The European and American approach

khanedeliac

Senior Member
Hahah! 'Americanese'!

Yeah, one mans meat, another's poison an all that, I think understanding how its all put together helps appreciate it; and if not done well, then you get what you see on MTV which is poison for all.

Interestingly on the who did what first, I remember at Drummerlive 06, Stanton Moore played the little syncopated intro to Led Zep's 'Rock n Roll' and then played us the Little Richard recording it was uhh, 'borrowed' from. Another US/UK 'whodunnit first' moment.

Jazz Rock fusion was my dissertation topic, or rather the pioneers of Jazz Rock drumming, I dunno how to categorize it because the cheesy side of fusion is something I have no time or stomach for. But the rocking stuff that really understood the jazz and how to use it and vice versa is amazing (Think of the band 'IF'...friggin' awesome)

As far as who was there first UK-wise, I never really felt Cream were jazzy enough to be considered a mix. Hendrix took it to Miles, but before that was there not Aphrodite's Child and Brian Auger Express w/ Julie Driscoll doing stuff?
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
I see what you mean . . .Nice stuff all around. Some of which, I was only familiar with by name, that you tube.

Aphrodite's Child sounds very British and very prog rock, really art rock, concept abum. Both of the other artists do not sound British, and could very well blend in with some of the soul jazz artists like Hank Crawford, Ramsy Lewis, Lonnie Smith or Jimmy Smith, even sounds like The Dead. I can hear early John McLaughlin in some of the tunes as well, so I know what he was listening too. Who came first because Brian Auger's guitarist sounds like he was influenced by McLaughlin; Mc Laughlin was known as the best blues man in Britain before Clapton joined Mayall.

I felt the same way about Cream; but Jimi's connection to jazz-rock is interesting. Polly mentioned this a few weeks back as well. I know he certainly influenced John McLaughlin and was doing some radical stuff.
 
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Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Now there's a memory - old Vangelis and Demis. That Infinity track freaked me out; I thought Irene Papas was possessed like in The Exorcist lol. Long time ago I lent 666 to the guitarist in some of my old bands. His first wife was a spacey new age type and she freaked when Infinity came on; he had to refrain her from smashing my record! It was miles ahead of its time production-wise IMO.

I thought Bonzo's RnR intro was based on Chuck Berry's Johnny B Goode ... ? Funny thing, wasn't it - groups like Cream, The Stones and Zep were British bands making waves in the US basically playing American music.

Khan, totally agree re: "the cheesy side of fusion". And Ken, yeah, I see it as a relative of psychedelic-to-prog rock - at least in spirit. Jimi's Third Stone and Manic Depression and the band's general improv daring, then there was Soft Machine, HC, Gong, Crimson, ELP, Yes ...

Joachim Berendt comments on early Pink Floyd's "space music" equivalence to Sun Ra ... Art Blakey's and Ginger Baker's African influences ... but I agree re: Cream and fusion. song I can think of that was anything like fusion was Ginger Baker's long 5/4 number on their last album (very similar to his Do What You Like with Blind Faith).

I did notice a difference in the US and Euro fusion I was hearing in the 70s/80s ... especially obvious with mellow (smooth! haha) fusion ... the US had Larry Carlton and David Sanborn's RnB-ish stuff whereas the Euro bands I was hearing then were things like Passport and Jukka Tolonen, which was more abstract and interesting to my ear, like watered down influences of the great fusion bands like MO (who were like the UN) and Weather Report.
 

sergiozis

Junior Member
i totally agree with this statement and i think its all about swing pulse. in most cases US bands more swingin, harder, tight, funky. British feel is very contemplary and meditative. im never heard tight funky a-la dumpstaphunk european bands as i never heard bands from america in the way of oasis or muse type of music.. its different pulses, moods and musical approach of course.
 

jazzgregg

Pioneer Member
There have always been 2 kinds of European thought related to Jazz, the one that wants to BE American, very influenced by NYC, the scene, the sound, etc. looking to America as the benchmark and end goal. Then the other, which is the opposite: 'we aren't American, we are French' (or whatever), and drawing upon that. People like Evan Parker and Michel Portal in the early 60's were a couple of spearheaders of that idea. Living over here in England, I see this a lot and end up in many convertains about it. It's about European's perception of America and American Jazz, what they see and through what eyes they look at it.

