, rub it in! I haven't felt this way about music since I was turned on to Harry Nilsson!
Michael B. Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:42pm
@ Mustafa - I certainly did hit a jackpot!
Michael B. Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:42pm
Thank you all for the recommendations! I fully intend to check each and every one of them out!
Flying Junior Added Jun 13, 2018 - 11:30pm
As a young music student, I was lucky enough to purchase a ten-inch record by Charlie Parker.  One side was the Charlie Parker Quintet, the other was the Septet.  Dizzie played trumpet on one side.  A young Miles Davis played the trumpet melodies on the other side.  Songs included, A Night in Tunisia, Ornithology, Gypsy, Lover Man and Max Making Wax.
 
It was my introduction to jazz.  I could hear the melodies and pitches and most of the chords, but I never had the facility to be a true jazz musician.  As a teenager I bought Miles Davis' Big Fun.  That defined fusion in two discs.  But growing up I was influenced by Stevie Wonder with Living for the City, Deodato, Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Billy Cobham.  At one point it was a duel between Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock both tearing it up on the Arp Avatar synthesizer.
 
But for my money, Herbie Hancock, with his historic records on Blue Note, was on the vanguard of fusion jazz every bit as early as Miles.  They got together.  It was inevitable.  But it was on Miles' terms.  Miles was a producer, talent scout and ruthless arranger and conductor.
 
Nobody could challenge his authority.  His signature double album, Big Fun, featured Herbie Hancock, John McLaughlin, Chick Corea, Bernie Maupin, Wayne Shorter, Gabor Szabo, Stanley Clarke, Ravi Shankar and a galaxy of other players of great note.
 
Flying Junior Added Jun 13, 2018 - 11:31pm
Recommended listening early 1960s.  Herbie Hancock on Blue Note.
 
Canteloupe Island.  Watermelon Man.
Stone-Eater Added Jun 14, 2018 - 5:12am
Michael
 
Thanks ! Tell me afterwards what you think of it. Actually Pat Metheny has some good stuff too (although more into rock)..
Bill H. Added Jun 14, 2018 - 10:22am
 
Enjoy them, Michael!
Actually we are all here to learn and share, even though we hate to admit it.
If we all had the same views, this place would be about as fun as a flash flood in a Fizzies factory.
Stone-Eater Added Jun 14, 2018 - 10:43am
But growing up I was influenced by Stevie Wonder with Living for the City, Deodato, Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Billy Cobham.
 
Same here....
 
https://youtu.be/A9Ik81plN_Q
 
Ah.....I was 15 then LOL
 
 
Bill H. Added Jun 14, 2018 - 10:46am
 
I still have Deodato vinyl.
Stone-Eater Added Jun 14, 2018 - 10:49am
Does anybody here know Jaco ?
 
https://youtu.be/JXOnhzoC-i8
 
https://youtu.be/FnH_zwVmiuE
 
Weather Report. They brought me to funk 40 years ago :-)
Stone-Eater Added Jun 14, 2018 - 11:01am
target="_blank">24spyz - Blues for dimebag
 
Sorry, no jazz. But this guy really has it. And as so many good players nobody knows him....
Jeff Michka Added Jun 14, 2018 - 7:00pm
Wow, interesting al these folks talking influence by Miles.  Yeah, but nobody has mentioned  "Bitches Brew,"  Despite title, it's musically a high point in Miles career.  I've forgot to mention one other thing about jazz and jazz musicians:  They were outstandingly easy to work with in studio or on stage.  They want to play music, not play at image.  I knew the music biz I knew was over after hearing some kid say, "We want TO LOOK LIKE______.' Can't remember who tey wanted to look like, but a real depature from "We want to SOUND like."  It was downhill from there, screw MTV
Flying Junior Added Jun 14, 2018 - 7:20pm
I thought about mentioning Bitch's Brew as a landmark achievement, but I am much more familiar with Big Fun.
 
