[JPL] Joshua Redman
jaejazz at yahoo.com
Tue May 1 16:30:04 EDT 2007
Phillip.....yes there are many things you can do with out the chords but does that make it musical? I would say that the chord only gets in the way of players that can't play them comfortably. i don't buy into the thinking that chords get in the way. If I play drums by myself I can do much more because I don't have to worry about throwing someone with bad time off or them getting in the way of MY idea. It presents an entirely different challenge with others.....and in any setting there are always challenges for the creative musician. Playing without them should be a choice based on an intended conceptual direction....which is what Joshua's recording reflects.
I would also slightly disagree when you say melody pretty much only dictates where the harmony goes. Yes and no. I can listen to lets say, "Prelude To A Kiss" without the melody and tell you what song it is....based on the strength of the harmonic progression. In this case melody is cherry on the topping. I also mentioned chordal application would be more necessary but not the rule in general listener comprehension in II V material because the songs were written with strong harmonic foundations that in my view set the direction for the melodic improvisation. Not so the situation with Ornette as you correctly noted and that was Ornette's choice to do it in a different way. I'm not talking about this though.
Also, when you talk about playing Eb7 against G7 (major) you're not speaking diatonically (within the key simply) - which most of the II V compositions I'm speaking of are based on. And while you say they are "almost the same chord," they are very different in sound. What would be almost the same chord is the III chord as it relates to the root IN diatonic chord structure. Simple and not as interesting yes but this is closer to my point when talking about the necessity of the chord. Granted while most songs....particularly in jazz......change keys in bridge sections....they generally stick to diatonic structure. "Giant Steps" would be a very clear example of a "jazz standard" not structured diatonically. It basically has three tonal centers..
The trio context we're speaking of certainly would be easier to do without the clashing - with piano or guitar... but again, I'm talking about the choice of the II V material on Joshua's disc. Why would someone make the melodic choices you mentioned on lets say... "I'm An Old Cowhand?" That wouldn't be very musical to the composition in my view - unless your intention is to change the direction of the piece and turn it into "I'm An Old Cowhand With XK7." Yes of course you can do much more without the chords but the question always remains....how musical is it in the end? That ultimately depends on the abilities of the musicians playing.
Phillip Greenlief <pgsaxo at pacbell.net> wrote:
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Subject: [JPL] Joshua Redman
>From a musicians perspective playing with the chord-less trio presents
and interesting set of musical possibilities......good, bad or
indifferent. Saxophone and bass are inherently melodic
instruments.....mainly single note line capability.......but bass
players can create two and three note "chords" and doing so more
frequently. That said and because of this limited ability to create the
chord the pressure of "hearing" the chord becomes almost necessary. One
could ask if it really is but with a sax, bass and drums
lineup.....particularly when you're playing standard II V material....I
think it is. If not the song is incomplete IMO. This is were the
harmonic knowledge of the melodic players has to come through and it
does one each track.
Joshua Redman aside - I'd like to comment on this discussion in terms of
the harmonic approach that is being referred to here.
I would say that the saxophone - drums - bass thing allows absolute
freedom for the players. There's no need to hear the chord, in my
opinion. Chords get in the way, they limit possibilities. If a bassist
is implying G7 (because it's part of the chord progression) and I feel
like playing an Eb7 shape against it, I can do that without sounding
"wrong" - (or bi-tonal, which isn't so bad, after all - it's quite nice
- Bartok and many others did it in the early 20th century - it's not
like it's a "new" thing).
This leads me to a discussion I've had with students. Let's look at the
notes of the G7 chord (G - B - D - F) and the notes of the Eb7 chord (Eb
- G - Bb - Db). You have one common tone and two tones that are a
half-step away. The other tone (Eb) is a whole-step away from F (the 7th
It becomes really easy to see how you can imply Eb7 against G7. By
adding some chromatic shapes to your line - they're almost the same
chord, aren't they? So by eliminating the chord player, you can do all
kinds of things (this is how Trane developed his sheets of sound thing,
which came out of his re-negotiation of the circle of 5ths). He was
able, with rapid-fire note flurries, to both state the G7 and the Eb7
(as an example) in a single measure of music. His ability to see
pentatonic shapes that had lots of "cross-references" (common tones) led
him to be able stack all these chord tones on top of a single chord.
Ornette (since we were just talking about him) used a totally different
approach. He said forget the chord and stay focused on the melody. In
this way, he was eventually able to develop his harmelodic approach (but
it took a large ensemble like Prime Time to develop it). With
Harmelodics, you can have a double trio all playing in different keys at
the same time. There's no emphasis on harmony dictating the direction of
the music - rather, the musicians work in their own harmonic area
through the proliferation of melodic lines (with diverse tonal centers)
and the "harmony" is created by the layering of those diverse lines. So
melody dictates harmony, not the other way around.
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