Monday, August 27, 2012

Tim Price Bloggin' For Rico- Respect for Lester Young in a Ivey Divy groove.

Happy Birthday to the great Lester Young. Lester Willis Young was an American jazz tenor saxophonist and clarinetist. Given the nickname 'Prez' by Billie Holliday, he also played trumpet, violin, and drums.Coming to prominence as a member of Count Basie's orchestra, Young remains one of the most influential players on his instrument. He also invented or popularized much of the hipster ethos and slang which came to be associated with the music. Once again, his bio is so long it won't fit here, but there is plenty of info on the web for those interested in this seminal musician.You need to dive into this artists work,It is the most vital.The result will be a distinctive, stimulating, and poignant voyage of discovery.A period of musical revolution of a man did live it.
TRY TRANSCRIBING..Lester Youngs "Lester Leaps In". Study his lines and shapes. In addition, keep in mind. Any of the common alterations via ii-V progressions above can be used when playing rhythm changes. You'll find tons of tunes that contain slight alterations to this basic progression, especially in the last four measures of the A sections. The most common alterations are to replace the second chord G7 with a diminished chord Bdim, or to replace the fifth chord Bbmaj7 with Dm7. The important characteristics of rhythm changes are the repeated I-VI-ii-V (or subs) in the first four bars of the A sections, and the basic tonality movements by fifths in the bridge, leading back to the original tonic in the last A section. If you intend to become an improvising musician, you should become fluent in the basic rhythm changes, particularly in the key of Bb, Db, F and even all other keys at times.Check out Lesters solo for starters as well- I bet you'll get some ideas and learn something,
On and off the bandstand, Lester "Prez" (for "President") Young was unique. His musical genius is well documented on recordings, but his eccentricities of speech and attire survive only in anecdotes and photographs and in the memory of those who knew him. Many jazz slang locutions, whose origins have since been obscured, were coined by Young (for example, "I feel a draft" for "I sense hostility"); his wide-brimmed porkpie hat was one of several sartorial trademarks, paralleled by such linguistic oddities as his habit of addressing everyone, man or woman, as "Lady" - followed by the person's last name. (Count Basie, then, would become "Lady Basie.") Unfortunately, this buoyant, creative genius was traumatized, and ultimately destroyed, by his experiences during World War II. The eldest of three children, Lester Willis Young was born on August 27, 1909, in Woodville, Mississippi, and shortly after his birth the family moved to Algiers, Louisiana, just across the river from New Orleans. The father, Willis H. Young, who had studied at Tuskegee Institute, musically tutored Lester, Lester's brother Lee (later a professional jazz drummer), and their sister Irma. Lester was taught trumpet, alto saxophone, violin, and drums. Young's parents divorced in 1919, and the father moved with the children to Minneapolis in 1920; there he married a woman saxophonist and formed a family band, in which Young played alto sax and drums as the band toured the larger Midwestern cities. But Young, unwilling to tour the South, left the band in 1927. For the next five years he worked with a variety of Midwestern bands, including the Original Blue Devils and King Oliver's Band. In 1934 he replaced Coleman Hawkins, the reigning tenor saxophone king, with the famous Fletcher Henderson band, but his lightness of tone on the instrument was ridiculed as "wrong" by the band's other musicians, and after a few months the sensitive Young quit the band. Gunther Schuller notes that when Young put down his tenor, the influential jazz artist and part-time tragic hero “played a cheap metal clarinet that he picked up somewhere on his travels, but whose tone he loved dearly.” Young kept the signature lightness of his sax on the smaller horn, and at fast tempos would use the same triplets and encircling, never inundating lines for the “little stories” he had to tell.
There are many good articles on Lester Young, but none better than pianist Bobby Scott's insightful "The House in the Heart" in Gene Lees' Jazzletter (September 1983). There are a number of biographies, American and European: Luc Delannoy's Lester Young. Profession: Président (Paris:1987); Vittorio Franchini's Lester Young (Milan: 1961); Dave Gelly's Lester Young (England: 1984); Lewis Porter's Lester Young (1985); and probably the most definitive, Frank Buchmann Moller's You Just Fight for Your Life: The Story of Lester Young (1990, translated from the Danish by John Irons). John Clellon Holmes' 1959 novel The Horn, a fictionalized biography of Lester in his last years, offers an intimate and moving look at a man in despair. Additional Sources Delannoy, Luc, Pres: the story of Lester Young, Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1993.Gelly, Dave, Lester Young, Tunbridge Wells: Spellmount; New York: Hippocrene Books, 1984.Porter, Lewis, Lester Young, Boston, Mass.: Twayne Publishers, 1985.
