Listening to Jazz-Not as simple as it seems.

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Great posts-and suggestions. I'm an old fart and don't hear well without hearing aids-so what I hear is "representation" of the real world-on another thread comparing snares I swear I was hearing the opposite of everyone else-I"m like damn. Anyways it got me thinking all the recordings- records, tape, digital now we listen is a "representation" of the real performance. Listening to music over the ages you have to account the differences in recording, improvements, changes in industry-going from using a horn to record to a disc to emulate the live performance, then tape with multitrack, the limits of just how much music can you put on an album before you run into label LOL, going from analog to digital, overcoming perplexing problems-a lot of change in my lifetime. It seems so different listening to the same song as the original album, to a tape recording, or now listening on your iPOD-I don't know if it's real what I'm hearing or just my brain because my brain connects to past experiences so it's psychological? Old scratchy records with lots of noise in old recordings don't bother me-just white noise my brain deletes it seems-now the music seems so perfect-crystalline clear it's almost annoying LOL. I like to listen to live music-that what really grabs me. Like listen to a comedian on the tube-barely a laugh-but go see same person live at a bar and everyone is in hysterics-it's a different experience. Crap I forgot my point-damn I digress quite a bit-my point is go listen to jazz in person-recordings are great but live performances are better-you get the whole experience.
 
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Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
And "jazz" comes in many flavors. Most every vinyl album I have of Roy Eldridge, or Count Basie released by Pablo, is very listenable. Chet Baker's West Coast sound is sometimes almost pop, but his earlier recordings with European artists leans more towards a traditional jazz sound that some may find harder to listen and follow. Traditional New Orleans Jazz has it's own sound and is very listenable. A lot of it has to do with how much the piece "swings"; to me it's the time signature and how much the band moves in and out of it or else stays with it and "swings". Jazz ain't just one sound. Miles Davis Kind of Blue is very easy for me to listen to. Max Roach later recordings not so much.
 
M

MasterBlaster

Guest
Most jazz I hear I'm amazed they can accurately repeat those same million notes over and over again. I'd be LOST.
 

Rattlin' Bones

Gold Member
Yeah I'm not good enough of a player to find my way through the more complicated forms of jazz. I get lost. Even reading music I'm listening to the other players and when they go different places I get lost. I'm a terrible jazz drummer. My group does a few pieces that are a fusion of jazz and blues, but it still swings. I think that may be because I never listened to the more complicated forms of jazz much (which was original OP intent: listening to jazz) and I never developed a feel for it. Now that I'm older I listen to it a lot and appreciate it, but I don't have the time to practice or learn it.

Most jazz I hear I'm amazed they can accurately repeat those same million notes over and over again. I'd be LOST.
 
M

MasterBlaster

Guest
When I hear that fast complicated stuff, it seems like the drummer is playing something different from what the band is playing. It's close, but it sometimes seems the drummer is doing whatever they want as long as they're close to the rhythm of the band.

Of course, I'm sure that's not true - it just seems to be that way a lot of the time.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
When I hear that fast complicated stuff, it seems like the drummer is playing something different from what the band is playing. It's close, but it sometimes seems the drummer is doing whatever they want as long as they're close to the rhythm of the band.

Of course, I'm sure that's not true - it just seems to be that way a lot of the time.
Whenever this happens, it's important you listen to the other members of the band, to better understand what the drummer is responding to.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
there are two basic things one needs to understand jazz

first is desire/love ... I'll never understand why so many force themselves to try to enjoy jazz.
do you do the same with hip hop? ... classical ?... polka? ... then why jazz?

if you don't love it .. leave it alone ... probably the best advice you will get

second is at least some basic knowledge of forms and chord changes ... without this you will be completely lost in any improvised music

jazz... like classical music ... is a lifelong commitment ... that is part of what makes it special .

you won't be just jumping on the bandstand to dabble around the way you would Mustang Sally while having some beers with friends

and what separates it from all styles of music is that you have to react and create on the spot in real time ...

