Success in the arts; Jazz
Success in the art is a recorded program produced by Chicago undergraduate division of the University of Illinois under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. This program is distributed by the National Association of educational broadcasters. Today success in the art of jazz are participants. The artist Teddy Wilson eminent jazz pianist the critic Jack Tracy editor of Downbeat magazine the moderator for the series is Studs Terkel radio and TV commentator. Here's Mr. Terkel now to open the discussion of success in the art of jazz. Well tell us and I can't think of a better man to ask this question and you what do you as a veteran jazz musician look for and comics. What's your standard. Well studs there might be several qualifications Feis there is I think the most important is that the jazz musician must love jazz and really feel the
style of jazz music and isn't compressed in the classical meaning of various kinds of classical and that's a must the second thing I might say would be he must bring something to it of his own and express jazz with some originality must add a little something to the tradition of jazz and make it there and he's got to have a set amount of skill on his instrument. And. I'd say those about the three most important beginning qualification when Jack Tracey is editor of jazz's most eminent Journal downbeat you're a critic when you go to a nightclub where you listen to a recording or hear any jazzman of radio or TV. What's your standard. I think the standards I would set studs would be basically the same ones Teddy did I might phrase them in a different way but basically those are the three first of all I think a man should have facility on his instrument he should be able to play his instrument well and he should play with with
to be able to adapt himself to any situation that arises. Basically this I think is necessary. Secondly a man should improvise well by improvising well as Teddy put it to contribute something to the to the jazz tradition to being individualists to have something some message of his own to offer. When I get in this matter of improvisation is the word that came up here. The word improvisation when you say that improvisation is the key difference between a sad jazz man and a classical musician. That's one of the big differences. I'd say that you might subdivide divide jazz into two broad categories the improvised jazz and the written jazz the written jazz of course involves the arranger and the. Improvisation involved the individual soloist on the various instruments yet touching on a very tender point here Teddy before we touch the matter of bread and livelihood for a jazz man. This
question of arrangement and how much arrangement can take place before does not become jazz there are some who say you know the sum of one school to say that everything should be had arrangement or at least if there's too much on paper it isn't jazz you want to tackle that gentleman. And I don't like go ahead. Well it's not easy to tackle because sometimes an arranger making the right write morays want that swings and gets the real jazz feeling and then the next day is the next and I don't mind that but so no rain just seem to be have more knack for getting the free flow of improvisation into the written music than others. There's Duke Ellington as I think in some of his arrangements gets that essential quality and I think that Jimmy Giuffre and the four brothers right when he did finally how much I mean years ago got that part is so important and some of the rap lines things in the Woody Herman. Yes and then some of the Jimi Mundine for tennis and things with Goodman tires you get
a sense of quality. You know the main thing to be avoided question written jazz is that studded contrived rigid sort of feeling that is not the real jazz thing you know. Yeah I agree Tony I think because something is written and it still can be jazz if it is written. Now you mention it and arrangement. Arrangements for good and I happen to hear on the radio the other day a record of all sometimes I'm happy. And I hadn't heard for a long time and I was really struck again by the by the very pretty yes of the arrangement itself and it was almost an improvised chorus written for the for the whole bang and it sounded improvised jazz feeling it had. It was address these arrangements that allow room for the soloists that had to roam around the ranges always leave open spots of a few seconds a minute or so in the race with the various soloists to improvise but then when the officer starts in again to read the notes they must keep the quality of the improvisation. One of written music. A human man. Assume a van is a good jazz artist he's good