Let me suggest a current Prez favorite- PREZ AND TEDDY. Amazing.Terrific.Outstanding.Great.Essential.ETC,etc. This extraordinary 1956 record by Lester Young has to figure in everyone's discotheque.A real must.Here is a quartet you can dream of: Lester,Teddy Wilson on piano,Gene Ramey on bass and the Master,the greatest jazz drummer of all times, Jo Jones.(don't confuse him with Philly Joe Jones).1956.Pres is 47,and three years ,two months and a couple of days later,he died at 49. Pres swings like he did twenty years before;maybe he thinks of the Basie days;maybe he thinks of his fantastic works with the young Billie Holiday ("I'll never be the same","this years's kisses",...);here Pres is in top form,swinging like mad.The greatest tenor sax player of all times,and one of the five greatest jazz artists of all times gives here one of his most majestic record.Here is an immense moment of music.Pres' versions of "all of me","Louise","love me or leave me","taking a chance on love","love is here to stay" are essential moments in the art of playing ballads.The superlative support of Gene Ramey,Teddy Wilson (one of my favorite piano players;Art Tatum once said,"I wish I could play like Teddy Wilson"!!!)and Jo Jones,the most fantastic drummer of jazz,gives this recording session a kind of swing that is rarely heard.The sound of the recording is perfect,Jo Jones' brushes are,of course,the best ones ever heard,Teddy's choruses are perfect models for every jazz pianist,and Pres' choruses here rank among the most magnificent phrases ever blowed on saxophone.By the way,Pres (for President) was Lester Willis Young's nickname. This is a record I use to listen to for some twenty years;and I can listen to it each and every day,it won't be boring to me."Pres returns" is one of the best blues ever played.Seems like that day of January,1956,Lester recovered the feeling and happiness he had during the Basie days,at the end of the thirties.Don't miss this record,please,I'm sure it'll become a favorite of yours.Lester's here!!!
ANOTHER GEM- The important recordings on this CD are derived from sessions for the Lester Young Trio recorded in 1946. The trio is perfectly balanced. Prez is at the peak of his powers as is Nat Cole, recording as "Aye Guy." Prez and Nat Cole complement one another so well that one could argue that this is a classic collaboration for both musicians. Certainly, Young is as comfortable with Cole as he was with Teddy Wilson or Count Basie years earlier. The two derive obvious pleasure from one anothers' playing. The drummer is Buddy Rich whose pyrotechniques are understated, and his brush work is tasteful and appropriate throughout. This is great music from the bluesy "Back to the Land" to the upbeat "I've Found a New Baby." These recordings show why Young's tone and improvisational skills were the model for saxophone players. Prez swings throughout; the ballads are models of the genre. Cole's piano is lyrical, and his solos are precise statements, reminiscent of Earl Hines in their inventiveness and control. This is Nat Cole the pianist, before his apotheosis as vocalist. And he was among the best jazz pianists--as interesting as Bud Powell and the obvious model for such cats as Hank Jones, Ahmad Jamal, and Red Garland. These are excellent examples of Cole's playing. The solo on the second "I Cover the Waterfront" is elegantly tasteful. The interplay between Young and Cole is especially fine on this number, on "Somebody Loves Me," and "I Want to be Happy." The music is fine--masterful in the true sense of the word. This is an important collaboration--a valuable and important addition to any jazz library. For some reason, the disc has been expanded to include four tracks from a 1943 session featuring Dexter Gordon and trumpet player Harry "Sweets" Edison with Nat Cole. Good music, but I'm not sure why it's on this CD, except for Cole's playing and the obvious example of Young's influence on Gordon. Nevertheless, Young and Cole are masterful in the first ten tracks- you can never hear enough of this.Cool cover art too. Prez lives!
Lester Young.What more can I say ? He was the most incredible jazz player of all times,no one will ever play that way ever. Till next week...strive for tone....keep it Ivey Divey gates. ~ Tim Price

