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HTF Jazz Club

Discussion in 'Music' started by Mike Broadman, Jan 18, 2002.

  1. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    Perhaps I'm being a bit presumptous, but I've taken it upon myself to found the Home Theater Forum Jazz Club suggested in another thread. Why? Because it makes me feel ever so important. [​IMG]
    I've spent a lot of time and energy introducing people to jazz, and doing the same for myself.
    Here's how I'll do this: I'll select 5 albums. Anyone interested in participating can listen to them Post edited by Admin. When you hear it, be encouraged to post your thoughts.
    A month later, I will select another 5. It'll work like a book club, but with 5 albums instead of a book.
    There is one rule I respectfully insist upon, though: no bashing other people's opinions. The jazzers around here aren't allowed to attack newbies if they don't like a "classic" album. Some people may start listening to our recommendations, and find that jazz just ain't for them. That's fine. This is about exploring and learning, not about judging each other. I believe that too many people get turned off from the music because of jazz snobs' attitudes.
    If this works out, the 5 albums picked in future months can be selected by a group of us. You probably don't want all your recommendations coming from one person.
    These first 5 albums I'm picking meet the following criteria:
    1. General acceptance- I think these will be albums that few jazz fans can argue with; pretty much everyone likes 'em. Nothing controversial here.
    2. Accessability and fun- swinging, grooving tunes. Contrary to what many think, this isn't music that has to be listened to many times to "get." Hopefully, it'll spark your interest right away.
    I'll also sometimes include tips on buying the album, because many of these have been released multiple times, remastered, extra tracks, etc.
    Ok, here we go:
    1. Kind of Blue- Miles Davis
    The artist: I think everyone's heard of Miles. A pioneer of many different styles of music, he achieved acclaim for his melodic, reflective trumpet playing.
    If this jazz club thing of ours works out, there will be a lot of Miles Davis on the listening lists. Following the history of Miles is following the history of modern jazz.
    The album: This is the most popular jazz album of all time, which was the main reason I picked this first. It's the kind of music you'd want to hear in a smoky cafe while having drinks with a beautiful woman.
    Musically, there are few chords, and the improvisations are based on scales' modes. Therefore, this style is called "modal." To us normal folks, that means that the music sounds less tense, has more space, a more basic rhythm section, and a more free construct for the soloists.
    Abum buying tips:
    Label: Columbia. They released a remastered version, and it should be labeled as such. There is also an extra take of the last track.
    2. Yardbird Suite: The Ultimate Collection- Charlie Parker
    The artist: What the Beatles were for modern rock, Parker was for modern jazz. I feel I'd be doing you all a disservice without asking you to hear this right away. He layed down the template for all sax players to follow.
    The music: Parker was recording in the 40s, when most recorded music was singles. The tunes are short. The most common structure is: state the theme, solo, close theme. Most of it is fast, with a heavy musical attack.
    The album: This is easily the best retrospective of Parker's studio recordings, as it covers multiple labels and includes all of his best known songs. However, since it's two discs, it may be a bit pricey for some. If so, you can find plenty of other compilations and retrospectives. If you want to ask us about a particular substitution, we'll be more than happy to help- you don't want to get stuck with poor sound quality. The last few tracks of this collection feature Parker with a string section. I don't particularly like it as much, but it's interesting to hear. The first few tracks include Dizzy Gillespie.
    3. My Favorite Things- John Coltrane
    The artist: No one piece of music adequately represents Coltrane. He is way too eclectic for that. Possibly the most sophisticated and complex sax player of the post-bop era, he both attracted and angered critics and followers.
    The album: I picked this album purely because of its "fun" factor: the title track is indeed the same tune found in The Sound of Music. He also covers a couple of Gershwin tunes. The way he transforms them still astounds listeners today. I've had a few jazz haters have their interests sparked hearing the this stuff.
    Album buying tips: This was recorded for Atlantic. I highly recommend the Rhino re-release. All of Atlantic's most famous albums have been released in "deluxe" versions by Rhino. It's a couple of dollars more expensive, but the music sounds better and you get bonus tracks. This one has singles versions of the title tracks. The covers of the Rhino releases are gray cardboard-type folding things. You can also find this music in the Complete Atlantic Recordings box set, which has tons of music, alternate takes, and is very expensive. I personally prefer to get proper albums, keeping the music more when it was originally released.
    4. Count Basie compilation
    There are so many compilations of Basie out there, that I can't recommend one in particular. I have the one from the This Is Jazz series, but that may change. The Ken Burns Jazz one is fine, too. You can probably walk into any decent record store and find something worth getting. There are no proper Basie "albums," since Basie was recording before there were long playing records, so you're only going to find compilations and live stuff.
    For the sake of any future discussions, try to get something with the tune "One O'Clock Jump" on it, which was his signature song.
    If anyone wants to recommend a good retrospective, of course that would be much appreciated.
    The music: big band swing music. When Basie was around, there were so many swing bands that it was remarkable to be noticed above all the rest. Basie achieved this recognition by playing sparsely, phrasing better, and featuring Lester Young on sax. IMO, his music translates better to modern audiences than most other swing bands that may sound dated.
    5. Moanin'- Art Blakey
    The artist: post-bop music that's hard hitting, soulful, and very funky. Blakey is a drummer that drives a tune better than anyone I've ever heard. The focus is usually "feel" over flash. This makes the music very infectious, and it's why I like to recommend it to newbies. Blakey said that he fails as a performer if he doesn't see his audience tap their feet and bob their head.
    That's not to say that their isn't great melody and soloing. Quite the contrary. Blakey's Jazz Messengers was a rotating lineup of young talent that lasted 30 years. Dozens of musicians went on to establish themselves in the jazz world as leaders and pioneers. Blakey just made sure to keep all the playing under control for the service of the song and the rhythm.
    The album: I could easily have picked one of dozens of classic Blakey recordings, but I think this is one of his most popular. Either way, I happen to like it a lot.
    Album buying tip: This album was released on the Blue Note label. When buying popular albums from Blue Note, always try to look for CDs labeled "Rudy Van Gelder" editions, see on the front part of the spine. These are the most current versions of the albums and they sound great, as if they were recorded yesterday.
    Let me know what you think of the list and if you're interested. Also, tell me if the list is too long, too short, or whatever. And if people want to be involved in the next round of suggestions, tell me. I tend to favor bop jazz, because it's my favorite and the most popular amongst modern musicians and audiences. If people are more interested in swing, avant-garde, or fusion, I can put that into the next round, too.
    Admins: if people express interest, is it possible to have a link to this thread on the front page as a little HTF "feature?"
    Enjoy the music, folks, and I look forward to read what y'all think.
     
