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  #161  
Old 10-24-2009, 05:15 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

Probably put this in the wrong place to get noticed. I think Simon's playing in this is very reserved, even for a jazz drum track, but that's the point. Am I wrong? Perhaps playing this genre of jazz is all about being reserved. I'm looking at this from a rock drummer's perspective. That frustrates me a little because I can't get into the track sufficiently to form an opinion. The performance doesn't move me in the same way as other performaces he's done, but is that due to my lack of appreciation of the form?
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  #162  
Old 10-24-2009, 05:36 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

I've seen much worse. The main problem here is the bass drum - which is just too heavy and thudded. His ride could do with more definition, but the snare isn't bad. In terms of feel, he could definitely swing it more, but the driving motion of his hi hats is well placed.

I'd like to see some more in-depth comments by those more qualified.
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  #163  
Old 10-24-2009, 05:44 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

Oo tricky question, and depends on ones definition or qualification on what jazz or a jazz drummer is.

To answer it, Simon is a very accomplished player who can and is playing jazz here..( is jazz fusion jazz? ). I could add a lot of other names to that list including Gadd, Colauita, Weckl, Cobham,.. and so on. These, to my mind are all great players who can play lots of different things well, including jazz.

A jazz drummer on the other hand is someone who's life focus would be jazz, and these drummers tend to sound a little different from those coming from rock sensibilities like Simon or from session playing, or even latin players who also play jazz.

.. Jim Black, Eric Harland, Brian Blade, Ari Hoenig, Jeff Hamilton etc would be a few examples of the 2nd variety.

...

Last edited by aydee; 10-24-2009 at 06:36 PM.
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  #164  
Old 10-24-2009, 05:49 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

This is difficult, you're right, but in this instance - to me - the music doesn't really qualify too much as 'fusion'. This is pretty straight-ahead stuff. The trumpet solo half way through is pure Davis.

I'd be interested in seeing what Gregg thinks. If his right foot wasn't so heavy, I couldn't find *too* much 'wrong' with this, other than that the music is very, very regressive. Personally fusion drummers don't count as jazz players to me. Weckl has gotten better in recent years, but his playing is far, far too clinical and doesn't lend itself to a straight-ahead concept, instead it works for very heavily scripted music.

I'm actually quite impressed with Phillips on this. He really doesn't disgrace himself.
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  #165  
Old 10-24-2009, 06:57 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

Not bad at all and much better than other crossover from rock to jazz players i've seen.

Only thing I observed was something I find alot with rock players playing jazz that's quite common at first is the placement of heavy emphasis on the 1 of the bar {downbeat of the bar} to resolve certain phrases at the kit rather than what you see with more seasoned jazz focused players who lighten up the overall feel by using more elements of syncopation to highlight stronger the weaker parts of the beat in a given bar {resolution points as Bob Moses calls them} that gives it more of a buoyant frontward flowing motion when resolving setups and phrases in a swing based jazz concept setting.

Like I say though not bad at all, pretty decent actually, and he's on the right {better} track for playing swing based music.........
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  #166  
Old 10-24-2009, 07:19 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

Yeah, its got a real nice Elvin/McCoy Tyner feel. In that sense, his playing is not free enough to create the space needed. It's a little heavy. It is not a question of whether he can play jazz, or whether this is good or bad jazz. his playing on this specific recording is stylistically wrong. I wasn't a big Simon Phillips fan back in the day. But recently, each time I hear him, I am really impressed with his playing. He has a great groove. And this is a nice piece of music.
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  #167  
Old 10-24-2009, 07:26 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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.

Only thing I observed was something I find alot with rock players playing jazz that's quite common at first is the placement of heavy emphasis on the 1 of the bar {downbeat of the bar} to resolve certain phrases at the kit rather than what you see with more seasoned jazz focused players who lighten up the overall feel by using more elements of syncopation to highlight stronger the weaker parts of the beat in a given bar {resolution points as Bob Moses calls them} that gives it more of a buoyant frontward flowing motion when resolving setups and phrases in a swing based jazz concept setting.
Very nicely explained, Stan.
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  #168  
Old 10-24-2009, 08:50 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

This is one of those questions that I get students asking me all the time. Can this drummer or that drummer play Jazz. It reminds me of one of my first drum teachers in the early 90's, who was an accomplished Jazz veteran. I was headed to music school and really started to get into players like Elvin and Tony, not to mention the music of Miles, Coltrane Shorter, Herbie, etc.. When we started getting into swinging and "feathering" the bass drum, I'd switch to my then quasi traditional grip. He asked me why I was doing that and I said "because I'm playing jazz". He then explained that I shouldn't think of it that way and that I was playing music. Obviously there were different concepts, dynamics, feels, etc.. but its still the same instrument. It was a good point. A few years later when I started getting more trio work I decided that I did want to pursue traditional grip (for Jazz) because of the Moeller technique but I still kind of approach the genres that way. You are bringing all that makes you a a unique player to any musical situation you face. Tony Williams played like Tony Williams whether it was bop or rock or fusion. He reacted to the music and played what he felt. I like that approach.

