[JPL] Phat Band/Bruce Hornsby

Rick McLaughlin rick at rickmclaughlin.com
Thu Jul 27 10:53:02 EDT 2006


I second Ed on this one, but for me, my involvement will need to be
relegated to something more or less hypothetical, something that cites
history/tradition, rather than chiming in on the specific groups mentioned
(I play in one of them).  Having said that, I really think that a discussion
of criteria would be worthwhile, and would be very interested to hear y'all
weigh in on how those things relate to some of the groups mentioned, and
hey, what about our forefathers (and foremothers?  Foreparents?)?

Jae, also man, I really like the fact that you start so many thought
provoking conversations - way to go.

Ok, but for the criteria you have listed, I wonder:

 - intonation - I'm sure I can mention at least 10 incredible musicians who
we all know and love whose intonation was, um, different.  Whether
specifically utilizing an intonation system other than equal temperament,
using equal temperament but basing it upon a note other than A=440, or for
all intents and purposes being oblivious to this difference, there were (and
continue to be) a large number of musicians whose approach to intonation is
not equal temperament on A=440.  I like many of these musicians as much as
you do, and even get a bit of a thrill from hearing something different
sounding.  In a big band, this can be somewhat tricky business and I totally
buy how one person's opinion about intonation may differ from another
person's.  On the other hand, I don't think that this criterion by itself is
enough to bring down the whole operation.  Even the great bands had "off"
days.  And what does one do if the whole point of the performance is to
explore the notes between the cracks?  Can that possibly make the music bad?
I argue no, but I grant that intent is a very important thing in this area.

 - cohesiveness - this is another tough one to go for.  Compositionally?
Improvisationally?  Both at the same time?  Are you talking about the way a
band plays together, the way they play an arrangement, the way they play
behind soloists?  I hear Sun Ra's Heliocentric Worlds records as cohesive
(compositionally, improvisationally, etc.), and don't feel that, purely on
the level of cohesiveness, it is fundamentally any different from say Black,
Brown & Beige, but man, wow, what a world of difference in the approach to
music making.

 - textures - it's a bit tough for this to be a criterion, from my point of
view.  One man's garbage is another's treasure, you know?  Will Daybreak
Express be the standard by which everything is measured?  Nelson Riddle
arrangements for Frank Sinatra?  Thad Jones records?  Anthony Braxton's
Creative Orchestra Music 1979?

 - improvisational/compositional balance - now, here's something.  Fantastic
topic.  Reminiscing in Tempo has no improvisation, or does it?  Heliocentric
Worlds has no composition, or does it?  I love this topic because for me, I
prefer the sound of narrative, the sound of a story unfolding, the sound of
"ok, this is the head, no wait a minute that was a solo, no it was the
head."  That mystery that comes from masters playing a piece of music in a
masterful way, well it's huge for me.  Like watching a film or reading a
book, but much much cooler.  With all due respect to the Thad Jones/Mel
Lewis world and aesthetic, I personally am ok with not hearing much more of
that kind of writing, you know the sound that all us young upstarts (ok, I'm
in my 30s so I probably don't qualify very much here) learned in school.
What about George Russell's Living Time Orchestra or Brookmeyer's big band -
both unbelievable examples of narrative-oriented composers who can compose
something that leaves you guessing.  Fan-freaking-tastic.

 - time - Jae, I'm a bass player, so this one - like you - is huge to me.
But wow man, time, it's a pretty funny thing isn't it?  We can both come up
with small group examples of records we love that rush like crazy.  And I
can think of several that I love that drag.  Time is that funny measurement,
you know like on a ruler - is it an inch, or is it 8/8 or is it 16/16 or is
it 32/32, and so on.  We can get so wrapped up in the minutia of time that
we forget about groove.  And even there, well, Basie's band played time and
groove totally differently from Duke's, and Thad's was completely different,
and on and on.  But the character that emerged as a result of the
differences, now that was something.  So for me, yes time is unbelievably
important, but if they rush and the band is grooving, or whatever, and it
sounds interesting - maybe a little anxious or something - then I could be
totally into it.  Oddly, when I play, this is not an option.  I strive
towards the same measure that you do here, burning, unmovable time -
delicious.  

