*Jazz Is Syncretized Cultures in Melodious Riffs
Slave music was an especially distinctive cultural form. Africans did not draw a clear line between secular and sacred music and , like many of their ancestors in Africa, sang a a great variety of work songs and spirituals. Their lyrics, intonations, and singing style were marked by poetic beauty, emotional intensity and rich imagery.
This was infused into the music we call today Jazz Stadards, which is a warm and round sound consistently maintained throughout all the full range of instruments. This enabled the modern jazz musicians to be able to articulate every note, high tempos with no difficulties, and this served to enhance their impression of speed of execution. In another way, their sense of harmony was developed to a very high level, and this enabled them to deliver bold statements through complex harmonic progressions(chord changes), and in the process embodying the linear, "Algebraic" terms of bebop harmony.
Jazz music combined element from African call and response patterns into its instrumentation and riffs. As a budding art form, white people looked at this form of music as the 'savage's crash and bang' and that the performers of Ragtime and Jazz were not "innovators, but incompetents". Jazz's expressive and and pulsating style in the beginning served to buttress racial stereotypes, and was received with some skepticism and rejection.. There was animosity towards the emergence and rise of this Black Cultural signification. This prompted an American writer, Lawrence to to interpret the role of jazz as a catalyst of a shifting national consciousness as follows:
"Culturally, we remained to a much larger extent than we have yet recognized, a colonized people attempting to define itself in the shadow of the former imperial power. Jazz was an expression of that other side of ourselves that strove to recognize the positive aspects of our newness and our heterogeneity; and we learned to be comfortable with the fact that a significant part of our heritage derived from Africa and other non-European sources; and that we recognize in the various syncretized cultures, that became so characteristic of the United States an embarrassing weakness', was instead a dynamic source of strength."
The nature of jazz is to strive for cultural convergence between Africans and whites and according to saxophonist Sonny Rollins, "Jazz has always been a music of integration." In the 1920s and 1930s, jazz gained in popularity and there was growing interest in young whites who were attracted to the artistic, personal as well as cultural freedom of expression jazz had to offer.
There were well-known white musicians such as Benny Goodman, Gene Krupa, Milton Mezzrow, Mugsy Spanier or Joe Sullivan, who were inspired by Afro-American icons and jazz masters like Louis Armstrong and his contemporaries. The acceptance of jazz spread across the Atlantic and by the mid 20th century, and this made it to become international. Today, Jazz music is regarded as an integral and vibrant part of American culture, the music that is unique and native to America, and a world-wide representative of African American culture.
Jazz is distinctly modern in sound and manner. According to Lawrence Levine: "Jazz was, or seemed to be the product of a new age... raucous, discordant.... accessible, spontaneous... openly and interactive and participatory music." Daniel Gregory Mason stated that jazz "is so perfectly adapted to robots that one could be deduced from the other.
Jazz is thus the exact musical reflection of modernist industrial capitalism," and jazz has also been likened to the sound of of the past and resent, and Irving Berlin called jazz the "music of the machine age." Players drew influences from everyday street talk in Harlem , as well as from French Impressionist paintings. The Improvised nature begs the player to dismantle and examine pre-existing structure within music. As tribute to the modernity of jazz, one needs to examine various media that drew influences from the jazz.
It is very hard to define Jazz and as has already been pointed-out in the Article on Dig-A-Jazz and briefly in this article, it is music that comes from a black experience of life in slavery, from prison songs, work songs and religious music in the black churches. Berendt says that "Jazz is a form of art music which originated in the United States through the confrontation of Africans with European music, and jazz has a special relationship to time, defined as "swing", "a spontaneity and vitality of musical production in which improvisation plays a role""; and "sonority and manner of phrasing which mirror the individuality of the performing jazz musician".
Travis Jackson offered his own definition of Jazz by stating that" "Jazz is music that includes qualities such as "swinging', improvising, group interaction,developing an 'individual voice'[signature], and being 'open' to different possibilities. Krin Gabbard claims that "jazz is a construct or category that , while artificial, still is useful to designate "a number of musics with enough in common to be understood as part of a coherent tradition." Ja, is the pithy depth of the human soul in swing.
Jazz standards are musical compositions that are widely known, performed and recorded by jazz artists as part of their jazz musical repertoire These are tunes written in or after the 1950s that are considered standards by at least one major "fake book" or reference book. A fake book is a collection of musical lead sheets intended to help a performer quickly learn new songs.
Each song in a fake book contains the melody line, basic chords, and lyrics - the minimal information needed by a musician to make an impromptu arrangement of a song, or "fake it'. The fake book is a central part of the culture of playing music in public, particularly in jazz, where improvisation is especially valued.
Fake books are not intended for novices: the reader must follow and interpret the scant notation, and is expected to have thorough familiarity with cords and sheet music. However, fake books can be an avenue to playing songs quickly; a few chords and a one-note melody line can allow an amateur to play a passable version of any song with relative ease.(Wiki)
This issue will be appreciating and digging into the artists who evolved the Jazz standards form the 1950s onwards. In order or us to understand jazz, it is important to have a clearer appreciation of what made the music of the 1950s be called the Jazz standards or Modal jazz. To understand modal jazz requires knowledge of musical modes. In bebop as swell as in hard bop, musicians use chords to provide the background solos. A song starts with a theme that introduces the chords for the solos. These chords are repeated throughout the whole song, while the soloist play new, improvised themes over the repeated chord progression. By the 1950s, improvising over chords had become such a dominant part of jazz, that sidemen at recording dates were sometimes given nothing more than a list of chords to play from. Creating innovative solos became exceedingly difficult.
In the later 1950s, spurred by the experiments of composer and bandleader George Russel, musicians began using a modal approach. They chose not to write their songs using chords, but instead used modal scales. This means that the bassist, for instance, does not have to 'walk' from one important note of a chord to that of another, as long as they stay in the scale and accentuate the right notes.
The pianist does not have to play the same cords or variations of the chords, but can play anything within the scale being used. The way a soloist creates a solo changed dramatically with the advent of modal jazz. Before, a soloist played a solo that fit into a set of chords. However, with modal jazz, a soloist creates a melody in one scale(typically). Therefore, the goal of the musician in modal jazz is to make the melody interesting as possible. Modal Jazz is, in a sense, a return to Melody.
Musicians in the Beat Of Modern Jazz
Miles Davis III, was born on May 26, 1926 and passed on in September 28, 1991 and was known as an American Jazz Trumpeter, bandleader and composer. Miles was born into an affluent family in Alton,Illinois. His father was a dentist and in 1927 he moved the family to East St. Louis. Miles' father owned a big ranch in northern Arkansas, and that is where he learned to ride horses. His mother, Cleota Mae(henry) Davis, encouraged her son to play piano.
She was a jazz pianist herself, and tried to hide that from Miles. He started his lessons at age 13, and his father gave him a trumpet and hired Elwood Buchanan, a local musician, to teach Miles blowing the trumpet. Buchanan taught Miles to play without vibrato, and this eventually became Miles' signature throughout his career. Ashley Kahn quotes that Miles said: "I prefer a round sound with no attitude in it, like a round voice with not too much tremolo and not too much Baseline bass. Just right in the middle. If I can't get that sound, I can't play anything." Miles was also influenced by Clark Terry earlier on in his life.
By the age of 16, Miles belonged to the music society and worked professionally when he was not in school. When he was 17, he spent a year playing the Blue Devils, which was bandleader's Eddie Randle's band. Sonny Stitt tried to cajole him to join the tiny Bradshaw's which was passing through town, but Miles's mother refused and wanted him to finnish his high school first.
In 1944, Billy Eckstine's band visited East St. Louis, and at that time Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parer were members of the Band, and Miles was taken on as the third trumpet because Buddy Anderson was sick on that gig. When Eckstine's band left, they did so without Miles because his parents wanted him to complete his formal education. In the Fall of 1944, Following his high school graduation, he moved to New York City and took up his studies at the Julliard School of Music.
When he arrived in New York, Miles spent his few weeks in town trying to locate Charlie Parker, and a lot of people discouraged him form meeting with him, including Coleman Hawkins (Davis/Troupe). After he located his idol, Miles became part of the jazz musicians became part of the jam sessions that were kept in Minton's Playhouse and Monroe's in Harlem.
Miles met a lot of young and budding musicians like Fats Navarro, Freddie Webster, J.J. Johnson, Thelonious Monk and Kenny Clarke, regular attendees of these sessions, just to name a few. Miles dropped out of Julliard, but he asked for permission first, from his father to do so. Miles criticized the Julliard that it centered too much on the classical European and "white' repertoire. But Miles also acknowledged that Julliard contributed to the theoretical background that he could rely greatly upon in later years.
Miles played and performed in several 52nd Street clubs with Coleman Hawkings and Eddie "lockjaw" Davis. In 1955 he recorded in the studio with the group of Harry Fields, and as a sideman. In 1946, formed his group as a leader of the Miles Dais Sextet and by this time was a member of the Charlie Parker quintet. In 1945, Dizzy Gillespie parted ways with Charlie Parker. With Parker's quintet, Miles recorded "Now's The Time", wherein he takes a melodic solo.
The toured the USA, and whilst in Los Angeles, Parker had a nervous breakdown, which left Miles stranded and he collaborated at that time with Charles Mingus, and finally got a job with Bill Eckstine, and this brought Miles to New York again. Eventually Miles had a confrontation and left an this time in his life he freelanced as a sideman in many important combos of the New York scene.