Monday, August 20, 2012

Tim Price Bloggin' For Rico- Nobody is entitled anything! ( and some lunch for your ears! )

Nobody is entitled anything, remember that, it's HARD WORK to make a living as a musician. You must embrace the music with the pursuit of excellence.You earn it every cent you make. You'll get there by experience, and we all pay dues. These are things only time and a two thousand stupid gigs will teach you , or teaching a few days of fourth grade students for a few years. Don't complain-learn from every situation you find yourself in. We're only human- accept criticism without taking it personally. If you have an open mind, you'll learn and grow. You will never know all there is to know,always will be something new to learn.
Before anything, you must love what you do. As Charles Bukowski said," You gotta have the guts." Do what you do and do it to the absolute best of your ability. Bukowski also said, " It’s no good quitting, there is always the smallest bit of light in the darkest of hells." This life can be a roller coaster. Sometimes you will make money,maybe great money. Often very little money and will struggle to get by. A strong work ethic is needed, as well as a strength of will.You also will have to be prepared when opportunity appears. Again- HARD WORK.The ethos behind lateral action is creativity coupled with productivity as the route for success, which also means creatively looking at our productivity. Perhaps sitting and squeezing out every drop of inspiration by sheer force isn’t the best way to get results.Like any productive creative process it’s all about balance and finding a way. Music is a beautiful thing, something very important to life and all within. But just like anything else, nobody gives you something for nothing.You have to understand that luck is where your lifelong preparation will join the opportunity. Know this is a beautiful thing music, but it's also a business.Hang in there-it's no good quitting and your not entitled, but you have a vision in mind. Don't cheat yourself out of something you love. HERE'S A LESSON ALSO- Replace the youtube videos you watch on youtube with classic jazz recordings- why not check out some Coltrane records...such as ;Complete Savoy Sessions John Coltrane, Wilbur Harden.Check out- Stan Getz....... "The Complete Roost Recordings". Stan Getz...." Focus" Stan Getz...." Sweet Rain" Stan Getz...." People Time" Stan Getz.... " West Coast Jazz" ..a box set but essential music. Stan Getz..." At THe Opera House" Stan Getz....." Meets Mulligan " Wayne Shorter...Any of the c/d's on VeeJay...those are early WAyne. " Adams Apple ". I like ALL of those BlueNotes.
Dexter Gordon " One Flight Up " Dexter PLays Hot And Cool " " GO ! "
- Also find the one where its a re-issue with Dex and Wardell Grey----those are vital. If you play tenor and don't have those its a crime . Art Pepper " Art Pepper meets the rhythm section" " Art Pepper PLus 11 " " Smack Up " " The Trip " " Art Pepper meets WArne Marsh " And- those with George Cables...those are the highest level duets I ever heard...I also dig Art on tenor .Listen to the the recording on Contemporary called.." No Limit"...On " Mambo De La Pinta" - Art just creates one of the best TENOR solos I ever heard. Fresh , great lines,he starts from zero and just lays it out. His tenor playing influenced me a lot- Also on #4 of " Live At The Village Vanguard"....He plays " These Foolish THings,,,on tenor,,,and its total art !!! Plus I was there that night and dug it live-and I had tears in my eyes when he was done. I never heard someone take a ballad to THAT level.Also on that recording- Art plays fantastic clarinet on " More For Less" A unsung master of jazz clarinet . Ok heres the easy part. BEN WEBSTER ! Get everything you can get.His type will NEVER pass our way again. I love Ben Webster.Just go to your fav shop and grab the entire Ben bin !
Check these artists out as well- How about Tina Brooks,Sal Nistico,Tab Smith,Charlie Mariano,Brew Moore,Charlie Rouse,Monk, PeeWee Russell,Oliver Nelson,Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, Sonny Chris,Illinois Jacquet,Bud Freeman,Kenny Davern,Johnny Griffin,Johnny Hodges-Anything by any of those guys sends me sailing.Plus it is a great education and lunch for your ears n' brain.What about Jimmy Forrest,Joe Farrell, Harold Ashby,Harold Land,Buddy DeFranco,Jimmy Hamilton.What about Budd Johnson ? Eddie Barefield, not to forget -Albert Ayler,Ornette,Jimmy Lyons,Ken McIntyre,DOLPHY,Archie Shepp,Marion Brown ,Bert Wilson,Jim Pepper,Sonny Simmons-ya know ?!
Check THAT out! Till next week- enjoy the beautiful weather and see you next week. ~ Tim Price