I loved Simon's playing on the Vantage point disc. No he isn't a Bop purist (not that he was playing Bop) but he did some cool stuff that only Simon can do. I like hearing more mainstream rock players approach jazz or jazz influenced music, its refreshing. Just like I love hearing jazz drummers playing rock, there's usually that unintended swing that's just, there!

I do a fair amount of "Jazz" playing and I approach it with as much respect and reverence
for the art as I can. I've spent years immersing myself in it, studying brushes, studying form, learning how different drummers approached standards. I play a 18" bass drum, traditional toms with coated heads tuned up high. Big K's, etc... I also show up dressed much differently then when I do gigs with rock bands. However I grew up listening to Rush, Zeppelin, Yes, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, REM, etc... I can't deny that my roots are deeply planted in rock music. My instincts have been developed to lean in a certain direction and no matter how many Max Roach solos I transcribe and try to mimick, there are certain things that just stay with you. I'm sure the same goes for guys and girls who grew up playing jazz and work in rock situations.

One of the best examples of a successful hybrid has to be Matt Chamberlain. He's an amalgamate of so many different styles yet plays like HIM no matter what musical situation he's in. When I hear Matt play with Bill Frissell or Brad Mehldau I get just as much as if Brian Blade (who I love) is playing. Simply because its a great musician reacting to the music, not faking it or trying to be authentic.
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  #169  
Old 10-24-2009, 09:22 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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Originally Posted by gongbass View Post
Simply because its a great musician reacting to the music, not faking it or trying to be authentic.
Yes! "Trying to be authentic," exactly. That's what keeps coming back to haunt jazz, in my opinion, the endless striving for authenticity. It's what makes it an interesting display in a museum, the "authenticity" concept. If you want authenticity the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is still performing in New Orleans.
If people say "The bass drum's too loud" or "The swing feel wasn't thus and so" or "It's stylistically wrong" then that pretty much keeps the music encased in amber. "In order to do it right (meaning authentically) you have to do it like this."
I would have though that doing jazz right means to push beyond all that dogma and find your own means of expressing it, whether or not the afficianados agree that it's "authentic."
Phillips is playing his take on jazz here and I think it's bloody good. I think he nailed it. If I'd never heard of him except for what I saw and heard on this clip I'd say "That's a damn good jazz drummer with his own unique style."
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  #170  
Old 10-24-2009, 10:03 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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Yes! "Trying to be authentic," exactly. That's what keeps coming back to haunt jazz, in my opinion, the endless striving for authenticity. It's what makes it an interesting display in a museum, the "authenticity" concept. If you want authenticity the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is still performing in New Orleans.
If people say "The bass drum's too loud" or "The swing feel wasn't thus and so" or "It's stylistically wrong" then that pretty much keeps the music encased in amber. "In order to do it right (meaning authentically) you have to do it like this."
I would have though that doing jazz right means to push beyond all that dogma and find your own means of expressing it, whether or not the afficianados agree that it's "authentic."
Phillips is playing his take on jazz here and I think it's bloody good. I think he nailed it. If I'd never heard of him except for what I saw and heard on this clip I'd say "That's a damn good jazz drummer with his own unique style."
You seem to miss the point as seems always the case in internet jazz discussions covering any jazz related topic. I offered the best I can do so take it or leave it with what is missing and could if covered make it even more "happening" in a traditional swing based jazz ensemble setting such as seen in the clip. There's always room for improvement covering any style of playing. If not where's the challenge to improve, grow and get even better at understanding and doing it in the first place?

To answer this same old tired {for me} argument I hear repeated {usually from non jazz players and listeners alike I might add in several cases} about being stuck in the box of the "authentic" traditions of jazz music and drumming with its so called "limitations" for not moving forward being "stuck in the past" my answer is have you ever heard of Erik Harland? He as just one example has futher brought to the table from being firmly rooted in the traditions of jazz music and jazz drumming a whole fresh but deep in {jazz} conception take on taking jazz drumming to the next evolutionary level and step for the music. Enough said............

Simon is most certainly on the right path but he not quite fully "there" yet.....
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  #171  
Old 10-24-2009, 10:11 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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Simon is most certainly on the right path but he not quite fully "there" yet.....
In your opinion.

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  #172  
Old 10-24-2009, 10:12 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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You seem to miss the point as seems always the case in internet jazz discussions covering any jazz related topic. I offered the best I can do so take it or leave it with what is missing and could if covered make it even more "happening" in a traditional swing based jazz ensemble setting such as seen in the clip. There's always room for improvement covering any style of playing. If not where's the challenge to improve, grow and get even better at understanding and doing it in the first place?

