[Dixielandjazz] Re: The Perfect Solo - Was Art

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Fri Dec 5 21:12:19 PST 2003

Ha, Ha. Mike, you went too far. Monk did not play on his own solo space for
just one set. If you don't play during ensembles, or to back the other guys the
whole night, you are not, by definition, searching for the perfect note, and
will therefore never find it. ;-)

And going back to Bill's original notion about the soloist and the "perfect
note" wherein he stated that the soloist would: "not play his "note" out of
respect for the intelligence of the audience who would resent having the
obvious flung in its face".

It would appear that your mates and audience were not of sufficient
intelligence to appreciate the perfect solo and the perfect note. ;-)

And to put it into context, re Monk: he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown
that night. And later during that gig, in the City by the Bay, he was
hospitalized for schizophrenia or something similar.

Ah, the price that one must pay in search of perfection. ;-)

Steve Barbone

Mike Durham wrote:

> Well Steve, read your post and just applied Monk's method to tonight's gig.
> Had fingers poised over trumpet valves, but didn't play a note all night.
> Unlike Monk, I didn't sweat - just bled a bit where the audience and band
> members threw bar furniture at me. Pretentious? No, just Thelonius.
> Mike D.
> >From: Stephen Barbone <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>
> >
> > > "Bill Gunter" <jazzboard at hotmail.com> wrote
> > >
> > > I recall a thread on the subject of the "Perfect Solo."  The thesis was
> > > offered that most solos are random noodling around for the best notes
> >and
> > > the most perfect solo would be one where the "essence" of the solo is
> > > reduced to the ONE perfect note.  Then, since the resulting note would
> >be
> > > the most obvious one it would become a redundancy to actually play it
> >and,
> > > as a result, the artist should simply show up for the performance but
> >not
> > > play his "note" out of respect for the intelligence of the audience who
> > > would resent having the obvious flung in its face, then pack up his
> >horn,
> > > collect his gig pay and go home.
> >
> >Yes, Brilliant.
> >
> >Thelonious Monk was an example of this exact thesis. He wrote a song
> >wherein the melody
> >line was one note, played with varied rhythmic pulse and chromatic chord
> >changes in the
> >left hand. But that right hand melody was one note. In answer to those who
> >said his
> >tunes were too complicated.
> >
> >Then fueled by that success in his search for "The Perfect Note" while in
> >San
> >Francisco, he played his solos for an entire set without striking any
> >notes. (He did
> >back the sax and play the ensembles).
> >When the set was over, he rose from the piano, went to the bar and said to
> >his
> >admirers, great set eh?
> >Not sure they agreed, but he did indeed play Bill's "perfect note" on every
> >solo.
> >
> >He kept his hands poised over the piano, brought them down as if to strike
> >that perfect
> >note, but at the last moment did not do so. It took an enormous amount of
> >concentration
> >and he was bathed in sweat at set's end.
> >
> >Monk also left lots of space between notes, measures etc. So that the
> >listener, would
> >fill in the blanks. And as we OKOMers often state simplicity and economy of
> >notes are
> >often virtues.
> >
> >Cheers,
> >Steve Barbone
> >
> >PS Monk? Perhaps the first modern OKOMer? Much more of a Dixielander than a
> >Be Bopper.

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