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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

One Influence Becomes Another and So On

          There are many claims as to what was the first rock and roll record.  One thing is pretty certain--Rock and Roll didn't just suddenly come into existence, it was a melding of many forms. Now Rock and Roll is not just any one type of music, it has diverged into many styles of rock.  All music continually grows, merges, diverges, and becomes old and new, and at times, becomes almost unclassifiable.

          The simplistic early rock eventually took on the attributes of other types of music such as classical and jazz.  When the term "fusion" is used we often think jazz, but in reality rock and roll was a fusion of blues, swing, and country with doses of jazz thrown in.  Once the mix was brewed,  the sound was fairly distinct.  But from there rock didn't just stagnate into a same ol' same ol' style, instead rock artists started absorbing other styles and musicians who had specialized in other genres began experimenting with rock.  Musicians are often like that.

           Horns, especially saxophone, had been a staple of rock and roll since the beginning. But in the mid sixties horn driven rock and roll began a surge of popularity with groups such as the Buckinghams, the Grass Roots, and the rock and soul revues like James Brown's horn driven band.   The latter 60's saw the emergence of the brass rock bands like Blood, Sweat, and Tears and Chicago, which started a huge popularity swing in the direction of jazz influenced rock.

            In the seventies, the fusion of rock and jazz began to explode.  Carlos Santana and Ian Anderson are but a couple of the musicians who freely jazzed up their rock.  Some of the many artists who leaned toward jazz with a strong rock influence were John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, and Jean Luc Ponty.  Lines were crossed and criss-crossed as music styles were combined.

            Musicians are typically pretty open to jazz.  It's just another musical style and a skilled musician is often receptive to playing, or at least listening to jazz.  However, sometimes the music fan is turned off by the thought of jazz.  They often seem to think jazz is some obscure musical style reserved for smoky clubs or snooty cocktail lounges.  The fact is that jazz influences many styles of music and is something we hear everyday in commercials, soundtracks, and the songs of our favorite artists.  Give it up. You're already listening to it so it's not that complicated.  Take a musical adventure and explore jazz.

            Do you have any favorite contemporary jazz artists?  Can you think of an example of a popular song that you like or a favorite artist that has incorporated jazz into a performance?  Do you think jazz is snooty, pretentious, or just plain difficult to understand? 
 
 

20 comments:

  1. I will admit I used to think of jazz as mixed up notes of music but on reflection I now know differently.
    Music has been my life as you know and apart from my family and poetry it still is, I am never far away from my ipod.

    Loved your post and your choice of music to day.

    Enjoy the day.
    Yvonne,

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  2. I will pretty much listen to any genre, although I don't care for rap or country. Daughter went to UNT College of Music, so jazz is a definite favorite around here. She is student teaching right now, and conducted the High School Wind Symphony for the Spring Concert. Her choice of music? A Chicago medley :)
    Kathy

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  3. I'm not into jazz, although I admire the craftmanship of the music.
    And look at the fro on that guy!

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  4. You made me flashback again! Love that you've provided samples to listen to. Great info!

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  5. I wish I had some input, but I've never been a fan of jazz. I like music with at least a vague structure. LOL I probably sound 'uneducated' now, but, pft, I just DON'T know about jazz ... :)

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  6. Yvonne -- You have become educated in Jazz so you are able to appreciate it.

    Kathy-- The music of the band Chicago is perfect for a winds concert--it's the windy city after all.

    Alex -- You need to check out some more jazz. If you like the intricacy of Rush you might like some of the complex jazz. Mahavishnu Orchestra? Jean Luc Ponty? Some good stuff out there.

    Rae -- Glad you could appreciate this post.

    Jessica -- You probably know more about jazz than you think. Joni's Blue album was influenced by jazz great Miles Davis and much of Joni's music is not just influenced by jazz, it is jazz. Structure? Jazz, like classical, is the most highly structured of all music, just maybe a tad more complex than the majority of rock. You must go and learn to appreciate it--I guarentee if you keep an open listening mind and learn about it, you too will become a jazz fan.

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  7. Oh really? Joni is jazz? wow. Ok, what do you recommend I enlighten my ears with first?

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  8. Jessica--I presume you are familiar with all of Joni's albums like Hejira and Mingus--- both essentially jazz. Other female vocalists you might like to start with are Cassandra Wilson, who is dynamite, and Diana Krall, a highly respected contemporary jazz stylist. Among the males are Sting and Van Morrison. Some jazz rock groups are Steely Dan, Traffic, and Santana.

    If you like instrumental music you might try Regina Carter (violin), Brian Auger (keyboards), or John McLaughlin. Like rock there is such a wide range of styles there is probably something out there that will catch your interest, you just have to research it out and listen. And I think when you educate yourself about the music and artists it all becomes more enjoyable.

    Tell us about your jazz adventures if you check any of this out.

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  9. Somewhere I still have a Gino Vannelli 45...

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  10. AlliAllo ~
    Sure, Joni Mitchell was highly influenced by Jazz, just as our friend Arlee Bird said. And he definitely recommended some excellent places to begin learning how much Jazz has crept into Pop music: Steely Dan, Traffic, Van Morrison, etc. Sting is way too slick and mushy for my own tastes (to me, he's like the Kenny G of "JazzLite" vocalists), but unquestionably, his solo stuff has ingredients of Jazz throughout it.

    If I could recommend two more recordings for you to look into, I would say perhaps you should consider...

    Either of Rickie Lee Jones' first albums, the self-titled one, or the slightly spacier and slightly less commercial second release "Pirates". You'll find a lot of Joni Mitchell in her, but with - in my opinion - mostly superior lyrics (probably due to the fact that she was girlfriend to Tom Waits at one time).