In 1948 he connected with composer and arranger, Gil Evans. At Evans house he met with Gerry Mulligan, Max Roach and John Lewis. Evans formed a group out of the sounds of Duke Ellington and Claude Thornhill and, Miles became associated with Evans' nonet. From this combo Miles made his objective was to achieve a sound similar to a human voice over carefully arranged compositions and giving preeminence to a relaxed and melodic approach in the improvised parts.(Miles)
The Nonet was active up to the end of 1949 and its personnel included Gerry Mulligan, Bill Barber(tuba), Lee Konitz(Alto), was preferred to Sonny Stitt, who was too bop orientated; Al Haigh(Piano); Mike Zwerin and Kai Winding(Trombones); Junior Collins, Sandy Siegelstein and Gunther Schuller(French Horn); Al McKibbon and Joe Shulman(Bass). Kenny Haggood, a singer, was added for one track recording played in the Nonet.
The Nonet did not become a commercial success, but became clearer years later to the critics and larger public. Miles invented "cool Jazz", and was unhappy that the accolades for that genre were attributed to Gerry Mulligan and Dave Brubeck for being the front-runner. Miles toured France and fell in-love with actress Juliette Greco. He also liked France because he saw that jazz musicians were respected much more than in the US.
Miles went back to New York after separation with Greco; he also was depressed by this critics who were not appreciating him, but his competitors did as noted above; also, his problems with Irene, a former schoolmate with whom she had two children were all these issues that led him to be hooked on heroin which affected him for the next four years. MIles went back to his father's home and tried to kick out the habit.
In Chicago he met with Amhmad Jamal whose elegant approach and use of space influenced Miles and he severed his stylistical play with bebop. Miles said: "Back in Bebop, everybody used to play real fast. But I didn't ever like playing a bunch of scales and shit. I always tried to play the most important notes in the chord, to break it up. I used to all them musicians playing all them scales and notes and never nothing you could remember."
Miles's most important recordings of this period were "Dig", "Blue Haze", "Bags' Groove", "Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants" and "Walkin'" All these were recorded after after his recovery from addiction in 1951 and 1954. Other important recordings are five Blue Note recordings collected in the Miles Davis Volume 1.
The critics said that the album Walkin' created 'hard bop', and that the music of hard bop distanced itself from using slower tempo and a less radical approach to harmony and melody, and distanced itself from cool jazz by virtue of its harder beat and constant reference to the blues both traditional form and in the form made popular by rhythm and blues. Miles is reported to have had confrontation with Thelonius Monk during the recording of Bags Groove. Miles, of course, denies that this ever happened
In 1955 he attended the Newport Festival and was in good health and came back to New York, and played a resounding solo in the tune "Around Midnight". Miles formed the "First Quintet with Miles(Trumpet), John Coltrane(tenor Saxophone), Red Garland(piano), Paul Chambers(bass) and Philly Joe Jones on drums. Their repertoire included many bebop mainstays, standards from the Great American Songbook, and some traditional tunes.
Davis played long, legato and essentially melodic lines; Coltrane, as a leading figure during those years of the musical scene, contrasted by playing high-energy solos. In 1956, Miles wanted to leave Prestige, but had to fulfill his obligations and made two days of recordings. Prestige released these recordings in the following years as four albums: "Relaxing with Miles Davis Quintet: "Steaming with the Miles Davis Quintet"; "Working with the Miles Davis Quintet" and "Cooking with the Miles Davis Quintet".
Miles, in 1958, recruited Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Coltrane(who had weaned himself from drugs and revitalized from hanging and jamming with Thelonious Monk), Philly Joe Jones, and he fired Garland and replacing him with Bill Evans and drummer Jimmy Cobb, and had formed a sextet, toured extensively, and as Bill Evans burned out, he was replaced with Wynton Kelly, who brought to the band a swinging, bluesy approach in substitution to Evans' more delicate playing.
Miles recorded a series of albums with Gil Evans, often playing flugelhorn as well as trumpet and these are, "Miles Ahead"(1957); "Porgy and Bess"(1958); "Sketches of Spain"(1959-1960); Quiet Nights(1962) Miles then form what he called a seminal trio with Gill Evans. Miles and George Russel regarding modal blues, gave us the birth of the cool sessions, which generated an improvisational approach. While on break from the sessions, Miles was assaulted by the New York City Police, accused of being with a white woman and arrested. Later Miles dropped the proceedings in a plea bargain so that he could get his suspended Cabaret Card back.
In 1961, he recorded "Someday My Prince Will Come", this included Jimmy Heath, Sony Stitt and Hank Mobley. In 1963, along with Tony Williams and Herbie Hancock on piano, Davis and Coleman and the rhythm section recorded "Seven Steps to Heaven". In 1963, he recorded "My Funny Valentine" and he played the repertoire of bebop standards but tackled with increasing structural and rhythmic freedom and breakneck speed.
In 1964 he enlisted the composition services of Wayne Shorter with tunes like "Footprints" and "Nefertiti" In a two night Chicago gig in late 1965 in a live engagement performance, Miles band was still playing standards and bebop songs. In 1966 he did a series of studio recordings, "Miles Smiles" being one, "Sorcerer"(1967), "Nefertiti"(1967), "Miles in the Sky"(1968) and "Filles de Kilimanjaro"(1968). Miles' approach to improvisation became known as "Time no Changes" or "Freebop" because he abandoned the chord-change- based approach of bebop for a modal approach.
In 1967, the band began playing continuously, with each tune flowing into the next and only the melody indicating any sort of demarcation. Miles's band continued to play like this until his retirement in 1975, Miles davis influences included Acid rock, funk, with artists like Sly and family Stone, James Brown and Jimmy Hendrix, and he met all these people through Betty Mabry, whom he married and divorced a year later. This musical transition required Miles and his band adapt to electric instruments.
By the time he recorded "In A Silent Way", he had used players like Hancock, Chic Corea, Joe Zawinul, John McLaughlin, Jack DeJohnette, Airito Moreira and Bennie Maupin to record "Bitches Brew", which hit Gold status by 1976. "In A Silent Way" was the first fusion of Rock and Jazz, which came to be known as Jazz-Rock-Fusion. Starting with "Bitches Brew", Miles began to feature cover art more in line with psychedelic art or black power art than in his past albums. Miles took pay cut to open for groups like the Grateful Dead, Santana and the Steve Miller Band. In the 1970s he recorded such performances: "Live at the Filmore East", March 7, (1970); "It's About That time"(March 1970); "Black Beauty"(April 1970) and "Miles Davis at Filmore"; "Live at the Filmore East"(June 1970). By the time of "Live-Evil" in December 1970. Davis's band transformed into a much funk-orientated, experimenting with the wah-wah effects on his horn. . He incorporated Gerry Batz, Keith Jarrett and Michael Henderson and called the band "Cellar Door Band", which never recorded in a studio, but is documented in the six CD Box Set "The Cellar Door Session", recorded over four nights in 1970. In 1971 he dedicated an album and called it "A Tribute to Jack Johnson" featuring John McLaughlin Sonny Sharrock, Herbie Hancock on Farfisa organ and Bill Cobham(Drummer). Miles Made the Album, "On the Corner" in 1972 for the young African American audience, and in it he blended funk elements with the traditional jazz styles he has played his entire career. In 1972, he recorded in the Philharmonic Hall the album "In Concert"(1972). In 1974 he recorded "Big Fun", an album containing four long jams, and he also recorded "Get Up With It", and these were his recordings for those past four years. In 1976 he suffered from osteoarthritis, sickle-cell anemia,depression,bursitis, ulcers and alcoholism, and he was teetering on a physical breakdown and required vast amounts of vodka and narcotics to complete his engagements.
In 1979 he hooked-up with Cecily Tyson, he was able to overcome his cocaine addiction and and recorded "The Man With the Horn" between 1979 and 1981. In 1981 he recorded "We Want Miles". In 1984 he released "Decoy"; in 1985 he recorded "You're Under Arrest", also Cindy Lauper's "Time After Time" and "Human Nature" from Michael Jackson. In 1986 he reunited with Marcus Miller and produced "Tutu". Miles Davis died on September 28, 1991 from stroke, pneumonia and respiratory failure in santa Monica, California at the age of 65. He was buried in Woodlawn Cemetery, in the Bronx. There is so much that still can be written about Miles, but I think this should suffice.
Thelonious Monk was born October 10, 1917 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and was the son of Thelonious and Barbara Monk. In 1922 his family moved to 243 West 63rd street in Manhattan, New York. He started playing at age six, he had some formal training and eavesdropped on his sister's piano lessons, but mainly he was self-taught. He attended Stuyvesant Hight School, and in his teens he toured with an evangelists, and played the church organ and in his late teens found work playing jazz. Monk is believed to be playing the piano on the recordings by Joe Newman around 1941 at the Minton's Playhouse.
His style was described as "hard swinging" with a touch of Art Tatum's running style. Monk was influenced by Duke Ellington, James P. Johnson, and other stride pianists. The Minton's stint and scene was important in the formulation of Bebop, and it brought Monk in close contact and collaboration with other bebop's giants like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Christian, Kenny Clarke, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis..
Mary Lou Williams talked about Monk's inventiveness and that this was vital for fellow musicians and they incorporated his musical ideas without giving due credit. Mary Lou Williams stated that: "The boppers worked out a music that was hard to steal. I'll say this for the 'leeches', though: they tried. I've seen them at Minton's busily writing on their shirt cuffs or scribbling on the tablecloth, and even our own guys, I'm afraid, did not give Monk the credit he had coming. Why, they even stole his idea of the beret and bop glasses."
In 1944 Monk made his first recordings with, and he later joined Hawkings with Coltrane in the 1957 session. Monk made his debut as a bandleader for Blue Note in 1947, and was later anthologized on Genius of Modern Music, Vol. 1, which showcased his talents as a composer of original melodies for improvisation. According to The Penguin Guide to Jazz, Monk was one of the giants of American music. Monk had a unique improvisational style and made many contributions to the standard jazz repertoire , and these included tunes were, "Epistrophy," "Round Midnight," "Blue Monk," "Straight, No Chaser" and "Well, You Needn't."
