How did you acquire a taste for jazz?

Mad About Drums

Pollyanna's Agent
...just thinking "How did you acquire a taste for jazz?" would be a cool topic...
Well, considering the recent threads about jazz, it’s not a bad idea actually, we could all share our little anecdote on how and/or why we came round to enjoy such music.

It would be also a great insight to know each other a bit better, at least on this very topic, there’s been a lot of discussion about jazz these last few days, but no one, at the exeption of Anon La Ply, told the forum how they acquired a taste for jazz, so this thread could be the very place to do such a thing.

So, here we are, I shamelessly “steal” Anon’s idea :))

Here’s my storytelling…

Like Anon, and many others I’m sure, I come from a rock background, my first ever “proper” favourite band and drum hero as a teenager were the Beatles and Ringo Starr, from there I moved on to all the classic rock and prog rock band of my time, from the Stones to Cream, from Led Zep to Yes, from Deep Purple to Rush and every other big names in between at that times.

I was very keen on knowing all the names of these players, who’s playing with whom and so on, when Ritchie Blackmore left Deep Purple, he was replaced by by a guitarist named Tommy Bolin, and I spent an awful lot of time in records shop, looking at the back of albums, trying to find a new gem for my records collection, and there it was, a totally unknown drummer to me back then, going by the name of Billy Cobham, had a record out called Spectrum with the aforementioned Tommy Bolin on guitar, I thought cool, lets have it, when I had listen to it, I was blew away by Red Baron and (especially) Stratus, I thought this was the coolest music I ever heard, so I started to research more about that Billy guy, which led to Mahavishnu Orchestra, from there it just went on to more interesting and inspiring discoveries.

In my mid 20’s, I made a move from rock drumming to play with bands which had some jazz, fusion influences, and playing with these musicians, I discovered more and more jazz music.

I love jazz, and I still love rock, but as a player, I’m no jazz guy, at best I’m a groovy fusion meet jazz meet rock type of drummer.

My story is based on a natural evolution in taste(s) in music and I’m as much an audiophile as I’m a drummer :)

… so, what’s your story?
 

flydrummer

Member
My father was a drummer and there was always jazz being played in the house. I didn't really appreciate it at the time cause I was more into rock in the 80s. However by random chance I met my first drum teacher, Les DeMerle around 86 and I was blown away by his playing as I had never seen anything like that in person before. After that I started digging into jazz and focused on that my first 4 years of study. I never really pursued it professionally though. I can play jazz but was never GREAT at it. I'm glad to have a foundation in it as it helps me with my noisy rock drumming.
 

Anon La Ply

Renegade
Thanks Henri. I was too lazy to do it. I guess that's why artistes have agents :)

Jazz is no doubt an acquired taste, and one that not everyone cares to acquire. So I wondered how people broke the barrier.

... from the now-defunct Is Jazz Dead? thread (which I enjoyed until the testosterone went bubbling over).

I acquired the taste by accident ...

When I was much younger a friend played me his big brother's Larks Tongues in Aspic album as a joke "Listen to how bad this is!" kind of affair. I really, really hated it ... but I never forgot it ... something stuck.

Then came my Ian Paice obsession (who was, in turn, obviously obsessed with Buddy Rich).

Then I found I couldn't do homework to music because I was distracted by the lyrics so I asked the guy in the record shop (my second home at the time) to recommend instrumental music and I went home with Birds of Fire.

I hated it at first but it was my only instrumental music so I used it as a homework aide. Then I got used to it. Then I remembered some parts of it. Then I started actually listening. Then one day I remembered Larks Tongues and I bought it on a whim to see how I felt about it.

That lead to my morbid, almost masochistic (haha) fascination with King Crimson and I became a prog and fusion fan.

Then my sister started going out with a pro jazz musician so I started going to those gigs.
 

con struct

Platinum Member
I was, I think, 13, and late one night when dialing around on my radio I came across a jazz station, I don't remember where it was being broadcast from. It was the sound of the ride cymbal that scared the hell out of me because I didn't know how to make that sound, didn't even know that a cymbal could make such a sound. I was immediately fascinated, and smitten with small-combo acoustic jazz music. "Here," I thought to myself, "is something I definitely need to get to know all about."

So I got a subscription to Downbeat magazine and it simply took off from there.
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
My parents liked jazz, so my earliest exposure was hearing it when they played it on the radio or record player. My dad owned a tenor sax and my mother sang in school. Neither played seriously, but both had an appreciation and love for music.

When I took an interest in the drums, one of my best friends, who played in drum corps, sort of became my first "teacher." He hipped me to jazz drummers and helped me appreciate the music and the role the drums played.

My interest grew and took off on its own. I started listening to jazz on the radio, buying Downbeat and checking out the records they recommended. I started taking formal lessons with a focus on jazz playing and that was pretty much it; I was hooked.

