Forumesque 14

Forumesque 14 is an opportunity to weigh in on recent posts and anything else in the contents. Factual corrections are welcomed;  general questions are fine too. I will close the comments in about a week. UPDATE: Comments running to two pages.


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What's going on with TBP? New album any time soon? Do you still plan to continue touring Rite in the future?

It was a wonderful post on the great crime and spy books. Have you read the Jack Taylor series from Ken Bruen, it is a very hard boiled crime set in Galway, Ireland and one of my favorites.

Just finished your Crimes of the Century. Looks like my reading list has just grown by leaps and bounds. Can I recommend the half dozen or so early books of George Pelecanos. He was experimenting in writing style and the results were very striking. But don't trip over the playlists.

Hi Ethan:

As always, I love the blog and your playing, as well as the insightful comments and critiques of all things improvised and otherwise. I especially appreciated the top ten film noir list. Anyway, I'm writing because in addition to being a hack jazz guitarist, I dabble with playing the lute both the renaissance and baroque varieties and as such, really enjoyed your essay on the pain in the ass known as the trill. Going from both the text and the written examples, it isn't clear that (at least in baroque music) the trill begins on the dissonant (upper) note and (time permitting) begins slowly and then speeds up. If I missed that somewhere, I stand corrected and beg forgiveness. Do you ever get south of the Mason-Dixon Line?!? We're starved for creative music down here!! It's embarrassing to admit being from the state that gave birth to jazz that 99% of the residents have no idea what it is!

Take care and best wishes,
Mark Griffith

@H.A.: Thanks for the interest! Our winter sked is busy ( and we will be recording a new album in January and do more Rite performances with MMDG in 2014.

@Tim: I like the Jack Taylor series but for me it is a bit conservative compared to the insanity of the Inspector Brant books. Thanks for your blog...

@minus: It's a future date for sure.

@Mark Griffith: Nice catch, indeed I was just considering the Bach French Suite G Major Bouree as a rare case where the dissonant upper note will be "on the beat" for the short duration of the trill. But in general, at least for me, I find the slow upper-neighbor start of trills less problematic than the middle flutter and fast close. And in that flutter, 95% of the time the main, quasi "on the beat" note will be the lower one. At any rate, if I can play my exercise well at 110, I'm pretty sure I will be able to manage the more "musical" aspects of ornamentation relatively easily! Thanks for reading, and we do get down south occasionally, keep checking the sked once in a while.

Is it possible we'll be seeing anymore interviews from the drummers of the old guard anytime soon? Guys like Ben Riley, Louis Hayes, Al Foster etc. The interviews with Billy Hart, Mickey Roker and Tootie Heath are my favorites, and it would be great to hear more from that generation of players. By the way I love this blog and I read it everyday!

Can you talk about playing from your voice (or head) vs. playing from your fingers? I have a lot of trouble being honest with my ideas in real time. If I was true to what I can hear in my head the ideas would be quite simple and conjunct. But there is a certain thrill I get from a more avant-garde approach, where the rhythms are intentional, but the pitches are more arbitrary. What is your approach like? I am guessing it’s a balance between discipline and chaos, but how calculated is the chaos? (like when you are spiraling out of control in Prehensile Dream)? I am a big fan of you guys and I think the Bad Plus is having an effect on the musical vernacular, especially in regard to conveying raw punk energy through reservedness!! You might enjoy this band I stumbled upon:
I think they definitely have a TBP vibe.

@Rowan: I talked to Al Foster, he seemed willing. Ben Riley and Louis Hayes; maybe! Of course they are all so great.

@Gabe: Thanks for listening. The only thing I can say for sure is that I don't worry about wrong notes too much (that's true even when the passages aren't that fast or thick). I'd rather the intention be raw rather than controlled. This seems to be true of many of my favorite people to listen to as well (although none of my heroes are responsible for my mistakes!)

Thanks so much for the beautiful pieces about Cedar Walton. If you ever have something to write about Clifford Jordan, I would love to read that too. DTM is like nothing else. Thanks for taking us along .

Hi Ethan,
I really liked the “[name]:Go!” mode of interviewing that you used with Jarrett a while back, so if you don’t mind here’s 2 I’ve been wondering about:

1. Nat “King” Cole: Go!
2. Walter Mosley: Go!

hi there, here another fan of your site.
i am a jazzpianist/composer etc. in berlin. germany.
i hope that our help for POO is happening. i know him since 1995 and as u, did have some intense times with him, in NYC, even when he was here, playing jazzfest berlin.
i am also somehow involved in the connie crothers scene. beside i did with lee my first CD in 1994. kind of no 2-5-1, kind of impro stuff + my "tunes/compositions".
if u ever look for some bootleg WARNE MARSH or LENNIE stuff ... ask me. i have many thinx, which r not on CD. ( warne+metronome, lennie+sonny+metronome .... u know..... ).
i recently tried 2 collect "my favourite music in jazz". like a list, chronologically. u know ... armstrong, roy, lester, bird, etc ..... mostly thinx which r well known, but i guess 50 % also stuff which I THINK, i myself need 2 have in my heart and ears for ever. or perhaps they ARE kind of innovative + great 2 check out. but my list is absolutly not "rounded". i kind of freaked out, as i sometimes could not decide what should b on the list.+ some stuff i not "like" too much, is just because of my taste not on the list..
anyway ... if u want 2 have a look ... tell me .....
all the best
happy x-mas jazzy times