Monday, August 13, 2012

Tim Price Bloggin' For Rico- Decide to bring something to the music.

Improvising means creating music that is spontaneous, of the moment, and uniquely your own. So think of it as the instrument becomes a process of self-discovery, finding out what your music really sounds like. You develop a period of looking within, stripping away the excess and listening for the simple voice that really is our own. It’s there, listen for it.
Being able to improvise on I GOT RHYTHM changes appears much more as a puzzle or study that must be negotiated than as an opportunity look within and reach for new sounds you hear. Improvising means creating music that is spontaneous, of the now, and your own. It will not get played if you yourself don’t play it, and try.You have to focus your practicing for maximum progress towards creating a powerful forward motion as a player. Todays student needs substance ! Plus how to focus practicing of improvising on the essential elements,the actual substance of what to play and how to develop it in your personal style, and dealing with practicing of specific vocabulary. It's what I call, what to shed! Then you got to understand jazz is part of culture. Bird, Prez,Basie,Pee Wee Russell, Roland Kirk, Duke, Hawk and all those giants who gave something to culture. What did they have? They had the the building blocks of jazz improvisation.
MELODY ! Then guide-tone lines, and melodic Rhythm. Real world building blocks of jazz improvisation. In a word- BASICS that last for your career. Using your intuition and feelings when improvising is most important be it at the most advanced level or just a basic beginner. To thoroughly approach this as an art form and something that has deep meaning is most important. The masters when they played, be it Johnny Dodds or Sidney Bechet or Bud Powell on through the greats like Wayne Shorter or Charlie Mariano all came from a very deep place. At times, this place is something that you must go to in a natural way. Nothing cosmic about it, it's almost like a trance. It's almost like when your telling someone a story and you close your eyes and you're taking them somewhere with you. Art Pepper wrote a song about this called "The Trip." Stan Getz called this frame of mind the "alpha state." Whether its experienced in dreams, altered states, or simply sitting in solitude, the artist must be aware of the visionary realm. In Buddhist culture and other forms of spiritual thought, this is called the "third eye." It is the sixth in the series of energy centers in the body known as Charka. The sixth Charka contains and controls knowledge, intuition, and perception. Inherent to any of these philosophies of the "third eye" is recognition and attention paid to the source of human creativity. This human creativity can be one of the deepest subconscious forms of communication in the world. Opening your thoughts to the unknown realms of your own imagination. Many times musicians inquest to unlock the force behind this theory of the eye has shadowed their colleagues throughout ancient history. In my humble opinion, the subconscious travel that one can take studying Buddhism or any of those particular forms runs a very strong parallel to the stunning body of work of many jazz saxophone players.
How many times have we witnessed a player deep in a trance way beyond the environment he is in, whether it's a club, or a concert or just in a corner practicing? He's in another space for sure! What I have experienced is a kind of network between the people improvising (a mental network you could say) where many are connected and there is a kind of dialogue going on without any words being spoken.Like the great bands of Miles Davis or Wayne Shorter or John Coltrane. I'm pretty sure that many times, a person sitting cross-legged in deep meditation is in the same spiritual space as a tenor sax player behind a bar with a screaming organ trio and his eyes closed...playing from the deepest spot in his soul. What I'm getting at here is nothing cosmic or nothing too whacked out...what I'm trying to bring your attention is music needs all the imagination from an individual it can get. When unconscious-unspoken communication, traveling at the speed of thought, becomes the only or at least the truest form of communication, you just know everything is clicking just like it should ... the energy is like a ball and bounces around through glances and body comunication.It is awesome, it's the inner spirit of your mind in it's highest form.
At this point in time in jazz, everything seems to be published and everything seems to almost be written down. We are in a great educational state. But where are the people who are really reaching within and trusting themselves to their own creative muse? This is the element that I am addressing here. As a student of music, take some time to think about using your intuition. As Bird said, "First you master the music, then you master your horn, then you forget all that shit and just play!" We need to keep that in the front part of our minds and make that a slogan similar to the many people who look to their "third eye." As you see, I'm trying to point out a parallel in creative paths. It's not easy. But it is easy when you bring it into your own consciousness and try to practice these aspects. Sure, licks, lines, inversions, and all that good stuff is of paramount importance. But let us not forget to keep the magic in the music. Give all that you have and you shall receive more than you can imagine experiencing when playing jazz!
Your gratitude empowers others to play even better. Remember fear destroys the souls ability to create. So start now and use the power of love to encompass all your decisions so fear has no room to exist in your life. Remove fear from your thoughts and you remove and limitations. All is illusion and all illusion is yours to control. So be connected. Everything happens for a reason. Chance is limited to a coin. Decision is limited to free will. We are limited to our decisions.
Decide to bring something to the music. Till next week, eat well, exercise and walk as much as you can, and do what is meaningful in your daily routine. This is the best you can do. ~~~ Tim Price