    Also, there's a 2-disc Jazz compilation set you could pick up titled "CLASSIC JAZZ: JAZZ LEGENDS". It was a series put out by Time Life Music back in 1991. I'm pretty sure it's now out of print, but used copies of it can probably be obtained all over the internet for ridiculously low prices.

    The series included several different installments with similar sounding titles, but I think the best one is "JAZZ LEGENDS" which includes many of the widely recognized Jazz "masterpieces" by true Jazz "legends" and covering the vast territory of genuine "Jazz" styles.

    You get the big band classic "April In Paris" by Count Basie; Duke Ellington's iconic "Take The A Train"; the Ramsey Lewis pop piece "The In Crowd"; the soulful "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" by Cannonball Adderley; the too cool for school "Killer Joe" and "Cast Your Fate To The Wind" by Art Farmer and Vince Guaraldi respectively.

    There are vocals by Jazz giants like Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Anita O'Day (saw her in concert once), and Julie London, etc.

    And of course, the set includes Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong, Stan Getz, and the "Stairway To Heaven" of the Jazzworld, "Take Five" by Dave Brubeck.

    In other words, this is a fabulous, unbeatable Jazz sampler that will unfold the majority of the Jazz landscape before your ears. If you don't like ANYTHING on these two discs, then you absolutely, definitely, unequivocally don't like "Jazz".

    Me, I dig about 26 or 27 of the 30 tracks.

    ~ "Lonesome Dogg" McD-Fens

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  11. Lee, I thought you might like to see my response:

    "AlliAllo ~
    Sure, Joni Mitchell was highly influenced by Jazz, just as our friend Arlee Bird said. And he definitely recommended some excellent places to begin learning how much Jazz has crept into Pop music: Steely Dan, Traffic, Van Morrison, etc. Sting is way too slick and mushy for my own tastes (to me, he's like the Kenny G of "JazzLite" vocalists), but unquestionably, his solo stuff has ingredients of Jazz throughout it."

    Yep, listened to these 'dudes' . me like but didn't know they were influenced by jazz.

    "If I could recommend two more recordings for you to look into, I would say perhaps you should consider...

    Either of Rickie Lee Jones' first albums, the self-titled one, or the slightly spacier and slightly less commercial second release "Pirates". You'll find a lot of Joni Mitchell in her, but with - in my opinion - mostly superior lyrics (probably due to the fact that she was girlfriend to Tom Waits at one time)."

    I have a Ricky Lee Jones Album, can't remember which one, and I love it.

    "There are vocals by Jazz giants like Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Anita O'Day (saw her in concert once), and Julie London, etc."

    I listened to Billy Holiday ALL the time as a kid. Absolutely loved it. I don't think I've listened for around 20 years now. Must put her on again soon. Looks like I already 'like' jazz then. I suppose when I think of jazz though, I think of the experimental improvisational stuff - I really just don't get it - AT ALL.

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  12. Well, I already gave you my top country albums on the first voyage we made to our desert island.

    I will be really interested in seeing your list.

    When Midnight Confessions first came out by the Grass Roots I loved it! I went out and bought it. Probably the second record of rock I bought. The first was CCR of course.

    Did you know Creed Brattonfrom "The Office" was a guitarist for the Grass Roots? He was with the original founding members but in the third wave of the band he was a member.

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  13. Is that playlist jazz? *surprise*
    Weird...
    I'm thinking about participating in the country top ten favorites. But I'll do what I did last time. I'll do ten songs. It'll be mostly Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift... and Rascal Flatts. That's country, right?
    -Wolfie

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  14. Diane -- I recall how Gino Vanelli was considered a "sex symbol" among many women. Lately he has really started getting jazz oriented.

    Jessica-- If you've already been listening to and enjoying Billie Holiday then the music Stephen is steering you towards would not be that alien to your ears and you might enjoy it. I love the older classic jazz.

    Gregg -- It seemed like every garage band in the late 60s did "Midnite Confessions". I've never seen "The Office" and really don't know much about it. Wonder if Creed still goes out and plays with the Grass Roots in their revival shows.

    Wolfie -- the playlist is a combination of jazz influenced rock and rock influenced jazz. And those artists you mention certainly fit in the country category although I'd say they were rock influenced country artists. I'll be including some rock influenced country albums in my list on Monday. Sure sign up an tell about your favorite country songs or artists.

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  15. I'm not sure if they're jazz artists for sure or not, but I always think they have a jazzy sound -- Diana Krall, Holly Cole & Norah Jones. Great sounds :)

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  16. Jemi -- I'm not familiar with Holly Cole, but Diana Krall is definitely catagorized as jazz. Norah Jones falls more into an eclectic combination of styles that includes jazz.

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  17. Well when you mentioned blues, I immediately thought of B.B. King, one of my very favorite blues performers. I was fortunate enough to see him in person four times!!
    There is one of his songs that incorporates some jazz but my old brain can't come up with the name of it! LOL!!! Oh well it is a wonderful song none the less.
    I am so enjoying your music series Arlee, I enjoy many of your choices!
    Love Di ♥

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  18. I like Gino's hairdo. Lol. He has a good voice.

    Hope you are well.

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  19. 'Alex -- You need to check out some more jazz. If you like the intricacy of Rush you might like some of the complex jazz. Mahavishnu Orchestra? Jean Luc Ponty? Some good stuff out there.'

    Rush (74-83 era) and Mahavishnu Orchestra (71-76), my two favourite bands presently.

    Good point. Rush was more so in the past Rock fusion and Mahavishnu was Jazz Rock, and there is some musical similarity with heaviness and technical playing with same instruments.

    I think Mahavishnu may have influenced Rush slightly as well.

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Lee