But it wasn't until I was in my early 20s when my buddy and I picked up the Penguin Guide to Jazz (an outstanding book and a great read) and started working our way through it that it took over my musical interests almost completely. We made an effort to check out all of their recommendations, including some really "out" stuff by obscure artists, much of it out-of-print and tough to find. I really became obsessed with the music during this period, and so did my buddy. He had played guitar in a rock band with me but he took up piano and we started playing jazz. We caught jazz shows whenever we could to check out live music as often as possible.

I've been in love with the music ever since.
 

Big Foot

Silver Member
As a young teen listening to then independent rock radio in Montreal they'd play a lot of blues late at night. It just seemed to groove more than the groovy rock - which was actually pretty groovy!
Then I started playing drums and some how the blues progressed into jazz. My first jazz album was Seven Steps to Heaven. I'd read about the jazz drummers in Modern Drummer and then go check them out on records. Only to discover how cool the music actually was. I was oddly not really into the rock drummers back then. It's kinda funny how I was a huge Who fan and I wasn't at all into Moon - I just loved the music. But Jazz was different for me I payed attention to all the players in the bands.
Actually now that you have me thinking about it...
I was a really big Police fan and I loved Copeland's playing but it kinda intimidated me so I didn't try to learn to many Police tunes. Were as Tony William's playing really intimidated me but I none the less tried (mostly unsuccessfully) to learn his stuff.
 

Numberless

Platinum Member
I've always been very open with music, I think what kept me from enjoying jazz was simply not understanding the basic concepts of comping and improvisation. When I started college and learned that stuff, my interest was sparked, I started listening and "getting it" and I've been hooked ever since. That was just a year and a half ago so it's still fairly recent, but in that time I've had so much fun discovering new artists, going out to see anyone playing jazz live and jamming standards with friends. First jazz record I really enjoyed was Art Blakey's Moanin.
 

the gayge

Senior Member
I read an Elvin Jones cover story in one of the drumming magazines. Made me super jealous of people who liked jazz. Not long after I heard "Live at Birdland" and it totally changed the way I listen to music.

Elvin's still my favorite drummer!
 
A

Anthony Amodeo

Guest
I love hearing these stories

if anyone cares heres mine...

....in the late 80s as a teenager I was playing in a metal band. Our bass player quit and we replaced him with a kid from a few towns away who was a jazz player. His dad had played trumpet with the Buddy Rich band in the late 70s and early 80s. He knew a lot about jazz ...or at least to me he did because I at the time was a metal head who learned to play drums playing along to KISS, Police, Zeppelin, the Who and Billy Squire records.

at the time I was obsessed with Keith Moon and this bass player whos name was Chris said....you would love Elvin Jones , he is the Keith Moon of jazz

a statement that seems ridiculous to me now....but it sparked my interest as a kid

he was right I fell in love with anything and everything Elvin and havent stopped listening to and loving him since

I moved to Los Angeles in the mid 90s to pursue a career in music and began to frequent Pro Drum Shop and became friendly with the owners Stan and Jerry

long story even longer.....I ran into Elvin there a few times and we became friendly
one thing led to another and he ended up a bit of a mentor to me for quite a few years.
He and Keiko sort of kept me alive for a while while I was jobless and homeless and i will be forever grateful for their kindness

my hero/mentor and I backstage at the Knitting Factory in LA 1999 after a Jazz Machine show and right before we dove into a bucket of steamed clams :) Elvin could eat more than the average man
 

8Mile

Platinum Member
I love hearing these stories

if anyone cares heres mine...

....in the late 80s as a teenager I was playing in a metal band. Our bass player quit and we replaced him with a kid from a few towns away who was a jazz player. His dad had played trumpet with the Buddy Rich band in the late 70s and early 80s. He knew a lot about jazz ...or at least to me he did because I at the time was a metal head who learned to play drums playing along to KISS, Police, Zeppelin, the Who and Billy Squire records.

at the time I was obsessed with Keith Moon and this bass player whos name was Chris said....you would love Elvin Jones , he is the Keith Moon of jazz

a statement that seems ridiculous to me now....but it sparked my interest as a kid

he was right I fell in love with anything and everything Elvin and havent stopped listening to and loving him since

I moved to Los Angeles in the mid 90s to pursue a career in music and began to frequent Pro Drum Shop and became friendly with the owners Stan and Jerry

long story even longer.....I ran into Elvin there a few times and we became friendly
one thing led to another and he ended up a bit of a mentor to me for quite a few years.
He and Keiko sort of kept me alive for a while while I was jobless and homeless and i will be forever grateful for their kindness

my hero/mentor and I backstage at the Knitting Factory in LA 1999 after a Jazz Machine show and right before we dove into a bucket of steamed clams :) Elvin could eat more than the average man
Awesome. Just awesome. What a story. What a photo!

