Help me with JAZZ

Pick53766

Member
Messages
274
I am accustomed to the idea that getting to appreciate some of the greatest music ever written takes time and work. It is, more or less, how I approach music in general. Being a fan of prog rock and modern classical music I have no other choice but to study to like.

I always found it somewhat disappointing that I do not appreciate jazz. Of course, this is a free country. Not only can I ignore jazz, I can actively dislike it, I could even campaign against it :) But I somewhat sense that I might be missing something worthwhile and that would be a shame.

I have made several condensed attempts at trying to like it during my lifetime to no great avail. I think I can make one more with you fine people of TGP.

I am not trying to trash the genre here, I can obviously see that the players are incredibly skilled and that many of the compositions are very advanced. But here is, typically, where it fails for me:

1) Not enough rock 'n' roll. General lack of direct, raw energy. At least sometimes, please. Too mellow.
2) Nothing memorable ever. Everything sounds random and identical.
3) Too many notes. Stop fiddling about and play something comprehensible, will ya?
4) Can't stand 10 seconds of Miles Davis. Sounds like murder to me and by that I mean me murdering him.
5) Nothing really "nice" ever. No clear nice melody, no harmonic arch... just a flow of undefined noodling.

As I say, I understand that the error is on MY part. I just cannot figure out why I had no major issues learning to appreciate Atom Heart Mother or Yes or Crimson or Dmitri Shostakovich and cannot break into this.

Anybody care to educate me? A list of 50 essential jazz albums will not help. A selection of 5 songs or one album with some narrative as to what to look for or what to appreciate might.

Thanks a million.
 

DrumBob

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
17,855
You're listening to the wrong kind of jazz. Go back and listen to big band swing from the late 1930's-40's and you'll hear upbeat music with a melody and improvisation that felt good and had simpler solos played from the heart. I would recommend Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Jimmy Lunceford, Glenn Miller, Artie Shaw, Gene Krupa and Woody Herman, but there were many others. Explore the music on You Tube.

It was a time when jazz was the popular music of the day and it was accessible to the average person. That's not the case anymore, and hasn't been for decades. Jazz today is probably the least played, least popular music imaginable. It's too self conscious, too serious, and the bottom line is, you can't dance to it. It's no wonder you don't like it. I don't either. Years ago, Columbia Records sent me a bunch of Miles Davis CDs. I played them once or twice. I should sell them on Decluttr.
 
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tapeworm

Member
Messages
8,346
Maybe there’s nothing for you to “get” and you just don’t like jazz. That’s fine, really. Your reasons for not liking jazz thus far, about it not “rocking” enough, lacking energy, not being memorable, are exactly the same reason I can’t listen reasons I can’t listen to a lot of the names that get thrown around here in TGPland. Too many notes is exactly how I feel about a lot of these rock and blooze rock guys. Maybe jazz is just not your thing. Sounds like you’ve tried. Nothing wrong with that.

Of course I feel the opposite of that when I listen to Hank Mobley or Illinois Jacquet, Art Blakey’s great groups, Clifford Brown or Kenny Dorham. On guitar: Grant Green, Barney Kessel and Kenny Burrell. So many more, as well.

Outside of the “jazz fusion” guitarists which to me I don’t consider jazz any more than I consider blooze rock guitarists to be blues, I’m not really sure who to mention to check the boxes of more rocking, more memorable, comprehensible and nice “jazz”. Good luck though, I hope you find it.
 
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Pick53766

Member
Messages
274
Now I remember. During my previous tries I discovered Pat Metheny's Follow Me (which qualifies as jazz, I presume) and it was most weird.
I loved it. I thought - OK, now, this is my jam. This guy is interesting and no nonsense.

And then I disliked everything else. :(
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
43,185
1) Not enough rock 'n' roll. General lack of direct, raw energy. At least sometimes, please. Too mellow.
2) Nothing memorable ever. Everything sounds random and identical.
3) Too many notes. Stop fiddling about and play something comprehensible, will ya?
4) Can't stand 10 seconds of Miles Davis. Sounds like murder to me and by that I mean me murdering him.
5) Nothing really "nice" ever. No clear nice melody, no harmonic arch... just a flow of undefined noodling.
1. It's not rock. It doesn't have quite the same energy. Listen to Pat Martino Live at Yoshi's if you want energy in your jazz playing.
2. This sounds like maybe a taste issue and a lack of harmonic awareness. I IV V is very simplistic music and the basis for most of the rock we grew up with. Once you understand the form, it will make more sense.
3. Do you know the songs you are listening to? If not, the suggestion to go back to the big band swing era and familiarize yourself with the Great American Songbook might be the thing to do. You probably aren't going to understand what's happening if you don't know the material they are working with.
4. No worries. Again, probably a taste issue along with not understanding what Miles was playing.
5. This is odd. Those old standards are much more melodic and flow better than most anything written in the last 70 years.

My gateway was smooth jazz. R&B harmonies with a clear sense of melody and form with some jazzish improvisation. Once my ear got used to those tensions and progressions, jazz made more sense to me.

Maybe start with singers like Ella or John Pizzarelli. John has spent a career with the standards, is a good singer and a killer player. Jazz encompasses a huge amount of material. There's something for everyone. Good luck with it.
 
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Benz2112

Memba?
Gold Supporting Member
Messages
5,390
There is nothing that is going to force you to enjoy a certain mood or style of music, particularly if what you like falls into a rigid category. I'd say don't stare at your speakers and wait for something to happen, just find an artist or song you like, hit create a station on your streaming service, and see where it takes you. Either it lights a spark or it doesn't.
 