Berendt (who I generally like) was taking only one small piece of European Jazz and basing his statement on that. I suspect that he, with this statement is at least partially responsible for this EXACT misconception between American and European music. That said, he is not completey wrong OR completely right. I remember reading an article where Daniel Humair (Swiss, lives in France) takes issue with this exact point. He basically said 'music is music,I just play MUSIC'. While I agree with him, more or less, I think he goes over the top as there are clear differences between the American and European approach, MUCH more than in 1973.

How about a cog- people like Paul Bley and Kenny Wheeler who are CANADIAN, but sound European in approach? And I can tell you, I know and have played with PLENTY of Brits (if we are focussing on the Brits) that swing as hard as anyone I knew or played with in America. I don't think either viewpoint is right or wrong, they are just radically different and based on perception.

Of course, this all supposes that when talking Jazz, swing is important.=)

GB
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
JazzGregg said:
There have always been 2 kinds of European thought related to Jazz, the one that wants to BE American, very influenced by NYC, the scene, the sound, etc. looking to America as the benchmark and end goal. Then the other, which is the opposite: 'we aren't American, we are French' (or whatever), and drawing upon that.
Gregg, based on my listening that rings true to me. Very nicely put, and it strikes me as touching on points that Ken was making.

In the OP my thoughts were more about continental Europe since the cultural links between the US, UK (and Canada, Oz and NZ) are so strong. I feel that the continental Europeans tend more towards progressivism than Anglo countries. For instance, Henry Cow had to move from the UK to the mainland to find an audience.

From what I see on the web it seems there's strong interest in progressive music in South America too. No idea if that stems from continental European links or not.
 

jazzgregg

Pioneer Member
Gregg, based on my listening that rings true to me. Very nicely put, and it strikes me as touching on points that Ken was making.

In the OP my thoughts were more about continental Europe since the cultural links between the US, UK (and Canada, Oz and NZ) are so strong. I feel that the continental Europeans tend more towards progressivism than Anglo countries. For instance, Henry Cow had to move from the UK to the mainland to find an audience.

From what I see on the web it seems there's strong interest in progressive music in South America too. No idea if that stems from continental European links or not.
I certainly think that mainland Europeans are far more forward thinking and open than North Americans (in general), however that has nothing to do with how hard they swing, as it were. It's the concept, not the action that leads to the eventual music that is produced. I think Europeans aren't afraid to break from 'tradition', whereas so many Americans concern themselves with 'would Coltrane have done this' and 'do we still sound like Jazz?' wheras Europeans (of the 2nd group) simplify it more in a more all ecompassing question: 'is this any good'?

The Europeans don't NEED to concern themselves with whether or not they are being true to the tradition, because it isn't theirs. They don't need rules in the sense that so many North Americans do to define what it is they are playing or what it is they sound like. Americans hold so tightly to the concept that NYC is the centre of the Jazz universe that it handcuffs them in many (some even initially imperceptable) ways.

GB
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
I certainly think that mainland Europeans are far more forward thinking and open than North Americans (in general), however that has nothing to do with how hard they swing, as it were. It's the concept, not the action that leads to the eventual music that is produced. I think Europeans aren't afraid to break from 'tradition', whereas so many Americans concern themselves with 'would Coltrane have done this' and 'do we still sound like Jazz?' wheras Europeans (of the 2nd group) simplify it more in a more all ecompassing question: 'is this any good'?