My favorite Herbie Hancock album was a very worthy effort released in 1974 entitled Thrust.  Actual Proof and Butterfly kept my mind activated as I struggled to master even listening to and comprehending the complicated polyrhythms and beautiful harmonies.  There were very interesting hybrid reeds.  Herbie was the captain of a starship.
Luther Wu Added Jun 14, 2018 - 7:44pm
Oh yeah, Bitches Brew was my first Miles album. Bought it immediately after a brilliant mathematician friend at Berkeley turned me on to it a few months after it was released, back in '70, I think.
I have worn out discs...
Luther Wu Added Jun 14, 2018 - 8:16pm
@ Michael B.
Since your interest in jazz music has been piqued, you might find some of the jazz- rock fusion albums as an easier introduction and since so many of us have mentioned Miles Davis and Bitches Brew, that's about as good a place to start as any. Plenty of YouTube vids...
Jeff Michka Added Jun 14, 2018 - 8:22pm
Luther:  yeah, was a late 69 early 70 release of "Brew"  and it was a andmark performance and recording.  Big Fun was actually done in a time that was less than fun for Miles, we all have our rough patches, hate to see such talent have them, thought title was ironic..  Like Luther, grooved out my first copy of Bitches Brew, and my second copy.  I still have my 3rd copy (Japanese presmsing)  and of course, a cd. It gets played regularly.   
A. Jones Added Jun 14, 2018 - 8:51pm
Some classic jazz artists you might enjoy:

Horace Tapscott
 
Gerry Mulligan
 
Chick Corea (piano) and Gary Burton (vibraphone)
 
Luther Wu Added Jun 14, 2018 - 9:47pm
A. Jones-
I don't know anything. The world's a big place.
I'd never listened to Horace Tapscott before.
Thank you.
Jeff Michka Added Jun 14, 2018 - 9:50pm
Luther mentions Herbie Hancock, My fav is titled "Village Life" recorded with Foday Musa Fuso, who plays traditional African instruments on tis very powerful LP.
Luther Wu Added Jun 14, 2018 - 10:49pm
Oh man,
I was just about to post something about Herbie Hancock and the album "Head Hunters". That's some great fusion with a well done dose of funk in the mix. I think it was really Flying Junior that was talking about Herbie Hancock, but that just goes to show you about the vibes out there.
A. Jones Added Jun 14, 2018 - 11:04pm
I'd never listened to Horace Tapscott before.
Thank you.
 
You're welcome, amigo!
 
Tapscott is one of the great ones, yet less well known than many others.
A. Jones Added Jun 14, 2018 - 11:38pm
I'm becoming less and less interested in lyrical content
 
No doubt, jazz is predominantly an instrument genre, but there are some fine examples of jazz vocals that have become classics:
 
1. Lullaby of Birdland
Sarah Vaughn
 
2. You and the Night and the Music
Julie London
 
3. Black Coffee
Peggy Lee
 
4. On Broadway
George Benson
Michael B. Added Jun 15, 2018 - 12:17am
Gentleman, Gentleman, Gentlemen!!! Thank you all for your suggestions!!! I feel very much like a big, fat, ugly kid who suddenly discovered a hidden candy store/ice cream parlor next door! I fully intend to listen to everything recommended by you fine dudes! Earlier today, I listened to Herbie Hancock's Thrust, and I'm listening to Bitch's Brew as I write this!
Stone-Eater Added Jun 18, 2018 - 12:56pm
What about John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra  ?
 
BTW: The German band Sieges Even is a ProgRock band but the polyrhythms they use are Jazz'n'Funk IMHO :)
Ward Tipton Added Jun 19, 2018 - 12:10am
If I am going to listen to Jazz, I prefer the old school, though I am much more into Blues than jazz, but for Jazz, Catman Scruthers, Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong, Alfred "Leadbelly" Ledbetter ... ooooooold school. Some of the Improv jazz of the seventies was cool, but a lot of the fusion jazz was as much techno as jazz, thanks in no small part to Moog and his introduction of the Synthesizer. 
Jeff Michka Added Jun 19, 2018 - 9:13pm
Yeah, "Mahavishnu, John" is worthy  "Maha Vishnu?"  " I dunno, what's Vishnu with you?"  Then there's a slew of talecnt in various renditions of "Weather Report."  I 've got a Scatman LP.  Yellow vinyl, no jacket.  Scatman was an interesting guy.  Fusion was more of a reaction to the Jazz of the 60s, as much as technology.  And it was ARP that paved the way for syths in every act.  Very innovative Dutch firm, ARP.  I briefly had an ARP avatar, synth played like a guitar in early 70s.  Very odd sounds, needless to say.
wsucram15 Added Jun 20, 2018 - 5:11pm
MichaelB..I dont care about the lyrics either.  I listen to cool music in languages and have no idea what they are singing about. Dont care..its the music.
Miles Davis and Don Ellis- whom I only know because of my ex who played a trumpet and made me listen.   I knew them, just didnt know who they were... crazy good stuff. I have always liked jazz because of my sister.   Another thing she drug me to..lol.
 