@DavidF: Actually I just got the C. Jordan Mosaic box, so...yes! Look for that soon

@godoggo: King Cole: Swinging melodist. Too bad he became such a great singer. Mosley: I said in Crimes of the Century: "Setting the action in the past became a thing for many Chandler pastiches. Mosley has a great eye for 40’s detail and a smooth-talking private eye, Easy Rawlins. I'm not up to date on Mosley and must read some of the more recent non-series books."

Hi Ethan

the blog is an amazing resource, I always learn about new things that I should be checking out.

I guess two of my wishful thinking interviews to add to the already amazing list would be Steve Coleman and Craig Taborn. Any chance of that happening at some point?

Otherwise keep on ...

I'm a big fan of DTM, the best jazz blog in the world today, IMHO.

And I would just like to supplement Ms. Tamazama’s list of the greatest film noirs with the following (some of which are modern):

The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Double Indemnity (1944)
Detour (1945)
The Killers (1946)
The Big Sleep (1946)
Out of the Past (1947)
They Live By Night (1948)
The Big Heat (1953)
The Big Combo (1955)
Kiss Me Deadly (1955)
The Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Get Carter (1971)
Body Heat (1981)
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)

And 3 great French crime flicks:

Classe Tous Risques (1960)
Le Deuxieme Souffle (1966)
Tell No One (2006)

cheers -

@andreas: Thanks for reading, and believe me, I know how hard it is to make a list. I pity all the serious critics out there who have to make a best of 2013 circa now...

@Juanma: Those are both definitely planned at some point.

@Aaron: Very cool. I wish Steiner's score for MALTESE FALCON wasn't so "Mickey Mousy"

Dear Ethan,
What a delight your blog is - and it keeps getting better! I have now found someone else who loves both Powells, as I do - Earl 'Bud' Powell AND Anthony Powell ...
Please keep at it, and we look forward to seeing you in London again soon -
Alex Webb

@Alex: Thanks! Talk about different Powells...I don't think I even really noticed they had the same name before. (Of course they have different pronunciations)

I'm about to grit my teeth and work on playing Bud's "Cherokee" in other keys than Bb, so your comment is a nice motivator. Bud really is the truth, he's the one I most want to be influenced by these days.

And I'll definitely re-read Dance to the Music of Time again in a couple of years too.

talking of playing things in different keys, how much of this kind of work do you practice aurally i.e. singing away from the instrument/playing by ear, vs. it being just a calculating/transposition exercise? What do you hope to gain from playing whole solos or choruses in different keys? and do you sing everyday?

I am loving Tootie's Tempo. Will there be another album in 2014?

Will there be a Ethan Iverson Solo album on ECM? I would love to hear that.

I am also looking forward to a new Billy Hart Quartet album!

@Alex: Boy, I really should sing every day! (Even though I'm a terrible singer.) Honestly, while there's music in my head all the time (I'm sure this is true of you too) I rarely "practice" away from the instrument. If there's a "crunch" I do other stuff: for the Lester Young solo last week I had only a few days to get ready and was traveling so sang it in several keys and tempos (w. recording) trying to get it in the system.

Sometimes the feet while walking can be the slow "3" while working on tapping and singing swing rhythms. Gotta do more of that too.

@Jarel: Yes, Tootie, Ben, and I will definitely record another album, glad you dig the first one. I'm so impressed with both Craig Taborn's and Aaron Parks's ECM solo albums -- I bet Vijay will record a great one too -- I'm not sure Manfred needs one from me! BHQ out in March.

Hi Ethan,

I guess the main thing I want to thank you for is your authenticity. It must have taken endless hours of dedication to achieve the level of understanding you clearly show with each new blog entry, regardless of subject matter. Thank you for showing me a path out of Wisconsin via this music (not that it's a bad place!). Thank you for the Lester Young Centennial project, and for the hours of enjoyment I got from reading the interviews on your blog. Thanks as well for recommending Charles Willeford- so far I've read 'Custard', 'Heresy' and 'Difference' (in that order) and I love them all for different reasons. I know nothing about hard boiled this or that (in fact, I usually don't get a big kick out of books in general), so I was happy to have found something that peaked my interest and kept me flipping pages.