 - level of writing and arranging and improvisation - I need a little help
here.  Are you saying something about, like, Arranging 101 or something?  I
love the early Sun Ra records which were pretty darn simplistic in terms of
their arrangements.  Nothing impressionistic, no serialism, just a bunch of
guys who played great together.  Same with the Basie records in the 1930s,
not exactly brain surgery, what with the charts being so head-chart
oriented.  But incredible, nonetheless.  On the other hand, I also love the
George Russell big band records.  Having played a lot of his music, I can
tell you that it is at times unbelievably difficult to play, even though
when it's played right it sounds totally natural.

 - dynamic ranges - very big deal.  I'm in on this one.  Nothing kills the
drama like FFF ad infinitum.

 - predictability - a bad thing, right?  One hopes.  On the other hand,
there is something charming in a tightly arranged, mainstream-style (don't
ask me to define it, but you know what I'm talking about) chart.  A couple
of those every now and then sure hit the spot.

 - inventiveness - totally.  Julius Hemphill's big band record.  Braxton's
Creative Orchestra Music.  Lacy's big band records on Soul Note.  Maybe
that's not quite what you had in mind, but I totally buy the inventiveness
thing hook line and sinker.  Why write yet another sax soli using plaining
(see Wright's "Inside the Score" for a definition)?  By now, there have
certainly been enough of those.  

I think that criteria are a very very useful thing, but man, it seems like
they are really a personal set, not a universal one.  I can imagine a wide
range of arguments stemming from my comments above, all of them valid.  One
of my former teachers said that when you right for saxes, you have to use
plaining or else a knock will come at your door and it will be the police,
ready to haul you to jail.  I asked, well, what about Julius Hemphill's
record?  He said, "Yeah, you could write that way, but why would you want
to?"

You dig?  Everyone has a different thing, I guess.


Thanks again for an interesting topic Jae.  I'm looking forward to the
responses.

Rick McLaughlin
Bassist in one of the bands mentioned below


-----Original Message-----
From: jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com
[mailto:jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com] On Behalf Of Jae Sinnett
Sent: Wednesday, July 26, 2006 10:35 PM
To: Jazz Programmers Mailing List
Subject: Re: [JPL] Phat Band/Bruce Hornsby

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Tom, GIz.....we could name several indeed. However, the only band that both
of you mentioned that I would put in the top ten would be the WDR Band.
Actually I would put them in my top five and boot someone to six. I forgot
about them but the Vanguard Jazz Orchestra, The Finnish Aftro Cuban Jazz
Orchestra, and The NW Prevailing Winds as well as a few others but I focused
on MY favorite five at the moment. My opinion again and my decision with
this is based solely on a plethora of musical criteria .....things such as
intonation (a couple of the ones you listed have serious problems in this
area), cohesiveness (Ditto), textures, improvisational/compositional
balance, time, level of writing and arranging and improvisation, dynamic
ranges, predictability, inventiveness, etc.....not names or hype. I would
probably raise your eyebrows as to why I wouldn't have those groups you
mentioned in my top five but that would fall deeply into a musical
discussion and I try to avoid that on
 the list. 
   
  Jae Sinnett
   
  
Giz Bowe <girard.bowe at verizon.net> wrote:
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At 09:33 PM 7/26/2006 -0400, you wrote:
>and how about the Dave Holland Big Band, Either/Orchestra, Mingus Big 
>Band, LCJO, the LC Afro-Jazz Orchestra, the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra and 
>the WDR Big Band?

or even 16/NYC?



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This week's sponsor: Christian Jacob Trio CONTRADICTIONS

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Going for adds July 25th

The new release by the Christian Jacob Trio
''Contradictions''. A look at the music of Michel Petrucciani.

Piano: Christian Jacob - Bass: Trey Henry - Drums: Ray Brinker
Released on label ''Wilderjazz''
 
''Contradictions'' focuses on the original composition of the late pianist
and composer Michel Petrucciani.

Not only does this project bring our attention back to Michel's great
melodies, but it allows Christian to use them as a creative platform for his
trio.
 
For more information or to request an on air copy please contact:
GROOV Marketing and Consulting
877-476-6832
mark at groovmarketing.com  or  josh at groovmarketing.com
 
Also feel free to email Christian with any comments or questions:
christian at christianjacob.com

Please visit www.wilderjazz.com

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