Mustafa Kemal Added Jun 20, 2018 - 5:34pm
Jeff,
re:"  Yeah, but nobody has mentioned  "Bitches Brew,"
 
After graduate school i had my first real job in 1983 in Boston Ma
and I got in a phase every morning I would turn on a track of Bitches Brew as I worked at home before going to teach class.

I eventually had to slow down the Coffee Brew. The two together were a bit tough on the nervous system.

Good times.
Mustafa
wsucram15 Added Jun 20, 2018 - 6:03pm
Mustafa..bitches brew is a given, come on.   I think people that have never heard jazz have heard parts of that song and just dont know it. Although there is an argument for the "funk" aspect of it or lack of it by the jazz players.  think of how good that might have been..just a little funkier.  wow.
A. Jones Added Jun 20, 2018 - 9:02pm
You might also try "Doxy", a standard from 1954 composed by Sonny Rollins and performed here with the Miles Davis quintet.
Michael B. Added Jun 20, 2018 - 11:43pm
@ Jeanne - For some reason, that doesn't surprise me a bit! We've both been around long enough to know not to limit our horizons, musically speaking anyway!
 
It's going to take me a long time to fully appreciate Jazz, but fortunately I have a lot of time (knock on wood), and I'm enthusiastically looking forward to the journey. I still can't get enough of Thrust and Bitch's Brew, which is delaying my trip elsewhere, lol. What to say...I fucking love it!!!
Michael B. Added Jun 20, 2018 - 11:43pm
@ A. Jones - You seem familiar...I remember a very sharp yet caustic dude being on here with similar sentiments and characteristics as you, but I can't remember who. Whatever, thanks for the suggestion!
Stone-Eater Added Jun 21, 2018 - 5:24am
Jeff 
 
If you are into (new electric) blues you don't get around my "hero" (or remote teacher) Gary Moore. Sad he's dead before it was time for him...
Stone-Eater Added Jun 21, 2018 - 5:25am
BTW That's why I mentioned Frank Gambale. This guy plays blues, funk and jazz in one song :-)
Stone-Eater Added Jun 21, 2018 - 5:31am
Jeanne
 
In fact I would like jazz but I don't like wind instruments except on rare occasions like what Weather Report did. These sharp horns are ok, or sometimes I like  sax solo like in that African piece (SORRY LOL)...
 
https://youtu.be/QD1nujdnttc
 
Sorry for bringing Africa in LOL
Jeff Michka Added Jun 22, 2018 - 12:38pm
Wow, Mustafa, power drinking coffee and listening to bitches Brew will give you a case of Jangled Reinharts,,,LOL.  Sorry, but it's almost too early for this. 
wsucram15 Added Jun 22, 2018 - 2:42pm
SEF...thats more like a postmodern fusion thing with an odd twist left somewhere. Cool stuff though, you never let me down on music.
wsucram15 Added Jun 22, 2018 - 2:59pm
MichaelB..have you never heard of Nora Jones?  She really is an excellent jazz pianist   .https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FZFP2__ZGxM 
look at 1:07 or so..she has like a blusey jazz feel and then this ..kinda like an avant garde type jazz..old school stuff, not like what everyone is talking about.   Its different, I just like the piano.
Her first album has some jazz on it.  Her father was Ravi Shankar most know for his work with George Harrison and making sitar popular instrument.
 
Mark Hunter Added Jun 24, 2018 - 3:28am
I've got Nora Jones' first album, really enjoyed it.