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The Greatest Pianist I have ever seen is gone at 92

Dennis...Brian

over 1 year ago

I was lucky enough to see him 8 years ago at university fundraiser

Jazzalo​ha

over 1 year ago

Sad news, but the guy lived a long and full (I assume) life. I’ll definitely listen to some of his music today. I wonder how younger people would respond to his music? To me, his music balanced substance with accessible qualities (e.g., catchy melodies, riffs, etc.). He’s a pretty good entry point into jazz (depending on one’s musical preferences—i.e., not good for heavy metal or punk fans).

Matt Parks

over 1 year ago

Yeah, sad news. Impecabble MOR jazz without generally sounding all smarmy and suburban like a lot of Brubeck’s peers from that period did.

Mogambo

over 1 year ago

He’s a pretty good entry point into jazz (depending on one’s musical preferences—i.e., not good for heavy metal or punk fans).

are you saying that there is a good entry point jazz musician for those into heavy metal or punk?

Dennis...Brian

over 1 year ago

maybe late Miles Davis

J&K

over 1 year ago

I first heard about David Brubeck from the linear notes to Pavement’s Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain:

“Brubeck was a white nerd popular with all the middle-class people. He popularized jazz to a certain extent. It’s a shame how this great, unique American is now just in the cannon as an art form—once it was a live, breathing entity.”

I didn’t know what that meant, but I bought some Brubeck records from the Goodwill a couple of years ago because of it. I guess his first hit was written in 5/4 time, hence the song title 5-4=unity

Matt Parks

over 1 year ago

“are you saying that there is a good entry point jazz musician for those into heavy metal or punk?”

I’d say something like John Zorn.

Jazzalo​ha

over 1 year ago

@Matt

Impecabble MOR jazz without generally sounding all smarmy and suburban like a lot of Brubeck’s peers from that period did.

OK, I don’t think I’ve heard of the term “MOR jazz.” What does that mean? I don’t know about “smarmy,” but I think I know what you mean by “suburban.” Are you thinking of cool jazz musicians—Chet Baker, Lee Konitz, Gerry Mulligan (those guys are quite good) or some other jazz musicians?

@Mogambo

are you saying that there is a good entry point jazz musician for those into heavy metal or punk?

Definitely. I’m pretty sure we could get fairly specific with regard to tailoring the recommendations. Zorn’s Naked City or Painkiller (more trash metal/hardcore) and post-60s Miles Davis are some pretty good recommendations. It depends on the type of metal and punk one likes.

@J&K

hence the song title 5-4=unity

I never heard that song. You didn’t mean “Take Five” (which is in 5/4 time), did you?

J&K

over 1 year ago

You didn’t mean “Take Five” (which is in 5/4 time), did you?

I meant to say that the song “5-4=unity”, by Pavement, is a tribute to "Take Five—Brubeck’s first hit.

“Brubeck enjoyed the genre’s first million-selling single with “Take Five,” a melodically exquisite tune in 5/4 time written by Dave Brubeck Quartet saxophonist Paul Desmond (which later was the unlikely inspiration for Pavement’s “5-4=Unity” on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain)" Spin

I wish I could get into jazz music. I like it, but I never really listen to it for some reason.

Matt Parks

over 1 year ago

@ Jazz

MOR = “middle of the road”

“Are you thinking of cool jazz musicians—Chet Baker, Lee Konitz, Gerry Mulligan (those guys are quite good) or some other jazz musicians?”

Basically those types of players, yeah, though I think those guys had some things going on (and here I have to admit to not being familiar enough with Konitz to say anything intelligent) that elevated them beyond the second tier of that style (at least intermittently). I would say Herb Albert occasional forayed into smarmy as well. I’m really thinking of the records that people of my parents generation used as background music for cocktail parties and such. Some of Paul Desmond’s work apart from Brubeck annoys me, to cite another example.

Jazzalo​ha

over 1 year ago

@J&K

I wish I could get into jazz music. I like it, but I never really listen to it for some reason.

I’m curious to know why this is. Do you think the absence of the lyrics (if you’re thinking of instrumental jazz) is the main reason? I will say that there are things about jazz that can make it difficult for people who grew up on rock/pop. Knowing these differences and then knowing what to listen for in jazz can really make a difference. I grew up on top forty music, and it was only by reading some books about jazz that I really began to appreciate it (although I started listening to a little of it before reading these books).

@Matt

MOR = “middle of the road”

Ah, OK.

I would say Herb Albert occasional forayed into smarmy as well. I’m really thinking of the records that people of my parents generation used as background music for cocktail parties and such.