artistically the question of livelihood comes up. Now today we know there's a trend toward more and more academically trained musicians and there was a generation ago is this an essential. I don't believe it's essential I think it helps to have training because history does show that some of the greatest jazz musicians want trained in math when the most prominent nowadays on a standard read ahead and. Study but he's certainly a very significant felony. Speaking of Al Gore a pianist. Which I was a tremendous talent when a fella can do it all of that by himself without help but training would help a lot of people I think but there's a danger of schooling in jazz that. A player gets the classical conception and it leaks over into his jazz and spazzes jazz because the styles are completely different the feel of jazz is different from any classical music. Again you're raising a very delicate point here Candy what about this matter. Gentlemen I toss this open in
this manner of jazz and you know there are some leaders and arranger who speak very much of the new avenues of jazz leading closer and closer to classical music. What about this is there a prospect of a merger as such. That's the trend that you think that you know that seems to be inevitable I hope it never happens that way. Right. I really don't think there should be a merger I think Chance is kind of a voice of its own. And this may sound trite it's been used so often but jazz is American music and it is a music that came from from our people and. I think it should retain its own identity I don't see any necessity whatsoever for for it merging with the so-called classical music. I agree with Jack that except that there's a few basic things that are common to both that the jazz man might get from classical music think things like good voice leaning she landed appreciation a good resonance in an orchestra on piano or different instruments a good tone. But then again the danger of being
influenced by the classical style lacks a thing that has to be watched. That's still the jazz jazz is a different kind of feeling the music. It has to be three but this ain't a good technical thing to the common good jazz and good classical touching this matter of lute gentleman is a matter of money. What are the prospects. Let's say there's a jazz man we know that there have been conflict there has been conflict in terms of jazz as far as schools are concerned traditional versus modern. Isn't the trend pretty much of an end of this conflict or am I wrong. I mean isn't there a middle ground as a middle ground being reached as far as jazz musicians are concerned. Well as far as the musician himself is concerned. I would say that when he's when he's born jazz is already here and he's got to work with the tools that invoke when he comes on the scene. And. If I was a young musician I wouldn't concern myself too much with
with those factors. I just try to become exploiting the way the thing is now. That's what they have all done in the past. Isn't this pretty much Tony Wilson story Jack. Oh yeah and I think it should be the story of perhaps many more jazz men than it is today. There is growing quite a tradition in jazz. Teddy when you started jazz was 20 years younger 25 years younger and it is only now about 60 years old so musicians starting today have the beginnings of a tradition to look. Back to and I think too few of them. Pay much attention to it I think it's desperately important for a young man who wants to be a jazz man to explore the jazz literature to go back and listen to the Louis Armstrong records and to as far back as you can find recorded evidence of jazz and use it and assimilate it. And with the training that he gives himself on his instrument he is
then better qualified to be a practicing jazz musician. Well this brings up a point Terry perhaps you can and a larger point I'm sure you can. There are many young musicians that I I hope there are fewer and fewer number who look down upon the past. You know they lower right back to a guy who was not playing today. They speak of the jazz of the day and nothing. Everything is pretty much you know primitive or not real music in terms of the past one title I think that's a mistake that would be the same thing as a classical musician saying that Bach is no good because he's not and he wrote 200 or so years ago. Do the same thing somebody that has no classical me is any good that's written before 1945 a 50. Now we're getting our Jasmine meant something. He makes a living at night clubs through recordings radio television concerts concerts assumedly young jazz man is listening right now. He can play traditional
jazz and he can play modern but he wants to know which school should he emphasize he will make a living. I the more openings in one field one phase of it than the other. I don't think you can look a halfway stance that I think you have to look at himself as a musician and not work and he had that themselves. But if he is going to be a good jazz man he has to play what he wants to play. I don't think you can deliberately say Well I think I'm going to become a good Dixieland trumpet player so that maybe if there's more work with Dixieland bands I'll get more work. Because it destroys the. Very thing he is looking for and that is originality. So it has to come from the inside out and he has to decide the kind of guy. And as far as job opportunities I think it's it's quite obvious that there are less traditional bands in the. Constant working condition and there are so-called modern groups I don't like your term very well studs if you're going to be opposing traditional and modern.
