Originally Posted by grobinson2
My experience has often been that guys who can't play bebop or swing, play free jazz. It's like any other form of art: you have to be at least competent, if not incredibly proficient, at the fundamental skills of playing jazz music- know the history, know the styles, learn harmony, etc. Once you know all the rules, it's acceptable and often fun to stretch or break them, and I can appreciate great players who do that (i.e. The Fringe, later Coltrane stuff, etc.). But in my opinion, if you can't play the "real" stuff, then "free jazz" is just a way to stroke your ego while masking your inabilities as a jazz musician.
I partly agree with you here. But I think using the word "jazz" opens a pandoras box in these kinds of discussions. Improvised music or improvised sound etc. seems to alleviate the defensiveness of the "real-jazz" community in these debates. I think when you get into talking about Sun-Ra, or Pharoah Saunders or Coltranes later stuff, you are still talking about "jazz" though.
What I do agree with, and what I am guilty of (not that it was wrong) is having come into jazz as a drummer from the improvised music side of things. I never did learn traditional bop, or swing until a lot later. I don't know that it has hurt me, but what I do think is that I'm way more open to different styles, genres and voices than a lot of the jazz guys I know who came up through the schools being taught how to play jazz correctly
. It's all good though. We've chased this discussion around the board for years as I recall, and it's been a while since we had a real "jazz war" here ;)