Have You Even Listened To Jazz?

March 28, 2019

I was listening to that album "Charlie Parker: One Night At Birdland"

 Other than the stacked line-up, it's probably the live bebop album that has the mic closest to the drums. It definitely makes Art Blakey way overpowering, but it lets you hear details of the practice of bebop in 1950 that don't come across in "Quintet at Massey Hall" or "Town Hall: New York City."

 

One specific detail that caught my ear was that Art if SLAMMING that kick often with straight quarter notes. 1950 isn't particularly early in bebop chronology, but here it is, Art Blakey showing off his calf strength. In jazz history books we all learn that bebop drumming was largely a process of moving the timekeeping to the cymbal from the kick drum. While that's true, if you want to bring that intensity, the people want to hear an incessant low pitch on the beat and even Curly Russell needed a little help making it punchy enough.

 

The reason this warranted a blog post was hearing someone complain of the inanity of the music at his local coffee shop, one specific point was the prevalence of that quarter note kick. I'm not against disliking songs, but we can do better that slandering music for having qualities in common with the music we put on a pedestal.

 

Related thought: I was reviewing "You Shook Me All Night Long" to make sure I was actually playing it right and it struck me that ACDC has a little point of voice leading from Bach that gets swept under the rug.  While a lot of people have hated on ACDC for just being open power chords. The frequently--either just the bass, or the bass with the low note of the guitar--create stepwise or otherwise melody lines on the bottom, with a power chord on top. 

 

See right there in measure 7 of the first prelude in the Well Tempered Clavier. In order to create stepwise motion in the bass from the C in the three previous measures to the A-minor-seven in the measure 9 (not shown) Bach uses an arpeggiated version of the chord that the Young brothers would perfect only a couple centuries hence.

 

So my point... Oh shoot, I'm supposed to have a point. Well--If you don't like music as point of taste, that's a healthy part of having grown-up sensibilities. If you seek to crush it's aesthetic value by critiquing it on criteria it was never trying to fulfill, your logic might just get burned.

 

It's beautiful out and the birds are chirping. So I'm going stop being an indoor pedant, and go be an outside pedant.

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