Saturday, July 20, 2013

Notebook 1: Old Music New Music

On and off I keep a notebook of thoughts on music and saxophone playing. Earlier this week I flicked through the pages of one that is about a year old and decided to start posting some of my pre-blog ramblings.
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* Don't Be Afraid Of Old Music * * Don't Be Afraid Of New Music *

About 12 years ago I asked a pianist friend of mine who they were listening to - Bill Evans, Keith Jarrett, Brad Mehldau were the answers.  I followed up by asking if they listen to any pianists from earlier in the jazz lineage - "Not really" they replied.  Why not? They figured their favorite players were influenced by the earlier masters and that influence would be passed on to them.  Plus they didn't like the sound of old recordings!
One of the most in demand players in town and they had never checked out the likes of Art Tatum, Erroll Garner, Teddy Wilson, Duke Ellington, Bud Powell.  I was very surprised. Perhaps Teddy Wilson could have opened some new avenues to explore that weren't apparent in the music of Keith Jarrett.
I have always loved going back and listening to those who influenced my favorite artists.  Here's a page from the notebook (click on it to enlarge) where I've plotted players around saxophonist Richard Tabnik - it doesn't take long for the web to expand (and it is by no means complete). Some of these artists I am quite familiar with, others less so but I have listened to them all.

What's new to you may be contemporary, from another era, underground or mainstream.  It may be old to others.

In 2009 I attended over 100 gigs during a six month stay in NYC - lots of great music, plus plenty that did nothing for me - It's good to find out what you don't like! Why don't you like it? Revisit it - tastes change.  I first heard Evan Parker in concert. It was intriguing so I had a listen to a couple of recordings and didn't like them at all (these were full-throttle type things). I shelved him. Then a couple of years ago, I spotted an album (Time Will Tell) and gave it a shot - this time I quite enjoyed it. Whilst I can't say I enjoy all of his vast discography there are a few nice ones in there for me (they tend to be at his mellower end).

The Music Village workshop in Greece opened my ears to a lot of new music - Alexander Berne, Morton Feldman, Kaum Quartet, Fo[u]r Alto, Stockhausen among others. Working on Stockhausen was another new challenge and I took those pieces with me (they are still a challenge). Frank Gratkowski's composition for 14 Alto saxes playing multiphonics was not like anything I had been part of before. It was very exciting playing this music to a crowd of people that arrived not knowing what to expect and left having been part of a great night.
This page has been a nice reminder to give Chu Berry a spin.... Sittin' In, Chuberry Jam, Limehouse Blues, Monday At Minton's, Blowing Up A Breeze, Body & Soul have been playing as I type. NICE!

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