Totally jealous,
8Mile
 

aydee

Platinum Member
My story is based on a natural evolution in taste(s) in music and I’m as much an audiophile as I’m a drummer :)

… so, what’s your story?
Very similar beginings, Henri. I grew up on rock and all the great bands of the 70s. What was happening simultaneously, though was that I was falling in love with the drums and was exploring Sandy Nelson which eventually got me to all the Buddy Rich albums.

As my ears matured, my listening transitioned to the blues, and eventually to Hendrix. I dicovered Hendrix at the same time as I discovered Coltrane plays the Blues ( Not many see the connection, but it connects for me )

That opened a flood gate that had me checking out all the stuff going all the way back to Lester Young, Duke and eventually all the way forward to Miles & Weather Report and Chick and Herbie, and all the way sideways to Ornette, Monk, and Archie Shepp and even Peter Brotzmann.

I have also been lucky to have grown up in NYC at a time when many of the luminaries of jazz were out and about and accessible in the many clubs that hosted this music through the mid-late 80s, and I got to listen and talk to many of them, up close & personal.

Today my playing opportunities are mainly funk, or reggae, and the ocassional blues gig, and almost never jazz. I dont think of myself as a good jazz player, but its what I love playing the most.


...
 
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groove1

Silver Member
In the 1950's (and 60's) on AM radio you had a vast variety of music on various stations. Just tuning across the dial you would hear opera, classical, bluegrass, jazz, r&b, rock, barbershop quartets, you name it! A lot of us got a taste of a variety of music by just trying to find a station we liked. A lot of barbershops had the radio on opera's on weekends. Hardware stores had the radio on a variety of music etc.

My first memory of really knowing I loved jazz was about 1951 or 1952 when traveling in a
car with my dad and hearing it on the radio. (I later found out we were listening to Bird!)
I didn't know what it all was at the time, being very young, but I knew I liked it. By the mid
to late 50's I was listening regularly to groups like the Jazz Messengers on LP. My best friends dad was a jazz trumpeter (film editor by day) and hung out with cats like Ken Nordine. He had an enormous influence on turning us onto what to listen to. We loved it all
and couldn't wait to hear more. Back in those days it was thrilling to find out what Miles next album would be like etc and we all looked forward to these things.

My mom lived in New Orleans from 1918 to 1939 and was exposed to the live music there during that time by her folks. She had an enormous jazz collection of NO music along with Ellington, Basie, Bird, Diz, many many jazz pianists etc. She had most of Art Blakey's albums to boot...never took to Max the way I did but heck, I though all kids were growing up around this music and only found out much later that it was just me and my buddies in our community. The artistic cats.

My folks took us to places that featured live jazz...saw too many groups to recall them all but I DO REMEMBER seeing/watching/hearing Sarah Vaughan around 1958 from about
ten feet away. INCREDIBLE and we knew it as kids.

All in all, what we now think of as the great performers were still around when I was growing up and we got to hear them live and their recordings so it was part of our living.
I thought it would go on like that forever at the time. How could it not? It was that good.

So, the time I came up in, radio and my mom's interest in jazz (and lots of other music).

I tried it and it tasted good!
 

iwantmemoney

Senior Member
re: Elvin Jones- I see why he can eat-he's a big fella...look at those mitts. You're playing some pretty stuff at least partly cause you've been blessed with big love. I'm sure you must feel that.

I was and continue to be late to the game. Was the song called "Sunwheel" on the Paul Winter Icarus album with Cobham? I have no idea why but that was my first inkling...only then did I begin to backtrack. Of course I played the swing in my teens and early 20's, but I was always too self-absorbed while going nowhere at all. I've increased my practice, and with advancing vocabulary available from study and practice, the desire to express in jazz mode is awakened, which fuels the need to totally lay down the groundwork...which means to go through all these players and compositions. Only this time it's a labor of love. There's no sense of it being a ball and chain or obligation.
 

harryconway

Platinum Member
Well, I sure ain't no jazzer (can't play it for $#*%) but I've always liked it. Like the avocado, no taste acquisition needed. The stuff is simply cool. Good music.​
That's not to say I like all jazz, just like I don't like all rock. I started drumming in 1966, and there was plenty of Buddy Rick, Gene Krupa, Louie Bellson (that double-bass cat), and .... since I was in a marimba band, some guy by the name of Lionel Hampton peaked my interest, as well. Black & White TV, and the 60's.​
Then there was that Magic Kingdom. Seems like almost every time I went to Disneyland with the folks, Buddy Rich and his band was playing. Once I hit high school, music was a melting pot. Pink Floyd, Howlin' Wolf, Miles Davis, Frank Zappa, B.B. King, Ted Nugent .... hey, whatever.​
Elvin Jones, what a monster. Cool photo, GVD. Wow. There was a movie, Zachariah (1971) .... a b-movie western, Elvin Jones plays a gunslinger, and throws down a mean drum solo. Fun stuff.​
 