I know a number of musicians when I called tradition number of musicians you might call traditional who are just as modern and set as today's cars and I can think of offhand Count Basie to me is just as modern a piano player is anyone as well as a healthy thing and a sense Jack or what you do in destroying a couple of labels perhaps you feel are too many labels in jazz today. Yes I think the labels are misleading. I said I agree with Jack and Sam on that whole thing. I had to make it look there I draw again on the classical thing the jazz musician. It has to perform and also create a classical musician has to primarily interpret that is the performance because jazz the jazz musician can be compared to the composer in that he has to make up some of his music as well as perform a classical first class classical performer would play music from the last 300 years. He would confine himself just to the music today. But the classical composer would probably
write in the idiom of today he would write in the idiom a Beethoven Bach. And a jazz musician. The same way he would. He should be I think a jazz musician should be able to perform if necessary some of the older music but the music that he creates himself should be music that he feels and I don't think it's natural for you know Fela to really feel the. Music of New Orleans of 30 40 years ago. You can not just not as well as simple as music that is in vogue when he's you know in his time with you. I don't I think he should some day jazz musicians jazz pianists aside play and I almost I was said to play Fats Waller style. Sure maybe go by GET SOME All right. Any of the really creative jazz that has come down the line of history and I don't mean all because I do play creatively in in that style. For example for a musician to try to play creatively in a New Orleans style today
I don't see how it is possible he's not living in New Orleans 40 years ago he was living in a deaf Chicago or New York or somewhere else today. And just the very way he is living with the advances in science and everything precludes his playing as long as man played them. Yeah that is to really really feel like he could show a contemporary jazz being so personal really has to come from his own life his own experience his own observations. Yes he's got to create. You see. Well let's assume then that this young musician has these qualifications he's got this proper emotional feelings got the technical qualifications. We come to a living again in baseball as a saying that I thought as a catcher was a very rough job on a baseball team has a better chance of getting a job in the majors or fast minors than say an outfielder. Is there a parallel on jazz main site. I would a bass man have a better chance of getting a job that is ready for a basement on a
piano and I am just tossing this out. Well it seems this small combination seems to be the bulk of jazz work today. He said more than the big band. Yes and the small combination because of cuts as a rule like you know trombone a second trombone a third trumpet. Guitar is not used too much in the small very little anymore. But bass isn't essential So it's part of the usual trio includes a bass drum piano a bass piano and some guitar. This is not to discourage barn manager I think we have something there is a crank here. If there are more big bands to backtrack a bit there are very few jazz bands working steadily to any large jazz orchestras and even those that are working still are crying for goodly trumpeters. There is a seemingly as it is a lack of good lead trumpeters for a jazz man they
have to be able to phrase jazz wise and yet be able to play some of the very difficult arrangements that are written today. And we usually find that it has happened at least so far that when good leading man are developed. Like Conrad God Dolly they are snatched up by the radio studios and movie studios and it's this constant process of trying to find good lead trumpeters where you're touching now this matter of big bands and movie and radio studios. Let's hit the band first since the big band in the past was a prime source of employment was what about the trend. Are there less big bands today and if so if so why not. There are less and I can't see why. That some of the basic reasons are that it cost you now 67 cents a mile to transport them by bus. Where the formerly cost 37 cents a mile 25 cents a mile. It costs a musician almost the minimum of five dollars a night to live in a hotel room
where it can be what it used to be booking according to the others. Yes it costs much more for a man to live on the road today than it ever did and yet because of the paucity of dates for for big bands it's impossible from for the leaders to to pay a man in the type of money they have to get in order to live on the road and support a family at home. A travelling musician usually is in a spot of keeping to home. Don't speak so in the audience is much smaller for big band now than it used to be because before the war remember years ago they were discussing many cities had theaters that use big bands. Remember New York had about 4 5 theatres that ran big bands all the dance halls at random and then there were a lot of one night stands. Lot of independent dance halls in the summer resorts that used them in a big band to travel from New York to Chicago and spend maybe three or four months just doing one night stands before you. Between the young
Chicago and a lot of those places close they've gone away from the band policy and that doesn't happen by 1945. Run the end of the war and so they began to cut out. In the last 10 years then the source of employment has dried up to a great extent so it's the small combination is that it. That's. And I was in the jazz world small combination. What about you mentioned radio television movie studios What how big a source of employment is that to a jazz man today. It's very difficult when they get into stuff you have to be an extremely facile musician and the demands are such in the studios that you have to be able to read very well and you can't goof as the saying goes if you if you mess up a couple of times there's always five men behind you ready to take your chair. And it is not easy to get in the studios. I think it was calculated in New York that there are about three or four hundred of these expert musicians
that do the radio television and recording and it's a competition is very great to get into this circle and these fellows are expert they read notes like the average person you know you and you speak. And I think I think it would be amazing if if as they used to do in an days past if they used if they would list the personnel of bands on all recording sessions and. You would find I think the name of say in New York Billy Butterfield popping up on almost every record that is made here. Some of these men work constantly hour after hour day after day just making records. Some fellows do two three record dates in a day and this is a very small percentage that of the jazz men in the country. Oh yeah every minute there said about 30000 musicians in the union and you know and by three or four hundred of them do all of this. The cream of the local work they do your work. Well this raises a very serious question here. What are the prospects then for those who are not on this chilling circle.
