[Dixielandjazz] Working hard at playing cool

john Petters jpettjazz@btinternet.com
Sun, 11 Aug 2002 00:00:14 +0100

Nancy has started a very interesting discussion. She said
> In his view, the musicians were all
> >"working hard" at "playing cool," the music was lacking melody, and solos
> >just sounded like a bunch of scales played up and down. All of it left
> >cold. (Or did he mean cool?)
> >Question: Since I wasn't even born till '58, I'm clueless as to what was
> >going on in music and in the world at that time. Music history is not my
> >forte, so will someone older and wiser please fill me in on what the hell
> >happened to cause "cool" to replace "emotional" melody?
I was born in 53. I heard Bebop in about 1970 when I was really getting
interested in jazz. It left me cold. I could dig Oliver, Morton, Armstrong,
Bunk, Bechet Condon, Krupa, goodman Ellington, Bix etc but not Parker. Same
is true now.
What I think happened, is that by 1940, Ellington had said all there was to
be said in producing romantic lush rich melodic music. Miller stole the
basic idea and made more money. All the white big bands basically stole
black music and made more money out of it than the black innovators. Swing
commercialised itself. What was a young guy like Parker to do to make his
mark. How much of that music was drug induced? I think it was Witney Balliet
who referred to bop and cool as the quick and the dead.
Herman, Krupa and Kenton all got mixed up with Be bop. Herman's 45 herd was
arguably the best, retaning a hard driving swing and good swing era solos by
Flip Phillips and Bill Harris. Bop almost messed Krupa up completely with
its fractured broken beats.  But pop music had by the late forties and early
50s moved on and jazz was no longer hip. Pop singers became king. Then Bill
Haley, Presley etc - again a watered down variety of black rhythm & Blues.

Jim added
:>I was born in 1954, and my first exposure to
> "jazz" was British "trad" of the early 1960's: horrible! It could very
> have put me off jazz for life, had I not accidentally come upon a pile of
> 78's, which I can still remember now.
I had a similar experience - but I heard Louis Basin St Blues and Bunks
Saints at a very young age.
The Brit trad I heard was rubbish with the exception of some early Colyer,
Cy Laurie, Acker Bilk and Sandy Brown. Most of it was jazz with the jazz
taken out.
Then after flirting with Rock'n'Roll I grew up and saw Wingy Manone in the
Crosby Film "Rhythm on the River "and that led me to discover properly this
music called jazz

Jim added
>a brilliant revelation:
> Mezzrow/Ladnier (Royal Garden Blues/If You See me Comin'), Eddie Condon's
> Quartet (Indiana/ Oh Baby), "The Jungle Band" (New East St. Louis Toodle-O
> /Ridin' On A Blue Note), the Benny Goodman Quartet (Runnin' Wild/
Moonglow) The
> Venuti-Lang Allstars (After You've Gone/Farewell Blues)...and finally The
> Armstrong Allstars (Basin Street Blues parts One and Two).
> What I liked about those sides was that they sounded "cool" (as well as
> very unlike the "uncool" and embarrassing British trad of the day.

Absolutely agree

> The problem with the real "Cool School" (Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan and
> West Coast crowd)was that they counterposed "cool" to "hot": no need!
Louis was
> the "coolest" player ever, when he wanted to be (eg: his big band version
> "Stardust"), and, of course Bix was the inventor of "cool" (eg: "Singin'
> Blues").
> "Cool" was just a pose. I should know: I was a poser. If I'd heard Parker
> Gillespie then...who knows?

Steve added .> Actually being "cool" probably started with
Pres. (Young, not Clinton).
I don't hear Pres as a cool player - to me he belongs in the hot scool. The
Prez imitators always miss that aspect of his playing. In fact on clarinet
there are similarities with Pee Wee Russell.

Ken Sims my early mentor said that Mainstream was a retreat for cowards who
could not play hot jazz. I know what he meant. It is easier to learn a good
technique on an instrument and use it rather than to lean to express emotion
through that instrument. It again comes back to the blues and having that
rooted in your playing.
I guess both Nancy and Jim by their birthdates were square pegs in round
holes according to
friends of their own age. Most of my pals were digging fisrt the Beatles,
then Hendrix and all that garbage that came afterwards.
 As Duke said It Don't Mean A Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing


John Petters
Amateur Radio Station G3YPZ
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jim Denham" <james@jiming.demon.co.uk>
To: "Nancy Giffin" <nancyink@ulink.net>
Cc: "DJML" <dixielandjazz@ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Saturday, August 10, 2002 9:07 PM
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Working hard at playing cool

> In message <B97AAFB9.3AB3%nancyink@ulink.net>, Nancy Giffin
> <nancyink@ulink.net> writes
> >Hi,
> >I'm always interested in posts about trad vs. bebop.
> >Just had a long chat with my 80-year-old dad, and one thing he shared was
> >his first experience going to a club to hear bebop for the first time
> >in the 50s.
> >His initial impression of bebop:
> >He said that everyone in the audience had very serious expressions and
> >very still and emotionless while sl-o-o-owly dragging on cigarettes in
> >l-o-o-ong holders. NO ONE was tappin' their foot because everyone was
> >expected to listen -- very intently> >Thanks for feedback, on or
> >Love and hugs,
> >Nancy
> >
> >
> >_______________________________________________
> >Dixielandjazz mailing list
> >Dixielandjazz@ml.islandnet.com
> >http://ml.islandnet.com/mailman/listinfo/dixielandjazz
> -A very good question, Nancy> Yours,
> Jim Denham
>  -
> Jim Denham
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