Nu jazz and the future of jazz

Steamer

Platinum Member
does seem like a useful narrowing of scope

though I do have the concern that with "understood jazz...foundation" we've created a self-referential loop in the definition
Well i've been playing, teaching and performing jazz professionally most of my entire life from tune based jazz, original jazz based music to free jazz settings with a certain jazz "understanding" that ties everything to the essential root of the mother jazz "tree".

People can call anything jazz nowadays {and do} but that doesn't make it jazz for me personally speaking if all the well established common elements aren't in place being elements to the music having a connecting branch to the developments of a deep and true to the music history and traditions of the music as it has evolved even to today.

You have many variations of jazz today which is great but ALL forms of its expression in one way or another share a common related vocabulary and 'language" in the same jazz ballpark that can be traced back to the mother jazz tree if you do some listening or research on the subject.
 

justjim

Senior Member
Well i've been playing, teaching and performing jazz professionally most of my entire life from tune based jazz, original jazz based music to free jazz settings with a certain jazz "understanding" that ties everything to the essential root of the mother jazz "tree".
Yeah, that's the problem, it kind of relies on appeal-to-authority
as opposed to the definition
it's sort of the "I know it when I see it" riff

and if there is a disagreement between two authorities - then we lose the "understood part"

it's essentially the "I know it when I see it" or "you know what I mean" problems - one requires ultimate authority and the other requires consensus (so it requires a layer of interpretation outside the definition)

or I guess, more accurately, it's sort of the "it is what it is" circular definition


don't get me wrong -- The concern I have isn't with your base of knowledge, but with the structure of the definition
 

jordanz

Senior Member
justjim raises an important point about an appeal to authority. My gut is with Stan though. We're slipping into the area of musical anthropology.

I need to do more research, but I'm certain the old timers referred to jazz as improvising.
 

Steamer

Platinum Member
Yeah, that's the problem, it kind of relies on appeal-to-authority
as opposed to the definition
it's sort of the "I know it when I see it" riff

and if there is a disagreement between two authorities - then we lose the "understood part"

it's essentially the "I know it when I see it problem"

I concern isn't with your base of knowledge, but with the structure of the definition
Like i've said countless times to young students {not directed personally at you}. Spend some actual time to LISTEN to the entire history of the music to gain a good fundamental understanding and knowledge of key elements of the jazz music tree and its branches from Ragtime, Dixie, Big Band Swing, Bop, Post Bop, Free Jazz, Latin Jazz etc. etc.... ,,,,,, the WHOLE history of the music to today in other words.

Words alone don't work for me either to define jazz but I know jazz when I hear from a feel/intuitive listening process in an instant based on learning and listening to its complex and varied language and learning the process and processes involved in the playing of it with other musicians. Still learning about that process even today..... never stops....
 

justjim

Senior Member
justjim raises an important point about an appeal to authority. My gut is with Stan though. We're slipping into the area of musical anthropology.
Well that and linguistics

(and don't get me wrong)I was actually looking at the structure of the definition, not disagreeing with the view. Coming up with solid definitions can be a real bitch - I have to do it in my line of work. and sometimes I'm not sure it's possible...you see a lot of laws structured interpretively for instance.
It isn't an attempt to be coy - just an attempt to generate the best definition we can


I need to do more research, but I'm certain the old timers referred to jazz as improvising.
Now it's fiction, but the writer Hal Glatzer (author and musician who uses music as the backdrop for his mysteries) who does use the term as such in "Too Dead To Swing"
wherein the bandleader, Ted Niwot, cautions the band "no Jazz" - 'play it as written'
(paraphrased, though "no jazz" is verbatim)

The author may have specific historical references if you so need
 
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justjim

Senior Member
Like i've said countless times to young students {not directed personally at you}.
Not to worry man - definitions are part of what I have to do during the days (patents - I have to define, in a very structured manner, inventions)
and it can be a royal bitch

I mean, sometimes, a definition may not even be the most useful tool in some pursuits (civil law has a lot of mushy stuff)



It's kind of like what you said about jazz "People can call anything jazz nowadays {and do} but that doesn't make it jazz for me.."

people can call all kinds of things "definitions" - but often they ain't


but when you can get a real, solid definition - that's great, powerful tool (so that's why I got active on that part)
 

Steamer

Platinum Member
justjim raises an important point about an appeal to authority. My gut is with Stan though. We're slipping into the area of musical anthropology.