He was regarded as the founder of bop, and Monk's playing style later evolved away from that style, because his compositions and improvisations were full of dissonant harmonies and angular melodic twists, and are inseparable from Monk's unorthodox approach, combining a highly percussive attack with abrupt, dramatic use of silences and hesitations.
His manner, to the observers, was idiosyncratic, and he had his 'hip' style of suits hats and sunglasses. He would suddenly stop stand up from the piano and dance a few moments and went back to his piano. He had one dance where he would spin counterclockwise and was termed "ring-shout" and "Sufi Whirling". Along with Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Dave Brubeck, he appeared on the cover of Time Magazine.
Monk married Nellie Smith and had a son, T.S. Monk,now a drummer and a daughter, Barbara, in 1953. After his contract ended with Blue Note, he signed-up with Prestige records, where he ended up collaborating with Art Blakey and Sonny Rollins. In 1954 he produced "Bags Groove" and "Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Giants" by Miles. Miles and Monk had a raucous relation since Miles found Monk's idiosyncratic accompaniment style difficult to improvise on, and Miles wanted him to lay out and not accompany, this evidently nearly led them to blows. Miles has since dismissed such an altercation as rumors and misunderstanding.
In 1954, Monk went to Paris and met Baroness Pannonica "Nica" de Koenigswarter a member of the Rothschild banking family of England and a patroness of several New York Jazz musicians. She and Monk remained friends until Monk Passed away. Monk was not making enough money, and he signed up with Riverside, who bought his contract from Prestige for a mere pittance.
This convinced Monk to record two albums of his interpretations of jazz standards. Along with Oscar Pettiford he recorded a selection of well-known pieces by Duke Ellington, namely, "Caravan" and "It Don't Mean a Thing(If It Ain't Got That Swing")" and this resulted into an album, "Thelonious Monk Plays the Music of Duke Ellington", and this was an effort to to pave way for for broader acceptance and audience for Monk's unique style.
In 1957, he got his Cabaret and his six month residency was lifter, and he led a quartet with John Coltrane(Tenor) with Wilbur Ware on Bass and Shadow Wilson(Drums), and one short studio session was made by Riverside and released in 1961. In 1957, Monk left Five Spots to join Miles Sextet, which was disbanded. On his second stint with Five Spots, he played with Griffin and later Charlie Rouse on tenor and Ahmed Abdul-Malik on Bass and Roy Hanes on Drums. On October 16, 1958, Monk and de Koenigswarter were found with narcotics in the Baroness's car, and the cops beat up on Monk.
In court his case was dismissed for an unlawful search, detention and assault on the part of the police. By 1962 Monk had signed up with Columbia Records, and had not recorded in a studio since "5 By Monk By 5" in 1959. During his 'Free Jazz' years by Ornette Coleman and modal jazz by Miles Davis in his landmark LP on Columbia 'Kind Of Blue', he ran out his contract with Riverside with a series of live Albums working with Teo Macero on is debut label. For two years he had a stable line-up of Charlie Rouse on Tenor Saxophone, from 1959-1970), Bassist John Ore and Drummer Frankie Dunlop, and in 1963 Columbia debuted "Monk's Dream"
Monk's Dream remains the best-selling LP of Monk in his lifetime. Monk continued to record a number of well-reviewed studio recordings, "Criss Cross" in 1963 and "Underground", in !968. In 1963 he recorded live albums, "Miles and Monk at Newport"(1963); "Live at the It Club" and "Live At The Jazz Workshop both in 1964, and the latter being released in 1982. Monk disappeared from the scene in the 1970s. and his last recordings as a band leader was with the English Black Lion label in November 1971, along with Dizzy Gillespie, Kai Winding,Sonny Stitt, Al McKibbon and Art Blakey.
As his health declined, Monk spent most of his time as a guest on the New Jersey home of his long-standing patron, Baroness Nica de Koenigswarter**, who had also nursed Charlie Parker during his final illness. Monk, although he had a piano in his room, never played it and spoke to a few visitors. Monk died of a stroke on February 17, 1982 and was buried in Ferncliff Cemetery in Hartsdale, New York. In 1993 he was posthumously awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement, and in 2006, was posthumously awarded a Pulitzer Price Special Citation.
John "Dizzy" Gillespie
John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie was born on October 21, 1917 and was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, singer and composer. He was born in Cheraw, South Carolina, and was the youngest of nine children of James and Lottie Gillespie. His father was a local bandleader and many instruments were available to Dizzy. He started playing piano at age four, and his father died when Dizzy was only 10 years of age. He taught himself trombone and trumpet by the time he was 12 years. From the time he heard his idol, Roy Eldridge, he dreamed of becoming a jazz musician, and got a scholarship to the Laurinburg Institute in Laurinburg, North Carolina but turned it down to start his music career.(Brian Priestly)
In 1935 he got his first professional job with the Frank Fairfax Orchestra, and joined respective orchestras of Edgar Hayes and Teddy Hill. He was in fact replacing Roy Eldridge as the first trumpet in 1937. When he was with Teddy Hill he had his first recording "King Potter Stomp". At the Apollo he met a lady named Lorraine whom he married in 1940 until his passing away in 1993. In 1939 he Dizzy joined with Cab Calloway's Orchestra and in 1940 recorded an instrumental "Pickin' the Cabbage" In 1941 Dizzy left Calloway's band because of an infraction which in the end Dizzy pulled out a knife on Calloway. Dizzy wrote music for Billy Eckstine and his unusual harmonies and in the end he reunited with Charlie Parker. In 1945 he left Eckstines band to start a combo which comprised no more than five musicians paying trumpet, saxophone, piano, bass and drums.
Along with Charlie Parker, Dizzy was a major figure in the development of 'bebop' and 'modern jazz'. He instructed and taught many other musicians including trumpeter Miles Davis, Fats Navarro, Clifford Brown, Arturo Sandoval, Lee Morgan and John Faddis.(jazz-music-history.com). He was instrumental in the founding of Afro-Cuban jazz, what Jelly Roll Morton referred to as "Spanish Tinge", and Dizzy was a gifted improvisor building up on the virtuoso style of Roy Eldridge, but adding layers of harmonic complexity previously unknown in Jazz. His beret and horn-rimmed spectacles, his scat singing, his bent horn, pouched cheeks and his light-hearted personality were essential in popularizing bebop.
Bebop was known as the first modern jazz style, and yet those who were playing swing saw it as not being a positive outgrowth of swing. Swing introduced a diversity of new musicians into the bebop era such as Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk, Bud Powel, Kenny Clarke, Oscar Peterson and Gillespie. These new musicians created a new musical vocabulary of musical phrases. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie jammed at the famous club house like Minton's Playhouse and Monroe's Uptown House, where they planted the first seeds of bebop.
Charlie Parker's system added chords to chord progressions and implying additional chords with the improvised lines.(Lisa Kato) in 1942 Dizzy had compositions like "Groovin' High", "Woody n' You" and "A Night In Tunisia"(composed by Monk and given to Dizzy as a gift). The song presents and displays Cuban Rhythms. After his work with Parker, Gillespie led other small combos including one with Milt Jackson, John Coltrane, Lalo Schifrin, Ray Brown, Kenny Clarke, James Moody, J.J. Johnson and Yusef Lateef, and Dizzy had finally put together his first successful gig bands.
He occasionally appeared as a frequent guest as a soloist in the Norman Granz's Jazz at the Philharmonic. In 1946 he headlined in an independently-produced musical revue film "Jivin' in be-Bop". In 1948 he got into an accident and found out that he could no more hit the B-flat above high. He was awarded $1,000, after they considered his high earnings up to that point.
In the late 1940s Gillespie was involved in the movement called Afro-Cuban music and he incorporated Latin and African elements to greater prominence in Jazz, pop music and particularly Salsa. Afro-Cuban music is based on traditional Cuban Rhythms, and Mario Bauza introduced Dizzy to Chano Pozo in 1947. dizzy worked with Bauza in New York Clubs on 52nd street and famous dance clubs such as Palladium and Apollo theater in Harlem. Dizzy helped develop and mature the Afro-Cuban style.(Scott Yanow).
Dizzy remained true to his bebop style for the rest of his career. In 1960 he was inducted into the Downbeat Jazz Hall of Fame. In1964 he put himself forward as a Presidential candidate. He promised that if he was elected, he would rename the White House into "The Blues House" and cabinet composed of Duke Ellington(Secretary of State); Miles Davis, (Director of the CIA); Max Roach, Minister of Defense); Charles Mingus, (Secretary of Peace); Ray Charles,(Librarian of Congress); Louis Armstrong,(Secretary of Agriculture); Mary Lou Williams, (Ambassador to the Vatican); Thelonious Monk,(Traveling Ambassador); and Malcolm X,(Attorney General). He said his running mate would be Phyllis Diller.
In 1980s Dizzy led the United Nations Orchestra, and he toured with Flora Purim for three years. David Sanchez also toured with group and he says he too was influenced by Dizzy. Both of them were nominated for the Grammy Awards. Gillespie made an appearance on The Cosby show and Sesame Street as well as the Muppet Show. in 1982, Dizzy had a cameo on Stevie Wonder's hit "Do I Do". Dizzy's tone gradually faded in the last years of his life. In 1989 Gillespie gave 300 performances in 27 countries, appeared in 100 US cities in 31 states and the District of Columbia, he also headlined three television specials, performed with two symphonies, and received his fourteenth Honorary Degree and recorded four albums.
