[Dixielandjazz] Creation and Re-creation

Larry Walton Entertainment larrys.bands at charter.net
Wed Sep 21 11:11:53 PDT 2005

I think the word was difficult not impossible and right now the split point is about the 1930's as to active musicians.  Lets say you started playing at 12 years old in 1930.  That would make you about 87 today.  Not that there aren't people out there that play well who are 87 but there aren't many.  Style is what I was talking about not ability.  You really need to hear styles in order to duplicate them.  my point is that musicians in their 40's are two generations or more away from music of the 20's.  We tend to make the music we grew up with our own and we learn the styles and licks that go with that particular era.  I was fortunate to be old enough to hear swing but young enough to know rock.  Many swing musicians (and they are right in the 70 year age group now) haven't a clue as to how to properly play rock just as I really don't care for or play Be bop or some of the newer vertical soloing techniques that are popular.

Your example about Dick Hyman is exactly what I mean.  Why did you say "amazing".  If somehow we were transported back to the 20's he would sound like everyone else but because he can do something very few can do then he is elevated into "amazing"..  Again I said it was difficult not impossible but let me add it's getting more rare at least around here.

If you care then you immerse yourself in a style by listening to it by different artists.  This is somewhat difficult but not impossible for artists before 1920 or so because of recordings.  A few people can do it but I hear swing creeping into solos and styles of the 1900-1930 tunes.  That's not necessarily a bad thing because audiences don't know and only a musical purist would care.  I feel that Dixie and Ragtime are classical styles and many people would do well to try to be a little more accurate.

By the way I have to work at this and listen to my recordings and practice sessions to clean up the styles because even though I am 66 I am two generations away from very early jazz and I grew up with swing and rock but at least I know what I want and what I don't.

I would never discourage anyone from trying or enjoying a style, after all it's the adventure of music that is most fascinating.and fun.  Learning new things and striving for excellence should be the goal of all of us.  I enjoy these "older" forms because a lot of it is new to me.

Got to go
St. Louis

----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Vaxtrpts at aol.com 
  To: larrys.bands at charter.net ; dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com 
  Sent: Wednesday, September 21, 2005 1:36 AM
  Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Creation and Re-creation

  In a message dated 9/20/2005 2:32:03 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, larrys.bands at charter.net writes:
    I agree with Mike but there is another dimension  when dealing with playing
    the older OKOM from the 30's back and that is style.  Recreating the sound
    and style of 30's and earlier music by a modern musician is difficult
    because we swing and newer styles creep into our solos both recreated or
    jazz.  Recreating or originating early jazz styles and solos even if they
    are your own and pure jazz will often sound corny or dated.  What happens is
    guys start filling in with other licks, more "modern" scales and the flavor
    is lost.  Listen to drummers, very few do it right.  They invariably start
    to swing and their drums and cymbals just aren't the same so the right sound
    isn't there.  If you don't mind this then I guess it's ok.  My point is that
    it is difficult to do something that you didn't grow up with and almost none
    of us were musicians during that era.

    It's like learning a language.  My son who has lived in Germany for 20 years
    and speaks the language fluently still sounds like an American because he
    didn't grow up with it. My granddaughter while fluent in English will always
    sound like a German.  Musical Style and licks are like that.

    I'm not sure very many really want to recreate the styles and sounds exactly
    because they sound dated to modern ears.
    St. Louis

  I don't usually copy a whole message into mine, but I wasn't sure where to cut this one.  Lots of good points, but I think I am completely confused.  You seem to say that is impossible to re-create older jazz. So are you saying that the trad bands shouldn't even try?
  My observations are a little different, in that I choose not to imitate those early bands because I believe that jazz has to have some of one's own creativity to be called jazz.
  Actually, have you ever heard Dick Hyman play?  He can imitate ANY style perfectly.  Truly amazing.  I have also heard some bands that play in the style and sound of those earlier bands very well.  It is not my "cup of tea" for the reasons that I have already mentioned, but some bands do it very well.
  I do have to disagree with you on one point.  There ARE people on this list who grew up hearing the music all through their lives. They may not have been musicians yet, but "hearing is believing" to semi-quote the Dukes of Dixieland. And yes, some of them are old enough to have played the music back in the 30's.
  I grew up listening to OKOM and big bands from the time I was a small boy.  The radio was a wonderful tool to learn from, as well as the records that I wore out (78's) by playing them over and over and trying to copy the style of the musicians I heard.  I have played on bands as diverse as: Shep Fields, the Glenn Miller Orchestra, the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra, the Ray McKinley Orchestra, the Stan Kenton Orchestra, Pee Wee Hunt's band, the Dukes of Dixieland, the Olympia Brass Band and the Heritage Hall Jazz Band.  I believe that I did a good job playing the "right style" for all those bands.  I did it because I knew what they were supposed to sound like.  Did I play my solos note for note off an early recording?  No - but I certainly didn't play bebop in Pee Wee Hunt's band, for example.
  Make any sense?
  Mike Vax

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