It's been far too long since the last blogroll refresh, but that's nothing new. But hey, if you haven't seen it, it's new to you, right?
Rather than my usual M.O. of laying one long linkdump on you, I'm going to serve these up one by one over the course of the next few days.
It was only a matter of time, right? One of jazz's most original thinkers has jumped into the blogoswamp. The format so far is mostly Q&A, and Steve's not afraid to go long and technical. The blog only launched a couple of weeks ago, and there are only four posts up so far, but there is already an almost overwhelming density of information. I actually kind of wish he'd make it more blog-like and digestible by divvying things up into shorter individual posts, but there's no doubt this blog is shaping up to be one hell of a resource.
Here are just a few things worth mulling over. (I definitely don't agree with all of this!)
I have spent most of my career concentrating more on the rhythm/pitch/form aspects of music versus timbral considerations. I have certainly not ignored timbre, but I have not really delved into a systematized study of it either. And the musicians that I favor tend to be those that have highly developed and specific rhythmic and tonality languages. With these musicians I feel that the timbral elements are aids for expressing the sophisticated rhythmelodies. Of course there would be those who completely disagree with me and that is why their music would tend to run in directions that stress timbral qualities. For myself I prefer a more subtle expression of timbre.
I feel strongly that the younger generation that is involved in creative music today are foregoing the detailed rhythmic and melodic developments demonstrated by the older masters (which take an incredible amount of concentration to develop) in favor of more ‘effects’. These trends tend to pendulum back and forth, as each generation reacts to the excesses of the previous generation by moving in the opposite direction.
In all of my teaching one of the main things I notice is that young people (who make up most of the class when you are teaching) tend to rush when playing music. Young people have less patience, and the tendency to want to push the beat is greater. So you have to make a conscious effort to relax and lay back. This tendency is counteracted in some cultures, especially in the African Diaspora. This may be because initially in these cultures it is frequent for much older people to play alongside younger people and the ‘way’ of playing may more easily be transferred to the younger musicians, but I’m just speculating here. My own experience is that I picked this up from playing with much older musicians. I remember when I first joined the Thad Jones-Mel Lewis Orchestra that I was always ahead of Thad in terms of where I felt the time (this was true when I played alongside Von Freeman also), so I had to consciously slow down – and after some time this became a habit.
You know, what really clarified things for me was when I got some kind of handle on ‘what am I trying to say with my music’. In other words it is one thing to play music with emotional feeling and expressiveness. It is quite another to try to express very specific ideas through your music. All humans are born with emotion as a basic language, even babies have this, for the most part it is the only language we possess initially. But there is more to us than emotion, feeling and emotion are not the same thing. Feeling actually encompasses emotion but other forms of sensation as well, physical and mental sensation and impressions and even spiritual sensations and impressions.