John William "Trane" Coltrane
John Coltrane was an American jazz saxophonist and composer. Coltrane was born in Hamlet, North Carolina on September 23, 1926 and grew up in HIgh Point, NC, and he attended William Penn High School(Now Penn-Griffin School for the Arts) in High Point, NC. His aunt and grandmother all died within a few months of each other and he was raised by his mom and close cousin. In 1943 he moved to Philadelphia, enlisted in the Navy in 1945, and played in the Navy Jazz Band stationed in Hawaii.
He returned to civilian life in 1946 and began jazz theory studies with guitarist and composer Dennis Sandole and continued up to 1950s. He original played an alto, but when he played with the Eddie Vinson band, he switched to tenor sax. He was impressed by Hawk, Ben and Tab Smith who he felt that things they did he did not understand, but felt them emotionally.
In 1945 he saw Charlie Parker perform and Coltrane said that hearing Bird play for the first time hit him right between the eyes, and Parker became his early idol and they eventually played together in the late 1940s, and by this time he was known as "Trane", and the music he made in 1946 impressed Miles. His recording come from as early as 1945, but many of his peers did not recognize the genius in him, and up to till then, he had played for groups led by Dizzy Gillespie, Earl Bostic and Johnny Hodges in the early-to mid-1950s.
In 1955, while freelancing and studying with Dennis Sandole, hand had been absent from the jazz scene due to his struggles with heroin, then he received a call from Miles, and joined him in Davis band known as the "First Great Quintet", during which Mies released several influential recordings which showcased signs of Coltrane's growing ability. The First Quintet made two marathon recordings session on Prestige in 1956 and resulted in the albums like "Cookin', Relaxin' and Steamin', and afterward the band disbanded due to Coltrane's problems with heroin addiction.
In 1957 Coltrane worked with Thelonious Monk at the Five Spot club, and due to contractual conflicts, partook in only one official studio recordings. In 1957 he made a recording with Thelonious Monk which surfaced in 2005, recorded by Voice of America and the album was called "Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall" and has been widely acclaimed. On "Blue Train", Coltrane was debuting as a leader featuring Lee Morgan on trumpet, Paul Chambers on bass, and Curtis Fuller on Trombone, and this was his best album of this time period.
When Coltrane and Miles hooked-up in January 1958, Ira Gitler coined the term "sheets of sound" describing Coltrane's style during his stint with Miles group, now a sextet. Coltrane's playing was compressed, with rapid runs cascading in hundreds of notes per minute. Coltrane stays with Miles up to 1960, and during that time he worked with Cannonball Adderley(saxophonist), Pianist Red Garland. Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly; bassist Paul Chambers, and drummers Philly Joe Jones and Jimmy Cobb.
By this time he participated in Davis Sessions "Milestones" and "Kind of Blue", and live recordings of "Miles and Monk at Newport" and "Jazz at the Plaza". Coltrane recorded his first album comprising his own compositions called "Giants Steps" for Atlantic Records. The album's title track is considered to have the most complex and difficult chord progression compared to any jazz composition. He altered the chord progression cycles and this led to further experimentation with improvised melody and harmony that continued throughout 'Tranes' jazz career.
Coltrane formed his first quartet in 1960 and his personnel included Steve Kuhn, Pete La Roca and Billy Higgins, and it stabilized with the addition of MCCoy Turner and Elvin Jones. He was able to release "Coltrane's Sound" and "Coltrane Plays the Blues". He employed restless harmonic movements on "Coltrane Changes", "Giant Steps" and movement in major 'thirds' rather than conventional perfect fourths over the A sections instead of a conventional turnaround progression.
Some tracks that utilized this harmonic device include "26-2," "Satellite," "Body and Soul," and "The Night Has A Thousand Eyes." After his contract with Atlantic in 1961, Coltrane joined Impulse Records enabling him to work with Rudy Van Gelder, who taped both his and Davis's Prestige sessions, as well as "Blue Train. In the studios of Van Gelder in Engelwood, New Jersey, Coltrane recorded most of his records with the label. In 1961 he replaced bassist with Reggie Workman and Eric Dolphy joined the group as a second horn, and by November 1961 he became a resident at the Village Vanguard, and he unfurled his new direction.
He was featuring the most experimental music he'd played up to that time, influenced by Indian Ragas, modal jazz and the free jazz movement. In 1962, Coltrane was producing and searching for spirituality in his work. He was playing harmonically complex music which allowed him to expand his improvisations rhythmically, melodically and motivically. He still maintained harmonically complex music on stage and he favored reworking his "standards": "Impressions", "My Favorite Things", and "I Want To Talk About You".
Coltrane had an interest in Avant-garde as played by Onrette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra and others. He was influenced by the dissonance of Ayler's Trio, and Coltrane championed younger free jazz musicians like Archie Shepp. Under his influence, Impulse! became a leading fee jazz recording label. Around 1965, Coltrane's playing became more abstract, with greater incorporation of devices like multiphonics, utilization of overtones, and playing in the altissimo register, as well as a mutated return to his "sheets of sound" repertoire.
This can be found through the recordings of "The John Coltrane Quartet Plays", "Living Space", "Transition", "New Thing at Newport", "Sun Ship" and First Meditations. All these numbers were recorded throughout the whole of 1965. In June 1965, with 10 musicians, Shepp, Pharaoh Sanders, Freddie Hubbard, Marion Brown and John Tchicai, they recorded "Ascension", which was 40 minutes ling and included adventurous solos by the young Avant-garde musicians along with Coltrane, and this was controversial for for the collective improvisations that separated the solos.
Coltrane asked Pharaoh Sanders to join the band in 1965, and the more Coltrane played with Sanders, the more he gravitated towards Sander's unique sound. Coltrane was also influenced by John Gilmore which can be heard on Coltrane's late-period music. He was so taken by Gilmore that he ended up taking informal lessons from Gilmore. Rashied Ali joined the band and Tyner left after recording "Meditations" and Coltrane had begun using LSD, and on June 17, 1967, Coltrane died from liver cancer and was buried at Pinelawn Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York. His family are still in possession of much as yet unreleased music. The influence Coltrane has had on music spans many generations, and he influence was both in jazz, avant-garde. He was inducted into the the Down Beat Jazz Hall of Fame.
Charles Mingus Jr. was born on April 22, 1922 and his mother's paternal heritage was Chinese and English. His father was an 'illegitimate' offspring of a Black farmhand and is Swedish employer's granddaughter. His mother only allowed church music to be played in the house. Mingus grew to love jazz more especially the music of Duke Ellington. He studied the trombone and cello and applied most of the technique on the double bass by the time he was in high school and took up on the bass. For five years he studied under the principal bassist of the New York Philharmonic, and compositional techniques with Lloyd Reese(Mingus)
In his teens, Mingus wrote advanced pieces which were similar of Third Stream jazz, and a couple of them were recorded in 1960, conducted by Gunhter Schuller. He continued to be a bass prodigy and his first major professional gig was with Barney Bigard, Ellington's clarinetist. He toured with Louis Armstrong in 1943, , and in 1945 recorded with Russel Jacquet's band, included were Teddy Edwards, Maurice Simon, Bill davis and Chico Hamilton.. and in the same year recorded again with a band led by Howard McGhee.
In the late 1940s, he played with the Lionel Hamptons Band. The trio of Mingus, Red Norvo and Tal Farlow received acclaim, but because of his mixed ancestry caused problems with the club owners, and he left the group. He briefly became a member of Duke's band substituting for Wendell Marsha. His notorious temper got him fired from Duke's band after an on-stage fight between Mingus and Juan Tizol. He jammed in the early sixties with Charlie Parker, and he ended up having a love-hate relationship with Parker's legacy. He was disgusted with Parker's drug abuse and disliked the romanticization of drug usage by other jazz musicians.
In 1952 he co-founded Debut Records with Max Roach so that he could record music as he saw fit, and they also wanted to record unrecorded young musicians; their company issued the most prominent figures in bebop. In 1953 he joined Gillespie, Parker Bud Powell, and Max Roach in a concert at Massey Hall, Toronto. Mingus objected to the way record companies treated musicians, and Gillespie once observed that he never received any royalties for years for his
Massey appearances. Mingus overdubbed his barely-audible bass in New York, featuring the trio of him, Powell and Roach and this was among Debut Records earliest releases. The records are regarded as among the finest live jazz recordings. One time as they were jamming in a club, Mingus was seen denouncing his fellow musicians as sick people and he should not be associated with these sick people to the audience, after Powell had been beaten by cops and he was drunk, and Parker had acted up on stage.
This was Parker's last performance and he died a week later after years of drug and alcohol abuses. Mingus over time worked with an ensemble of 8-10 members, of rotating musicians and these sessions were known as the Jazz Workshops(Musicians dubbed these as Sweatshop) . Musicians like Pepper Adams, Jaki Byard, Booker Ervin, John Handy, Jimmy Knepper, Charles McPherson and Horace Parlan. were Molded by Mingus into a cohesive improvisational unit which anticipated free Jazz. Other musicians called these sessions to be the "University" for jazz.