  2. Chris Madalena

    Chris Madalena Stunt Coordinator

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    That's a great idea Mike. Post Edited by Admin. This is a great opportunity to introduce some great music to lots of people who normally wouldn't seek it out.
     
  3. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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    Great job Mike, I think this will be fantastic. [​IMG]
    I own 4 of the 5 you listed, so I'll post my impressions of them a little bit later this weekend after I can sit down and listen to them all again -- as if I need an excuse to listen to KOB again [​IMG]
    Just one thing though: On the "burning discs" thing. I don't think that's a good idea at all. It will get this thread closed immediately and may result in the removal of accounts.
    Fair or not...it's considered piracy and is strictly verboten here at HTF. I'd suggest people buy a copy of the discs they listen to -- I mean you do this for a book club as well -- or borrow one from a friend until they can buy their own.
    Any talk of "lending" or "burning" should really be handled offline only...I'd hate to see a great idea ruined by technicalities. [​IMG]
     
  4. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

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    Yes, Ric. I haven't edited Ric's post, but there will be no "free" music trading discussed here. Hint: lots of good stuff is available at a local library.

    Personally I think 5 selections is far too much for me per month. We should have just one (maybe with some alternates). It takes lots of listens to really grok a Jazz album.
     
  5. Evan S

    Evan S Screenwriter

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    That was my question. Can you buy just one or two of the albums and post your thoughts? I love Jazz, but unfortuately do not have a great background in the field and most of my listening involves contemporary jazz (David Benoit, Dave Grusin, etc). I would need to follow the suggestions of other, more seasoned, listeners in this regard but am very enthusiastic. Is there a date by which we need to submit our reviews?
     
  6. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    I humbly apologize for my faux pas. Of course I would want people buying the music, because you'll all like it and want to keep it and listen to it many, many times. [​IMG]
    If I've listed too many, well, maybe it can stir up more conversation, if people all get different things. Next month we can cut it down to three or something.
    Regarding contemporary jazz, I prefer to guide people to the older stuff because
    a) it has more historical relevance
    b) it's better [​IMG]
     
  7. Chris Madalena

    Chris Madalena Stunt Coordinator

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    Sorry as well. My intentions were good but I should have given it more thought.
     
  8. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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  9. Bob Turnbull

    Bob Turnbull Supporting Actor

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    Great idea Mike.

    I personally like the idea of 5 albums a month. I think it's OK if people post their thoughts on just one or two of the albums you list. It gives a bit more of a selection to choose from (especially if your library might not carry some titles).

    I'm quite familiar with the Davis and Coltrane you listed (love 'em both) and of course Count Basie rules. I have some Charlie Parker, but not as much as I should and really haven't sunk my teeth into him yet.

    From your list though, I'm now curious to find Blakey's "Moanin'" and if I get it I'll contribute to the posting.

    I always like hearing how someone got turned on to Jazz and what pulled them in deep. For me it was KoB, Mingus' "Better Get It In Yer Soul" and Ellington's "Diminuendo and Crescendo In Blue". Hmmm, this is sounding like another thread though...

    So what are you recommending next, huh? Huh?! Ah c'mon, tell us! Tell us, tell us, tell us, tell us, tell us!!

    OK, OK, I'll wait...Sigh.
     