I need to do more research, but I'm certain the old timers referred to jazz as improvising.
Yes for sure but take it to the next step. Improvising over what?.... in what framework in question?

The answer sets the stage for looking into the harmonic/rhythmic structure of playing over a song form or extended song form within the ever evolving jazz language. Even free jazz can have long open loops felt underneath that all the listening to each other improvising musicians involved playing music on the spot play off as a unit. No free lunch when it comes to improvising especially when viewed alone by itself. Just ONE element of the whole {jazz} picture to consider.
 

justjim

Senior Member
Yes for sure but take it to the next step. Improvising over what, in what framework in question?
.
I do think it's something to clear up
I mean Hindustani music is about as improvisational as you are probably going to get and still have some sort of recognizable idiom
but I don't think "jazz" is particularly fitting
 

Steamer

Platinum Member
I do think it's something to clear up
I mean Hindustani music is about as improvisational as you are probably going to get and still have some sort of recognizable idiom
but I don't think "jazz" is particularly fitting
Both share the same common characteristic of playing off and improvising over a underlying form, extended form and structure be it harmonic, a type of scale with rhythmic elements {or all} based foundation though. Just a different specific language based on each ones traditions spoken in each form of the music.

Nothing for free again when it comes to improvising.....
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Quote>> Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
Yes for sure but take it to the next step. Improvising over what, in what framework in question?

jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th century American popular music. and now the 21st Century
 

justjim

Senior Member
Both share the same common characteristic of playing off a underlying form, extended form and structure be it harmonic or rhythmic {or both} based foundation though. Just a different specific language based on each ones traditions spoken in each form of the music.

Nothing for free again when it comes to improvising.....
(I think you may be misunderstanding the purpose of that comment)

We're actually on the same wavelegnth (just different phasing probably)
my point there was they have DIFFERENT underlying forms (though it's probably be more accurate to call a major raag component "melodic structure" as opposed to a harmonic one) so that we need to point out what that difference actually IS
so we can differentiate between those different languages
(ie "improvised"or "heavily" improvised is too broad and doesn't distinguish between those two styles)

so we can tell "a clock from a person"


"nothing for free" when defining stuff either :(
 

Steamer

Platinum Member
my point there was they have DIFFERENT underlying forms (though it's probably be more accurate to call a major raag component "melodic structure" as opposed to a harmonic one) so that we need to point out what that difference (in the structures) actually IS
so we can differentiate between those different languages even though both are heavily improvised
Cool. Then you take the much needed steps and time necessary to understand the essential underlying elements involved in either form of music to effectively and convincingly improvise over either music when put in the position to do so. Pretty simple........

No quick and easy solution something the 2 minute hamburger culture has a problem dealing with today. What ever happened to years of study and hard work to get a firm understanding of something of value?. Afraid that doesn't fit with the "I want it all" today and go on stage tomorrow mentality I frequently encounter.

Oops that's a subject for another thread.......
 

justjim

Senior Member
Cool. Then you take the much needed time necessary to understand the essential underlying elements involved in either form of music to effectively and convincingly improvise over either music when put in the position to do so. Pretty simple........
and then to take the time to distill it and craft into a real definition and really challenge full understanding - that's another puzzle too

ain't no free lunch on either count (they are both expression - dragging from the intangible and the merely possible, to the actual)



No quick and easy solution something the 2 minute hamburger culture has a problem dealing with today.


tell me about it, ask someone for a definition and often you get examples :(

crafting a real deal definition - many people just get tired/frustrated and drop it or "cowboy" it (Gee, we never see that anywhere else ;) )
 

Steamer

Platinum Member
Quote>> Originally Posted by Steamer View Post
Yes for sure but take it to the next step. Improvising over what, in what framework in question?

jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th century American popular music. and now the 21st Century
And developed a specific "jazz" language to improvise over by putting many elements of those together in the very interesting world that makes up complex jazz harmony centered around in most cases a swing based song form of music.
 