Well I want to be even sounding somewhat pessimistic now but there is a there's a great deal of work for a talented young jazz man within the last. I would say two or three years. And astounding number of jazz recordings have been issued. I can't keep up with them myself and I get most of them and I have now I have home at least 50 LPs I haven't had a chance to hear yet. Well these are all of these are all sessions these are all recording sessions that I pay money. Then there is work there is work for for good talented young jazz man but he must first of all he must want to blow on the road. It's rather difficult I think don't you agree tell YouTube to locate in New York and get a lot of work as a jazz musician. Unless you have already been out on their own established a name for yourself on records right there are just so many spots that hijacks music in New York or Chicago and as a rule they keep them circulating for weeks at a time would be
maybe a maximum. In most jazz clubs when you say right usually it's two weeks two weeks so one week is the average. One out of circulation had me tell you that now in touching on this matter of roadway hitting a new facet of the jazz man's life the social aspect of his life travelling and ours you know for a long time jazz has been considered had been considered not quite respectable today. I think most American public knows better. What about this matter of ours. Does it affect jazz musician social life family life. How do you want to expound on that a bit. Well if you do nightclub work because you work all night and sleep all day and if you have a family average children go to school in the morning when you've gone to bed. And the family's getting up when you've gone to bed and they've gone to bed you just getting ready to go to work. If you work nights because a lot of jazz musicians try to get into studio work they were talking about little early which
gives them mostly daytime work and they live no one talking now but the great majority who aren't doing studio work. To a large extent then I'd be travelling and doing nightclub work isn't that is that so. Right that's the bulk of this boy. Well just for the sake of non jazz people might be listening. What about nightclub work and a man's life. I mean oftentimes someone hears Well he has to sit at every table. And he picks it and I so she wouldn't have a drink. Now you're a jazz man. He went to sit with customers. You know if they invite me I want to sit and. Have coffee or a glass of water or a Coca-Cola you don't have to drink whiskey. But he wanted no matter what I guy's whole cation he can lead his own life always sure to drink a matter of promotion comes a gentleman now. An artist can be very good and let us say he's working and he's working steadily at a nightclub. He's cutting records. How does the public get
to know about him. And we come to the subject of promotion just how much of a promoter or salesman does a jazz man have to be today. Well he's he's got to be heard. The public must hear his work I'd say before they could pass judgment on whether they like it or not. And and through the records and the destruction he will be heard. And many cities have jazz programs on I think Chicago has. The viewer three here who want a good deal of their time then spent this inning this Jacki's or seeing newspaperman or yes this and this and of course get into Jack's newspaper Downbeat magazine that exposes a new person to the jazz fan. We come to another point now that probably would be like yeah Jerry leave that point yes I would like to emphasize that again I think it's a case of jasmine not realizing the opportunities they have to promote themselves.
