Jazz to some people...

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
Someone close to me (who's not a musician) made the statemet to me just recently...
"The reason I can't get into jazz is cause it sounds like they're playing a different song than the other guy up there."

Now It's a safe bet he's not referring to Dixieland, Glenn Miller or Kenny G style of 'jazz'

So the question is: how to respond to a statement like that without sounding condescending, yet knowledgable and also acknowledging that they may be correct to some extent?
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Show them.

But ease them into it.

Instead of throwing them in the deep end with something like A Love Supreme, try Coltrane Plays the Blues first. Instead of the bombast of Bitches Brew, ease him into Miles with Round Midnight or Kind of Blue. Instead of Ornette Coleman going off the reservation, show them Art Blakey's strong sense of 2 and 4 offered on Moanin'. Play some Satchmo or Duke Ellington before exposing them to Bird in full flight.

Show them that not all jazz is blasting a thousand notes a minute. Start with some of the stuff that's more accessible to ears that are used to back beat orientated music and take baby steps from there.
 

beatdat

Senior Member
Instead of throwing them in the deep end with something like A Love Supreme, try Coltrane Plays the Blues first. Instead of the bombast of Bitches Brew, ease him into Miles with Round Midnight or Kind of Blue. Instead of Ornette Coleman going off the reservation, show them Art Blakey's strong sense of 2 and 4 offered on Moanin'. Play some Satchmo or Duke Ellington before exposing them to Bird in full flight.
Great answer. Better examples. It's pretty much how I got into it. Although I'll have to check out Coleman.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
I feel the same as the OPs friend. I try to listen to jazz, but most of the time I just don't get it. It's like everyone is soloing at the same time, no one is listening. I find this odd because I listen to just about everything, yet jazz eludes me. I want to like it, I really do. All those guys are fantastic players. But I just don't get it.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Someone close to me (who's not a musician)
At some point during the 1950s, jazz became very sophisticated, artistic, and exploratory. Some of the best and most famous works were not intended for non-musicians, they were made because they pushed the boundaries of what was possible, beautiful, and interesting. You have to speak the language, in order to appreciate the ideas being conveyed. And if you don't speak the language well, you cannot assert that the ideas are meaningless, or good, or bad.

It's like everyone is soloing at the same time
To the uninitiated, it can seem that way, but they're not. You just don't have the training or experience that would allow you to hear how they're communicating with each other. It's heavy stuff, and there's a lot of great minds at work.

Someone who has spent years painting will have a better appreciation of art than a non-painter. Both people may like, or not like, a painting. But only one of them will be able to gauge what expertise was necessary to produce the painting, if it's original or derivative, etc.
 

dboomer

Senior Member
But I just don't get it.
Don’t feel bad ... most people don’t get it. In many ways it's like listening to 2 people speaking in a foreign language. If you don’t understand the language it’s just noise.

I would suggest a good way to learn to listen to it is to listen to songs where you absolutely know the melody (head). Then keep singing the it in your head while listening to the improvisation going on around it. In many ways the players push all the rules to the extremes but without actually breaking the rules is the way I see it.
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
No matter how politely jazz aficionados try to explain it....

It always sounds like "you're just not sophisticated enough to understand it". (Or-"it takes a certain person to see the Emperor's new robe...."? Sorry, couldn't resist lol.)

Lol....

Sounds like two cats in a bag being thrown down a flight of stairs to me sometimes...but I'm still trying my best to 'get' it!
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
In the early days of the internet, over 20 years ago, I frequented a jazz forum where we waxed philosophical about this stuff ad nauseam. It's like we would just go on and on, trying to figure out the magic formula to get people to dig jazz.

After all that time, I'm burned out on the whole topic. I'm happy to share what I love about the music with someone. But I'm not that passionate about converting people anymore. I would still love the music even if there was nobody else to discuss it with. It's just something I need. If someone comes around who digs it, that's just icing on the cake for me.
 

HeavyDrums

Junior Member
I really dig some types of jazz, the type where the melody is prevalent and it swings. I love the way Willie Nelson interprets jazz tunes. But the whole multi voices playing over each other, anything frenetic, bores me.

As a musician, I have no desire to play jazz. Tried it in music school and it bored me to tears. I get it. I understand theory. I just prefer playing rock.

That may be in part because people do "get it". It's nice to look out from a stage and see a crowd nodding along to your groove than to see an empty room, people playing chess, eating scones, what have you.
 

Hewitt2

Senior Member
I don't think this is unique to jazz, but to any genre of music that comprises extremes i.e. metal, progressive, classical, etc. Same conversation and challenges and potential snobbery for those who consider themselves aficionados.
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
In the early days of the internet, over 20 years ago, I frequented a jazz forum where we waxed philosophical about this stuff ad nauseam. It's like we would just go on and on, trying to figure out the magic formula to get people to dig jazz.