The following decade Mingus produced some thirty records in ten years for Atlantic Records, Candid, Impulse! Records and others, only Ellington did better. As a bandleader in 1956, he released "Pithecanthropus Erectus" his major work as a bandleader and composer. He involved blues-orientated musicians like Mal Waldron(Piano), Jackie McLean(Alto saxophonist and the Sonny Rollins influenced tenor of J.R. Monterose. In 1957, on Atlantic Records, he released "The Clown", with an improvised story by the humorist Jean Shepherd, featuring Dannie Richmond as drummer, who remained Mingus's preferred drummer until Mingus passed away. Mingus witnessed Ornette Coleman's legendary and controversial appearance at New York City's Five Spot Club. Mingus said: "If the free-form guys could play the same tune twice, the I would say they were playing something... Most of the time they use their fingers on the saxophone and they don't even know what's going to come out." Mingus formed a quartet with Ted Curson(Trumpeter), Eric Dolphy(Saxophone), and Richmond and is often regarded as Mingus rising to the challenging new standard established by Coleman. They recorded their only album called "Charles Mingus presents Charles Mingus", and is always included as one of the best in Mingus's collection. In 1963 Mingus released "The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady", which was a sprawling multi-section masterpiece dubbed as one of the greatest achievements in orchestration by any composer in jazz history.(Nat Hentoff) In 1963 he released an unaccompanied album called "Mingus Plays Piano", with a few pieces entirely improvised and drawn from classical music and jazz, which preceded Keith Jarrett's "The Koln Concert" by twelve years. In 1964 he put together one of the best known sextets that included Dannie Richmond, Jaki Byard, Eric Dolphy, Johnny Coleson trumpet and Clifford Jordan on Saxophone. The group was recorded frequently throughout its existence; Eric Dolphy passed away in 1964, and in the same year, Mingus met Sue Graham Ungaro, and they got married in 1966. Due to financial hardships, Mingus was evicted from his New York home in 1966. His pace slacked from the late 1960s to the early 1970s.. He recorded "Changes One" and "Changes Two"; also "Cumbia and Jazz" was recorded blending Colombian Music with more traditional jazz forms. He taught a semester at the University at Buffalo, the State University as Professor of music. By the 1970s he struck by the Lou Gehrig's disease(Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), which was a wastage of musculature.; he could no more play his bass, but continued to compose, and supervised a number of recordings before his death. Mingus could not complete an album named after him, which featured Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock and Jaco Pastorious. Mingus died at the age of 56 in Cuernavaca, Mexico, where he had travelled for treatment. His ashes were scattered in the Ganges river. Charles Minus, Jr. passed on January 5, 1979, He will always be remembered as an American jazz bassist, composer, bandleader, pianist and activist against racial injustice.
Max Lemuel Roach was born on January 10, 1924 in the Township of of Newland Pasquotank, North Carolina, bordering the Great Dismal Swamp, to Alphonse(father) and Cressie Roach. His family moved to the Bedford-Stuvensant neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York at the age of 4. His mother was musical and sang in a gospel choir, and Max started playing the bugle in parade orchestras at a young age. Fresh out of Boys' High School, Brooklyn, New York, in 1942, he was called to fill in for Sonny Greer and play with the Duke Ellington Orchestra which was performing at the Paramount Theater.
By 1942 he started going out to the jazz clubs on 52nd Street and 78th Street & Broadway and played with school mate Cecil Payne for Georgie Jay's Taproom. In the 1940 he started on some new innovations along with jazz drummer, Kenny Clarke- they began to work on some concepts of musical time. By playing the beat-by-beat pulse of standard 4/4 time on the "ride" cymbal instead of on the thudding bass drum, Clarke and Roach developed a flexible, flowing rhythmic pattern that allowed soloists to play freely.
This new approach left space for the drummer to insert dramatic accents on the snare drum, crash" cymbal and other components of the trap set. Roach's technique was matching rhythmic attack with a tunes melody by shifting dynamic emphasis from one part of his drum kit to another within a single phrase, he created a sense of tonal color advantage for the drummer's unique position.(Washington Post.com/The Week, 2007).
This was a revolutionary musical advance that Burt Korall wrote in the Oxford Companion to Jazz: "Drummers experienced awe and puzzlement and even fear." One of those awed drummers, Stan Levey, summed up Roach's importance" "I came to realize that, because of him, drumming no longer was just time, it was music.(Washington Post .com) Along with Kenny Clarke, they were the first drummers to play bebop style, and performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Charile Parker, Thelonious Monk, coleman Hawkings, Bud Powell and Miles Davis. Roach played in many of Parker's records, including the "Savoy" in 1945, which was turning point in recorded jazz.
Max studied classical percussion at the Manhattan School of music from 1950-1953 and worked towards a Bachelor of Music degree, and in 1990, the school awarded him an Honorary Doctorate. He also co-founded Debut records with Charles Mingus. Their label released a recorded concert billed as "the greatest concert ever" called "Jazz at Massey Hall" and it featured Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Mingus and Roach. Under this label, they also released the ground-breaking bass-and-drum free improvisation, Percussion Discussion(History Explorer.net) In 1954 he formed a quintet featuring Clifford Brown(trumpet), Harold Land(Tenor Sax), Richie Powell(Pianist) and George Morrow(bassist). The groups played Bebop andit was short-lived because Brown and Powell were killed in a car crash. After their deaths, Roach produced "Max Roach + 4". He expanded the standard form of of hard bop using 3/4 waltz rhythms and modality in 1957 with his album "Jazz in 3/4 Time". In 1955, he made a number of appearances and recordings with Dinah Washington, and in 1958 appeared with her at the New Port Jazz Festivals, whereas in 1954 appeared in a film, and in 1954 did a live studio recording of "Dinah Jams", and it is considered to be one of the best and overlooked vocal jazz albums of its genre. In 1960 he composed "We Insist! - Freedom Now" suite with lyrics by Oscar Brown Jr. Commenting on African-American experience was significant for his career, but got him blacklisted for a period in the 1960s. In 1966 he recorded the album "Drums Unlimited", which included several tracks were entirely drumming, and Roach proved that drums can be solo instruments and able to play a theme, variations, and rhythmically cohesive phrases. In 1962 he recorded the classic "Money Jungle" with Mingus and Duke Ellington, and was called the very finest trio albums ever made. In 1970s Max formed a unique musical organization - "M'Boom" - which was a percussion orchestra. Each member of the unit composed and performed on many percussion instruments. The personnel included Fred King, Joe Chambers, Warren Smith, Freddie Waits, roy Brooks, Omar Clay, Ray Mantilla, Francisco Mora and Eli Fountain.(Roach)
In the 1980s he began entire concerts solo, and provided a multi-percussion Instrument, and a solo record was released by Bay State, a Japanese label, which is very hard to find. He is best known for recording free improvisation with avant-garde musicians like Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, Archie Shepp, Abdulah Ibrahim and Connie Crothers. He created Duets with video artist Kit Fritzgerald, who improvised on imagery whilst Roach spontaneously created the music; a duet with Dizzy Gillespie; and a duet recording with Mal Waldron, He wrote music for theater for plays like "Mama E,T.C. in New York City. He created new contexts for presentation by creating unique musical ensembles, the "Double Quartet which joined with the "Uptown String Quartet", which was led by his daughter. Another Ensemble was the "So What Brass Quintet", consisting of two trumpets, trombone, French horn and tuba. The musicians were Cecil Bridgewater, Frank Gordon, Eddie Henderson, Rod McGaha, Steve Turre, Delfeayo Marsalis, Robert Stewart, Tony Underwood, Marshall Sealy and Mark Taylor. Roach also presented his music with orchestras and gospel choruses. He performed with the Boston Symphony Orchestra; wrote and performed with Walter White Gospel choir and the John Motley Singers. He also performed with dancers like the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, The Dianne McIntyre Dance Company and the Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company. He also performed in a hip hop concert featuring artist-rapper Fab Five Freddy and the New York Break Dancers. He also performed with the Beijing Trio with pianist Jang and Erhu player, Jeibing Chen. His last recording was with trumpet master Clark Terry in a duet and quartet. His last performance was in Toronto at the Massey Hall concert, performing a solo on the 'hi-hat'. In 1994 Max appeared on "Rush Drummer Neil Peart's Burning for Buddy performing "The Drum Also Waltzes", Part 1 and 2 on volume 1 of the Volume 2 series during the 1994 All-Star recording sessions.(beachwoodreporter.com) He was married to Abbey Lincoln(Aminata Moseka) form 1962-1970. His discography list is too long but starts from 1944 to 2002. Max Roach died in the early morning on August 16, 2007 in Manhattan. He is survived by five children and was interned at the Woodlawn cemetery, Bronx, New York.
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Rahsaan Roland Kirk was born August 7, 1935 in Columbus, Ohio and he was a blind American musician who played tenor saxophone, and was also a composer, arranger and bandleader and played many other instruments. He was best known for his vitality on stage, where his virtuoso improvisation was accompanied by comic banter, political ranting and ability to play several instruments simultaneously. hHe became blind at an early age because of poor medical treatment. He rarely performed as a sideman, instead wanted to lead his own bands, but has recorded with Quincy Jones and drummer Roy Hanes; he also did some notable stints with Charles Mingus. His best known hit song was playing leading flute and solo on Jones' "Soul Bossa Nova" in 1964, popularized In the Austin Powers films(Jones/Mcleod)
Rahsaan's playing style was rooted in soul jazz and hard pop. His knowledge of jazz history allowed him to draw on many elements of the musical past, that is from Ragtime to Swing and free jazz. He also explored Classical and Pop Music by composers such as Smokey Robinson or Burt Bacharach, John Coltrane and his favorite,Duke ellington. His 1973 live album "Bright Moments is just one example of his many shows. His main instrument was tenor saxophone, supplemented by other saxophones along with the lighter sound of the flute. The fact that most of his instruments were exotic or home-made, gave him a reputation as a vaudeville showman, and even with two saxophones in his mouth he blew intricate and powerful sax with a strong feeling for the blues. He was also very political and used the stage to talk on Black history, civil rights and other issues, which he tipped-over into high comedy.