Monday, August 6, 2012

Tim Price Bloggin' For Rico- Summer reading suggestions.

Here are two excellent books- a very interesting read and very insightful as well. The Music Instinct How Music Works and Why We Can't Do Without It Philip Ball "Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." That statement, which is most often attributed to Elvis Costello, is quoted in this bright, complex and occasionally profound book, and it highlights just what a tricky task the science writer Philip Ball has set himself. Because here, he's trying to examine what music is, how it works and why it exists. It might seem strange to ask the seemingly basic question of what music is, given the ubiquity of it in the world (no human culture has developed without some form of musical expression), yet it is incredibly difficult to define what we mean by music.
The Sunday Times hailed this book as as "a wonderful account of why music matters," with Ball's "passion for music evident on every page." "Organised sound" was one definition proposed by the avant-garde composer Edgar Varèse, but that doesn't quite cover it. As Ball argues, music isn't really created by composers and musicians at all – the real music-making occurs in the listener's brain, in the unbelievably complicated mental processing which can take a collection of vibrations in the air and transform them into something which can make us cry or laugh or tremble, or feel something we simply can't put into words. "Experiencing music is an active affair," writes Ball, "no matter how idly we are listening. If it wasn't, we would not be hearing music at all." Ball takes as his starting point the assertion by the cognitive scientist Steven Pinker that music is "auditory cheesecake" – that it developed, in evolutionary terms, only as a by-product of language, and that we now use it simply for gratification. The debate about the evolutionary origins of music rages in academic circles, with every new piece of research announced by ethno- musicologists seeming to contradict the last one. But Ball does a great job of sifting through this mass of data to get to what we really know, as well as, more often than not, what we still don't. The Music Instinct is chock-full of fascinating little questions which Ball, as far as he can, attempts to answer. How do we choose the notes we use in composing, and why? How many of the factors affecting what we like to listen to are innate, and how many are learnt culturally? How are we so good at distinguishing timbre, the rather vague tonal aspect of sound that makes Tom Waits and Ella Fitzgerald singing the same note sound so obviously different? Many of these questions were unanswerable a few years ago, but brain-mapping techniques are beginning to show how much of an interactive process listening to music is. And it seems that the best music is the stuff that challenges us just enough. Overall, this is a truly fascinating and eye-opening account of a phenomenon so commonplace we barely think about it, yet one which is also mind-bogglingly complicated. Once you've read The Music Instinct, you'll never listen to music the same way again.
DUKE ELLINGTON'S AMERICA By Harvey G. Cohen This account of the life and times of Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington is maddeningly overlong and undeniably valuable. Harvey G. Cohen, an American academic who began his career at the University of Maryland and is now an associate professor of cultural and creative industries at King's College in London, has done prodigious research, much of it as a Kluge Scholar at the Library of Congress, and has unearthed an astonishing amount of material. All of this lends powerful support to his view that Ellington's high stature derives not just from the music he composed and played but from the remarkable life, both private and public, that he led. Few American artists in any medium have enjoyed the international and lasting cultural impact of Duke Ellington. From jazz standards such as “Mood Indigo” and “Don’t Get Around Much Anymore,” to his longer, more orchestral suites, to his leadership of the stellar big band he toured and performed with for decades after most big bands folded, Ellington represented a singular, pathbreaking force in music over the course of a half-century. At the same time, as one