we all love all those records and dig on all the licks these cats are playing ... but many forget that those things happened in real time and never happened again

to me ... "Big Band" music isn't jazz .. Big Band is swing music... and it is wonderful at that ... but to me real jazz is improvised

but honestly ... if you do not love listening to it stop trying to understand it ...
... if it sounds like "4 guys playing different songs" to you it is simply a dialect foreign to you

but many of us live it ... many of us could hear 5 seconds of a ride beat and tell you it's Philly Joe
... or hear 5 seconds of a brush pattern and tell you it's Vernel Fournier
... or hear 2 seconds of fingers hitting piano keys and tell you it's Monk
... or one bar of an alto solo and tell you it's Jackie McLean
etc etc etc etc

just like many of us can hear Stevie Ray... or Eddie Van Halen... or Moonie ... etc etc and tell who it is within seconds ... same thing

I'll admit ... a lot of the "free" stuff does not appeal to me ... all of that later Coltrane stuff is not interesting to me at all ... beyond Ornette Coleman all of that "out" stuff is far too "expressive" for me ...
I need some semblance of order

if you made it to the end of this rambling ... thanks for reading :)

if you love listening to jazz and want to dive deeper I recommend a few records that will be a gentle introduction without listening to bland music

Clifford Brown - A Study in Brown ... and also Incorporated
Ahmad Jamal - At The Pershing But Not For Me
Sonny Clark - Cool Struttin' ... and also Sonny's Crib
McCoy Tyner - The Real McCoy and Reaching Fourth
Dizzy Gillespie - Sonny Side up

sit with those exclusively for about a year ... sounds like a joke but I'm serious

also take your ride cymbal away from your drums ... put Art Blakey Moanin' in some head phones and play just the ride cymbal along with the tune for an hour everyday for about 3 or 4 months ... again completely serious

if your time is not together there is absolutely no reason to be attempting to comp

also ... and no I'm not crazy ... stay away from all the famous jazz books for a while until you have a firm understanding of the music ... my reason for saying this is because it will have you thinking in patterns ... you will be on the bandstand playing exercises from the book ... HUGE no no ...
I can hear a guy play for 2 minutes and tell you that he learned jazz out of a book and not by listening ... it creates a completely different player

I highly recommend not practicing "exercises " when learning jazz ... but practicing music ... it is most important to understand

1. vocabulary
and 2. how to access that vocabulary

if any of this helps my job is done here
 
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Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
there are two basic things one needs to understand jazz

first is desire/love ... I'll never understand why so many force themselves to try to enjoy jazz.
do you do the same with hip hop? ... classical ?... polka? ... then why jazz?

if you don't love it .. leave it alone ... probably the best advice you will get

second is at least some basic knowledge of forms and chord changes ... without this you will be completely lost in any improvised music

jazz... like classical music ... is a lifelong commitment ... that is part of what makes it special .

you won't be just jumping on the bandstand to dabble around the way you would Mustang Sally while having some beers with friends

and what separates it from all styles of music is that you have to react and create on the spot in real time ...

we all love all those records and dig on all the licks these cats are playing ... but many forget that those things happened in real time and never happened again

to me ... "Big Band" music isn't jazz .. Big Band is swing music... and it is wonderful at that ... but to me real jazz is improvised
As someone who recently got into an argument here where several posters tried to tell me that "improvising is basically impossible", I find your thoughts here quite nice. It's not impossible, it's a skill that needs development, and one that "real" jazz tends to value a lot. If you're trying to play jazz with a list of pre-thought out beats and fills in your head, it's not going to sound very right. You need to listen hard and be a part of the musical conversation.

Honestly, I try and apply the same principles to my rock and originals playing as well. If you play music, and not just drums, being inspired by the music and the playing around you, and inspiring the other players in turn is one of the best parts of the art.
 

Out Of Warranty

Senior Member
there are two basic things one needs to understand jazz

first is desire/love ... I'll never understand why so many force themselves to try to enjoy jazz.
do you do the same with hip hop? ... classical ?... polka? ... then why jazz?

if you don't love it .. leave it alone ... probably the best advice you will get

second is at least some basic knowledge of forms and chord changes ... without this you will be completely lost in any improvised music

jazz... like classical music ... is a lifelong commitment ... that is part of what makes it special .

you won't be just jumping on the bandstand to dabble around the way you would Mustang Sally while having some beers with friends

and what separates it from all styles of music is that you have to react and create on the spot in real time ...