To answer this same old tired {for me} argument I hear repeated {usually from non jazz players and listeners alike I might add in several cases} about being stuck in the box of the "authentic" traditions of jazz music and drumming with its so called "limitations" for not moving forward being "stuck in the past" my answer is have you ever heard of Erik Harland? He as just one example has futher brought to the table from being firmly rooted in the traditions of jazz music and jazz drumming a whole fresh but deep in {jazz} conception take on taking jazz drumming to the next evoling level and step for the music. Enough said............

Simon is most certainly on the right path but he not quite fully "there" yet.....

I think the problem I see here is exactly the opposite, Stan, and that is as you stated earlier, a lack of authenticity. He is playing this piece in a kind of post-fusion straight up manner. It's a nice groove and a nice feel, but he is missing the whole stylistic element, isn't he? I would ask if that is because he is trying to do something original ??? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. This is a nice piece in a Coltrane quartet style. The keyboard is laying down these nice block chords. It is just calling for some syncopation. the drumming is very undergraduate in that sense, how a guy would play before he studied post-bop drumming.
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  #173  
Old 10-24-2009, 10:13 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

To quote Soft Machine's former drummer, Robert Wyatt:

"rock musicians tend to make clunky and old-fashioned jazz drummers, and jazz drummers tend to make effete and precious rock drummers"

Simon didn't sound clunky or old fashioned in that clip to me. As with guys like Phil Collins and Chester Thompson he's always struck me as a fusionesque drummer who tended to choose rock. Very fast, a flowing player who uses plenty of grace notes and has heaps of dynamic control.

I would think that striving for authenticity in any style to be a rather mannered approach to playing music. Fair enough if that's what you want to go for or you are looking to break into a scene, but if it's a side project like this then surely it would make most sense to simply play the tune as YOU? There's you, there's the music ... okay, what do you do to make this sound as good as you can?

I think that's what Simon did. In the main themes he seemed to play repeating figures a bit more than I would have expected, which struck me as more of a compositional prog rock approach than that of an improvising jazzer, as per Ken's comment, but it worked well to my, admittedly untrained, ear. I can imagine plenty of local jazzers not getting the tune to sound as good as Simon did.
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  #174  
Old 10-24-2009, 10:19 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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In your opinion.

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Yes based on hearing him play in this traditional swing based format on listening to it with my jazz "ears" and 34 years of playing this very music in question and keeping up on its latest developments. Everyone has got an opinion and mine's based on where i'm coming from from listening to it from a jazz drummers perspective and knowledge base. Funny how that works.....
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  #175  
Old 10-24-2009, 10:24 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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I think the problem I see here is exactly the opposite, Stan, and that is as you stated earlier, a lack of authenticity. He is playing this piece in a kind of post-fusion straight up manner. It's a nice groove and a nice feel, but he is missing the whole stylistic element, isn't he? I would ask if that is because he is trying to do something original ??? If it ain't broke, don't fix it. This is a nice piece in a Coltrane quartet style. The keyboard is laying down these nice block chords. It is just calling for some syncopation. the drumming is very undergraduate in that sense, how a guy would play before he studied post-bop drumming.

Yes on all counts Ken.....
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  #176  
Old 10-24-2009, 10:47 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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The drumming is very undergraduate in that sense, how a guy would play before he studied post-bop drumming.
Well, but how do you know that SImon Phillips hasn't studied post-bop drumming?
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  #177  
Old 10-24-2009, 11:07 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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Well, but how do you know that SImon Phillips hasn't studied post-bop drumming?
Because you can hear it in the delivery of his playing in the clip.....

Actually it sounds like he's been checking elements of it out more carefully. If he adds some more improvisational elements, call and response/dialogue with other ensemble members, some "spice" from buoyant elements of syncopation thrown in as I covered earlier into the mix he'll be having one complete smokin delivery believe me.

Like I said earlier I like it actually and was pleasantly surprised by it but per this specific well covered in the past by the masters jazz ensemble idiom further study is need to take it to the next step. Check out Tony Williams later crossover stuff blending swing and even 1/8th concepts together in the music. That hot fusion containing the colours of jazz swing based elements hit the "complete" bullseye for me in nearly the same exact jazz ensemble format lineup. I think that's what he is going after anyways from what I heard in the clip. the Tony later 90's quintet period sound and as heard also in his introduction solo.