Michael McDanial

Senior Member
Like i've said countless times to young students {not directed personally at you}. Spend some actual time to LISTEN to the entire history of the music to gain a good fundamental understanding and knowledge of key elements of the jazz music tree and its branches from Ragtime, Dixie, Big Band Swing, Bop, Post Bop, Free Jazz, Latin Jazz etc. etc.... ,,,,,, the WHOLE history of the music to today in other words.

Words alone don't work for me either to define jazz but I know jazz when I hear from a feel/intuitive listening process in an instant based on learning and listening to its complex and varied language and learning the process and processes involved in the playing of it with other musicians. Still learning about that process even today..... never stops....
I totally agree. It's pointless to try and define jazz, because you're always going to find exceptions. I think the whole beauty of jazz is that it can't be defined. The blues element, improvisation, and the swing feel are all very important parts of jazz, but you're always going to have exceptions that will cause arguments that go on forever.

Jazz, to me, has always been about individuality. It's about finding your own voice and style. Your own way of expressing yourself. Jazz is about NOT sounding like everybody else. You have to bring your own unique characteristics to the table. Jazz is an interaction between a group of musicians where musicians make their own individual statements (improvised solos) while feeding off each other at the same time and pushing each other forward.

I don't consider Nu Jazz as jazz. Does that mean that it's not good? Of course not. I enjoyed some of the songs. However, Tony Brewer's statement that in nu jazz "the songs are the focus, not individual prowess of the musicians" goes completely against what I just said about jazz being a form of individual expression while at the same time a group interaction. To simply remove these things from jazz for the sake of appealing to a mass audience is to kill the music, in my opinion.

Steamer, I agree with everything you said. Words alone don't help me to define jazz either, but like you said, I know a jazz song when I hear it. You were also spot on about learning the entire history of the music to truly get an understanding of it. Like you I'm still learning about that process today and it will never stop. I remember a quote by Duke Ellington saying that even though he had been a musician for nearly sixty years, he was still learning something new every day, and that you'll never know it all.
 

justjim

Senior Member
The blues element, improvisation, and the swing feel are all very important parts of jazz, but you're always going to have exceptions that will cause arguments that go on forever.
I think that's a very important point "and it brings us back to do" as it was called into question weather that style of music is "jazz" and to whose satisfaction and what really constitutes "jazz"


I totally agree. It's pointless to try and define jazz, because you're always going to find exceptions. I think the whole beauty of jazz is that it can't be defined.


It may very well not be definable , and with that axiom there wouldn't be definitive answer and we can't really call what we have a definition or definitive
(just like we might feel like we dont' want to call things that aren't "jazz" -- "jazz)

It may also be pointless for some to ask "Is this Jazz?" just as "defining jazz" is pointless to others

esp as we re all still learning (interestingly - both Eastern and Western fencing have similar expressions "It takes two lifetimes to master")

it's not a bad thing - some very cool math surrounds those areas too

I mean definitions are just a tool, they aren't the full experience (anymore than genetics and proteomics are life itself) -- they can be a valuable tool
but not the only one
and it can be a heavvvvvy task to try to forge that tool - and some (even the entire racet) may not be up to the task
that's the thing - if we don't have a solid definition, then we don't have a solid definition
and there's nothing wrong with that, as long as we dig that we don't
that's part of that learning process that's ongoing (that one extends well beyond music, that's part of the human experience)

Reminds my of what an old Artifical intellegence prof said about tractable class problems (problems where you can map out the solution space) -- "where's the fun in that?!?!"


whoops - anyway - sorry for the drag off topic
I guess I'm like many here I have my passions - and I suppose our passions direct us as to what we focus on in a thread about "nu jazz"
Some guys are passionate about Jazz and so their posts maybe push toward the "is this jazz?" question
I'm passionate about the pursuit of knowledge (not just the pursuing, but the pursuit itself - "meta-knowledge" I guess you could say) and its expression, so my posts maybe tend to veer that way
 
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