Monday, June 16, 2008

Meandering musings on things jazz

I had an occasion to listen to some live jazz music this weekend, but for various reasons, I was not able to take advantage of the opportunity. Instead, I was mostly stuck at home, and it provided me an opportunity to delve into a few of the new CD's I purchased for my rapidly growing collection. One that I listened to the most is one of the most classic of jazz classics: A Love Supreme by John Coltrane. I hardly know what to make of it. It went by so fast the first time, I felt sure it wasn't the 28 (?) minutes it said it was, so I listened to it again, back to back. Again, it seemed to me that the first track (listed at 7+ minutes) wasn't more than two minutes long. So, either the CD is altering the space time continuum, the liner notes are wrong, or it's just so good, you can't feel the time go by. It was weird, actually. I swear I thought maybe I passed out or somehow skipped one or two of the tracks or something. I guess ultimately, forgetting about time is what jazz (and all music, really) is all about. That, and waking up in the morning, going, (in a really really deep voice) "A love supreme, a love supreme, a love supreme, a love supreme..."

After Coltrane, I put on Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage. The title track is really the only song on there that I like, but I'm going to write about that recording some other time.

Then this morning I was listening to volume two of Jay Jay Johnson, and that freaked me out for a simpler, less supernatural reason. I've been listening to a lot of trumpet music lately, and I was struck by how smooth Johnson is on the trombone that it sounded, in its phrasing, more like a trumpet than a trombone. Of course, he's not doing anything crisp and jumpy like Clifford Brown or Fats Navarro would, but on Old Devil Moon, I found his phrasing to be remarkably lively and similar to Mel Torme's, enough so that I wonder if Mel might not have been listening to Johnson before he stepped into the studio to make his Swings Shubert Alley recording.

And, over the weekend, I read about Louis Armstrong's recording of West End Blues, which will be 80 years old this Friday. I'll write about that later this week, I suppose.

I stopped practicing half-diminished chords because that wasn't going all that well. Instead, I decided just to do diminished sevenths with the bass note as the lowest note around the circle of fifths. Even that was not easy. I have a lot of basic things I need to work on, and with an hour long lesson coming up this week, I'm going to get my instructor to give me some ideas of what to work on - specifically. I thought there would be some kind of diminished chord exercises in one of my jazz chord workbooks, and I was surprised to find there was not. Now I'm thinking that such a thing might exist and I need to find it for my own benefit. Then I remembered, that's what my instructor is for. Teamwork.

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