Tuesday, October 09, 2007

The dialogue on youtube - referenced 2 posts ago - continues. As it does, I was inspired to launch again. Here's some of what goes thru my mind:

"I think that jazz education has helped to push pianists into a "combo" - or, I would say, "rhythm section" box. When more contemporary guys, say, Bill Evans, play solo, it still often largely resembles what they would play in a rhythm section. Not to say that's wrong, just a little foreign to me. Some months ago I bought the Bill Evans/Tony Bennett recording "Together Again". Great as it is, I am still getting used to the largely un(self)accompanied piano solos. An aside - I really like Bill Evans when he was with Miles - that rhythm section made him swing (perhaps we should just close that can of worms I just opened)! Anyway, when I was introduced to jazz in the 70's, it was the jazz of 40 years prior, specifically, the Benny Goodman Trio, Teddy Wilson was the first pianist I really paid attention to, then it broadened out, but not before I was first grounded in stride, and (it's essence) self-accompaniment. My challenge thereafter was - I had to learn how to make space for other players, as I became accustomed to filling it all. It now serves me very well, as it is second nature to weave in and out of whatever space is appropriated to me. The walking bass lines came out of developing a melodic stride approach, and my bent on melodic line and leading, rather than harmonic density (back to Bill Evans - master of both!). It kind of bothers me that I don't see everyone else (especially young kids influenced by rock) taking the same approach to bass lines; that of another melodic opportunity. Therefore, soloing over a left hand walking bass is nothing other than polyphony, in my view. A cute anecdote about the disappearance of adventure in the left hand of jazz pianists in the '50s (as it was told to me): At that time, Louis Armstrong began using some young be-bop guys in his band, and frustrated by the Bud Powell/minimalist left hand thing, he mused: "Sometimes I think I should only pay the piano player half a salary"!

I'm glad for these opportunuties to organize my thoughts.


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