Perhaps I'm more cynical now?

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Not sure if this is a rant or anything, I just wanted to throw this out there.

A family member invited me to see this band at a very nice Italian restaurant by the beach so I went. It ended up being a contemporary jazz saxophone artist, apparently with a number of released CD's (even an orchestral album produced by David Benoit). Upon hearing the first tune, I was ok. But as the show wore on (and they played for two hours straight, plus one encore), I was getting more and more agitated.

Like a parent who hates his kids music because it's too loud and it doesn't make any sense, I was beginning to feel the same way. Nobody was singing, and it was contemporary jazz for an older crowd, but that saxophone was just getting to me. He stayed either on soprano or alto, and the whole band was mic'ed up in this small- to -medium-sized restaurant venue and he'd hit certain notes and my head would just ring. It was the usual, here's the main melody, everyone takes a solo, then the sax takes an even longer extended solo, play the melody again, then end. The problem was, there was no indication that anybody would ever be done soloing.

Don't get me wrong, they were all expert players, but to make a concert out of what sounds to me like background music you hear in a modern dentists office just felt wrong. And the audience was digging it, they were selling a fair amount of CD's based on impulse, so technically, it was a great concert - I was just not digging it. Maybe my cynicism is going in reverse?

I actually would've loved to hear a singer to define song structure, would've loved less soloing, would've loved shorter songs, but maybe more of them. How was I ever able to sit through Coltrane's "My Favorite Things" back in the day when they'd play that song for 20 minutes? Now in my later 40s, I just couldn't take it.

I usually try to be more open-minded and at least enjoy the evening (I mean, I really dig that new Prince thing and there are other more 'song based' artists I love too), but this was just killing me. I usually make myself listen to more music on average just to be a defensive listener and be hip with what's going on, but I couldn't feel farther away from the stuff I heard last night. I was hating it so much I was wondering how anyone would expect to make a living playing that stuff. And I've played my fair share of music nobody wants to hear, so I know I've been there - I wonder if I've aggravated people's listening sensibilities too - I must have! Anybody feel the same way? Or am I just losing it?
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
Well, I guess I should join your club Bo because I get irritated very easily seeing bands play live too. Unless they are awesome and then I become a big fanboy. But that's usually not the case. Usually they are doing multiple things that irritate me. Like in my mind I am lamenting at how it seems that no one gets the big picture and they are in it for their own personal pleasure. Like they are not thinking of the audience Watso-ever. There's a lot of either bad or wrongly played music out there that doesn't seem to bother anyone but it irritates the heck outta me.

Get off my lawn you rotten kids!
 

Magenta

Platinum Member
If you're anything like me, it's a combination of many years' experience, a tendency as I grow less young to be less tolerant, and another tendency to have the attention span of a gnat. I have CDs that I used to listen to incessantly 20 years ago, that I can't bear for more than a few minutes nowadays. The music is the same, it's still great (Rossini), but I just don't have the stamina any more.
 

brentcn

Platinum Member
Maybe you're just preferring carefully crafted "parts" to improv these days (nothing wrong with that). You never know -- you might come to love improv again down the road. When you're bored with the head-solo-solo-solo-long-solo-head format, someone else is bored with verse-chorus-bridge conventions of rock and pop.

As for Coltrane, well, you hadn't ever heard a 20 minute improv before then, right? The very idea of it was new, not to mention the nuts and bolts of the music itself, and, to an extent, the sound of the instruments, to your young ears.

The younger generation will always have more patience for music because, well, it's all new to them. Instead of writing yourself off as more cynical, consider yourself at a different point in the journey. :)
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Maybe you're just preferring carefully crafted "parts" to improv these days (nothing wrong with that). You never know -- you might come to love improv again down the road. When you're bored with the head-solo-solo-solo-long-solo-head format, someone else is bored with verse-chorus-bridge conventions of rock and pop.

As for Coltrane, well, you hadn't ever heard a 20 minute improv before then, right? The very idea of it was new, not to mention the nuts and bolts of the music itself, and, to an extent, the sound of the instruments, to your young ears.

The younger generation will always have more patience for music because, well, it's all new to them. Instead of writing yourself off as more cynical, consider yourself at a different point in the journey. :)
Perhaps. I saw a sign today that stated "Youth is wasted on the young".

And get off my lawn!
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
So Bo, I assume you had some clear ideas of what you would have liked to hear from that band. Is there anything they could have done that would have made you really dig them? Like what did you want to hear from them?
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
Is this the complaining old man thread? Awesome! My knee is really starting to act up, and the kids these days really don't know what real work is!
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Remind me never to invite either of you to any of my gigs ;)
You guys play actual songs though. I know the band I saw last night was playing songs, but this was so like being back in college listening to an ensemble play standards out of a Real Book, but with even better players, that it just lacked alot of things. I think brentcn is right - I wish I knew less about music, I've would've enjoyed last night more.

And not to "poo-poo" some great jazz standards in a Real Book, but throughout my career, I had often wondered if I came up with some lame melody and chords, slapped some inane title on it, if I could call it an actual song? Maybe that's where I am with this 'contemporary jazz' scene. The songs really feel like 'nothing' songs - I could find a guy to noodle away on his saxophone and tell the audience that this is a song about cruising the beautiful roads on Maui and boom - instant contemporary jazz hit that we could re-title for another show and have it mean something else! That's why I think I'm beginning to like hearing words more - that means someone took the time to convey an idea and relate a story or a vibe - you can't really change the meaning once your words are set, right?
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
I have a love/hate with jazz, too. I love it. Listen to it probably more than rock these days, but I'm extremely picky. I can't do "free" jazz for too long, I like a song with a structure. I don't like the really cheezy stuff that's easy to tune out... You know, shopping music, elevator stuff.