Kirk played and collected a number of musical instruments like saxophones, clarinets and flutes. He had a tenor saxophone as his main instrument along with two obscure saxophones: the Stritch(a straight saxophone lacking the instrument's characteristic upturned bell) and a Manzello(a modified saxello soprano sax, with a larger, upturned bell). He modified these instruments to accommodate his simultaneous playing technique. Whenever he appeared on stage, he had all three horns hanging around his neck, and a variety of instruments, including flutes, whistles and a gong which he kept within reach. He also played the clarinet, harmonica, English horn, recorders and he was competent in playing a trumpet. He used may other non-musical devices such as the alarm clocks, sirens or a section of common garden hose(which he had started using in his poor childhood). He used tape manipulated musique concrete and primitive electronic sounds, before such things became commonplace. He was an influential flautist, and among many techniques he developed, was one when he sang or hummed into the flute at the same time as playing. Another one was playing the standard transverse flute at the same time as a nose flute.
Whenever Kirk made appearance on stage, a lot of observers thought that the appearances were just the gimmicks of a blind man, and these were dispelled immediately Rahsaan started playing. Kirk always explained that his playing was him trying to emulate the sounds he heard in his head. He was also a major exponent and practitioner of circular breathing and he was able to sustain single note for virtually any length of time, and he could easily play sixteenth note runs of almost unlimited length at high speeds. With his breathing ability, he was able to record "Concerto for Saxophone" on the "Prepare Thyself to Deal With a Miracle" LP with one continuous take of about 20 minutes and playing without a break.
In 1975 he recorded "The Case of the 3 Sided Dream" in audio Color. This was a two LP set issued with spoken works and the fourth side with a blank label. But, besides being blind, he was very much in touch with societal developments, like racial and economic injustice and disparity. He participated in protests against the failure of TV shows hosts like Merv Griffin to hire any non-white musicians. He gleaned his information about world affairs from radio and sounds coming from TV. He also made some recordings and incorporated his spoken comments on Nixon and the Watergate debacle. The "3-sided Dream" album was a concept, which was akin to the Beatles "psychedelic" phase in the incorporation of "found" or environmental sound and tape loops, tapes being played backwards, and so on. Snippets of Billie Holiday singing are heard briefly. The album even confronts the rise of influence of computers in society, and Roland Kirk threatened to pull the plug on a machine that was trying to tell him what to do.
In 1975, Kirk suffered a stroke which led to partial paralysis on one side of his body, but he continued to perform, record, modify his instruments to enable him to pay with one hand. At a live performance at Ronnie Scott's club in London, he managed to play two instruments and carried on to tour internationally and even appear on TV. He died from a second stroke in 1977 after performing in the Frangipani Room of the Indiana University Student Union in Bloomington, Indiana.
Herbert Jeffrey Hancock was born on April 12, 1940 and is an American Jazz Pianist and composer. He is also regarded as one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th Century. His music embraces all elements of funk, and soul and freer stylistic elements from Jazz. His jazz improvisation possesses a unique and creative blend of jazz, blues and modern Classical music with harmonic concept like that of Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel. He started to play at the age of seven, like many jazz pianists, with a classical education. At the age of eleven he played the first movement of Motzart's Piano Concerto No. 5 at a young people's concert with the Chicago Symphony. Hancock never had a jazz teacher, but was influenced towards jazz when he heard Oscar Peterson and George Shearing's recordings and he transcribed in his own time, and this developed his ear and sense of harmony. He was also influenced by the music of the Hi-Lo's. Herbie Hancock explains his influences: "..by the time I actually heard the Hi-Lo's. I started picking that stuff out; my ear was happening. I could hear stuff and that's when I really learnt some much further-out voicings - like the harmonies I used on "Speak Like a Child" - Just being able to do that. I really got from that from Clare Fischer's arrangements for the Hi-Lo's. Clare Fischer was a major influence on my harmonic concept... He and Bill Evans, and Ravel and Gil Evans, finally. You know, that's where it really came from. Almost all of the harmony that I play can be traced to one of those four people and whoever their influences were."(Coryell/Friedman)
Mancock listened to other pianists like Don Goldberg, McCoy Tyner and Wynton Kelly, and he also studied the recordings of Miles, John Coltrane and Lee Morgan. He started to study Physics as a major at Grinnell College, but after two years switched to music. He once heard Chris Anderson play and went to beg him to accept him as a student. Hancock says that Anderson was his harmonic guru. After graduating from Grinnell in 1961, he joined Donald Byrd and Coleman Hawkings, at the same time he took some courses at Rooseveldt University(Grinnell awarded him an Honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts). When Donald Byrd was attending Manhattan School of Music in New YOrk City, he suggested that Hancock study the compositions of Vittorio Giannini, which he did for a short time in 1960. He recorded his first solo album "Taking Off" for Blue Note Records in 1962. "Watermelon Man" provided Mongo Santamaria with a hit single, but "Taking Off" caught Miles' attention and Hancock and Tony Williams were introduced to Miles who was forming a band at that time.
After he joined Miles's second quintet, Hancock received considerable attention. At this time, Hancock found his voice as a pianist and he also developed a taste for orchestral accompaniment and he used fourths and Debussy-like harmonies with stark contrast that were never heard of in jazz. He had also found a new way of using common chords,he also popularized chords rarely used in jazz. With Williams and Carter he wove a labyrinth intricacy on and around existing melodic and chordal schemes. Through the late sixties, their approach was so sophisticated and unorthodox that conventional chord changes would hardly be discernible, that is why their improvisational concept came to be known as "Time, No Changes" He recorded with other artists like Wayne shorter,Tony Williams, Grant Green, Bobby Hutcherson, Sam River, donald Byrd, Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley, Lee Morgan and Freddie Hubbard. In 1964 he recorded "Empyream Isles" and "Maiden Voyage" were famous and influential in jazz, and they achieved winning praise for their innovation and accessibility. Empyream featured the Davis rhythm of Hancock, Carter, Williams and Freddie Hubbard. Both albums are recognized as among those that are the principal foundations of post-Bop.He also recorded less well known, but are still critically acclaimed albums with large ensembles like "My Point of View"(1963), "Speak Like a Child"(1968) and the "Prisoner"(1969). His Album "Inventions and Dimensions" was entirely improvised music, with Paul Chambers on bass and two latin percussionists Willie Bobo and Osvaldo Martinez. He also insisted on using electric keyboards and a fender Rhodes electric piano, although Miles was reluctant, and also incorporated elements of rock and popular music in his recordings. He was kicked out of the Miles Band for returning late from Brazil, and despite his departure, he continued to appear on Miles records for the nest few years, in tracks like "In a Silent Way," "A Tribute to Jack Johnson," and "On the Corner"
In 1969 he left Blue Note and signed up with Warner records. He recorded a soundtrack for Bill Cosby's RV show Fat Albert. The whole album was titled "Fat Albert Rotunda",The album had an R&B-influenced album with strong jazz overtones. Hancock has always be fascinated by gadgets and toys. Having some influence in Miles's "Bitches Brew, he used electronic instruments coupled with acoustic instruments. Hancock was the firs jazz pianist to completely embrace electronic key boards. He created a sextet comprising Hancock, Bassist Buster Williams and drummer Billy Hart along with a trio of horn players: Eddie Henderson(Trumpet), Julian Priester(trombone), and multireedist Benni Maupin. Herbie added Dr. Patrick Gleeson to mix to play and program synthesizers. This sextet made three recording with Dr. Gleeson added under Herbie's name: "Mwandishi"(1971), "Crossings"(1972), "Sextant"(1973). "Realization" and "Inside Out" were recorded under Henderson's name but with the same personnel mentioned above.
Herbie was bothered by the fact that people did not understand since the Mwandishi albums had gotten mixed reviews and poor sales. In 1973 he created a new band keeping Maupin he added bassist Paul Jackson, percussionist Bill Summers and drummer Harvey Mason and they recorded "Head Hunters" and it was a hit with the pop audiences and prompted criticism from some jazz fans. Head Hunters as a genre affected jazz, funk, soul and hip-hop (AllMusic.co) The Headhunters made another album called "Survival of the Fittest") without Hancock. They reunited with Hancock in 1998 and titled their album the the "Return of the Headhunters". His next jazz-funk album was Man-Child"(1975), and "Secrets"(1976) both pointed out to the commercial direction that Herbie would take over the next decade. In the 1970s and early 1980s Hancock toured with his V.S.O.P. quite which featured all of the members of the 1960s Miles Davis band and he replaced Davis with Freddie Hubbard. They recorded several live albums in the late 1970s including "VSOP"(1976) and "VSOP: The Quintet". In 1978 he recorded a duet with Chick Corea and a solo album called "The Piano"(1978); "Dedication"(1974) "VSOP: Tempest in the Colosseum"(1977) and "Direct Step"(1978). "Live Udder the Sky" was a V.S,O.P. album remastered for the US in 2004.