I never really listened to him, but I think I see where you’re going. With Desmond, I’m wondering if you’re thinking of one of his album with strings. I actually like that one, and I like a lot of Desmond’s stuff with Jim Hall. I suspect this is the type of music you mean, and I think there can be a fine line between good and cheesy with this stuff. I suspect you’re thinking of Bossa Nova from the 60s as well (e.g., Stan Getz and Astrud Gilberto’s rendition “Girl from Ipanema”). But let’s not go there, because I love Bossa Nova. :)

J&K

over 1 year ago

I’m curious to know why this is.

Lack of lyrics, my lack of patience, association with elevator music, the nature of I-Pods, the amount of music there is to listen to and the lack of time… I don’t now, it seems (and this may just be my ignorance) that most jazz musicians don’t have a definitive album to go to, which makes it difficult to get started for some reason. I think ipods and itunes have shortened my attention span. I realized a while ago that I have “favorite” albums in which I couldn’t name all the songs. When I was in high-school I had 10 CDs and knew all the words to all the songs, which was kind of nice.

Matt Parks

over 1 year ago

“I think there can be a fine line between good and cheesy with this stuff.”

Yes, and although I like a lot of jazz, I’m not really an aficionado, so if something doesn’t grab me, I’m not necessarily going to spend a lot of time weighing its possible merits beyond my immediate response.

Jazzalo​ha

over 1 year ago

@J&K

I don’t now, it seems (and this may just be my ignorance) that most jazz musicians don’t have a definitive album to go to, which makes it difficult to get started for some reason.

And you want definitive albums so you can narrow down your selection? If so, I understand. (I feel the same about classical music.) I don’t know if there are many definitive albums—i.e., albums that display the musician at their best—but there are albums with wide consensus. Have you heard Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue? There’s almost unanimous agreement on that that album (topping many jazz fans’ all-time favorite list; I don’t know if it’s the best, but it’s up there). Here are some others:

Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives and Hot Sevens (I haven’t listened to all of this, and I’m not a big Armstrong fan, but there seems to be consensus on these recordings.)
Bill Evans trio—Sunday at the Village Vanguard_. If you like piano trios that are on the mellower side, this is a good one.
John Coltrane—_Giant Steps
or A Love Supreme. These albums cover different periods, but they’re classic albums by Trane.

I think ipods and itunes have shortened my attention span.

Yeah, that can be a problem. I think listening to jazz is the most satisfying when you can a) hear an instrumental solo develop (which certainly takes longer than the average rock/pop solo); b) hear the interaction between the instruments. It’s tough to get this if you’re only listening to the music as background music. It helps to know what to listen for, too.

@Matt

Makes sense.

J&K

over 1 year ago

@Jazz

Thanks for the titles! I’ll (hopefully) look into those soon.

Matt Parks

over 1 year ago

@ J&K

Another worth checking out is Ahmad Jamal. Not as widely renowned as Davis and some of the others, but the great jazz critic Stanley Crouch believes him to be second in importance in the development of jazz after 1945 only to Charlie Parker. For me, HE’S actually the greatest pianist I’ve ever seen play live (saw him at a little Chicago jazz club in the mid-’80s). But Not for Me would be a good introduction. or maybe The Awakening as representative of his later style.

NIGHTSH​IFT

over 1 year ago

RIP Brubeck

^Agree on Ahmad Jamal, and I’d include Oscar Peterson and McCoy Tyner among the top jazz pianists.

Stanley Crouch is a bum.

Jazzalo​ha

over 1 year ago

To my shame, I haven’t listened to a lot of Jamal. Still, the Crouch’s comment sounds a bit extreme. (I’m guessing his rationale is based on the fact that Jamal influenced Miles Davis.) Plus, I’m guessing Crouch is going to dismiss developments in Free Jazz, Jazz-Rock and Third Stream—so, in that light, I guess his comment isn’t surprising. Needless to say, I don’t share his attitude towards Free, Jazz-Rock and Third Stream, but whatever.

@J&K

I wanted to add one more comment. With regard to checking out jazz, it might be better to find music that matches up to your tastes—rather than focusing definitive albums by great jazz musicians—or at least factor your preferences in. If you’re interested in doing this, let me know your preferences, and I’ll be happy to try and recommend some albums. The great thing about jazz is that there really are a lot of entry points.

Matt Parks

over 1 year ago

“I’m guessing his rationale is based on the fact that Jamal influenced Miles Davis”

I don’t recall the exact context of the comment, but I do know that the particular influence on Davis was a big consideration. But Crouch also cites him as an influence on Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, and McCoy Tyner. (Tyner would be high on my list too, Nightshift).

Jazzalo​ha

over 1 year ago

Night said, Agree on Ahmad Jamal, and I’d include Oscar Peterson and McCoy Tyner among the top jazz pianists

I guess it depends on what you mean by “top.” If we’re talking about most technically brilliant, we probably have to mention Art Tatum (although I never listened to enough of him to say for sure) or Keith Jarrett. (I think Brad Mehldau has impressive technique as well).