After all that time, I'm burned out on the whole topic. I'm happy to share what I love about the music with someone. But I'm not that passionate about converting people anymore. I would still love the music even if there was nobody else to discuss it with. It's just something I need. If someone comes around who digs it, that's just icing on the cake for me.
Just wanted to say-my post above was pretty much just meant to be funny. Sometimes I hit...sometimes I miss...lol.

More seriously, I do, I mean really do "dig" jazz (well most of the straight jazz sort of stuff....). And I am trying all the time to deepen my experience.
I have some Art Blakey and the Jazz messengers. I listen to stuff by Chet Atkins. Try to grok Miles. Some works...some not so much. I have gotten really bored with the whole "rock" thing honestly... I find that I just can't willingly listen to it anymore.

Lately I have been checking out Sinatra, Dean Martin, Ella Fitzgerald and Lois Armstrong, Billie Holiday. I don't know what that stuff is, but I know it would not be considered "jazz"....big band?

Anyway...we should ALL be able to celebrate what we enjoy without having to feel the need to defend it or explain it to deeply.

It's like vegetables. I don't need to study how good they are for the body. I just need to pop them in my mouth to know whether I 'like' them or not!
 

toddmc

Gold Member
I don't think this is unique to jazz, but to any genre of music that comprises extremes i.e. metal, progressive, classical, etc. Same conversation and challenges and potential snobbery for those who consider themselves aficionados.
Totally agree- they're just two sides of the same coin.

So the question is: how to respond to a statement like that without sounding condescending, yet knowledgable and also acknowledging that they may be correct to some extent?
Why say anything at all- it's not like you're going to change their mind?

When someone says they can't stand that heavy metal rubbish, my first inclination isn't to blast Slayer in their face in the hopes they will suddenly be converted, but just to accept that people like what they like and if they don't "get it" that's totally fine.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Why say anything at all- it's not like you're going to change their mind?
Maybe. Maybe not. You can't "make" somebody like something. But you can sure change their opinions of something. Especially when those opinions are formed from exposure to a very narrow sample group to begin with.

If someone said to you "all metal is just indiscernible screamo/cookie monster vocals", I get you wouldn't immediately turn to Slayer to sway them. But you wouldn't at least feel compelled to highlight a couple of examples with clean vocals? Who knows, a different approach might be all it takes to broaden someone's appreciation.
 

toddmc

Gold Member
Maybe. Maybe not. You cam't "make" somebody like something. But you can sure change their opinions of something. Especially when those opinions are formed from exposure to a very narrow sample group to begin with.

If someone said to you "all metal is just indiscernible screamo/cookie monster vocals", I get you wouldn't immediately turn to Slayer to sway them. But you wouldn't at least feel compelled to highlight a couple of examples with clean vocals?
Honestly, I wouldn't wouldn't feel the least bit compelled to do anything but maybe that's because I've been conditioned to accept that metal is an "unacceptable" form of music to most people and I'm totally OK with that (hell, it's probably half the appeal).

As for changing people's opinions on ANY subject- that's not something that happens on a regular basis either (especially between people arguing on the internet) 😉
More often than not, good old cognitive dissonance kicks in and no matter how many scientific facts or cited sources I might offer on any given topic, most people will dig in their heels even harder on their previously held opinion.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Fair enough.

Although in my experiences, only the completely stupid or those content to remain completely ignorant are that rigid that they are unwilling to allow new data to sway an opinion. They're around, no doubt. But by and large, opinions can be swayed and minds can be changed with the addition of new experiences or new information. If they didn't, we'd still be putting leeches on ourselves and thinking the earth was flat. :)
 

Mongrel

Silver Member
"Scientific facts"
"Cited sources"
"Flat Earth"
"Leeches"

I think I discovered the problem!

You guys forgot we are talking about MUSIC! About as subjecitve a "thing" as there could be....

Ain't nothing scientific about it boys....

You like it or you don't.....lol.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
It's subjective alright. Ain't no doubt about it.

You like it or you don't.....lol.
But this just isn't true.....at least not as an absolute it's not.

I can think of a host of things that I didn't used to like but have come to appreciate or even love, due to nothing more than time, further experience or increased exposure. I can name a heap of bands that did nothing for me at one time, but due to many factors, I've come to love, respect and appreciate.

But keeping to the topic at hand, I didn't always "get jazz" either. But as per my first post, I started listening to the wrong stuff (for me, at the time). It was too advanced and I didn't know WTF was going on. Hell, I didn't even much like Elvin Jones when I first heard him for the same reasons. Now I love them. All because someone bothered to show me another angle that I could potentially "get". That lead to an appreciation of the next thing, then the next thing and so on, until low and behold here I am enamoured with Charlie Parker's blistering runs and discordant squawks and squeaks, Elvin's other worldy ability to push the boundaries of time and meter.......and a shit ton of other things that once held absolutely no interest for me.

Those that know me will tell you I'm not really all that unique mate. So I know I'm not the only one whose perceptions and appreciations have changed or evolved. Many things I once hated, I've come to love.........except pumpkin......and carrots. I'll always detest them!!
 
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