I'm sure he will take it to the next step because i'm impressed where he has taken it so far.......
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  #178  
Old 10-24-2009, 11:47 PM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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Well, but how do you know that SImon Phillips hasn't studied post-bop drumming?
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Because you can hear it in the delivery of his playing in the clip......
Okay, and now we're getting to the heart of the matter. You say can hear it in the delivery, and I believe you, but what if he's been an avid student of bop and post-bop drumming for many years and the way he's playing here is the result of all that study?
What if he's decided to approach it in a different way, a way more to his liking and more the way he wants to express his take on this music?
Look at what people said about Monk. "All wrong," "clumsy," "no technique." And these were jazz guys saying that. I mention Monk because he never changed his approach, the rest of the jazz scene changed its perception of his approach.
Now of course I'm not comparing Simon Phillips to Thelonious Monk. But I do have to wonder about the idea that studying a style of music will always lead to the same way of playing it.
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  #179  
Old 10-25-2009, 12:08 AM
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Okay, and now we're getting to the heart of the matter. You say can hear it in the delivery, and I believe you, but what if he's been an avid student of bop and post-bop drumming for many years and the way he's playing here is the result of all that study?
What if he's decided to approach it in a different way, a way more to his liking and more the way he wants to express his take on this music?
Look at what people said about Monk. "All wrong," "clumsy," "no technique." And these were jazz guys saying that. I mention Monk because he never changed his approach, the rest of the jazz scene changed its perception of his approach.
Now of course I'm not comparing Simon Phillips to Thelonious Monk. But I do have to wonder about the idea that studying a style of music will always lead to the same way of playing it.
Unfair comparison really. Monk WAS a revolutionary jazz figure BUT he was coming from a very specific deeply rooted tradition that came before him in jazz to which he branched off of. Monk was THE master of syncopation'conterpoint in his writing and ensemble playing {soloing/comping} too don't forget. Certainly a "jazz based" musician his entire career but many didn't get Monk at the time it was going down.

Look at the way Ken hinted at it. Simon is obviously playing with a backup band of seasoned jazz pros. You can hear in their playing, I can. And like Ken said since he's playing in that specific format with these people playing off the same common "language" of music why not play more off the piano players syncopated comping figures and such rather than finishing phrases and such by leaning heavy on the downbeats of the bars instead missing the moment of the locking up on the buoyant extra push in the ensemble that could be happening as just one example worth pointing out. Doesn't sound like a new take on drum innovations or "my take on it" but more of lack of experience with a common jazz language and rules of engagement that seems better shared by the rest of the musicians playing the music on the stage during the tune other than the drummer in this case. He's working on it for sure but he's no master of the complex jazz ensemble language yet.

Just my thoughts and observations take it or leave it, no worries..........
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  #180  
Old 10-25-2009, 12:34 AM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

Watching Neil Peart play swing was like watching Dave Weckl play rock. They may have some theory knowledge, but fail miserably when trying to put it into practice. This, however, was quite excellent, and I don't even normaly really like jazz. As for the bass drum, I can't stand the tiny, highly tuned bop bass drums, and I thought Simon's sounded great.
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  #181  
Old 10-25-2009, 01:04 AM
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He's working on it for sure but he's no master of the complex jazz ensemble language yet.
Well that's a pretty lofty statement. I very much doubt that Simon Phillips is making any claims that he's a "master of the complex jazz ensemble language." It looks to me that he just likes to play jazz.
Surely you don't consider yourself to be a master of the complex jazz ensemble language, do you?
How many jazz drummers could be considered to be masters of the complex jazz ensemble language? All of them, just because they play jazz? Is every jazz drummer on every jazz record or CD you own a master of the complex jazz ensemble language? Come on.
I don't buy the idea that it's necessary to study jazz for year after year before you can be considered a jazz musician. I think one is a jazz musician because that's the kind of music he plays.
I'm going to say something that's really going to cause a lot of people here to take umbrage. I just don't think that jazz can be all that hard to play. Obviously it's learnable or else nobody would know how to do it. I think jazz could benefit from lightening up a little. Saying that you must play the drums like Philly Joe Jones or you must play the trumpet like Clifford Brown or you must play the bass like Ron Carter, that's just setting up impossible goals to reach, and if everyone did do that then jazz would just be a music filled with imitators, not innovators.
But come to think of it...
You think that the jazz ensemble language should be complex. I don't think any kind of music should be or has to be anything other than what the creator of that music wants it to be.
Just my thoughts and observations, take it or leave it, no worries.
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  #182  
Old 10-25-2009, 01:21 AM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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Well that's a pretty lofty statement. I very much doubt that Simon Phillips is making any claims that he's a "master of the complex jazz ensemble language." It looks to me that he just likes to play jazz.
Surely you don't consider yourself to be a master of the complex jazz ensemble language, do you?
How many jazz drummers could be considered to be masters of the complex jazz ensemble language? All of them, just because they play jazz? Is every jazz drummer on every jazz record or CD you own a master of the complex jazz ensemble language? Come on.
I don't buy the idea that it's necessary to study jazz for year after year before you can be considered a jazz musician. I think one is a jazz musician because that's the kind of music he plays.
I'm going to say something that's really going to cause a lot of people here to take umbrage. I just don't think that jazz can be all that hard to play. Obviously it's learnable or else nobody would know how to do it. I think jazz could benefit from lightening up a little. Saying that you must play the drums like Philly Joe Jones or you must play the trumpet like Clifford Brown or you must play the bass like Ron Carter, that's just setting up impossible goals to reach, and if everyone did do that then jazz would just be a music filled with imitators, not innovators.
But come to think of it...
You think that the jazz ensemble language should be complex. I don't think any kind of music should be or has to be anything other than what the creator of that music wants it to be.
Just my thoughts and observations, take it or leave it, no worries.