The Europeans don't NEED to concern themselves with whether or not they are being true to the tradition, because it isn't theirs. They don't need rules in the sense that so many North Americans do to define what it is they are playing or what it is they sound like. Americans hold so tightly to the concept that NYC is the centre of the Jazz universe that it handcuffs them in many (some even initially imperceptable) ways.
Interesting, being hamstrung by the traditions you create. I guess that leaves the US scene tending to work more inwards, refining and reinterpreting details, while Europe looks at expanding the idiom. I say "tending to" because I'm obviously painting with a broad brush.

Ironic, given that Trane clearly wanted to go off the beaten track, yet his adherents have adopted him as tradition, adopting his form and content but only elements of his spirit. Not sure Trane would approve :)

Thing is, Trane took bop so far from the mainstream that maybe there's not much room to go further (in that direction) so his successors are left to retrace the steps up to his quantum leap? I mean, how free can you go? The improvs of Art Ensemble and Henry Cow? John Cage? I once saw a gig by a guy blowing into an alto sax full of water while fiddling with a gizmo that made feedback noises. The following act had a guy consistently overblowing a tenor while his mate had a box like the first guy. That's a bit too free for me :)

The Europeans seemed to sidestep this quandary by moving sideways and incorporating elements of their own traditions - odd time sigs and quasi-classical forms - maybe following Brubeck's third stream approach?

My knowledge of jazz is sketchy so apologies if I'm missing something (same to you, Ken, if you're reading).
 

jazzgregg

Pioneer Member
Interesting, being hamstrung by the traditions you create. I guess that leaves the US scene tending to work more inwards, refining and reinterpreting details, while Europe looks at expanding the idiom. I say "tending to" because I'm obviously painting with a broad brush.

Ironic, given that Trane clearly wanted to go off the beaten track, yet his adherents have adopted him as tradition, adopting his form and content but only elements of his spirit. Not sure Trane would approve :)

Thing is, Trane took bop so far from the mainstream that maybe there's not much room to go further (in that direction) so his successors are left to retrace the steps up to his quantum leap? I mean, how free can you go? The improvs of Art Ensemble and Henry Cow? John Cage? I once saw a gig by a guy blowing into an alto sax full of water while fiddling with a gizmo that made feedback noises. The following act had a guy consistently overblowing a tenor while his mate had a box like the first guy. That's a bit too free for me :)

The Europeans seemed to sidestep this quandary by moving sideways and incorporating elements of their own traditions - odd time sigs and quasi-classical forms - maybe following Brubeck's third stream approach?

My knowledge of jazz is sketchy so apologies if I'm missing something (same to you, Ken, if you're reading).
Just to be clear, I'm not saying that there are NO forward thinking Americans, there are many of course. But yes, there is a general prevailing attitude (idea? stigma? Dunno what else to call it), if even subconsious of many American Jazz musicians.

I think your post and conclusions are spot on, and I think there are as many people who, in their being influenced by Trane, completey miss the point. But I've said this many times, so moving on...

For Brubeck (and I've made no secret that I'm no fan), it was the other way around, he was influenced by European Classical music, musical forms and so on and translated that into a 'Jazz' context.

I'm kind of reminded of a theory of Erich Fromm's (though it wasn't about music it was about statecraft philosophy, it certainly can be applied). There are 2 kinds of freedom: fredom TO and freedom FROM. The American's feel they have the freedom to do what they want, thanks to their history wheras the Europeans are free from any kind of stigma because it's only their interpretation of it they are responsible for, not the history itself.

GB
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Just to be clear, I'm not saying that there are NO forward thinking Americans, there are many of course. But yes, there is a general prevailing attitude (idea? stigma? Dunno what else to call it), if even subconsious of many American Jazz musicians.

I think your post and conclusions are spot on, and I think there are as many people who, in their being influenced by Trane, completey miss the point. But I've said this many times, so moving on...

For Brubeck (and I've made no secret that I'm no fan), it was the other way around, he was influenced by European Classical music, musical forms and so on and translated that into a 'Jazz' context.