of the most prominent black public figures in history, Ellington demonstrated leadership on questions of civil rights, equality, and America’s role in the world. With Duke Ellington’s America, Harvey G. Cohen paints a vivid picture of Ellington’s life and times, taking him from his youth in the black middle class enclave of Washington, D.C., to the heights of worldwide acclaim. Mining extensive archives, many never before available, plus new interviews with Ellington’s friends, family, band members, and business associates, Cohen illuminates his constantly evolving approach to composition, performance, and the music business—as well as issues of race, equality and religion. Ellington’s own voice, meanwhile, animates the book throughout, giving Duke Ellington’s America an intimacy and immediacy unmatched by any previous account. By far the most thorough and nuanced portrait yet of this towering figure, Duke Ellington’s America highlights Ellington’s importance as a figure in American history as well as in American music. I call the book a "study," not a biography, because rather than follow a biographer's trajectory, Cohen has chosen to divide his book into sections that, though they correspond roughly to the evolution of Ellington's life, are principally thematic: the adroit marketing of Ellington by his first manager, Irving Mills; the rise of mass popular culture and Ellington's somewhat ambiguous position within it as both a popular and a serious musician; his endless struggle, after World War II and the collapse of the big bands, to keep his orchestra going so that he could hear his music as soon as he composed it; his rejuvenation at the Newport Jazz Festival in 1956 and his eventual recognition (by just about everyone except the board of the Pulitzer Prizes, which refused in 1965 to give him a special award) as one of the giants of American culture; his busy and productive later years, in which he concentrated on "Sacred Concerts" and other long pieces. Cohen argues that Ellington's later and mostly longer music ("The Far East Suite," "The Afro Eurasian Eclipse," "The Latin-American Suite") "has aged well, despite its initial lukewarm commercial reception," but only those determined to find gold in every note Ellington composed will be inclined to agree. Though Cohen is right to praise Ellington for refusing to be complacent or to repeat himself -- "he was going forward, he still had plenty to do, creating and improvising something memorable in the moment"-- his yearning to blur and ultimately eradicate the line between jazz and classical music led him down paths for which his gifts were not entirely suited. There may not have been a pretentious bone in his body, but pretension occasionally peeks through in these longer compositions, leaving one yearning for the energy (and the brevity) of "Rockin' in Rhythm" and "Concerto for Cootie." But if Ellington's more ambitious pieces are unlikely to have a lasting presence in American music, "his personal journey," Cohen rightly says in his final paragraph, "communicated just as much about his America and his world as his music. He helped transform his nation's historical cultural landscape as he contributed to creating its musical heritage." More than any other individual and he "provided a key precedent for international critics and audiences to view the music of Americans as serious and lasting, equal to that of Europeans, previously seen as the sole masters." Ironically, it was the Cotton Club that allowed Ellington to expand his talents, by employing him to arrange and compose for a variety of dancers, singers, miscellaneous acts, entr’actes, and theatrical revues. His most extraordinary talent, however, may have been for making the best of tainted opportunities. But even before the band sounded a note it delivered a statement: impeccably dressed in matching tuxedos and boutonnières, its members were of a class with the biggest swells in the room. And Ellington was the swellest of all: unfailingly soigné, magisterially presiding over the urban jungle, he stood untouched and never lost his smile. Duke Ellington loved to say that his music was "beyond category," and so of course was he. FIND THESE TWO BOOKS...READ THEM. Tell a friend about them and support live music in every way you can. Till next week....Tim Price