Learn the language, play the music.... I did and have for some 34 years now. My clips are out there for all to see in the playing section draw your own conclusions on where I stand as a veteran jazz player on the subject of which I speak........ mastering to me simply means covering all the elements and fundamentals needed to learn the music with a sense of depth and speaking it with your own voice after the fact.

Jazz does have a complex language all of its own but you can learn to speak it freely in a flowing relaxed conversational manner with liked minded musicians when you''ve done your homework on the subject. Not a lofty comment but basic musical common sense applied to everyone learning this or any other craft. If some important elements are missing the finished effect isn't totally covered, that's my point.

If you want to argue back and forth for the sake of argument on what makes for elements of jazz language or some basic common sense stuff applied to this music i've done my best.

I enjoyed the clip very much but if I want the real jazz deal i'll listen Tony, Elvin, Eric etc.. deliver all the important details in this type of ensemble setting needed to deliver it to the max to my "jazz" ears. Just me....
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  #183  
Old 10-25-2009, 01:29 AM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

Jazz is a language with many accents. I'd see Simon as being in a room of native jazz speakers and he was speaking jazz with a prog accent.

Monsieur Simon ... how do you zay it? ... may not 'ave zee same breadth of vocabulary in zat language, but some accents sound magnifique :)
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  #184  
Old 10-25-2009, 01:51 AM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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Unfair comparison really. Monk WAS a revolutionary jazz figure BUT he was coming from a very specific deeply rooted tradition that came before him in jazz to which he branched off of. Monk was THE master of syncopation' conterpoint in his writing and ensemble playing {soloing/comping} too don't forget. Certainly a "jazz based" musician his entire career but many didn't get Monk at the time it was going down.

Look at the way Ken hinted at it. Simon is obviously playing with a backup band of seasoned jazz pros. You can hear in their playing, I can. And like Ken said since he's playing in that specific format with these people playing off the same common "language" of music why not play more off the piano players syncopated comping figures and such rather than finishing phrases and such by leaning heavy on the downbeats of the bars instead missing the moment of the locking up on the buoyant extra push in the ensemble that could be happening as just one example worth pointing out. Doesn't sound like a new take on drum innovations or "my take on it" but more of lack of experience with a common jazz language and rules of engagement that seems better shared by the rest of the musicians playing the music on the stage during the tune other than the drummer in this case. He's working on it for sure but he's no master of the complex jazz ensemble language yet.

Just my thoughts and observations take it or leave it, no worries..........

Yes, exactly. These guys know what they are doing and Simon is the 'name.' How do I know that he hasn't studied post-bop drumming? Because the situation calls for the type of over the bar line syncopated playing that Stan is referencing. Simon is playing very routinely, which is what you play when you are not versed in the style. It is not innovative. As you become more versed in the style, you learn how to expand and free up the feel of the groove outside of a straight ride cymbal pattern with very predictable hits. It becomes the over the bar line-interactive phrasing associated with the great hard bop and post bop drummers mentioned. The fact these players can do this is the reason guys love their playing. They are the master of this style. It is no crime to emulate what they are doing.
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  #185  
Old 10-25-2009, 02:00 AM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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Yes, exactly. These guys know what they are doing and Simon is the 'name.' How do I know that he hasn't studied post-bop drumming? Because the situation calls for the type of over the bar line syncopated playing that Stan is referencing. Simon is playing very routinely, which is what you play when you are not versed in the style. It is not innovative. As you become more versed in the style, you learn how to expand and free up the feel of the groove outside of a straight ride cymbal pattern with very predictable hits. It becomes the over the bar line-interactive phrasing associated with the great hard bop and post bop drummers mentioned. The fact these players can do this is the reason guys love their playing. They are the master of this style. It is no crime to emulate what they are doing.

Gotta fly to a gig but thanks Ken for adding more to this "uncomplex" discussion when it comes to covering certain essential basic elements heard in jazz drumming in a ensemble situation like the one posted.

Mastering again simply means knowing the language of your instrument in any given music at hand BEFORE extending on it.
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Old 10-25-2009, 02:11 AM
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Well that's a pretty lofty statement. I very much doubt that Simon Phillips is making any claims that he's a "master of the complex jazz ensemble language." It looks to me that he just likes to play jazz.
Surely you don't consider yourself to be a master of the complex jazz ensemble language, do you?
How many jazz drummers could be considered to be masters of the complex jazz ensemble language? All of them, just because they play jazz? Is every jazz drummer on every jazz record or CD you own a master of the complex jazz ensemble language? Come on.
I don't buy the idea that it's necessary to study jazz for year after year before you can be considered a jazz musician. I think one is a jazz musician because that's the kind of music he plays.
I'm going to say something that's really going to cause a lot of people here to take umbrage. I just don't think that jazz can be all that hard to play. Obviously it's learnable or else nobody would know how to do it. I think jazz could benefit from lightening up a little. Saying that you must play the drums like Philly Joe Jones or you must play the trumpet like Clifford Brown or you must play the bass like Ron Carter, that's just setting up impossible goals to reach, and if everyone did do that then jazz would just be a music filled with imitators, not innovators.
But come to think of it...
You think that the jazz ensemble language should be complex. I don't think any kind of music should be or has to be anything other than what the creator of that music wants it to be.
Just my thoughts and observations, take it or leave it, no worries.

