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Saturday, July 21, 2012

Quotation of the Day

Rock is jazz under pressure. -- Jonathan Schwartz

Comments (11)

I welcome the idea to think about music today, so I'll jump in with an opposite opinion just to make this last:

I don't get the quote. To me there are 2 ways you can go: A narrow more traditional version of what jazz is - Duke Ellington, Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman - in which case jazz under pressure would be bebop. I cannot imagine jazz under more pressure than a Charlie Parker solo.

One time a musician showed me a book of Parker's solos charted out and it was so beyond anything that let's say Jimi Hendrix did as far as sophistication. Sorry, I love rock but that's just a fact. Jazz is the heavyweight division and I don't see how you put it under pressure and get rock out of it.

If you include bebop in your definition of jazz - and it's interesting to note that Louis Armstrong hated bebop - well, then you're stuck with another problem. How do you get more intense than Charlie Parker? It just can't be.

I'd say that rock was blues, gospel, and country under pressure, but jazz? Sure rock musicians incorporate jazz elements, just as they take from Indian music, and everything else, but I just can't see this quote making sense.

I know Miles Davis loved Jimi Hendrix but I think part of it was that Jimi was so different from what Miles had heard before. I do like that Miles was open-minded. Reading that Louis Armstrong really didn't like bebop, and that Jerry Garcia said that rap wasn't music, bothers me. As Elvis said, when they tried to get him to put down another musician's style: There's room for everybody.

Schwartz said this in introducing "Sunshine of Your Love," by Cream. His radio show is mostly about the American songbook -- Richard Rodgers, Frank Sinatra, Schwartz's father, Barbara Cook, that sort of thing -- but Schwartz spent several years playing rock on the New York radio back in the late 60's and early 70's, and he throws a little of that in every now and then.

Eric Clapton's solo in the middle of "Sunshine" is an important piece of improv. Although during his heyday he borrowed heavily from B.B. King, during that solo he was doing something quite fresh. Louis was still alive -- wonder what he thought.

Between Parker and Cream was 20 years. Between Cream and now is 43 years.

I don't understand the quote so much. I played a lot of jazz and rock in my day (drums). At one point I'd actually played more shows than I'd seen.

I always described rock as jazz stripped naked.

Maybe the Rolling Stones captured the difference with their song, "It's Only Rock and Roll But I Like It". Compare that to John Coltrane's "My Favorite Things." You would never say, "It's Only John Coltrane."

I don't see putting John Coltrane under pressure and getting Little Richards. They're both great but in completely different ways. Coltrane isn't trying to be fun. He's trying to be heavy. In that sense, he's much more challenging and harder on your brain to hang with. Coltrane will wear you out and throw you off if you don't focus. I never saw him play but I bet it was heavy - but not necessarily fun. I did see Little Richards one time and that was just hilariously great. It was a blast.

Wait, I know who can clear this up. Let's go to an authority - Chuck Berry:

"Just let me hear some of that
Rock And Roll Music,
Any old way you choose it;
It's got a back beat, you can't lose it,
Any old time you use it.
It's gotta be Rock And Roll Music,
If you want to dance with me,
If you want to dance with me.

I've got no kick againt modern jazz,
Unless they try to play it too darn fast;
And change the beauty of the melody,
Until they sounded like a symphony,
That's why I go for that
Rock And Roll Music ..."

As all popular music forms become more sophisticated and commercialized, there is a opposite reaction to return to simpler and more direct musical experiences.

Rock is the reaction to jazz becoming an insufferable cocktail option to the upper classes.

Punk is the reaction to rock becoming full of itself.

Rap is the reaction to Pop becoming MTV'd to death.

And on and on and on - drum smack down here (ba-dump pa-chee bam).

I think part of the pressure came from the Top 40 radio format, wherein a single could run no more than 2 minutes 50, preferably more like 2 minutes 30. (Duane Jarvis had a band here in town here 30 years ago called 2 Minutes 50.) I think the middle of "Sunshine of Your Love" is more like "So What" than like "Sweet Little 16." But it didn't have the luxury of five or six minutes to get it all said.

I remember the group "2 minutes 50". They could really serve up the Who covers, and the guitarist had it: He had the strong grip on the guitar to get the authentic sound.
I remember seeing those guys play at the hotel I worked at, and though I remember the band name, that was it.
The guitarist sort of reminded me of the local legends, "The Sleazy Pieces". Steve Bradley could really generate the great rock and roll sound, as well.
Wow, I just googled and unfortunately, Duane Jarvis is no longer with us. Hmm, sounds like he really made his point though.
"2 Minutes 50". That really brings it back. It's a clever name and Duane had a great sound.

The band was originally called The Odds, but then they discovered there was a group elsewhere (I think it was in L.A.) with that name, and so they changed it.

Duane worked with Lucinda Williams for a while. I saw them and Steve Earle play to a tiny crowd at Champoeg Park one summer in the '90s -- other-worldly good.

2 Minutes 50 was a kid band in the early '80s. Duane was always fighting asthma, as I recall. They cut a 45, and I've got it somewhere. I need to dig it out and play it. I hadn't heard that he died. It's a real loss.

It's all coming back to me now. One week, the Odds shocked their fans by trading drummers with Johnny & the Distractions. Duane's brother Kevin in a straight-up trade for Kip Richardson. Gigs at the Last Hurrah.

More on 2 Minutes 50 here.

Jazz is triplets. Rock is four four.
R & B is six eight, from blues.
(Metal is nothing.)
Rap is twelve- and sixteen-phrase.
So they all meet at 12. That's the overtone and simply put the pulse where you like it.

Despite all that, the acknowledged Official break-thru sound -- 'legitimate' jazz breaking through to soul-challenged whitey (radio) -- of all time was 5/4, Brubeck's head-bobbing "Take 5."

About '73, I saw Miles Davis in a big lounge, only about 30 of us in a room for 100. 20 seats at the bar itself and Miles there standing next to me. When he felt it he'd stride through the tables to the bandstand, wait for it wait for it, then blow a couple accents. And come back to the bar.

But Miles was not as 'far out' as Art Ensemble of Chicago, way where I couldn't follow. Beyond Miles.

I don't know. I believe Duke said, "if it sounds good, it IS good."

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