An Ethan Iverson solo album on ECM? Regardless of what else is out there, I'd be down to listen, and I know a lot of my friends would be too. :)

One of them is my ex-girlfriend, who must be one of TBP's biggest fans, if not THEE biggest (she's one of those that can sing just about every solo on record or tune in your book). One of my fondest memories of that relationship was taking her to the Dakota and both of us flipping out over "Seven Minute Mind" before it had been released on CD. That memory was made possible (pun intended) by the trio, and I can't thank y'all enough.

The masterclasses are a valuable resource too, so if it's possible to keep those going it would be greatly appreciated! I've only been to one, but I'd like to go again!

One thing I find curious is that for all the detail found in the rest of the blog, I've found next to nothing about how The Bad Plus composes, rehearses, and performs their/your music (maybe I'm not looking in the right place). "TBP Equations" has some helpful information, but I think interviews of Reid and Dave or maybe a roundtable with the three of you would make a nice addition. After all, who better to document the band than the band? Just a thought...

Anyway, keep up the good work. Never Stop! (pun intended... again

Hello Ethan,

I recently read Gary Burton's autobiography.

In chapter 7, Gary shares some interesting anecdotes about race relations. As you have mentioned interest in compiling a race-reader (I hope I'm not making this up, the blog is too large for me to locate it, but I think this would have been either around the "Sandke Affair", or the BAM discussion), I feel some of these anecdotes may be of interest.

This is quote from pages 83-84:
"Oddly, the only time I've [Gary Burton] been dissed for being white came at the hands of college administrators. In 1998, the Recording Academy - The Grammy organization - offered to send some name musicians, at no cost, to several colleges for one-day workshops aimed at encouraging their jazz programs. The Academy asked me to do one of these at Howard University, the historic black college in Washington, D.C., but a few days later I got another call, saying that Howard refused to have me. I was told they didn't think it was "appropriate" for a white musician to speak on jazz to their students. I thought the jazz world was way past that kind of thinking, but apparently not."

Personally, I'm not sure I know where I stand on this story. Surely Gary Burton is a jazz legend that would definitely be able to share many great anecdotes from his life in jazz (Anyone that has worked with Roy Haynes is really only one or two degrees of separation from ANY jazz legend). And he would have come at no cost to Howard University.

That being said, I understand Howard University's concern. Jazz is part of the tradition of Great Black Music, to borrow from the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Being a historically black university, Howard wanted to represent a historically black music. I think bringing a white musician could have a very off-putting effect on a group of young black musicians. 20th century music history is full of white people making it big on Great Black Music (Starting with Dvorak's New World Symphony, even?). Burton almost seems ignorant to this fact.

I am wondering if you have any thoughts about this which you would care to share. It may be beneficial to read the entire chapter (or the entire book. I enjoyed it and read it very quickly). There are plenty of excellent pictures; If Downbeat had a best mustache poll, Burton surely would have placed very high (maybe second only to Peter Brotzman).

Thank you,

PS. Have you worked or performed with vibraphonists in a jazz setting?

PPS. I recently had a revelation that the MJQ and TBP have something in common: Both played repertoire they admired in their own uncompromising style. While I certainly prefer Ornette's "Lonely Woman," MJQ realized it was a wonderful piece, and they re-imagined it in their third stream/bluesy way...

@Ryan: Well, thank you very much! I think you get the "nicest to hear comment" award...

I don't write about TBP (or my own playing) very much, and that's partly because explaining yourself is harder than explaining others, at least for me. And I think we want to keep some mystery as to the actual process. I give hints here and there but I'll be the first to say I don't give up my biggest secrets.

@Tim: I'll have to take a look at the book. But I'm not surprised that Burton isn't seeing the long view here. He's helped build an empire dedicated to jazz education but as far as I know, Berklee hasn't ever sent any money or instruments to the high schools in Boston's inner city. (Please, someone correct me if I'm wrong.)

I haven't really played with too many vibraphonists...I like 'em though, including some Gary Burton. Thanks for MJQ comparison! A real compliment.

Your transcriptions are an invaluable resource, and especially enlightening in conjunction with the audio and your comments. I'm working mostly on sax, but also on piano. The Bud transcriptions were incredibly fun and useful.

I'm really excited by the new Lester Young solo transcription (Tea for Two)! Are you OK with me inputting it into MuseScore and transposing it to Bb for us tenor sax players? I could then give you the musescore and/or pdf file if you felt like making it available to sax players here, and/or make it available on my blog (with appropriate permission and credit). Of course if you already have it in a notation software format suited for automated transposition and felt like doing it yourself, I'd love to have it that way.

And by the way, I really enjoy both TBP and your work with Billy Hart, Mark Turner and Ben Street.

Hi Ethan

In the UK we have sadly lost one of our finest jazz musicians,Stan Tracey. His classic 1965 recording Under Milk Wood stands alongside the great American albums of that era. I don't know how Stan's music is regarded in the States but I do know that Sonny Rollins loved working with him.Keep up the blog - it's the best read on music out there


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