  10. Evan S

    Evan S Screenwriter

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    Bob, great question, that one about what got you started on Jazz. For me it was the great Kenny G (kidding)![​IMG]
    Seriously though. In 1989 I was a freshman in college at the University of South Carolina. I roomed with a musician who wrote his own stuff and recorded it in a homemade studio he had at his parents house. Very talented guy. Anyway, he tipped me to a Jazz compliation album entitled "Happy Anniversary Charlie Brown". It has re-recordings of the music from all the Charlie Brown specials. Some of the artists are contemporary (Dave Brubeck, Lee Ritenour) and some are older (BB King). It's a GRP release and sounds spectacular. If you like the specials, you'll love this disk. Highly recommended.
     
  11. John Tillman

    John Tillman Supporting Actor

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    Being a recent adoptee of SACD, I noticed mucho Davis titles on the shelves. So, after some research I found Kind of Blue the place to start.

    My first session with it went quite well. After everyone went to bed around 11pm, I played it & read the folder. Most of the songs, weren't new to me, as I've heard them somewhere along the line. I enjoyed it very much and was impressed by the story of Davis not allowing rehearsal (just one walk through).

    The SACD is very nice and extremly clean. My plan, is to stay with this for a month before moving on. This was my first exposure to the other players like John Coltrane, etc.

    In addition, my brother just picked up the Ken Burns Jazz set and I hope to experience some of that as well. Anyway, I'm looking forward to many sessions with this masterpiece.

    RicP: Davis' beautiful sounding trumpet reaches out through the center channel here. How does a system with no cc handle that?
     
  12. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    John, wow, you reminded me about SACD and DVD-A. When making my list, I didn't even think about this stuff, since I don't have the equipment to handle it. I also didn't take into account those gold discs and other such fancy do-hickies.

    You guys are gonna figure that stuff out on your own. I can tell ya about regular CDs, that's it.

    I got into jazz through the blues. As a freshman in college, I was all into electric blues, a devoted worshipper of Freddie King. This sparked an interest in jazz. My roommate at the time was a drummer who was into fusion and Buddy Rich.

    My big personal revelation came, however, when I impulsively bought a 3-CD John Coltrane retrospective. Unlike the Coltrane album I recommended, this stuff was harsh, difficult, and jarring. I was enthralled, and have since blown all of money on music.
     
  13. Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm

    Andrew 'Ange Hamm' Hamm Supporting Actor

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    This is a great idea.

    You jazzers can consider me a reclamation project. I am a pretty smart musician and songwriter with some pretty intelligent views on music--but I don't get jazz. I never have, and I'm beginning to wonder if I ever will. Rather than give my reasons, I'm just going to adopt the "I don't know anything" school of thought and say "I don't know anything about jazz" and dive in.

    I also agree that 5 albums of any genre is way too much to digest in a month. Maybe I would have time to listen to 5, but not to really chew on it enough to be able to discuss all five of them intelligently. Can we maybe split the difference and make it 2 or 3?

    That said, I'm putting my unlistened-to copy of Kind of Blue in now.
     
  14. Marc Colella

    Marc Colella Screenwriter

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  15. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

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  16. Tom Ryan

    Tom Ryan Screenwriter

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    Sounds like a plan! I think I could digest these in a month, as long as I listen to them all every day [​IMG]
    -Tom
     
  17. Tom Ryan

    Tom Ryan Screenwriter

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    Oh, and a slight explanation on the modes for non-players.......

    As with any "scale" they're simply a series of eight notes (including the root and its octave) that follow a certain pattern of intervals between the notes. When these notes are played over music, they make a certain type of sound.

    So if you play the Ionian mode (also known as the major scale), you get a happy sound. If you play the Aeolian mode (the minor scale), you get kind of a sad sound.

    Each mode has a distinct sound, and it's up to the musician to pick and choose and combine whichever mode or scale they're playing to sound the best. In truth, a musician should be able to make any note over any music sound good, even if it's not in the correct key. This might sound kind of mechanical, but with enough study you develop a sense of being able to play anywhere and anything you like.

    -Tom
     
  18. John Tillman

    John Tillman Supporting Actor

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    Marc:
     
  19. Norman Short

    Norman Short Stunt Coordinator

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    Any of this available in DVD-Audio? I've been on the fringe when it comes to jazz; I appreciate it but it hasn't taken over any of my rock and classical listening. I once bought Dave Grusin's Harlequin on a recommendation but it didn't really grab me. But lately I've been avoiding buying CD's after being exposed to the terrific sound quality on DVD-A. I don't yet have an SACD player, and was planning to wait. I suppose I can go ahead and buy one or two of these choices on CD; I've just become very sensitive to the recording quality and CD's have a very different quality from title to title. Of course so does DVD-A, but few would argue that a good DVD-A or SACD title doesn't beat out the CD equivalent.

    Norman Short
     
  20. Evan S

    Evan S Screenwriter

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    Dave Brubeck's "Time Out" on SACD is absolutely stunning. I listen to it at least once a day in full. Spectacular sound.
     

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