From 1978-1982, Hancock recorded many albums consisting of jazz--inflected disco and pop music beginning with "Sunlight" that featured Jaco Pastorius and Tony Williams. Singing through the vocoder and he earned a British hit "I thought It Was You" and critics were unimpressed. In 1979 it led to more vocoder in "Feets, don't Fail Me Now", which gave him another UK hit "You bet YOur Love"; albums such as "Monster"(1980), "Magic Windows(1981) and Lite Me up"(1982) Windows"(1981) and these were unwelcome and criticized. "Mr. Hands(1980) was better received and had no vocals. This album contains different styles, including a disco instrumental song, a Latin Jazz number and an electronic piece in which Hancock plays alone with the help of computers. In 1981, with Tony Williams and Ron Carter, recorded "Herbie Hancock Trio" and released only in Japan. A moth later he recorded "Quartet" with Wynton Marsalis. Hancock, Williams and Carter toured internationally with Wynton and his brother Branford and the band was now known as "VSOP II". In 1983 he had a mainstream hit called "Rockit" from the "Future Shock"(1983) album; "Sound System"(1984) and "Perfect Machine"(1988) In 1994 he recorded "A Tribute to Miles" and in the same year, 1994, he recorded "Dis Da Drum", and this saw his return to Acid jazz. In 2001 he recorded "Future2Future which had doses of electronica as well as turntablist Rob Swift. In 2001 he partnered with Michael Brecker and roy Hargrove in a live concert album saluting Davis and Coltrane called "Directions in Music: Live at the Massey Hall. In 2005 saw the release of a duet album "Possibilities". In it he had duets with Carlos Santana, Paul Simon, Annie Lennox,, John Mayer, Christina Aguilera, Sting and others. "Possibilities" was nominated for two categories. In 2007 with a long time associate and friend Joni Mitchell, Hancock released an album called "River: The Joni Letters" that paid tribute to her work. Norah jones and Tina Turner recorded the volumes and Crine Bailey Rae and Leornard Cohen contributed a spoken piece set to Hancock's piano. River was nominated for and won 2008 Album of the Year Grammy Award, the only the second jazz album ever to receive either honor. The album won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Jazz Album and the song "Both sides Now", was nominated for Best Instrumental Jazz Solo. Hancock is still performing in many different events around the world today.
Jazz needs time to listen to and more time to read up on the artists and their life-styles and the music they make and how they make it. It is important to now the historical background of all the music involved in the music they compose and all the other accompanying artist within the music. One can see how the artists chosen above have changed music and have in turn affected each other and their listeners and followers. Jazz is music for all ages and times.
It would be appropriate here to cite some summing up thoughts from Leroi Jones(Amiri Baraka:
"It is not strange that bebop should have met with such disapproval from older musicians,many of whom were still adjusting to the idea of "four even beats." which characterized the best music of the swing era and delineated it from the accented off-beat(two-beat) music of earlier jazz. And even more alien were the "radical" social attitudes the younger players began to express. Parker, Monk and the others seemed to welcome the musical isolation that historical social isolation certainly should have predicted. They were called "cultists" by almost everyone who did not like the music, equating the bop dress as a specific form of quasi-religious indulgence; though if these same people had seen just an "average" African-American in New Jersey wearing a draped coat (of course sans the sophisticated "camp" of the beret. called "tam" and the window-pane glasses - used to assume an intellectual demeanor said, for three hundred years, to be missing from black Americans), they would have thought nothing of it. Socially, it was the young white man's emulation of certain of these African-American mores that made them significant in the mainstream of the society, since, as yet, since, as yet, the mainstream had no knowledge of Bop as a music developed from an older African American music.
By borrowing the principle of a two- and four beat bar first from hymns and then from polkas and military marches, African American made a sharp break with his African ancestors. However, his sense of rhythm was not completely at home in this rigid framework. An opposition arose between the container and the thing contained. Half a century after the birth of jazz, this opposition has not been smoothed away, and it probably never will be. The African American has accepted 2/4 and 4/4 bars only as a frame work into which he could slip the successive designs of his own conception .... the has experimented with different ways of accommodating himself to the space between measure bars.
Musically, The African American's address to the West has always been in the most impressive instances lateral and exchanging. But the more or attitude characterizing the exchange has always been constantly changing, determined, as I have tried to make clear, by the sum of the most valid social and psychological currents available to him. Given this hypothesis, the contemporaneity of the African-American's music in the context of Western cultural expression can be seen as necessary. Bebop, if anything, made tis necessarily contemporaneous quality of Afro-American music definite and uncompromising, not because of any formal manifests (even the first recordings of the music were much behind the actual inception, due to the normal cultural lag as well as the recording ban of 1942-44 and the shortage of recording materials caused by the war), but because of a now more or less conscious attitude among these young jazzmen that what they were doing was different fro what jazz players before them had done, and separate from the most popular jazz-like music of the day, which they frankly thought of as sterile and ugly. But the leaders of the changed jazz could still be looked at and placed, if one had the time, in terms of jazz tradition - and as logical, if not predictable, developers of that tradition. Gillespie has acknowledged his musical indebtness to swing trumpeter Roy Eldridge (and, of course, to Armstrong) many times over.
Charlie [Parker is easily seen as an innovator whose dynamic and uninhibited comprehension of Lester Young's music made his own work possible. And Parker's modern placement of blues is as classic as any African American's and at least as expressive as Bessie Smith's. What has changed was the address, the stance, the attitude."
Bebop Rhythm differs formally from swing rhythm, because it is more complex and places great emphasis upon polyrhythmics. It differs emotionally from swing rhythm, creating greater tension, thereby reflecting more accurately the spirit and temper of contemporary emotions."(Ross Russell) There has been much talk about the influence of contemporary Western classical music on the African jazz musicians of the forties. It has already been admitted with this hypothesis, that Jazz by the forties had had its influence on contemporary classical music as well. Composers like Stravinsky, Milhaud, and many lesser men produced works in which the influence of jazz or African rhythms was quite readily apparent. But I think that the influence of European and Euro-American classical music during the forties was an indirect, and not consciously utilized in the music of the boppers, though by the fifties (especially in the work of certain white jazzmen) and in our own time, many of these influences are conscious, sometimes affected. What seems to me most important about the music of the forties was its reassertion of many "non-Western" concept of the music. Certainly the re-establishment of the hegemony of polyrhythms and the actual subjugation of melody to these rhythms are much closer to a purely African way of Making music, than they are to any Western concepts(except, as I mentioned, in the conscious attempts of certain contemporary classical composers like Stravinsky to make use of non-Western musical ideas).(Jones)
Bebop also re-established blues as the most important Afro-American form in African American music by its astonishingly contemporary restatement of the basic blues impulse. The boppers returned to this basic form, creating against the all but stifling advance artificial melody had made into jazz during the swing era. Bop melodies in one sense were merely fluent extensions of the rhythmic portions of the music. Many times it was as if the rhythmic portions of the music were more fluent extensions of the rhythmic portions of the music. Many times it was as if the rhythmic portions of the music were inserted directly into the melodic line, and these lines were almost rhythmic patterns in themselves. In bop melodies, there seemed to be an endless changing direction, stops and starts, variations of impetus, a jaggedness that reached out of the rhythmic bases of the music. The boppers seemed to have a constant need for deliberate and agitated rhythmical contrast.
Concomitant with the development of these severely diverse rhythms, changes also were made in the basic functions of the traditionally non-solo instruments of the jazz group. Perhaps the biggest innovation was the changed role of the drummer. The steadiness of the beat was usually maintained din pre-bop jazz groups by the bass drum (either two of four beats to the bar). Then the bebop drummer began to use his top cymbals to maintain the beat, and used the bass drum for occasionally accents or thundering emphases. The top cymbal was it so that the whirring, shimmering cymbal sound underscored the music with a legato implication of the desired 4/4 beat. This practice also made it necessary for the string bass to carry the constant 4/4 underpinning of the music as well, and gave the instrument a much more important function in the jazz rhythm section than it had ever had before. Above the steadiness and almost perfect legato implied by the cymbals' beat and augmented by the bass fiddle, the other instruments would vary their attack on the melodic line, thereby displacing accents in such a way as to imply a polyrhythmic effect. The good bop drummer could also, while maintaing the steady 4/4 with the cymbal, use his left hand and high-hat cymbal and bass drum to set up a still more complex polyrhythmic effect.(Jones)
There is a perfect analogy her to African music, where over one rhythm, many other rhythms and a rhythmically derived "melody" are all juxtaposed. One recording of Belgium Congo music, features as its rhythmic foundation and impetus an instrument called the boyeke which is actually a notched palm rib about four feet long which is scrapped with a flexible stick to produce a steady rhythmic accompaniment. It is amazing how closely the use of this native African instrument corresponds to the use of the top cymbal in bebop. Even the sounds of the instruments are fantastically similar, as is the use of diverse polyrythms above the basic beat.
Finding Excitement in Jazz Fusion
The Same River Twice: Wayne Shorter
Four months ago, the New York Times carried a withering assessment of both Saxophonist Wayne Shorter's Album, "High Life,"(Verve), and the jazz fusion movement Shorter helped perpetuate over the last 25 years along with Miles Davis, Chick Korea, Herbie Hancock and others.
The "pastel failure of "High Life," was emblematic of a larger failure of a generation of musicians who, in responding to the commercial challenges of Rock and Pop chose to merge their improvisational instincts with electronically amplified instruments and sleeker, funkier grooves. What's resulted from this merger has proved "shockingly ephemeral." (Peter Watrous) Several musicians, even those who aren't fusion players, thought that authors like Watrous were too harsh. Too many did, who would have preferred "High Life" without the gauzy arrangements. But Shorter can still play and write as intricately and boldly as hie did in his great 1960s, pre-fusion days.
Wayne Shorter says that Jazz is "about being in the moment" at the Detroit Jazz Festival Sunday night. Yet Jazz is also about tradition, and the history of the music. ... But to know the Wayne Shorter of this moment, the one about to turn 80 years old, is not to now the Wayne of our memories. Not the hot young tenor/composer of the Art Blakey Messengers, not the cornerstone of the second great Miles Davis Quintet of the 1960s, or the fusion version of electric-era Miles or the band Weather Report. Not even the studio guest Wayne who took Steely Dan's "Aja" out with drummer Steve Gadd.
Wayne Shorter is a giant of the music. That's certain. A creative genius. An artist, player, band leader and composerYet Wayne Shorter is not a museum piece. Can you step int the same river twice"(as echoed by antiquity's Greek philosophers)"every gig is different," says a member o f Shorter's crew, who spoke at some length about the number of projects and recordings Wayne is working on. Wayne's Quartet, (Brian Blade on drums, John Patitucci on bass and Danilo Perez on piano) has been playing with him for a dozen years. They are are a crucible of improvisation and abstract group story telling, like elite athletes so familiar with each other that they can both anticipate each other's moves yet still find ways to surprise and delight each other.