Smatch

Senior Member
I grew up in a household with a lot of music and with a very close brother, who also is a bassist. He's a little older, almost 2 yrs, and would always come home with music I had never heard. At the time (right around jr year of high school) I was a huge Rush and Zeppelin fan and thought that drumming simply didn't get any better than either Bonzo or Peart. Well one night, he came home with Chick Corea's Acoustic Band with Weckl. When I first heard it, I defensively exclaimed that, "This music isn't that technical or difficult!" and that, "Nobody can come close to Pearts level as a drummer!". After he left, I was glad to discover that he had left the album behind, I listened to it over and over again until around 3am on that school night. I had never heard a drummer play like that or a pianist or bass player. I soon discovered Mahavishnu, Coltrane, Miles, Monk, Clifford Brown, Abercrombie, Parker, Django, Mingus etc. and now more than 20 yrs later I am still totally in love with the genre. I find it as challenging and beautiful as I did then. The thing that has always stood out to me within the genre is that the participants don't seem (and if they are it's not working) to be motivated by financial gain. Rather the motivation appears to be driven by the sheer need to have an idea or composition heard or executed for better or worse.
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
These stories are just way too cool! Thanks to everyone sharing.

My Dad (rip) was a jazz drummer and had a house full of records of jazz from it's infancy up through the Big Band years. He pretty much never took to bop or anything beyond it on the historical timeline. He was an encyclopedia on those eras and could tell you ever little detail of almost everyone from those periods.

All I remember hearing was Louis Armstrong and all the giants of jazz from those periods. I didn't know anything else existed until Soul Train started on television so hearing anything other than jazz was not even remotely interesting.

From that point my drum teachers introduced me to the Bop years and beyond and I ran with it.

My Dad also made sure he took me to every jazz concert that came to town. One of my birthday gifts was sitting 5 feet in front of Buddy Rich's bass drum the whole night listening/watching him drive his big band. Saw so many though of the giants. He even took me to see Art Blakey a few times knowing he didn't care for it.

I'm totally indebted to my Dad for my love of music and drumming.

I must be the only 45 year old person who still avidly listens to and wants to put a band together playing the New Orleans Trad (Hot 5's and Hot 7's) and Chicago Hot Jazz styles (Eddie Condon, Bix, Wild Bill Davison, Jack Tegarden, etc....).
 

dmacc_2

Well-known member
I love hearing these stories

if anyone cares heres mine...

....in the late 80s as a teenager I was playing in a metal band. Our bass player quit and we replaced him with a kid from a few towns away who was a jazz player. His dad had played trumpet with the Buddy Rich band in the late 70s and early 80s. He knew a lot about jazz ...or at least to me he did because I at the time was a metal head who learned to play drums playing along to KISS, Police, Zeppelin, the Who and Billy Squire records.

at the time I was obsessed with Keith Moon and this bass player whos name was Chris said....you would love Elvin Jones , he is the Keith Moon of jazz

a statement that seems ridiculous to me now....but it sparked my interest as a kid

he was right I fell in love with anything and everything Elvin and havent stopped listening to and loving him since

I moved to Los Angeles in the mid 90s to pursue a career in music and began to frequent Pro Drum Shop and became friendly with the owners Stan and Jerry

long story even longer.....I ran into Elvin there a few times and we became friendly
one thing led to another and he ended up a bit of a mentor to me for quite a few years.
He and Keiko sort of kept me alive for a while while I was jobless and homeless and i will be forever grateful for their kindness

my hero/mentor and I backstage at the Knitting Factory in LA 1999 after a Jazz Machine show and right before we dove into a bucket of steamed clams :) Elvin could eat more than the average man
Amazing story..................
 

Odd-Arne Oseberg

Platinum Member
I grew up with it, like any other music. My town has a lot of old guys playing jazz.As I got older I got to play a lot of jazz both in the local bigband and the local janitsjar orchestra which played a lot of symphonic band arrangements with substituted wind instruments for the bowed string instruments. That's exposed me to a lot of Sinatra and Ellington.

I would listen to Gray Moore, TNT, AC/DC, Bon Jovi, Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Bob Marley and made no real differenatiation between that and Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Sinatra, Miles Davis, Wayne Shorter or whatever. Always been like that since about 4-5 years old. I was exposes a bit and was just naturally intersted in all sorts of music and musical knowledge, so I would bug the brains out of anyone I met that played an instrument a soundman or whatever. I just dug music. Style wasn't and still isn't very important to me other than understanding an idiom enough to give an employer what they want.
 
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