But the rest of it. The great musicians making music that's totally a different universe from what I grew up listening to, and even totally different from what I grew up thinking "jazz" was. Love it.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
So Bo, I assume you had some clear ideas of what you would have liked to hear from that band. Is there anything they could have done that would have made you really dig them? Like what did you want to hear from them?
No, I didn't have any clearer ideas. I think if they played actual songs as I said. It is sorta aggravating to have the leader tell his audience what the song is about and then they noodle off again like they did in the last song that was of course, about something else. That's just it, if you don't have words, how do I know you're not just making all that crap up? Maybe what I wanted was a vocalist and less saxophonium. My pretentious college days must've reared its ugly head last night and frightened me.

But I don't feel this way when I hear a band like the Yellowjackets, or when I hear Tony Williams (among others, like Coltrane). I think it's the contemporary jazz moniker making me react this way. When it's hard boppish I settle in for the ride - but even the Yellowjackets, for all their contemporary jazzisms, don't play a song for more than 8 minutes - like they know when to stop. Or maybe chord structures set me off - I remember being frustrated hearing some early Jack DeJohnette and they were playing some latin montuno where it was the same three chords over and over for an entire side of an album - ugh! A complex tune with alot of chord changes I guess I really like, then it doesn't need words because there's so much going on musically, maybe?

All I can say is I'm glad I didn't have to buy a ticket. It was good to be with my family hanging out, and they were enjoying the show, although one cousin did say he can't tell one star saxophone player from another nowadays. I almost wanted to yell out "Can you play some Kenny G?" or "Freebird!"
 

bobdadruma

Platinum Member
Bo, real music doesn't have a vocalist :)
Yes, a sax can be boring after a while.
That is why my jazz band has a trumpet player and a piano player too. :)
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
It was the usual, here's the main melody, everyone takes a solo, then the sax takes an even longer extended solo, play the melody again, then end. The problem was, there was no indication that anybody would ever be done soloing.
Sounds like a Led Zeppelin live show. Just insert guitar, drums, bass or keys, and vocals for sax.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
Bo, real music doesn't have a vocalist :)
Yes, a sax can be boring after a while.
That is why my jazz band has a trumpet player and a piano player too. :)
I hear ya'. I don't think it was so much instrumentation as it is musical structure. A brilliantly structured song can be played by anything with anybody and it remains a good song - words or no words - you're right. Maybe that's more what I'm getting at. Even in a jazz sense, there needs to be a solid structure?
 

groove1

Silver Member
I guess that's why there are so many kinds of good music played well in the world. From your post I doubt that you would like any of the small groups I play in....music that I dearly
love. We have large audiences that do like our music but I understand it's not for everybody.

I love blues, country, irish fiddling....but get very bored after hearing more than 3 songs in a
row no matter how well they are performed. We are all just wired a bit different which keeps
it all interesting.

I bet the food was very good though!

smiles!
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I guess that's why there are so many kinds of good music played well in the world. From your post I doubt that you would like any of the small groups I play in....music that I dearly
love. We have large audiences that do like our music but I understand it's not for everybody.

I love blues, country, irish fiddling....but get very bored after hearing more than 3 songs in a
row no matter how well they are performed. We are all just wired a bit different which keeps
it all interesting.

I bet the food was very good though!

smiles!
Some of the best Italian food I've ever had - but you paid for it too ;)
 

Midnite Zephyr

Platinum Member
You're just being true to yourself and the truth is, your taste in music has evolved. There are plenty of good musicians playing crap out there. If you would have heard my gig last night, you'd know where I'm coming from.

But, I hear what you're saying. We play the same original song in two different bands (same guitarist), and each version is completely different in its own way. I really like doing the song with the loud, jam band, whereas the easy-going, garage band's version just doesn't do it for me on that song. Maybe I need to change my approach to the song for each band.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
You're just being true to yourself and the truth is, your taste in music has evolved. There are plenty of good musicians playing crap out there. If you would have heard my gig last night, you'd know where I'm coming from.

But, I hear what you're saying. We play the same original song in two different bands (same guitarist), and each version is completely different in its own way. I really like doing the song with the loud, jam band, whereas the easy-going, garage band's version just doesn't do it for me on that song. Maybe I need to change my approach to the song for each band.
Ironic that there's still some music that I totally enjoy, though. So I guess I'm only half-evolved. I still listen to King Crimson when they came back in the 80s - to the stuff they do today. Tony Williams? I can still listen to him any day of the week. Certain rock 'n' roll, certain jazz, certain kinds of everything, I guarantee you I can still listen to it and love. Some things like this contemporary jazz artist I heard last night, I'm done. Give me Earth, Wind, and Fire or Motown any day ;)

Maybe with age I've gotten more efficient in what I want to listen to. I just don't have the time to sit and listen to certain things I hate - so my frustration could also be based on the fact that I feel like I'm wasting my time having to sit there, listening.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
Now, wait a minute, what kind of music was this, instrumental music that had no song structure and extended solos, yet everyone seemed to be enjoying it and buying CDs?

I'm with you, by the way, on the volume. I hate the "We've got a PA system and we're going to use it" attitude.
 
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