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I am. I am. The evolution of jazz. A survey of an American art form from Scott Joplin to Lenny Tristan. The evolution of jazz. The tape recorded feature presented under the auspices of Northeastern University by the Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council Nat Hentoff associate editor of Downbeat Magazine discusses the growth of jazz from its roots in Europe and Africa and considers the musical as well as the sociological forces that shaped it. Mr Hentoff. Last week in discussing the fact that one of the chief aspects of
contemporary jazz is the return of collective multi linear improvisation we spent a great deal of time on one interesting note this week Dave Brubeck wrote back as you went off describes him in his history of jazz in America. A student of Danny's Meo at Mills College where he received his M.A. degree or other is about two I believe. And a teacher at the University of California is also a Polytone alist. With a brilliant bass player Ronald Cody and an able drummer and vibraphone ist alligator he recorded some of the most engaging and provocative jazz trio sides of 1950 and 51 with the addition of horns and the filling out of his rhythm section. He did as much for the jazz chamber group in his case an octet of the works for the latter a few themes is the most immediately arresting. But all of the trio an octet scoring zone performances
partake equally of Dave's active imagination of the cool sound of the Miles Davis band we played last week those capital signs in a very controlled but not stifling disciplines of the music which is polytonal poly rhythmic at times and spontaneous as well. This is the balance of cool jazz at its best though I think by now that definition is becoming too constricted to apply to brew back in Tristan and everybody else. Whether it's played by a big band like the sound always in Philadelphia or a small one like Brubeck's or a soloist such as guitarist Billy Barnes. Let's just call it contemporary jazz from the Iranian. The instrumentation of the few gun bot themes. Bill Smith clarinet and baritone Paul Desmond alto saxophone David Van Crete tenor Mick Collins trumpet Bob Collins trombone Ron Cody bass calibrator drums and Dave Brubeck piano. Thanks.
Thank. You. Yeah.
Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And when.
This is an example of the many tentative or incomplete beginnings by many contemporary jazz men to synthesize a more extensive formal structure with a number of improv as a Tory jazz and will examine many others in the course of the next lecture he's right back in the summer of 153 reorganize the octet for recording purposes and experimental purposes and it will be interesting to see how much progress has been made since these recordings. In an address before the Newman club at Boston University in 1953 Dave Brubeck discussed his music and his views on jazz and he said that all the devices of classical music can be incorporated into jazz providing the basic jazz pulsation and
jazz idiom and tambourine intonation and not forgotten. And these devices have been in part but the more you study the more you become aware of certain things you can do. Let me tell you about something I did after reading one critic's description of a jazz arrangement. The critic wrote most jazz arrangements start with a huge introduction that sounds like a coffee and then go goes into some tell terrible melody for three minutes and it goes out with a pre-coffee of ending and that's an arrangement. After reading that I decided to write an arrangement that would hold together on the way you look tonight and I think it worked. First comes the intro to horns just playing counterpoint and still with the two horns playing counterpoint I put in the way on the piano in the bridge just for fun. I change the chords 32 times in a row just to keep it moving harmonically and then at the end of the tune to make it have more unity. I put the first 8 bars in the bridge together. That's a trick as old as Mozart in classical music and one used by Stravinsky meowed by talking other contemporaries all the time. That is the first time it's been used in modern jazz that I know why. So those are some of the devices were using.
The old tricks that have proved themselves as good sound musical theory. There again is the arc Ted. And an example of what Burbank likes to do with a pop tune in terms of the utilization of some of these devices. This is the familiar let's fall in line with us. So.
Far the to us for us. So was was yes was the get was was. Was was was
was the beasts was I was a and was was an abscess was was was. Back went on in the course of this address at Boston University to say that ideas and performance obviously by far the most important thing. Jazz is one of the few forms of art existing today in which there is this freedom of the individual without the loss of group contact. When we play arrangements we try to get our freedom in the middle. We start with an arranged chorus and then it's completely free for as long as the soloist feels like playing.
And then it goes out with an arrangement and when we're playing well the parts are ridiculous usually that is the arranged parts because the inner parts have come up to the level where you are truly improvising and in fine improvisation you're above what you can usually write in the jazz idiom. And in any case a man who writes jazz can only write it successfully if he is also able to improvise. And that's what's so amazing about jazz continues Brubeck when you hear something that's really inspired it projects to an audience projects to all the musicians more than anything you could write. Here's an example with Dave Brubeck on piano with a bass. You're a barman on drums. And the most talented I think of anyone who has played with Drew back in the West. Paul Desmond in this can't be about it.
The important thing about jazz concluded his remarks at Boston University
the berthing right now is that it's keeping alive the feeling of the group getting together in jazz to make it has to be a group feeling in a group feeling for everyone concerned at the time. In other words when we're playing well I consider the audience as important a factor as the man on the stand. One Deadhead one rock as a customer in the front row can ruin the night. It's too bad they don't dance to jazz anymore so that it becomes a complete group expression. I'm sincere in this audience participation thing we made some experiments at an Army mental institution. The man in the psychopathic wards were the best audience we ever had we always played our best there by far. These men were complete catatonics hadn't moved for years but started to beat their feet when we played one hadn't talked for years started to sing. We got one through and half an hour than the doctors had that's on record too. Also in this experiment the recorded music meant nothing to the patients. They needed the human warmth of the musicians there in the room with them. So it isn't always the music as the trading back and forth of human emotion which you find in jazz but you really find in the concert hall Roback.
