[Dixielandjazz] Uptempo vs Cut time

Ken Gates kwg915 at gmail.com
Wed Jan 16 16:44:06 PST 2013

Thanks to Paul, Marek, Joe, Al for responding to my question.
Al---I did listen to your example.

Although I have very little formal musical training, I can read music
to some extent.  But not when I'm playing with my amateur jammers.
I read only to learn the melody accurately when the notes aren't
intuitive.  But notes are what I look at and I only observe a time
signature when it says 3/4 and I know I'm going to ignore that
and play it 4/4.  I'm guessing that most untrained players hear
the term "cut' (which I'm guessing is rarely heard) and assume
that it is a substitute word for very uptempo.

Looking through my large fake book "All Time Enduring Standards"
I observe that most have a C with a slash.  Ballads normally played
at slow or medium slow tempos are in that category as well as tunes
normally played uptempo.

So I discarded the notion that it meant fast and decided that
folks will play it whatever tempo seems right to them and maybe
some rhythm players will adjust how they emphasize beats
but my ear will probably not notice much difference.

The only time "cut" comes up (in my limited circle), is when "After
You've Gone" is called.  A quick sample of youtube would indicate
that it was recorded at slow or medium tempo in ballad mode in the 20s and
maybe it was Benny Goodman in 193x that found it to be a good
tune to show his technique at fast tempo.  Maybe that became a
test piece of the time to prove your chops.  I see that Charlie
Parker recorded it at what seemed to be a faster pulse than BG.

A few years back I became frustrated when I couldn't count 5
to Dave Brubeck's classic recording.  Then I discovered the
3/2 thing---but being I play just for the fun of it--it's okay that
I can't really play 'Take Five"---there are lots of 4/4 or whatever
combination 2s and 4s are shown on the sheet music which
will end up as 4/4 when I hear or play it.

All this because I happened across a nice recording of "After
You've Gone" in medium tempo.  Thanks for listening.


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