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  #187  
Old 10-25-2009, 02:23 AM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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How do I know that he hasn't studied post-bop drumming? Because the situation calls for the type of over the bar line syncopated playing that Stan is referencing.
No, you're just saying that it calls for that. Is that a rule, the "over the bar line syncopated" thing? Is everything in jazz drumming played exactly that way and that way only?
Maybe the guy who wrote that song didn't want Phillips to play over the bar line syncopated stuff.
Let's look at it another way. We have the song, the song that Simon Phillips played the drums on, and he played it the way he played. Would any and every "real" jazz drummer play the type of over the bar line syncopation that you're talking about in the way that you mean? Would, say, Ben Riley play it like that, or Shadow Wilson, or Pete La Roca, or Willie Jones? And if they didn't would they also be guilty of not having mastered the "complex jazz ensemble language?"
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  #188  
Old 10-25-2009, 02:31 AM
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Yes, they would. Shadow Wilson was dead even before this style emerged. Pete LaRocca plays in this style. Stan, can play in this style and has been for decades. I have been studying and playing in this style for a few years now and listening to it all my life. It's not rocket science. If someone is being innovative, then there is innovation. If someone is not, then there is no innovation. it is exactly as Stan said, if you are going to play in the style, you need to know that history of the style.
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Old 10-25-2009, 03:04 AM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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if you are going to play in the style, you need to know that history of the style.
And you're quite sure that Simon Phillips does not know that history, is that correct?
"Shadow Wilson was dead even before this style emerged." Umm..we are talking about Shadow Wilson, right? Are you saying that he died too soon to be aquainted with over the bar line syncopated playing?
Maybe you need to brush up on your history of that style, because what he plays on "Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall" sounds pretty convincing to me.
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  #190  
Old 10-25-2009, 03:17 AM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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if you are going to play in the style, you need to know that history of the style.
As a general rule and when it comes to a prog drummer playing with a group of jazzmen, sure. However, if that principle was absolute then a number of new styles and approaches would not have been be created. Most times naivete is not an asset, but as they say, "Out of the mouths of babes ...". Sometimes intuition and/or soul without a whole lot of historical grounding can lead to interesting approaches.

Punk
Brian Eno
Ornette Coleman
Jackson Pollock
The first bluesmen
Moe Tucker

Sorry if my comment seems too anal, Ken, and I'm aware that the above are exceptions rather than the rule. Just that your statement seems too absolute and blanket to me and would need qualifiers not to jar.
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Old 10-25-2009, 03:32 AM
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Actually, Eno has a big background in what he does. If you read a few of his articles...
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Old 10-25-2009, 03:42 AM
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Actually, Eno has a big background in what he does. If you read a few of his articles...
But not in music, MFB. My understanding is that he was an art guy before starting up with Roxy.
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Old 10-25-2009, 03:47 AM
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Yes, he was, but that doesn't make him musically naive. Far from it. You ought to read the 'Ambient Manifesto' in the front of 'Music for Airports'. There are a number of other works out there, I have a compilation of musical writings for my degree and he is heavily featured. Art guys often understand music far better than musicians - they have the 'outsider edge' and a lot of the thought processes are the same, especially from an aesthetic standpoint. Stockhausen has his parallels with Picasso, Van Gogh with Debussy. The same idea, two different fields.
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Old 10-25-2009, 04:30 AM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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Yes, he was, but that doesn't make him musically naive. Far from it. You ought to read the 'Ambient Manifesto' in the front of 'Music for Airports'. There are a number of other works out there, I have a compilation of musical writings for my degree and he is heavily featured. Art guys often understand music far better than musicians - they have the 'outsider edge' and a lot of the thought processes are the same, especially from an aesthetic standpoint. Stockhausen has his parallels with Picasso, Van Gogh with Debussy. The same idea, two different fields.
Great comment, MFB. It deserves its own thread.

