Everybody has their opinion about how to play the music. Monk was a one-off, a totally individual and realised artist, but he thought about it, in his own way too. This manuscript is freely available on the web (I found it at Sean Driscoll’s excellent blog – check it out). Makes a change from chords and scales…
- Just because you’re not a drummer, doesn’t mean you don’t have to keep time.
- Pat your foot and sing the melody in your head, when you play.
- Stop playing all those weird notes (that bullshit), play the melody!
- Make the drummer sound good.
- Discrimination is important.
- You’ve got to dig it to dig it, you dig?
- ALL REET!
- Always know….(MONK)
- It must be always night, otherwise they wouldn’t need the lights.
- Let’s lift the band stand!!
- I want to avoid the hecklers.
- Don’t play the piano part, I’m playing that. Don’t listen to me. I’m supposed to be accompanying you!
- The inside of the tune (the bridge) is the part that makes the outside sound good.
- Don’t play everything (or every time); let some things go by. Some music just imagined. What you don’t play can be more important that what you do.
- A note can be small as a pin or as big as the world, it depends on your imagination.
- Stay in shape! Sometimes a musician waits for a gig, and when it comes, he’s out of shape and can’t make it.
- When you’re swinging, swing some more.
- (What should we wear tonight? Sharp as possible!)
- Always leave them wanting more.
- Don’t sound anybody for a gig, just be on the scene. These pieces were written so as to have something to play and get cats interested enough to come to rehearsal.
- You’ve got it! If you don’t want to play, tell a joke or dance, but in any case, you got it! (To a drummer who didn’t want to solo)
- Whatever you think can’t be done, somebody will come along and do it. A genius is the one most like himself.
- They tried to get me to hate white people, but someone would always come along and spoil it.
This is well worth a look, Musicthoughts.com click here. Plenty of good advice and wisdom.
The great drummer Tony Levin died yesterday (February 3rd).
My impression was that Tony was one of the first drummers in the UK to have understood and developed Elvin’s thing if not the first). While these days we can access transcriptions and videos effortlessly, it is easy to ignore the pioneering work of the British jazz musicians in the 1960s and 70s, who internalised the very complex music from the USA at the time. It was certainly harder then. But Tony was also an incredible improvisor and creative musician. Typically of the British scene, I can recall some folk saying that he was too loud, but it is the usual issue of some British horn players not “getting the drum thing”. The truth of the matter is that he was active and dynamic, making things happen. Click here…
Tony was generous, kind and I wish that I could have played with him when I was considerably more experienced. In my formative years, he provided me with the opportunity to play with a host of great British jazz musicians (Ronnie Ross, Art Themen, Pete King etc) at his gig at the Barton Arms in Birmingham (in 1985 I think). There was also a thrilling night with Red Rodney.
Tony Levin was musician to whom I owe much.
A poet of the music, Paul Desmond was both self-deprecating and deeply insightful. This medley of quotes might tickle and provoke us…
“I tried practicing for a few weeks and ended up playing too fast… I have won several prizes as the world’s slowest alto player, as well as a special award in 1961 for quietness”.
Regarding his tone:“I honestly don’t know! It has something to do with the fact that I play illegally.”
On why he changed his name: “Breitenfeld sounded too Irish.”
More seriously, Paul Desmond challenges students and teachers of the music: “Complexity can be a trap. You can have a ball developing a phrase, inverting it, playing it in different keys and times and all. But it’s really more introspective than communicative. Like a crossword puzzle compared to a poem.”
And most telling… “Writing is like jazz. It can be learned, but it can’t be taught.”
Sadly his perception about the jazz audience appears to remain pretty much spot on…”Our basic audience begins with creaking elderly types of twenty-three and above.”
For more Paul Desmond, click here:
For a transcription of Paul Desmond’s solo on “Samba with some Bar-B-Q” click here…
There’s a lot of hot air and conflicting opinion amongst jazz musicians and within the music colleges regarding playing and improvising in odd metres. At last there are some wise and measured thoughts in Ronan Guilfoyle’s excellent blog.
Check out his recent post “Whatever Happened to Odd Metre Swing?“