we all love all those records and dig on all the licks these cats are playing ... but many forget that those things happened in real time and never happened again

to me ... "Big Band" music isn't jazz .. Big Band is swing music... and it is wonderful at that ... but to me real jazz is improvised

but honestly ... if you do not love listening to it stop trying to understand it ...
... if it sounds like "4 guys playing different songs" to you it is simply a dialect foreign to you

but many of us live it ... many of us could hear 5 seconds of a ride beat and tell you it's Philly Joe
... or hear 5 seconds of a brush pattern and tell you it's Vernel Fournier
... or hear 2 seconds of fingers hitting piano keys and tell you it's Monk
... or one bar of an alto solo and tell you it's Jackie McLean
etc etc etc etc

just like many of us can hear Stevie Ray... or Eddie Van Halen... or Moonie ... etc etc and tell who it is within seconds ... same thing

I'll admit ... a lot of the "free" stuff does not appeal to me ... all of that later Coletrane stuff is not interesting to me at all ... beyond Ornette Coleman all of that "out" stuff is far too "expressive" for me ...
I need some semblance of order

if you made it to the end of this rambling ... thanks for reading :)

if you love listening to jazz and want to dive deeper I recommend a few records that will be a gentle introduction without listening to bland music

Clifford Brown - A Study in Brown ... and also Incorporated
Ahmad Jamal - At The Pershing But Not For Me
Sonny Clark - Cool Struttin' ... and also Sonny's Crib
McCoy Tyner - The Real McCoy and Reaching Fourth
Dizzy Gillespie - Sonny Side up

sit with those exclusively for about a year ... sounds like a joke but I'm serious

also take your ride cymbal away from your drums ... put Art Blakey Moanin' in some head phones and play just the ride cymbal along with the tune for an hour everyday for about 3 or 4 months ... again completely serious

if your time is not together there is absolutely no reason to be attempting to comp

also ... and no I'm not crazy ... stay away from all the famous jazz books for a while until you have a firm understanding of the music ... my reason for saying this is because it will have you thinking in patterns ... you will be on the bandstand playing exercises from the book ... HUGE no no ...
I can hear a guy play for 2 minutes and tell you that he learned jazz out of a book and not by listening ... it creates a completely different player

I highly recommend not practicing "exercises " when learning jazz ... but practicing music ... it is most important to understand

1. vocabulary
and 2. how to access that vocabulary

if any of this helps my job is done here
Excellent post. Thanks, I needed this!
 

Groov-E

Silver Member
there are two basic things one needs to understand jazz

first is desire/love ... I'll never understand why so many force themselves to try to enjoy jazz.

if you don't love it .. leave it alone ... probably the best advice you will get

also ... and no I'm not crazy ... stay away from all the famous jazz books for a while until you have a firm understanding of the music ... my reason for saying this is because it will have you thinking in patterns ... you will be on the bandstand playing exercises from the book ... HUGE no no ...
I can hear a guy play for 2 minutes and tell you that he learned jazz out of a book and not by listening ... it creates a completely different player

I highly recommend not practicing "exercises " when learning jazz ... but practicing music ... it is most important to understand
Great advice all around !

Although I do not agree 100% with the two quoted statements :

1- I grew up not being exposed to jazz much. Certainly not enough for a kid, teen and then young adult to develop a taste for the style. Like wine and fine cheese, some things you need to try a bit before developping a taste for them. To me, jazz was like that. Now I love it, and it is mostly what I listen to.

2- Books. I understand what you are saying, but I first tried learning "jazz independance" through the art of bop to help me become a more complete drummer. Then I would try and apply those concepts to actual songs, which made me realize that you can not force a brick into a hole and call it a wall. It made me search deeper for the feel and intent behind what every musician played in a band, which again helped me develop a taste for the stuff.

Still a work in progress of course, but I like to think it is making me a better musician, trying to figure out what other players or a producer have in mind and comp, accompany or place my brick in the wall to make it stronger and lay foundations for others to build on.
 
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Nate'sKit

Senior Member
What are you people talking about?