If we’re talking about most influential, that might generate a different response, as would the most original (Monk would have to be in there) or favorite.

For what it’s worth, I never really cared for Peterson. Maybe I listened to the wrong albums, but his playing generally left me cold.

You guys really like McCoy, huh? Are you referring mostly to his playing with Coltrane or the albums he lead? I like Tyner (with Trane and some of his own stuff), but he’s not a name that would come up for me. Evans, Hancock, Corea, Jarrett—those would be the names that come to mind at least in terms of post-50s pianists. (I’m probably missing some, too.)

@Matt

But Crouch also cites him as an influence on Bill Evans, Herbie Hancock, and McCoy Tyner. (Tyner would be high on my list too, Nightshift).

And I guess if he was a major influence, you might make an argument—although the argument would mainly be compelling if you discounted the the major jazz developments from starting in the late 50s.

Matt Parks

over 1 year ago

Depends on how much you value formal extremity, I think.

Jazzalo​ha

over 1 year ago

I say it has more to do with how narrowly you define jazz—and whether this determination depends primarily on personal preferences.

Matt Parks

over 1 year ago

What I mean is if you’re talking about, say, being “very influential” in regard to free jazz or—what would be the opposite end of the jazz spectrum?—smooth jazz ala Kenny G and Dave Koz—might or might not make one truly “very influential” upon jazz as a whole. As an analogy, Stan Brakhage is great and was very influential on experimental/avant garde cinema, so he was “very influential” on cinema in that sense, but if you’re looking at cinema as a whole, it would be hard to legitimately argue that Brakhage was a greater influence upon the totality of cinema than, say F.W. Murnau or John Ford.

Jazzalo​ha

over 1 year ago

What I mean is if you’re talking about, say, being “very influential” in regard to free jazz or—what would be the opposite end of the jazz spectrum?—smooth jazz ala Kenny G and Dave Koz—might or might not make one truly “very influential” upon jazz as a whole.

Let me say a couple of things. First, if you consider free jazz major development in the art form—i.e., equivalent to previous developments like swing and be-bop—then the musicians that “created” that style should be considered influential and important—at least that’s the way I think. Second, I don’t know if experimental filmmaking is an appropriate example, especially if experimental filmmaking is a really small segment of filmmaking. Free-jazz may seem to represent a small segment of jazz, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily true. If you read certain avant-garde publications and seek and out and listen to free-jazz/avant-garde jazzers, you can get a different impression. I think you can make a case that Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor were pretty influential or at least important and highly original. My sense is that guys like Crouch discount these musicians more as a matter of personal preference and/or a narrow definition of jazz. (I’m not saying you’re doing that, by the way.) Of course, the people that acknowledge the importance of these musicians, probably appreciate and enjoy the music they make as well.

Matt Parks

over 1 year ago

“If you read certain avant-garde publications and seek and out and listen to free-jazz/avant-garde jazzers, you can get a different impression”

The same would be true of experimental filmmaking.

“I think you can make a case that Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor were pretty influential or at least important and highly original. My sense is that guys like Crouch discount these musicians more as a matter of personal preference and/or a narrow definition of jazz. "

Crouch doesn’t discount Coleman at all, and has written about him (positively). His beef with Taylor has to do with the fact that he felt Taylor over-relies on European music and then was disingenuous about the originality of his music and the way he positioned himself culturally:

“I was talking to [Anthony] Braxton one night, and I said to him: “You are really what Gunther and John Lewis meant when they were talking about ‘Third Stream,’ and you have never been recognized for being that in the right way.” He said, “Look, all of us were listening to European music, but when Black Power came in, a lot of us pretended to have gotten the ideas from Africa or someplace non-white. I became the odd man out, because I refused to deny what my real interests were. If it was Stockhausen, it was Stockhausen! I wouldn’t pretend that it came out of the south side of Chicago or whatever.”

In that respect, I thought the worst offender was Cecil Taylor, whose whole style comes from European music – especially Messiaen – with a few dribs and drabs of Ellington, Monk, and Bud. I played Catalogue d’oiseaux for both Jimmy Lyons and Andrew Cyrille, and they were astonished. “What record is that? I’ve heard that many times!” Jimmy almost fainted. They didn’t know modern classical music, and had just taken Cecil’s word on his own originality.

The reason I really respect Braxton now (although I went through many years of being hostile to him) is that he has always been an honest guy! He stood by what he was doing without ever renouncing his deep commitment to European music.

