Jazz Notes ....

Discussion in 'Art & Culture' started by Tiassa, Jan 5, 2017.

  1. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    So the thing is that I come to Freddie Hubbard's Blue Spirits while following up on Harold Mabern, Jr. And the thing is that it's possible to get to certain albums from any ridiculous number of vectors. Ayler's Ghosts, for instance, reissued after his death as Ayler/Cherry, Vibrations; I've seen a third version, though I forget what it's called, but I'm pretty certain it's for Sunny Murray. In Hubbard's case, though, well, check these vectors, because this opening paragraph of the Wikipedia entry↱ is just one of those:

    Blue Spirits is the tenth album by trumpeter Freddie Hubbard released on the Blue Note label. It would be his last studio album for Blue Note, only followed up by the live album the next year; The Night of the Cookers. It features performances by Hubbard, James Spaulding, Joe Henderson, Harold Mabern, Jr., Larry Ridley, Clifford Jarvis, Big Black, Kiane Zawadi, Hank Mobley, McCoy Tyner, Bob Cranshaw, Pete LaRoca. The CD release added tracks from a 1966 session featuring Hosea Taylor, Herbie Hancock, Reggie Workman, and Elvin Jones.

    Yeah, that's all of two songs from that second session. And it's easy to see why the diverse, earlier session makes for a good release. But it's nearly absurd that he had Taylor, Hancock, Workman, and Jones, and the result waited thirty-seven years for release.

    Still, though, the Wiki article notes Allmusic gives the album four stars, while the Rolling Stone Jazz Record Guide awards all of one star. How ... interesting. And here I am wondering what Mabern has to do to score better than three from either of them.
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  3. youreyes amorphous ocean Valued Senior Member

    Its a bit melancholic and not to innovative, in my opinion. And the flute seems somewhat sharp in contrast.

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  5. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member

    Not That I'm Intending to Buy One

    It started with the idea of, "What the hell is that?" And it turned out that was a Fender Jaco Pastorius Jazz Bass↱. It's not quite six degrees of Wikipedia, but it was an interesting tumble down the wikihole, anyway:

    Jaco Pastorius↱ ― Yes, really ... that good. So good, in fact, he thought it a good idea to do a steelpan↱ album. There is a claim, not properly cited, that the steelpan is the only instrument "made to play in the Pythagorian musical cycle of fourths and fifths". Then again, neither am I about to attempt to explain Pythagorean intervals↱ or their significance at the moment―or anytime in the foreseeable future―but Pythagorean tuning↱ reminds that there really is science behind music, though, sure, there are plenty of reminders when we get right down to it. And if "Pythagorean tuning is a tuning of the syntonic temperament in which the generator is the ratio 3:2 ... which is 702 cents wide". Which, in turn, is good to know, and out of all that what I find fascinating is a cent↱. And somewhere on that page I got sick of seeing the phrase just intonation↱, so I clicked it. And at some point I got interrupted, but I think the next proper degree is to return to "equal temperament"↱, another term I am tired of seeing without clicking.​

    You know, because I just had to click on "steelpan".

    Still ... Jaco Pastorius.

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  7. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member


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    Wikipedia is as Wikipedia does, but every once in a while ....

    "Witch Hunt"

    The melody consists mostly of perfect fourths, which outline quartal chords. At the time of the song's composition (and first recording, with Freddie Hubbard on trumpet and Herbie Hancock on piano, as well as Shorter), quartal harmony was beginning to gain popularity in "post-bop" jazz circles, under the particular influence of pianist McCoy Tyner. The piece opens with a heraldic horn fanfare.

    (Wikipedia, "Speak No Evil"↱)

    And "Witch Hunt" really is a good song, and Speak No Evil a properly essential jazz album. Then again, one of the things about being Wayne Shorter is that being good enough to play five years with Jazz Messengers, including a term as musical director, and six in Davis' second quintet, means when it's your turn to front you can have Elvin Jones, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Freddie Hubbard at your side.