My first listen to Jazz was also my first concert when I was 13. Went to go see the Allman Brothers (still with Duane) who didn't show. Mahavishnu Orchestra touring for the Inner Mounting Flame album did. It kind of tore the top of my head off but I loved it. Later learned how much it owed to Trane and others, but I didn't need an instruction manual to dig it. Or pretty much anything else in the Jazz world. I mean Cecil Taylor you can have. Art Ensemble of Chicago, I can have.

When I was around 16 I got heavily into Be Bop. For months I didn't talk to people just scatted Bop lines instead.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
My original post was in the context of listening to jazz to learn and try to emulate what you hear (people often suggest listen to a bunch)-not the music isn't enjoyable or is nonsensical-just who can figure what's going on (drum wise) and then how to play it LOL. Like the second video with the Elvin Jones lick-most people listen to it and play it wrong not picking up the sort of a drag as demonstrated. I think the videos point is your brain matures to pick up on the finer points of what is going on drum wise the more you listen to jazz music-the easier it is for your brain to decipher what the hell is going on-still you got to try and play it-which is my rub. Listening "ain't gonna" help me play it-gotta go the woodshed and chop wood. Great suggestions to take to the woodshed. I did just the hi hat one time as an experiment (inspired by Jeff Hamilton to focus on it-he has great cymbal suggestions too) and it was a great exercise I'm going to try my ride as suggested too.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
My original post was in the context of listening to jazz to learn and try to emulate what you hear (people often suggest listen to a bunch)-not the music isn't enjoyable or is nonsensical-just who can figure what's going on (drum wise) and then how to play it LOL. Like the second video with the Elvin Jones lick-most people listen to it and play it wrong not picking up the sort of a drag as demonstrated. I think the videos point is your brain matures to pick up on the finer points of what is going on drum wise the more you listen to jazz music-the easier it is for your brain to decipher what the hell is going on-still you got to try and play it-which is my rub. Listening "ain't gonna" help me play it-gotta go the woodshed and chop wood. Great suggestions to take to the woodshed. I did just the hi hat one time as an experiment (inspired by Jeff Hamilton to focus on it-he has great cymbal suggestions too) and it was a great exercise I'm going to try my ride as suggested too.
if you want to play the music I suggest you do the ride cymbal thing I suggested and get your time feel proper ... there is some technique involved in that ... I don't mean name brand techniques they try to sell you on DVDs ...
I simply mean something that you develop that allows the stick to dance on the cymbal

if you are interested in steps to take after that feel free to PM me and I can walk you through the entire process to becoming a player of the music if you are interested

after your time is steady it is all about being able to access permutations of a few subdivisions on your limbs so that you can develop a vocabulary ... that literally starts with a quarter note

when some of those are comfortable it's time to memorize a melody ... that's where your playing becomes musical

hit me up if you want
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I'll never understand why so many force themselves to try to enjoy jazz.
do you do the same with hip hop? ... classical ?... polka? ... then why jazz?

if you don't love it .. leave it alone ...
Great comments, I disagree with this one point-- part of the process for anyone who's serious about growth in music and life is to sometimes put aside your personal taste and let some new things in. Give it a chance to do it's thing. Music for grown ups is not always intended to meet your expectations, and be instantly processed and liked.

And jazz and classical music cover such a huge range of stuff, that "not liking" either of them is not even a legit opinion as far as I'm concerned. All it means is the person has dismissed a lot of music without listening to it because somebody else decided that it should be categorized under the single label "classical." Why would anybody take that opinion seriously, or think it deserved to be respected?

It's different with actual genres-- Polka, Rockabilly, Irish folk, Mariachi, Bluegrass, Chanson, Dixieland, Swing, whatever kind of Metal-- those are supposed to deliver an expected, predictable experience, and you don't have to listen to a whole lot of them to know whether they're for you or not. In jazz and classical music, all the biggest people are big because they are unique.
 

Out Of Warranty

Senior Member
........after your time is steady it is all about being able to access permutations of a few subdivisions on your limbs so that you can develop a vocabulary ... that literally starts with a quarter note
This has become an interesting thread.