If you see the Wayne Shorter Quartet at this moment, as thousands did in Hart Plaza at the Carhartt Ampitheatre stage on Sunday night, you do not hear his greatest hits (though there are plenty of those). Thus the set before the Quartet: an all-star line up of Detroit area arrangers (Ellen Rowe, Renee Rosnes) and superstar soloists )Lew Tabackin, Donny McCaslin) performing some of shorter's better known compositions, such as "Footprints".
The quartet's hour-long set, as expected, was a fountain of creativity, with snatches of melodies from Shorter's history something familiar from the album "Algeria". Danilo played repeated chords, eventually joined by Brian and John. Wayne hits a note and the ghost of "Infant Eyes" emerges, the band picking through pieces of material, discarding some, reflecting. Brian Blade' drum seem to offer more colors and dynamics than traditional time keeping. The a pattern emerge, something the band seems to agree upon for the moment.
One familiar with the Canon of shorter is reminded of early-era Weather Report, whose initial motto was "we never solo and we always solo." Something larval and developing, until a form emerges. The crowd responds most when Blade catches fire, he seems to be responding to Perez' mounting chords and melody, a minor key development that launches Shorter in a beseeching keen, reaching higher and higher into the upper register of his soprano (he played both tenor and soprano through the evening. At the resolution of this Danilo (oddly) quotes form "The Funeral March", then the Quartet launches into building more song-like structures, building something you can put other things in.Things like memories. Dreams.Impressions. Being in the moment. Stepping into the same river. Twice.
I do not think that Watrous is entirely wrong, either. For me. the marriage of Jazz and Pop genres like Rock, Hip-hop and Rap is one of those concepts that looks better on paper than in execution. More often than not, the trappings of Pop tend to smother the vital attentiveness to the moment that makes Jazz live. Worse, for me, that's how marketed as "Contemporary Jazz" - that plush, lush Pop music with string,sax and synthesizer confections that are so sweet and gooey you could pour them on frozen yogurt. Some of you may prefer music that stays in the background and sets a mood, like, say, a poster, lamp or any other decorative objet. But don't tell me me its's Jazz, contemporary or otherwise
Not that it wasn't fun at the start to hear Davis, Hancock and company make their fusion concotion. I was reminded how much fun it was when I heard Mwandishi-Herbie Hancock: The Complete Warner Brothers This two-disc set is made of three LPs from 1970 to 1972, an era I tend to remember as the "age of the fat Afro." I was really taken aback when I heard the greasy electro-boogie of the Fat Albert Rotunda selection that make up most of the first disc. I was more genuinely moved by the selections form the lengthier, more impressionistic Mwandishi and Crossings albums making the latter part of the disc and all of the second disc. At the time they were released, the sprawling, multi-textured pieces seemed to me, to laid-back and dreamy. Now that I am more patient with it, and ready to dig into it, I am begining to get the excitement I missed the first time.
Hancock's Album, Dis is Da Drum (Mercury), is a tighter, and freshly experimental, exercise in Jazz-pop-fusion or as some are calling it, "Hip-Bop." It is a state-of-the-art, electro-boogie swarming with samples, original/African licks, sound effects and huge and rare big time grooves. And it has held up for some time now and seems to be regaining life. This whole album of Hancock's even won a Grammy in the "Best Album" category. You can hear some of these grooves if you send requests to my station whose inks are given below.
Ironically, Hancock made more of an impact in contemporary Pop as source material for the Hip-Hop group US3's "Cantaloupe" or "Flip Fantasia" (Blue Note), an engaging, whimsical piece driven by samples from Hancock's 1965 composition, "Cantaloupe Island" (Blue Note). The kind of cleverness is also evident in Marcus Miller's Tales (PRA), one of the yearlings suppreses. Miller, who was an upcoming bassist-composer has a tendency towards glitz (which I like), because when one revisits Tales for extra doses of such lively, sampled=heavy pieces as the "The Blues," which includes well-placed, pre-recorded testimony of Billie Holiday, Lester Young, Duke Ellington and other icons. There's some gauze and pastel here, as well.But if one listens hard enough, you can hear Miller, and perhaps, fusion music itself meandering itself towards the next phase of Jazz music, and there seems to be a bright future here.
Rhasaan Roland Kirk
Jazz Didn’t Die in The history books, its still here in our hearts,
Professor Butterfield wrote:
In life, it is the ultimate joy to develop a relationship with an individual so strikingly unique and utterly expressive, it leaves you in amazement. How does someone teach creativity? It starts with the self, It starts with the understanding of ones position within the spectrum of the universe, which is minuscule but infinite.
Born in Englewood New Jersey, Marvin “Bugalu” Smith began playing drums at age two under the tutelage of his older brother, Earl “Buster” Smith. In Marvin’s younger years, he witnessed his brother play with greats like Eric Dolphy, and studied his brother’s teachings. Marvin describes his early start in music as tough. His brother was a hard teacher, not allowing him to even sit on the drums until he had watched for countless hours. Marvin practiced daily before and after school to get better at the drums, and to meet the approval of his brother for further study. Born with dyslexia in a time before dyslexia was even diagnosed, Marvin found it hard to concentrate in school and was often ostracized because of his uncategorized difference. Marvin turned to the drums and sought to define himself as different, special, and more skilful than those that had mistreated him. What he found along his path toward greatness is what he shares with young musicians today.
In the jazz tradition, the jam session is know as the place where musicians come to play, get better, get gigs, and overall workshop themselves. The early Jam sessions at Minton’s and Monroe’s birthed Be-bop through the minds of great jazz legends like Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie parker, John Coltrane and countless others. At the age of seventeen, Marvin began traveling to the numerous jam sessions trying to showcase his skill and gain entrance and respect in the jazz scene. He still remembers the days of the old jam sessions, which he, and scholars support were usually “cutting contests” in which the competition was fierce and reactions to poor play were often brutish. There were no actual prizes to obtain, but in the world of music and musicianship, pride and ego are more than enough. Marvin remembers most vividly the nights he was sent home from the sessions feeling defeated and undercut.
“I was playing good, but in reality they were playing better then me. So I got an idea, and that was to study everything that the greats played at these sessions. So I started on this work, this was my great journey, to learn the great secret of the drums. It took me years, but I believe this is the greatest part of my story. Getting sent home was the best thing that
happened to me, because I kept going back to the practice pad, learning my 26 rudiments of the drums, learning how to swing on the ride cymbal, learning how to play four, eight, sixteen, and 32 bar solo's. What I learned was how to work hard, and that's what it takes, hard work, now, today!
The experiences of Marvin’s early disappointments and victories helped him find understanding of the necessities of greatness. He underscores the mastery of the basics through countless hours of study and practice, so that in the end, on the bandstand one can truly ascend to a higher level.
“The first thing you must do is get the technique under your hands, to the point were you don’t have to think about it on the bandstand. At this point, your mind is free, not heavy from thinking. Thinking will slow you down, and make you have a lot of hesitation in your playing; the key to effortless playing is to flow like water, so that even mistakes are themselves music. Then, music is in the realm of no rights, and no wrongs. This is the realm of “perfection,” and effortless playing.”
The above quote highlights the brilliance that is Marvin’s ability to see seemingly opposite entities as one, not divergent, but co-operative. Marvin learned early that it is through being in touch with the utmost true self that we control our surroundings. Not through force or will, but through openness and free flowing motion, like water. Marvin believes in always sharing lessons and knowledge. The amazing thing is he will repeat the same thing and re-tell stories, each time emphasizing a different yet profound lesson of life. The thing about these interactions is that they are completely unassuming. Marvin’s personality is embracing and enrolling which provide you no choice but to be happy, as your energy is lifted in his presence. This can be attributed to his commitment to a higher level of creation in everything he does. Today, Marvin can be seen at gigs with a series of capes, hats, canes, or other accessories. Depending on his mood, he can wear a black cape with gold ornamentation draped to the floor, or a quarter length zebra print pea coat. A mister Miyagi style hat, or a Michael Jackson honoring fedora as well. Marvin’s wisdom is always delivered similarly to his appearance, very directly and unashamedly. His early experiences taught him that the master musician is always honest regarding their music. He is not hesitant to let his thoughts be known. Surrounded by a culture of rampant drug use, womanizing, and extravagance within the camps of major jazz artists, Marvin witnessed, and participated in many things that hardened his exterior. It is because of these experiences that his delivery is sometimes abrasive, but the love and energy behind his intent eludes to his true loving, generous, and warm interior.
Marvin learned the principles of dedication, hard work, and openness through spending considerable time with his many teachers. Marvin has been a lifetime learner and understood that to be great he had to study and understand the greats. Marvin teaches that a large part of musicianship is knowing where the music is coming from, within a historical context, so as to know where the possibilities for growth are. In his lifetime, Marvin has personally studied with master drummers Art Blakey, Max Roach, Elvin Jones, Roy Hayes, Art Taylor, and his most important and influential teacher, his brother Earl “Buster” Smith. Marvin studied these master drummers, and figured out what made them great. Marvin believes the best way he can honor jazz music, its history, and himself, is to pass along the knowledge and lessons he learned along his journey.
Marvin has always found himself around music. At 16, he worked for the Town Sound Recording Company. While there, he recorded with, and around great stars of the time including James Brown, Lola Falana, and Sam and Dave. In 1969, Marvin Joined singer Rocky Roberts’ band and moved to Italy. Marvin enjoyed the people and the culture of Italy immensely