    But the brief overview of "Witch Hunt" is the sort of irresistible paragraph in which one cannot help but click out and read up on quartal chords and harmony, because that's the sort of thing you just don't pay much attention to unless you're staring at an invitation like that, twice linking out to a discussion of quartal and quintal harmony. And, well, any number of not-quite jokes go here. I recall Mark Steel discussing Cage's 4'33", performed live on BBC once upon a time, and a commentator offering comparative insight because she had seen a rehearsal take. Steel's punch line was about how this is why artistic criticism sounds snobby and turns people off; I do wonder, though, how well "Four Thirty-Three" plays in a state of the art auditorium—to a certain degree, the more of the world that can creep in, the better. Meanwhile, more to the point, the Wikipedia entry for "Quartal and quintal harmony"↱ presently includes some of the most awesomely pretentious discussion I've seen of late:


    The Tristan chord is made up of the notes F♮, B♮, D♯ and G♯ and is the very first chord heard in Wagner's opera Tristan und Isolde. The bottom two notes make up an augmented fourth; the upper two make up a perfect fourth. This layering of fourths in this context has been seen as highly significant. The chord had been found in earlier works (Vogel 1962, 12; Nattiez 1990,[page needed]) (notably Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 18) but Wagner's use was significant, first because it is seen as moving away from traditional tonal harmony and even towards atonality, and second because with this chord Wagner actually provoked the sound or structure of musical harmony to become more predominant than its function, a notion which was soon after to be explored by Debussy and others (Erickson 1975,[page needed]). Beethoven's use of the chord is of short duration and it resolves in the accepted manner; whereas Wagner's use lasts much longer and resolves in a highly unorthodox manner for the time. Despite the layering of fourths, it is rare to find musicologists identifying this chord as "quartal harmony" or even as "proto-quartal harmony", since Wagner's musical language is still essentially built on thirds, and even an ordinary dominant seventh chord can be laid out as augmented fourth plus perfect fourth (F-B-D-G). Wagner's unusual chord is really a device to draw the listener into the musical-dramatic argument which the composer is presenting to us. However, fourths become important later in the opera, especially in the melodic development.

    At the beginning of the 20th century, fourth-based chords finally became an important element of harmony.

    I love that short paragraph. How badly do you want to edit in, [citation needed]?

    Still, though, none of that is actually wrong. At least, I don't think so. Or, you know. Close enough. It's just, you know, the kind of stuff that makes people complain about artistic criticism being obscure. I mean, most people I know would have stopped reading somewhere around Beethoven's Piano Sonata. Which, in turn, is tragic because it gets even better:

    Scriabin used a self-developed system of transposition using fourth-chords, like his Mystic chord in his Piano Sonata No. 6. Scriabin wrote this chord in his sketches alongside other quartal passages and more traditional tertian passages, often passing between systems, for example widening the six-note quartal sonority (C – F♯ – B♭ – E – A – D) into a seven-note chord (C – F♯ – B♭ – E – A – D – G).

    At this point I'm cracking up because having a "named" chord is the kind of thing a cartoon villain really ought to want. You know, botch it all up, somehow thinking the Tristan chord means he can name it after himself, or the Mystic chord meaning something about being smarter than Yoda. I mean, come on: The "Mystic" chord. Tell me that isn't just begging for jape and farce.

    Nonetheless, all this sets up what is possibly the best sentence I've read ... I don't know, in some particular context ... in quite a while:

    Scriabin's sketches for his unfinished work Mysterium show that he intended to develop the Mystic chord into a huge chord incorporating all twelve notes of the chromatic scale (Morrison 1998, 316).

    And now you have my attention. That is so pretentiously mad-scientist awesome I almost can't cope.

    One of the truly fun things about art is figuring out how to describe the things people do. And when we stop and think about it, yes, the idea of a quartal-chromatic monster chord is exactly the sort of mountain people climb because it's there.