Some of the I know two or three that jazz this jockeys in Chicago are practically crying for in-person appearances and there are some I think first of all I think of Billy Taylor who does a remarkable job of self-promotion farm stuff he is up to 10 o'clock in the morning at 11 and and almost every day he is he's either promoting his records are visiting with people and in order to further his career. This can be done to a great extent by especially a younger jazz man looking to establish himself. Teddy doesn't have to do it unless he is pushing records to and he is as well known to Jasmine as there is in the country and he needs he doesn't have to look for this initial impetus when he has a record that is due out then I imagine you do some destruction show us quite a few. So no matter how good an artist a guy maybe he still has to be the promoter in this case. Sure and he's almost his own from the order. There is only knowledge are we seeing some activity among record distributors taking an interest in jazz and
and the record company salesman actively pushing jazz to the record shops and to destroy. He's This is a very recent innovation. They have fallen to their great surprise that jazz records can sell a lot of copies. Now there is one other phase of work we haven't touched upon in the matter of concert work just how important how developed is that in terms of the jazz artists livelihood today. I don't think it represents too much to tell you except to the colony and the jazz of the Pillar monic is about the one steady concert to it right. There are the others that are irregular like the Birdland show that came out in the hall I was thirty days or say 15 dates 18 dates and the chief revenue of course goes through the to the leader through the side man comes the the opportunity to occasionally at least play to it to a very large audience and to further himself promotion light to be seen and heard by us a packed jazz audience.
Where do colleges think in a picture today in terms of being a jazz audience. Getting very big very big. I think Dave Brubeck did as much as anyone for his office for him did to opening up the college market for jazz groups. A great number of schools are now putting on afternoon jazz concerts and it is becoming a good source of revenue for the small jazz combination. Terry how important is an agent an agent to a jazz musician. Well to a group an agent is very important because the agent has the contacts all over the country. The night clubs are used and the individual musicians would hardly know the holiness of all these places. So an agent is important if you've got a group and I think it should be emphasized. Even the leader of a jazz group very seldom and almost never books himself into a club. He has an agent representing him. That office sets up his
tours and his places of employment all the all he does is report for work at 8:30 9 o'clock in either Chicago or Milwaukee or Denver. In the time remaining perhaps Teddy and Jack and used to combat this about jazz today as compared with jazz say 20 years ago one of the prospects in terms of employment in terms of the growth of that as an expression. It's a broad question I thought that since Teddy Wilson is here. Well I am optimistic guy. I would go back to the period when jazz was really had a mass audience to the day of the big bands of Goodman oughta show the DOS is all that before the war and I hope that that period will come back. I think we've seen a. Period where Latin music was very popular and then that when Sinatra first came up everyone wanted to become a saying all the young people and see the scene and. The Hillbilly period Tennessee Waltz period
and the rock n roll and I think that I've got I'm glad to see rock n roll come back to some of the other styles of that. I want to spell it just a bit catty y involved because rock n roll is nearer jazz than those other things that we went through for the last 10 12 years. It certainly had does have the two beat the basic elementary beginnings of the old jazz is sample a lot of it's around the 12 bar blues thing in the feel of it is nearer jazz and although I think that all the influences in it and perhaps it might be healthy for the jazz of the future the fact that it has no idea what to perhaps. Yes yes and the young people like to dance to it. And on this note the fact that young people like to dance to music. Fact that there is a joy in music seems to wind up the session and I know one of hope and optimism for jazz. Thanks very much Teddy Wilson and Jack Tracy. Thank you. This has been a discussion of success in the art of jazz. Our participants
- Success in the arts
- Producing Organization
- University of Illinois
- WILL Illinois Public Media
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- This program, which discusses skills needed to excel at jazz, includes panelists Teddy Wilson, jazz pianist; and Jack Tracy, editor of Down Beat Magazine.
- This series presents panel discussions that focus on various aspects of the arts, including the skills needed to excel. The series is moderated by Studs Terkel and produced by Alfred E. Partridge.
- Media type
Moderator: Terkel, Studs, 1912-2008
Panelist: Tracy, Jack
Panelist: Wilson, Teddy, 1912-1986
Producing Organization: University of Illinois
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
Speaker: Partridge, Alfred E.
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 57-19-7 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Success in the arts; Jazz,” 1957-01-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 22, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-18345b33.
- MLA: “Success in the arts; Jazz.” 1957-01-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 22, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-18345b33>.
- APA: Success in the arts; Jazz. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-18345b33