And Barry Ulanov had a conversation on the current state of jazz that was printed in Metro magazine by you and I and as a preface to it you went off road more than any other contemporary jazz man. Dave is directed into playing by a studying background. You're not always aware of the impending M.A. degree and Emilio you don't always know that this man has devoted hours to counterpoint harmony theory composition and related disciplines but the signs are plentiful. The little canon there are a few there and a little melodic development somewhere else a grand exposition elsewhere still the texture is out of the great classical composers the bass upon it upon which it rests is jazz motion as is the sound and all of this minus the implied complements Dave knows and knowing it strives to resolve the necessary conflict that arises between the stresses of classical music and the strains of jazz. Perhaps
conflict isn't the right word to describe the tricky balance tension would be more accurate and inner tension around which the best of the Brubeck trio and Quartet an octet has always revolved. It comes most clearly to Brubeck's mind in his dissatisfaction with the limitations. Of the three minute jazz form the best I've ever been able to do it is all those limitations as to set up my own. My basic idea he says is to take the opening phrase of the tune the first few measures and use only those for extended variation. The result is that substances can be heard in this recording of my romance. Thank you and of continuos. There's a few other solutions to the
conflict. Two sided peace. Maybe they break into three minute segments too. But there's a lot more continuity that way. And there is also the sweet. I've got one coming up 10 short things minute to a minute and a half ago together just the piano alone where I feel most comfortable doing this kind of thing. You know I was every thinking jazz musician of today does that he can go on in this hit or miss fashion hoping always that he has found a temporary answer that he is plug the gap expanded just enough develop beyond the immediate limitations but not too far. The parents have often suggested the day has been playing it safe in just that way achieving more and more skill as a nightclub pianist and leader. His record's increasing in invention and daring but rarely beyond the margin of safety. Those appearances weren't aren't always just a successful jazz trio a quartet is only a step beyond one that merely works regularly. It must play recognizable tunes it must compete with comedians and singers. It's a level must be somewhere between the American ideal great music and the Soviet ideal of stultified officially directed music. The workers can whistle.
They have as remarkably often hit that likable livable middle plain where you enjoy yourself musically and manage at the same time to provide for the loved ones. He is restless however and a man who can't stop thinking. You know if he's made a comfortable reputation and I'm going to just some of the playing to the thinking. The day's major problem as it is of many other jazz men women often includes is to find a subject matter that has depth and breath in which one can get somewhere besides a release and a final eight bars that sound like the release in the last eight of all the other tunes or most of them anyway. You can change the notes in the Keys of which there are parties stuck with the diatonic scale and pleased with it. He's friendly to a tonality only to a point and essentially conservative in his harmonic ideas not conservative by jazz standards but by comparison of the 12 tone school those influenced by Schoenberg big they've been and their jazz counterparts. His teacher is me. His tastes are like those of his teacher. And this further says I think it's all of the good we need in jazz at this point. Musicians of background and invention who can
handle jazz at this point and take it along the necessary next step will also have room for the experimenter is the experimenters the man who can only see the ultimate development. But we also need this move Dave's movement is really encouraging is that Brubeck knows better than most musicians where we are in jazz approximately where we can go next and with what means few musicians are so stimulated by their craft so stimulating in what they do with it. It is fitting that he of all people should be placed in so responsible position. I'll talk about those next steps in the evolution of jazz and what. Other musicians believe they may be in a few moments but first an illustration of the real bag. Desmond way with a cannon in a.m. offices of LOU IS BACK IN TOWN. For.
Her. I am. I am.
I am. That's. It. Another modern group much interested in multi linear improvisation is that of Gerry Mulligan. Well the good news is no piano. And his explanation is that he feels that
jazz instrumentalists have been hampered because of the fact that they've had to be tuned to the piano and were in a sense subject to the whims of the piano player and he prefers this more free movement tonal way of the instruments. He generally has them tune to the bass and as a result he says the sound for one thing is apt to be softer and more cohesively integrated to keep the bass line on and more on a ball. In this recording with my going on baritone saxophone Chet Baker on trumpet Chico Hamilton and drums and Carson Smith on bass. We see a three part contrapuntally interpretation of moonlight in Vermont. My Legan is one horn Baker the other and the third at least at the beginning is the humming of drummer Chico Hamilton.
The Evolution of Jazz
Episode Number
Dave Brubeck, Part One
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the music of pianist Dave Brubeck.
Series Description
Jazz historian Nat Hentoff presents a series that traces the history of jazz, from its musical and cultural roots to its contemporary forms. "The Evolution of Jazz" was originally broadcast from WGBH in 1953-1954, and was re-broadcast by the National Educational Radio Network in 1964.
Broadcast Date
Asset type
Jazz musicians--United States--Biography.
Media type
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Host: Hentoff, Nat
Producer: Hentoff, Nat
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 55-32-36 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:25
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Chicago: “The Evolution of Jazz; 36; Dave Brubeck, Part One,” 1954-07-16, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
MLA: “The Evolution of Jazz; 36; Dave Brubeck, Part One.” 1954-07-16. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <>.
APA: The Evolution of Jazz; 36; Dave Brubeck, Part One. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from