    Then again, to what degree is the reason why such a notion is so awesome also the reason so many people seem to loathe the intricacies of artistic criticism and appreciation?


    Wikipedia. "Quartal and quintal harmony". Updated 22 March 2017. en.Wikipedia.org. 7 May 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartal_and_quintal_harmony

    —————. "Speak No Evil" Updated 4 May 2017. en.Wikipedia.org. 7 May 2017. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speak_No_Evil
  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    Beethoven liked the sound of fourths.
    What it sounds like, that "precursor", in flight:

    The score pages for you.
    The exact "Tristan" chord is the dotted half note chord in bar 35, helpfully numbered.
    ("The Tristan chord is made up of the notes F♮, B♮, D♯ and G♯" = F, Cflat, Eflat, and Aflat ).
    A couple of transpositions and modified versions follow,

    Somewhere on the web is an analysis of the first few bars of a Thelonius Monk tune in which the guy posting points out that the "sound" of American jazz after WWII is significantly a consequence of the black composers modulating "backwards" around the white composers's standard circle of fifths - making of it a circle of fourths. Tell me that wasn't conscious, at some level?

    (The role of this kind of stuff in music might resemble the role of technical consideration in poetry - by imposing a form in general much trivial decision is cleared from the deck, and by imposing a new form the imagination or ear or whatever is both jacked out of its old ruts and - paradoxically - allowed freedom from consideration of the new one's limits by their being new. Distracted by the technical end, the repressive and editing mind is kept busy and out of the imagination's way. All the great composers did that kind of stuff, anyway - Bach writing his name or other people's names in the note names of fugues - - - )
    Last edited: May 13, 2017
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  9. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Valued Senior Member


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    Ennis has nothing to do with Strozier. Click for incongruity.

    Of course it was.

    Okay, more seriously: In truth, I don't mean to be shorting people on discussion, but I'm also at the edge of my comprehension. But to take your question, there is actually a long and winding joke that starts with the New Orleans Jass Band laying down the first proprietary jazz, owing to the point of early jazz being professional musicians diddling around in lieu of symphonic work. Jazz is, in a certain manner or after a particular fashion, the next step in the evolution of music. Consider what happened in classical music. A hundred four years ago, this month, Stravinsky's experimental tonality incited a riot in Paris. Shortly thereafter, Dada would rise as a recognized artistic movement that would, in turn, pass in the blink of an eye. And no, I have no idea what to say about Chumbawumba.

    But, say, personally, here's the thing with the evolution of music: Ever hear "Guitar Trio" by Rhys Chatham? Gods of Thunder recorded the original, I think, but I keep the 1990 recording by Band of Susans↱ (Poss, Stenger, Spitzer, Husick, Lonergan) close at hand. Chatham also engineered "An Angel Moves Too Fast To See", a composition for one hundred electric guitars, electric bass, and drums—yes, really.

    Or what can I tell you about Eno, or My Bloody Valentine? There is much to say about electric guitars; Sonic Youth recorded some experimental music with some Scandanavian orchestra in the nineties, but it's true we only ever listened to the album once, as my brother, the Sonic Youth fan, isn't into avant garde.

    All of which is a prelude to a joke having to do with the evolution of music: What is the difference between Phillip Glass and Jazz? Roy Campbell.

    Right. To me, that's hilarious.

    You know how easy it is to accidentally go off on something just because the information is flooding? Yeah, when I started this thread, I went with the obscurity of the Mabern joke because otherwise I was thinking of myself as far too much of a genius. You know; it happens, sometimes. But it's true, my jazz prejudice, it turns out, ran through an astounding period where modal mingled with free and avant garde. Everything else might as well be Fred Flintstone doing Mel Torme, or maybe just Lee Konitz in Harvard Square.

    I know. Open up the catalogs in the twenty-first century and pedagogy becomes a playground. It's easy to get lost.

    Never mind.

    I think my answer to your question is that it's as deliberate as it is inevitable.

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