Can you elaborate on the above quote? Isn't this what the comp'ing exercises in the books try to accomplish.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
There is a lot of finesse in how it's phrased and done correctly [... ] Like this video with an Elvin Jones lick https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tn_Z0oKZn40. Big difference how it sounds.
"Correctly"... I like this guy's other videos that I've seen, but the way he phrases the premise is a little weird: that there's an Elvin thing that people are doing wrong because it's not the way Elvin does it. There's no actual value in playing anything exactly like Elvin-- except maybe that your ears were good enough to tell what he was doing. But we're not supposed to be judging people's musicianship based on how good they are at superficially sounding like Elvin-- especially if they only sound that way because they watched a five minute video of someone telling them how to do it.

...and I don't think he's doing it correctly, either! Elvin doesn't sound as squared off as he does. I hear that thing, most of the time Elvin plays it, as 16th notes.
 

WhoIsTony?

Member
Great comments, I disagree with this one point-- part of the process for anyone who's serious about growth in music and life is to sometimes put aside your personal taste and let some new things in. Give it a chance to do it's thing. Music for grown ups is not always intended to meet your expectations, and be instantly processed and liked.

And jazz and classical music cover such a huge range of stuff, that "not liking" either of them is not even a legit opinion as far as I'm concerned. All it means is the person has dismissed a lot of music without listening to it because somebody else decided that it should be categorized under the single label "classical." Why would anybody take that opinion seriously, or think it deserved to be respected?

It's different with actual genres-- Polka, Rockabilly, Irish folk, Mariachi, Bluegrass, Chanson, Dixieland, Swing, whatever kind of Metal-- those are supposed to deliver an expected, predictable experience, and you don't have to listen to a whole lot of them to know whether they're for you or not. In jazz and classical music, all the biggest people are big because they are unique.
always great to talk to you Todd ... nothing but respect for you

what I was primarily speaking about here is things I hear in conversations quite often

I'm told things like ... I try and try to listen to jazz all the time and I just don't get it ... or ... it sounds like guys playing five different songs at once ... or ... are these guys just practicing scales all over this record ?... etc etc

yeah ... to those people I say leave it alone...stop trying to force it ... if it is going to come to you it will come to you

I don't know of any other style of music that so many people for some reason feel the need to force an appreciation for ... there is no need for that in my opinion


This has become an interesting thread.

Can you elaborate on the above quote? Isn't this what the comp'ing exercises in the books try to accomplish.
I guess ... some books cover stuff like that sure

but many of them spoon feed phrases that I hear guys regurgitating on the bandstand where I can literally tell you what page of Beyond Bop that they got it from

not a good look in my opinion

I like all the popular books ... the Riley books ... the Gottlieb book ... the Chapin book ... Morellos books ... all that stuff ... love them

I'm simply saying that they should not be your introduction to playing the music ... they should not be your foundation
 

oldskoolsoul

Silver Member
..It's different with actual genres..those are supposed to deliver an expected, predictable experience, and you don't have to listen to a whole lot of them to know whether they're for you or not. In jazz and classical music, all the biggest people are big because they are unique..

If i have understood correct what you wrote here then i disagree with that..

Also in those other genres the biggest names are big because they are unique..And if the 'predictable experience' that has to be delivered would be that easy, then why are 99,99% of all the coverbands not able to reproduce that..?

I mean, lets agree that for example AC/DC is not the most technical stuff ever, but show me a coverband that is really able to produce that 'predictable experience'..I havent seen them..

People think that getting the essence of jazz is maybe very 'difficult', but in my opinion is not more 'difficult' than getting the essence of what rock (or any other genre..) is supposed to be..And like i said, the prove of that is given each day by those numerous people/coverbands/etc that completely fail to bring that essence..But just because those genres are much more normal to peoples ears, people think that is much more easy to get to the essence with those..
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
always great to talk to you Todd ... nothing but respect for you

what I was primarily speaking about here is things I hear in conversations quite often

I'm told things like ... I try and try to listen to jazz all the time and I just don't get it ... or ... it sounds like guys playing five different songs at once ... or ... are these guys just practicing scales all over this record ?... etc etc

yeah ... to those people I say leave it alone...stop trying to force it ... if it is going to come to you it will come to you

I don't know of any other style of music that so many people for some reason feel the need to force an appreciation for ... there is no need for that in my opinion
Sure, and likewise of course-- I think I was jumping off from your comment into a related thing. For semi-committed students who just don't get it there's no reason to force it.
 
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