I'm kind of reminded of a theory of Erich Fromm's (though it wasn't about music it was about statecraft philosophy, it certainly can be applied). There are 2 kinds of freedom: fredom TO and freedom FROM. The American's feel they have the freedom to do what they want, thanks to their history wheras the Europeans are free from any kind of stigma because it's only their interpretation of it they are responsible for, not the history itself.
Sure, there are many progressive-minded acts in the US - it's a huge scene and, as Ken said, it has everything. So yes, this is very broad brush.

The "freedom to" and "freedom from" is something I'll need to think about. There seems to be a fair bit in that.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I certainly think that mainland Europeans are far more forward thinking and open than North Americans (in general), however that has nothing to do with how hard they swing, as it were. It's the concept, not the action that leads to the eventual music that is produced. I think Europeans aren't afraid to break from 'tradition', whereas so many Americans concern themselves with 'would Coltrane have done this' and 'do we still sound like Jazz?' wheras Europeans (of the 2nd group) simplify it more in a more all ecompassing question: 'is this any good'?
What, behind the rabbit? Is there some other non-dixieland/trad/jive-obsessed mainland Europe that I'm unaware of? ;-)
 

Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
Nice posts Gregg, Nice to have you back.

I would wonder if as well Europe has any sense of a populist notion about jazz. IN America there are commercial or populist versus avant-garde or expressionistic implications of the music.


One of the defining aspects of jazz in America is race. There are elements of racial as well as national identity and issues of assimilation as well.

The key controversy is in the definition of the genre, which most who have and do play it really don't see necessary. It is the music that defines itself. But it needs to be something to be taught. It needs to be something to be an identity. And those issues have political and cultural importance in America in a long history of racial segregation.

It needs to go beyond definition to evolve. But at this point in America, there is a very strong element of assimilating the tradition and moving from that point forward. I have kids in middle school doing Monk now and HS kids doing Brecker Brothers. And there is probably a picture of Bird, Pops and Wynton in the auditorium. I am jealous that they get to play that stuff at such a young age, and I tell them that.
 
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jazzgregg

Pioneer Member
Nice posts Gregg, Nice to have you back.

I would wonder if as well Europe has any sense of a populist notion about jazz. IN America there are commercial or populist versus avant-garde or expressionistic implications of the music.


One of the defining aspects of jazz in America is race. There are elements of racial as well as national identity and issues of assimilation as well.

The key controversy is in the definition of the genre, which most who have and do play it really don't see necessary. It is the music that defines itself. But it needs to be something to be taught. It needs to be something to be an identity. And those issues have political and cultural importance in America in a long history of racial segregation.

It needs to go beyond definition to evolve. But at this point in America, there is a very strong element of assimilating the tradition and moving from that point forward. I have kids in middle school doing Monk now and HS kids doing Brecker Brothers. And there is probably a picture of Bird, Pops and Wynton in the auditorium. I am jealous that they get to play that stuff at such a young age, and I tell them that.
I think you make agood point about race, Ken, there seems TO ME, to be much less of that in the European approach, there's no 'arguing of who's music it is' and so forth, you know? I wouldn't argue that race relations isn't inherent in the initial development of Jazz (and Blues for that matter) because it certainly is intertwined in it's history, however, it isn't integral to continue fighting that battle in order to make good music, to give it credibility or to make it 'Jazz'. Don't even get me started on reverse racism in Jazz.

I WOULD however say (as is not surprising), putting a picture of Wynton beside Louis and Parker is kinda like putting a pic of a dinosaur in a creationist school. But you're right, of course you can't teach Jazz History and not talk about race relations. My issue with that is when it becomes a measuring stick for 'true' Jazz today.

As for 'mainland Europe', in Britain it depends on who you ask if Britain is part of Europe or not=).

Polly, that Fromm book is called 'Escape from Freedom', if you're interested.
GB
 
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