[Dixielandjazz] Trad/bop thoughts

Steve Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Thu Jun 29 10:40:27 PDT 2006

Some thoughts on playing both OKOM and Bop

IMO, as a player of both it is hard to state hard and fast rules.

Yes, some bop is played unison, and then goes to solos, but not big band bop
and not counterpoint bop as played by some groups. (Horace Silver, Clifford
Brown et al) And where would we put Gerry Mulligan's work?

Staying away from melody and thinking chords is also not hard/fast. Bop has
many players who think melodically. Just that some don't hear the melodic
line in solos because sometimes it may be 32 bars long and very up tempo,
while using more complicated harmonies and syncopation.

Charlie Parker is a fine example of a melodic blues player who also
improvised his melodic lines along the upper extensions of the chords. e.g.
listen to his "Embracaeble You". He is inventing a new melody on the spot.
There are 2 recorded versions on Smithsonian, for example. They were
recorded a few minutes apart, but are totally different melodic improvs.

Re drugs, players in both genres fell out as druggies and/or alcoholics. The
first time I was offered a reefer was from a trad player. Also, by his own
admission, Louis Armstrong smoked a joint before every performance and tried
to get all the guys in his bands to do so, etc., etc. And many songs like
"Cocaine Lil" were OKOM references to drugs.

What do I do to switch between the two? Think long melodic bop lines, but
use different chord permutations. Actually, as a sideman in several
different bands, I think different permutations among many OKOM genres also.
viz a viz N.O. George Lewis style, Condon Style, N.O. Marching Band style,
West Coast Revival Style, Barbone Street style, etc.

Very few players can transcend all styles equally well (or poorly as the
case may be) because of the differences, but basically IMO, it is like
learning different languages. Once you learn the language, you can get along
in it. 

Nicholas Peyton is a fine example of a New Orleans player who went to bop.
And Wynton is a player of all genres. But perhaps the best example on a
single CD is the Arturo Sandoval tribute to his favorite trumpet players
from King Oliver, Louis and Bix to Dizzy and Freddie Hubbard and some
classical players. 

Steve Barbone

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