I wish you had been there the night Cecil and I had it out at Bradley’s. We really went at it. I thought I won, but maybe he thinks he did. Anyway, I said it came down to one thing: “All that stuff about Africa that you say – Africa this, Africa that – well, if you went and played in Africa, a new record would be set for someone emptying a hall! However big the concert hall was, you would clear it in five minutes!”

Jazzalo​ha

over 1 year ago

The same would be true of experimental filmmaking.

I’m haven’t explored avant-garde/experimental filmmaking deeply, but that wouldn’t surprise me.

Crouch doesn’t discount Coleman at all, and has written about him (positively).

My impression is that he sort of likes the early stuff (on Atlantic), but doesn’t really seem to think of him as a great innovator (otherwise, he’d have to recognize free jazz as a major development) and he basically dismisses Coleman’s developments after that period—specifically when the music gets more dissonant and electric (as in plugged in instruments).

His beef with Taylor has to do with the fact that he felt Taylor over-relies on European music and then was disingenuous about the originality of his music and the way he positioned himself culturally:

I don’t know. The charge that free-jazzers like Braxton and Taylor aren’t original because they basically copied 20th Century European classical music doesn’t seem that compelling to me—at least based on comparing both musics. There may be similarities and Braxton, Taylor, et. al., may have been influenced by the music, but that doesn’t mean they’re not playing jazz or that their music is not original. Musicians like Bill Evans and Herbie Hancock were supposedly very influenced by Ravel and Debussy—and incorporated that influence into their music. That doesn’t mean they’re not original or not playing jazz. I just get the sense that Crouch, Wynton Marsalis and others of their ilk just don’t like the European elements and they have a strong preference for pre-70s jazz—that wasn’t free or Third Stream.

Matt Parks

over 1 year ago

“I just get the sense that Crouch, Wynton Marsalis and others of their ilk just don’t like the European elements and they have a strong preference for pre-70s jazz—that wasn’t free or Third Stream.”

To a certain degree that’s true—although it’s not so much that they don’t like the other elements per se, but that it seems to be a matter of feeling that musicians were doing this at the expense of exploring possibilities that already exist within the American jazz tradition. Here# he talks about the unexplored possibilities raised by jazz of the ’50s . . . he basically sees everything have been reduced to an either/or. with later musicians following either Coltrane of Coleman:

“Every jazz fan knows that there was so much going on in the fifties, and there were so many people playing so many different ways, and it was unfortunate that Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane tended to take the music in two directions as opposed to the many directions that were available before 1960. For example, the bebop era that was being extended upon by Gerry Mulligan and Chet Baker was never developed, nor was Mingus’ music. Even the stuff that Herbie Nichols was playing wasn’t developed. There was a way in which Horace Silver was doing things, and that wasn’t developed either. When I talk about developed, I mean other musicians didn’t look at it and didn’t deal with it in ways they could be inspired by to create something else for themselves. Instead, guys either went into the direction of performing modal tunes like Coltrane’s band, or they went into playing tunes that didn’t necessarily have any predictable form or chord changes like Coleman’s band. I think those were only two of the directions the music could go at the time, but musicians felt that in order to be up-to-date, they had to go in either John Coltrane’s direction or Ornette Coleman’s direction.”

Dennis...Brian

over 1 year ago

This thread is based on a lie, tho an accidental one.

I realized this morning, I had Brubeck confused with Van Cliburn

the great piano man I actually saw

he is not even jazz!!

maybe one day we can put all of this behind of

Jazzalo​ha

over 1 year ago

@Matt

To a certain degree that’s true—although it’s not so much that they don’t like the other elements per se, but that it seems to be a matter of feeling that musicians were doing this at the expense of exploring possibilities that already exist within the American jazz tradition.

So you’re saying that Crouch and Wynton Marsalis don’t have a problem—both in terms of personal preference and aesthetic quality—of free jazz and jazz-rock? I don’t think that’s the case at all. They may feel like other areas of jazz should be developed, but they essentially believe that free jazz and jazz-rock were bad developments for the art form.

@Den

Well, to make up for this, why not listen to some more Brubeck. :)

J&K

over 1 year ago

@Den
See, I would have just lived with the (accidental) lie while it ate away at conscience unto my bitter death. So…good for you!

@Matt
Thanks for the suggestion. Of all that I listened to, I think Ahamad Jamal was the most appealing to me.

@Jazz
If you’re interested in doing this, let me know your preferences
Ha. Thanks. From what I have listened to, I prefer Monk and Mingus to Parker or Coltrane. I liked Ahmad Jamal. I don’t know if that means anything. I don’t think I like the jazz-band sound or mellow jazz….I think.

I also liked this. I couldn’t find anything about him online, but a lot of people have listened to it. I am not sure how good or original it is though, in relation to other Jazz pianists.