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by
Robert Spencer

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February 22, 2013 - 7:00 am
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2. Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie, “Hot House,” 1952

Parker (alto sax) and Gillespie (trumpet) took improvisation on the chord structure of a melody to its outer limits. “Hot House” is based on the chords of Cole Porter’s “What Is This Thing Called Love?,” used as a pretext for high-speed, breakneck melodic inventiveness (which this YouTube clip only fleetingly and inadequately captures). No one could match Parker for harmonically sophisticated improvisations elaborated at high speed – for that matter, no one could match Parker’s speed in any other aspect of life, either.

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All Comments   (12)
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Several decades ago, I had a chance to meet Harry James, the great big band leader. He told me that when it came to improv, he grew up trying to emulate Louis Armstrong. As to his own favorite piece of improv, it was work he did with drummer Buddy Rich that they eventually called James Session. It is a pretty incredible piece of work. After the first two minutes of the whole band, its just James and Rich:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WP6OgmD03HQ&list=PL32F8F10029D530A8

He never played it again after Buddy Rich left to form his own band.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
even though I like the article your jazz collection seems to stop in 1970. Could you not come up with a more contemporary example of great improvisation? Where have you been the last 40 years?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
From Wikipedia on Umm Kulthum: "The duration of Umm Kulthum's songs in performance was not fixed [she could sing 2 or 3 songs over a period of 3 to 4 hours], but varied based on the level of emotive interaction between the singer and her audience and Umm Kulthum's own mood for creativity. An improvisatory technique, which was typical of old classical Arabic singing, and which she executed for as long as she could have, ... was to repeat a single line or stance over and over, subtly altering the emotive emphasis and intensity and exploring one or various musical modal scales (maqām) each time to bring her audiences into a euphoric and ecstatic state known in Arabic as "tarab" طرب. For example, the available live performances (about 30) of Ya Zalemni, one of her most popular songs, varied in length from 45 to 90 minutes, depending on both her creative mood for improvisations and the audience request for more repetitions, illustrating the dynamic relationship between the singer and the audience as they fed off each other's emotional energy."
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Well done. For a culture that whines non-stop about Eurocentrism, black American academics have a narrow, centric and provincial view that practically amounts to a claim of having invented emotion and improvisation in music or even "cool."

It's a common cultural conceit with no basis in reality. "Latest" is not "only" and artistic details are not an artistic principle. Who knows how many countless thousands of people listened to predecessors of Fado in Granada or emotion-laden poetry readings set to music in old Mughal Hyderabad?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
One night I was driving across the south Texas desert and heard Ella Fitzgerald's scat improv on "How High the Moon" and had to pull the car over. My wife at my side woke up and we both listened, bewitched. The music stopped and there was silence on the air as well as in the car. My wife and I just looked at each other stunned. Then we burst out laughing. Then we heard the radio announcers...doing the same. Now that's the American spirit, the exact antithesis of Islam and Communism.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Any surprise that Obama's "Life of Julia" resembles;
"Islam's complete way of life, one that governs every aspect of the believer’s life, down to the smallest detail"?
And with black Americans converting to Islam at record pace, that explains why jazz is being purged from their ranks of accomplished musicians.
That "Hum Allah....." is an insult to the intelligence of any serious jazz aficionado. Simply just more "religion of peace" propaganda.
Ever seen a muslim choir or hymnal?
If Islam was to become modern, in the sense of other religions, and incorporate any modern science into it's teachings, orgasms would be an apostate offense.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So what you're saying, Islam has a bad sense of timing?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Don Ellis trumpet solo on the Hank Levy arrangement of Chain Reaction from the 1972 Connection album. You Tube of the audio can be found at the link below. Cheers -

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5hqnQyXWV5g
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Standing right next to al-Banna in the MB historic aristocracy of daffy nuthatches is Sayd Qutb.

In Qutb's anti-American monument to idiocy, a little tract called The America I Have Seen, based on time spent here from 1948-50, he has a short section entitled Artistic Primitiveness in America. This is the whole thing:

"The American is primitive in his artistic tastes, whether of art or his own artistic works. Jazz music is his music of choice. It is this music that the savage bushmen created to satisfy their primitive desires, and their desire for noise on the one hand, and the abundance of animal noises on the other. The American's enjoyment of jazz does not fully begin until he couples it with singing like crude screaming. And the louder the noise of the voices and instruments, until it rings in the ears to an unbearable degree, the greater the appreciation of the listeners. The voices of appreciation are raised, and the palms raised in continuous clapping that could deafen ears."

I recommend everyone read The America I Have Seen as a good laugh of almost unfathomable idiocy.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Nice collection, especially the bass clarinet! I prefer jazz guitar but this was a treat. Thanks.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I love Wes! Thank you, Allston.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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