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Old 10-25-2009, 05:02 AM
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But not in music, MFB. My understanding is that he was an art guy before starting up with Roxy.
Talk to Eno and he is surprised that anyone actually takes his art seriously as music.
This type of a discussion quickly becomes an exercise in futility because people don't understand the fundamental concept that if he were doing something innovative he would be taking the style to a new level. But what he is doing is routine. I think Phillips is a great drummer and if playing in this style is his project, he will develop it quite well. I am sure he knows the style well; but I would need to see an example of him playing doing something with it before I am going to respect his interpretation of it. To suggest that we should accept his playing on face value because he is a name is to suggest that we use no aesthetic judgment of our own. That is definitely not a road I am gong to go down. I am not going to say taht everything is value neutral. That is just nonsense.
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  #196  
Old 10-25-2009, 07:12 AM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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This type of a discussion quickly becomes an exercise in futility because people don't understand the fundamental concept that if he were doing something innovative he would be taking the style to a new level. But what he is doing is routine.
And what's wrong with that? Nobody has said that SImon Phillips is an innovative jazz drummer.
I mean really now. Who's such an innovative jazz drummer? You? Do you play nothing that could be considered routine? If so I'd very much like to hear you play sometime.
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Old 10-25-2009, 07:59 AM
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To suggest that we should accept his playing on face value because he is a name is to suggest that we use no aesthetic judgment of our own. That is definitely not a road I am gong to go down. I am not going to say taht everything is value neutral. That is just nonsense.
No one suggested that, Ken. I didn't say or suggest that Simon's performance was innovative or that everyone must enjoy it because it's The Great Simon Phillips. It's just that I didn't relate to the blanket statement you made in general because I don't relate to blanket statements. I thought you'd be ok about qualifying it. If you missed my point then I'm sorry for not making myself clear.

As for crossing of bar lines, lots of non-jazzers use the device at times. Even I do it because "unsquaring" can keep a passage or transition from sounding stiff. If I'm familiar with the concept then Simon certainly is.

Simon may have decided to play the theme squared off as a matter of taste. After all, he's played an awful lot of sessions and probably likes things to be tidy :) Perhaps the issue is that elements of his prog tastes have leaked into his jazz performance? At least he didn't play double-kick 16ths ...
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  #198  
Old 10-25-2009, 08:25 AM
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You can also watch this clip of the Vantage performance in which Simon discusses his upbringing in playing jazz in his dad's band in England. He does have a history in jazz and wide, deep set of experience in playing styles, just different from many of the American masters (Philly Joe, Shadow, Roy, Elvin, etc.):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcQTKi0ID38

Obviously, Simon can play jazz, and this piece demonstrates that he can play it quite well and with some flair, as, I think, Steamer noted.

His kind of jazz playing reminds me of Bill Bruford's in Earthworks: very good, very accomplished, but different than players who immerse themselves fully in the tradition (e.g., when you listen to Miles, Coltrane, Monk, Herbie, Joshua Redman, etc., and hear the drummers there). As others have noted, Simon (and Bill) has extensive experience as a rock/fusion drummer, even though he (and Bill) started with jazz and had jazz as one of his first inspirations.

I think what's really at heart here is immersion. From my experience in teaching and research (in humanities, not music), if you want to really learn something well and do it well, then immersion is necessary--at least for most of us. Whether it is literary study, science, math, philosophy, a style of music, I think you must put in your time to inhabit the space of your field of study/interest. The more you do this, the better your chance at getting a deeper knowledge of your subject, and the easier it becomes for you to call upon such skills when needed.

Players like Blakey, Elvin, Haynes and most other greats mainly spent their entire careers mastering jazz and forging new directions in jazz. They were not playing rock sessions or fusion sessions or pop sessions. Not even Tony's hybrid Lifetime stuff is really rock, in my opinion; it is still heavily jazz oriented. A player like Simon has a bit of the Renaissance man about him, in a way: he can play a massive variety of styles extremely well, but by doing this perhaps he sacrifices time and focus. He is a solid all-around player, but, because of this focus, he will probably always have a hard time playing jazz at a deeper or more sophisticated level. This is not a criticism of him or his playing--it is just a simple observation of where a player has chosen to invest her or his time and energy. You can have a jazz player who has spent 40 years in jazz, while Simon has spent equal time mainly playing rock/fusion with some jazz and other styles mixed in. Will the jazz player sound different when it comes to jazz? Yes, because in this example the jazz player has a lot more focused experienced in a style. Whether people want to label that difference as "authentic," etc., is up to them, I suppose.

Note: I will qualify my immersion argument by noting that if you don't learn how to study well and smartly, then there is a good chance that progression will not happen. Immersion, by itself, doesn't guarantee growth and mastery. Hence why we all benefit from good teachers (Alan Dawson, Ed Soph, Gary Chaffe, etc.)!

As for the point about the sound of Simon's playing, I think that has more to do with the fact that he's got clear heads on his Starclassic Maples and doesn't appear to have his bass or toms tuned to the usual high bop pitch. Tune up a bit and put coated heads on the drums, and they'll sound different.

I will add, as a side note, I'm glad to see Eric Harland's name mentioned in this thread. He is a phenomenal jazz player. I think he and Matt Wilson represent some of the best playing in jazz today: steeped in history but pushing forward at the same time, with fun experimentation.
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Old 10-25-2009, 08:46 AM
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Why should I go see him play? That is the question. There are so many great players out there without the name. I'd like to hear a little more of that free style in the beginning of the clip you shared on the previous one. The interview really isn't interesting to me. I've heard Simon speak before and he doesn't much that interests me.

