[Dixielandjazz] The improvisational change - was cool school
Sun, 11 Aug 2002 16:51:00 +0100
prior to 1940 most soloists were constructing their improvisations
around the melody. This was called "horizontal" improvisation for want
of a better word. Just imagine the melodic line proceeding horizontally
from song start to finish, and improvisation along this >melodic line.
I would go along with that
> Be bop was a different concept. The improvisations, for the most part,
> are constructed around the chord changes, not the melody. Thus the term
> "vertical" improvisation took hold. In effect, don't worry about the
> melody when improvising, just run your imrpov on the changes.
I agree with that as well. To me thay are two different musics. The melodic
improvisation is readily understood and appreciated by Joe Public, the
other, by folk who are into music for technicality sake - which includes
> Except for my buddy, Thelonious Monk, who with drummer Kenny Clarke
> evolved the rhythmic pulse of bop. He was a melodic improviser and one
> of his favorite sayings was. "Don't worry about the changes, play the
> G.D. melody."
I agree with that. In fact Monk came out of Ellington. The changes are to a
large degree, irrelevant. Stick close to the tune.
> By 1960, bop was passe. Had Clifford Brown not passed in 1956, the
> evolution of bop, or "hard bop" as his style was called, might have been
> quite different
I can't see what the fuss about Clifford Brown is about. To me he sounds
> Interestingly enough, during this time, 1940 on, Condon was still
> swinging along with his Condon Style OKOM which until his death in the
> mid 1970s was very popular. But after that there were no more really
> "hot" bands left to carry the torch. Even Condonites Davern and Wilber
> sought other pathways to survival in the music world.
> Also interestingly enough today, many OKOM musicians are a combination
> of Vertical and Horizontal soloists. And why not? However most of us
> OKOMers today do not possess the improvisational skills that the players
> in the various Condon groups had. Thus you see less "Condon Style" (Hot
> Chicago Style?) and more of the ensemble oriented West Coast Revival or
> New Orleans Revival or British Trad or Hot Dance all of which place
> reading ability and ensemble skills at a premium over improvisational
Maybe the reason we don't get great improvisers in the old style could be a
lack of committment. I know many players who reach a certain level then stop
working at it.
Amateur Radio Station G3YPZ
----- Original Message -----
From: "Stephen Barbone" <email@example.com>
To: "Dixieland Jazz Mailing List" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Sunday, August 11, 2002 3:33 PM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] The improvisational change - was cool school
> One thing I left out in the (tongue in cheek) synopsis about cool jazz,
> and bebop, was the change in the way solos were formulated. Basically,
> prior to 1940 most soloists were constructing their improvisations
> around the melody. This was called "horizontal" improvisation for want
> of a better word. Just imagine the melodic line proceeding horizontally
> from song start to finish, and improvisation along this melodic line.
> Vertical improvisation is more difficult for the average listener to
> hear, hence the diminished audience for be-bop and it's very rapid fall
> from jazz popularity. It had a good ten year run, from 1940 to 1950,
> among jazz musicians at Mintons, Monroe's, The Apollo etc., in Harlem,
> but then went in to a steep decline shortly after moving downtown to
> 52nd Street.
> In effect, one went to Harlem to learn to play be-bop, and then to 52nd
> Street to make a living playing it. The audiences flocked to hear it
> originally, and then disappeared, as did the music. But the damage was
> done as Miles now leading the Jazz charge, evolved into a rock star and
> bop evolved into avant garde.
> Steve Barbone
> PS. The "mind" is the hardest musical instrument to play. ;-)
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