Pick53766

Member
Messages
274
OK, thanks everybody. I have a little theory here. Please do not take this in a wrong way, it is not meant to be. I am aware of the fact that there are places on this planet where such remarks may be considered inappropriate. I am merely trying to be analytical here.

When I look at "my music" - what I listen to, what I appreciate, I cannot help but notice that it is predominantly (almost devastatingly) white. Not only composed and played by white people but being very white in nature, if it makes any cultural sense. There are people who would deny that any such thing exists but I beg to differ. Soul does not speak to me, Close to the Edge and Karn Evil 9 does.

May that be the core of it all here? That I simply never learnt to appreciate the way the black music speaks in general enough?
 

ripgtr

Member
Messages
9,233
Well yeah, that is all very nice, indeed. Zero effort listening to that, most enjoyable. Almost not what I mean when I say "jazz". ;-)
But that IS jazz. It is the very essence and beginning of jazz. Ellington WAS Jazz. It started to get more "jazzy" with things like Goodman, but check out his stuff with Charlie Christian. YOU are influenced by him even if you don't know it, since he was a huge influence on all the early blues and rock and roll guitar players who influenced the guys you probably listened to. Early Armstrong has some great stuff too.

Jazz isn't rock and roll, they don't duck walk or set their guitars on fire. But there is lots of "accessible" stuff. Check out Kenny Burrell, you might even know some of his stuff.

A lot of jazz stuff has high energy. I used to think like you. I was at the keyboard players house before a gig one time, back in the 70s. He put on some Parker. I said it just sound like noise to me, he said, no its just the blues, and counted out the changes. And he was right, it is just the blues, with some different riffs and a few more notes, but that is pretty much exactly what he was playing, in feel and concept. Yea, some of it gets out there but not all of it.
 

Pick53766

Member
Messages
274
Never heard of the bands you mentioned.
Do you hate the Beatles? Stones? Led Zepplin? ZZ Top? Pink Floyd? and on and on. All hugely influenced by Black music.
None of them are are bands, they are songs (cornerstones of progressive rock, I would say).
You are listing my favourite bands, indeed. I can see the inspiration but I can also see that it has been cooked and twisted around heavily. Almost "translated", I would say. There would not be Gilmour without blues but Gilmour is not a blues guitarist and so on.
 

Average Joe

Member
Messages
11,722
Try this out for some nice energetic playing. Basically, it's all about how the whole band take the music places as a unit. As such it's not so much soloist + backing, they all make it up as they go along ;)

In a more fusiony vein this might get you started. It sure has the funk and rock n roll like energy I liked back in the 80s.

for old school and plyed with zest, this might do you well. Montgomery is often hummable
 

tapeworm

Member
Messages
8,346
OK, thanks everybody. I have a little theory here. Please do not take this in a wrong way, it is not meant to be. I am aware of the fact that there are places on this planet where such remarks may be considered inappropriate. I am merely trying to be analytical here.

When I look at "my music" - what I listen to, what I appreciate, I cannot help but notice that it is predominantly (almost devastatingly) white. Not only composed and played by white people but being very white in nature, if it makes any cultural sense. There are people who would deny that any such thing exists but I beg to differ. Soul does not speak to me, Close to the Edge and Karn Evil 9 does.

May that be the core of it all here? That I simply never learnt to appreciate the way the black music speaks in general enough?
I tried to touch on that in my reply above. Maybe it was just intuition, but it was obvious to me. That’s a lot more prevalent than you’d think especially in the blues music world. It’s why most white dudes like their blooze white and hard rockin’. Again, nothing wrong with that. We all like what we like.
 
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Sam Sherry

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,115
OK, thanks everybody. I have a little theory here. Please do not take this in a wrong way, it is not meant to be. I am aware of the fact that there are places on this planet where such remarks may be considered inappropriate.
Whether or not you mean it to be inappropriate, it is inappropriate.

If you're looking for a pat on the back because you intend to be a gracious, forthright, analytical racist instead of an intentionally cruel racist, you won't get it here. It's still racism. It's just racism.

When you hear something come on the radio can you tell how many people in the band are white? How about Latinx or Asians, can you count them playing in a song you've never heard before? What about musicians with one white parent and one parent who looks different?
 

JosephZdyrski

Member
Messages
3,352
OK, thanks everybody. I have a little theory here. Please do not take this in a wrong way, it is not meant to be. I am aware of the fact that there are places on this planet where such remarks may be considered inappropriate. I am merely trying to be analytical here.

When I look at "my music" - what I listen to, what I appreciate, I cannot help but notice that it is predominantly (almost devastatingly) white. Not only composed and played by white people but being very white in nature, if it makes any cultural sense. There are people who would deny that any such thing exists but I beg to differ. Soul does not speak to me, Close to the Edge and Karn Evil 9 does.

May that be the core of it all here? That I simply never learnt to appreciate the way the black music speaks in general enough?
i think you’re theory is flawed because you have and incomplete understanding about the history of music. Minus the influence of black music, we wouldn’t be playing rock at all, and without rock, no metal, punk, alternative, progressive rock, etc.

Hell one could make a pretty strong argument that without the influence of black musical styles, we’d still be listening to waltzes and marches.
 

Pick53766

Member
Messages
274
I tried to touch on that in my reply above. Maybe it was just intuition, but it was obvious to me. That’s a lot more prevalent than you’d think especially in the blues music world. Again, nothing wrong with that. We all like what we like.
Yeah, maybe the obvious lack of exposure in my formative years caused some doors to just stay shut. Pity, probably.
 




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