You do need to immerse yourselves in the tradition to really do something with the music, and I am wondering if this is what Simon Phillips is focused on now. But even as such, I think what Steamer and I were concerned about is that on this particular track, it seemed that there is much going on musically that the drummer is not a part of and that two and four in the HH actually gets annoying after a while. It seems that about hald way through the time needs to start to relax and he keeps driving it.

Part of the sound/dynamic problem is the drum set; it's a hybrid maple-bubinga, isn't it? It's loud. He even has a screen. I really don't want to go see a jazz player who plays behind a screen. Does that sound silly? Should it really?
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Old 10-25-2009, 09:02 AM
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Default Re: Can Simon play jazz?

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Originally Posted by RobertM View Post
You can also watch this clip of the Vantage performance in which Simon discusses his upbringing in playing jazz in his dad's band in England. He does have a history in jazz and wide, deep set of experience in playing styles, just different from many of the American masters (Philly Joe, Shadow, Roy, Elvin, etc.):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HcQTKi0ID38

Obviously, Simon can play jazz, and this piece demonstrates that he can play it quite well and with some flair, as, I think, Steamer noted.

His kind of jazz playing reminds me of Bill Bruford's in Earthworks: very good, very accomplished, but different than players who immerse themselves fully in the tradition (e.g., when you listen to Miles, Coltrane, Monk, Herbie, Joshua Redman, etc., and hear the drummers there). As others have noted, Simon (and Bill) has extensive experience as a rock/fusion drummer, even though he (and Bill) started with jazz and had jazz as one of his first inspirations.

I think what's really at heart here is immersion. From my experience in teaching and research (in humanities, not music), if you want to really learn something well and do it well, then immersion is necessary--at least for most of us. Whether it is literary study, science, math, philosophy, a style of music, I think you must put in your time to inhabit the space of your field of study/interest. The more you do this, the better your chance at getting a deeper knowledge of your subject, and the easier it becomes for you to call upon such skills when needed.

Players like Blakey, Elvin, Haynes and most other greats mainly spent their entire careers mastering jazz and forging new directions in jazz. They were not playing rock sessions or fusion sessions or pop sessions. Not even Tony's hybrid Lifetime stuff is really rock, in my opinion; it is still heavily jazz oriented. A player like Simon has a bit of the Renaissance man about him, in a way: he can play a massive variety of styles extremely well, but by doing this perhaps he sacrifices time and focus. He is a solid all-around player, but, because of this focus, he will probably always have a hard time playing jazz at a deeper or more sophisticated level. This is not a criticism of him or his playing--it is just a simple observation of where a player has chosen to invest her or his time and energy. You can have a jazz player who has spent 40 years in jazz, while Simon has spent equal time mainly playing rock/fusion with some jazz and other styles mixed in. Will the jazz player sound different when it comes to jazz? Yes, because in this example the jazz player has a lot more focused experienced in a style. Whether people want to label that difference as "authentic," etc., is up to them, I suppose.

Note: I will qualify my immersion argument by noting that if you don't learn how to study well and smartly, then there is a good chance that progression will not happen. Immersion, by itself, doesn't guarantee growth and mastery. Hence why we all benefit from good teachers (Alan Dawson, Ed Soph, Gary Chaffe, etc.)!

As for the point about the sound of Simon's playing, I think that has more to do with the fact that he's got clear heads on his Starclassic Maples and doesn't appear to have his bass or toms tuned to the usual high bop pitch. Tune up a bit and put coated heads on the drums, and they'll sound different.

I will add, as a side note, I'm glad to see Eric Harland's name mentioned in this thread. He is a phenomenal jazz player. I think he and Matt Wilson represent some of the best playing in jazz today: steeped in history but pushing forward at the same time, with fun experimentation.
Great post and perceptive comments as always I hear coming from you Robert.

If he intented to play more straight and square well the rest of the seasoned jazz musicians on the clip in the band were playing more open and rounded being more buoyant and syncopated in their comping, phrasing and soloing off the jazz tradition then I agree that I missed his musical intention and point of reference he was after. If on the other hand he was trying to replicate the vibe of the mid 90's Tony band which I think was his intent I hear coming from the overall direction of the performance his concept he didn't quite secure the same level of full intent of all the required jazz drumming elements in the same musical basket to hit the complete home run Tony did doing the same music night after night containing the same fusion of elements in primarily a jazz based ensemble setting.

Listen to what Eric Harland or Brian Blade can do within the same post Bop idiom as seen in the clip which to me has them more connected to a more complete jazz concept going on with other musicians on stage. If Simon intended to seperate the two concepts of playing happening at the same time within the music that's certainly his choice but it doesn't sound as effective to my ears as everybody on stage being on the same {jazz} page.

Anyway its all positive because in its own way having a chap of this stature taking a stab at this kind of music might attract more younger players currently sitting on the fence about listening to or liking jazz to take a deeper look at the complete history of the music... which of coarse is a good thing in my view.
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