[Dixielandjazz] Billy Joel "Just The Way You Are" coversion toSwing/Dixieland

LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing sign.guy at charter.net
Tue Jun 21 17:15:08 PDT 2005

 Like T. Monk always said: "Never say something can't be done musically.
> Moment you do, somebody will come along and do it." AMEN

Of course anything is possible in music but sometimes you just shouldn't
muck with perfect.  It's a matter of taste.  Of course any tune with a
harmonic progression can be "adapted" to anything and a jazz line can be
played with it and of course anything with a melody can have a
countermelody, that I think, is a given.

Sometimes things are improved, for example we Start Alice blue gown in three
and kick it into 4 as a Dixie up beat tune and the last several bars as a
waltz.  It works.  I think most people would agree that Beethoven's 5th just
wouldn't work as a cha cha or waltz or even a Jazz tune but of course
anything is possible, they turned it into a disco but I don't recall that it
had any improv in it thus it wasn't jazz.  Another example is "Tea for Two"
changed into a Cha Cha.  That works well and I think a lot of people prefer
it that way but that doesn't make it jazz until you change it with chordal
modification and improvisations on the basic rhythm/chord structure.

Another snip: Larry asked Why not play it the way it was written?  Well, if
we all did
> that, there would be no jazz. :-) VBG

I guess I didn't make myself clear.  I was referring to the basic tune,
rhythm style and chord structure not that it couldn't have improvisations on
the melody line.

Don't confuse improvisation and Jazz with the basic structure of a tune.
They are not the same.  Changing the style of a tune isn't Jazz or
improvisation any more than changing the key is.  It's of course permissible
to do those things but I never heard anyone say "Wow did you hear the way he
rushed his solo" or "That guy blew me away by his key changes."

All music can be improvised on but IMO there are limits.  I think that Billy
Joel's interpretation is pretty good.  A  bossa rock has nothing to do with
improvising.  You can still keep the chord structure and the basic rhythm
style.  I'm not aware that playing Jazz has anything to do with meter or key
and there  is no obligation to change the background rhythm patterns
(example rock to swing).  While you may change those things and many people
have done just that, it really begs the point at times and doing it does not
constitute jazz in any definition I have ever heard..

I didn't say anything about that you couldn't improvise on the chord
structure but it's my feeling that this particular song is not a good choice
for trad Dixie styling or swing.  There may be many of his tunes that might
work out well but a tune that has been done in a more or less strict duple
time is kind of quaint as swing and just doesn't fit quite right.  I have
objection to musicians, especially drummers, that seem to know only one beat
or speed and turn everything into swing.  Recently I  dropped a drummer from
my list  for that very reason.

Sometimes a solo becomes so ingrained in the public's mind that to change it
just doesn't make it.  IMO an example of an ingrained solo is the sax solo
in "In the Mood" as well as some other Miller things.  I have heard many
guys including the current Miller band improv through that solo and again
IMO it takes something away even though they were well done.  That's coming
from a guy that really doesn't like written solos very much.

A few years ago the AF band was doing a Christmas concert in a mall.  We
were playing the standard Xmas fare and then the Big band played.  We had
some jazz versions of some "Religious" Christian carols.  The arrangements
were great but different and there were jazz choruses.  I was playing lead
tenor at the time and thought nothing of it.  It's a good thing that
crucifixion is illegal.  There were people literally standing in line to
voice their displeasure.  The commanding officer had his line, the leader
had his and I had mine.  Not everyone thinks jazz is wonderful and many
think that sacred cows make the best burgers so there are always differences
of opinion.

I just think that there a lot of tunes (many modern rock) that just don't
fit very well as Swing or Dixie and really don't lend themselves to anything
but what they are.

I just can't wait for the Banjo solo in the middle of Inna Godda Da Vita
(sp?).  The only thing that I think would be worse is a clarinet
countermelody but call me old fashioned what do I know?  Let's see, maybe if
we swung it and changed the key?  Could be a hit!

Larry Walton
St. Louis
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Steve barbone" <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>
To: "DJML" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Tuesday, June 21, 2005 8:54 AM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Billy Joel "Just The Way You Are" coversion

> "Just The Way You Are" - Billy Joel
> Ed Danielson wondered how it would sound as Trad. Larry Walton said no way
> it could be adapted. Charlie Hooks said from his "Experience" it works
> fine. Interesting.
> My 2 cents, in agreement with Charlie, is that it works fine as a Swing or
> Dixieland song. Why wouldn't it? But then, my view of Dixieland is music
> "polyphonic counterpoint". That's a broad brush and includes Gerry
> at its most modern interpretation. Would it work as trad? I'm not sure how
> to define "Trad".
> Certainly works as swing. I've played the lead line several times as 4/4
> swing and it is superb. Makes a great jazz tune.
> Larry asked Why not play it the way it was written?  Well, if we all did
> that, there would be no jazz. :-) VBG
> Which is not all bad because then those dreadful obscure tunes would no
> longer be played. :-) VBG
> Gosh, what has happened to our sense of musical adventure. Perhaps I
> send everybody my favorite Tee Shirt which has written across the front in
> What is amazing about it is that lots of people will come up to you when
> wear it and ask you what "IMPROVISE" means.
> Thousands of songs, classical and pop, have be adapted to one form of jazz
> or another. From the Nutcracker Sweet to Liebestraum to "Ode To Joy". Why
> should we limit our thinking to what we've been taught, or by our own
> view of things? Why not think outside the box we've placed around our
> Instead of saying things can't be done, why don't we at least investigate,
> how things might be done? Some folks have spent their entire lives doing
> what others flatly stated couldn't be done.
> Like T. Monk always said: "Never say something can't be done musically.
> Moment you do, somebody will come along and do it." AMEN
> Cheers,
> Steve Barbone
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> Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
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