Miles Davis PLAYLIST: A good example of the popular-song based playing of the 1950s is Miles Davis recording of "Surrey with the Fringe on Top" (1956) which you can search for on Youtube or another music provider.
We illustrated the different between the soloing of the 1950s and 1960s by playing Miles Davis's composition "Four" from 1954 and a live recording of "Four" from a concert in 1964, which included a young band of Herbie Hancock (piano), Ron Carter (bass), Tony Williams (age 18, drums), and George Coleman (tenor sax). The soloing is radically different.Class Five Notes and Links
(NOTE: I will no longer use the clunky "Click Here" indicator. Instead, links are in boldface, click on the name in boldface.
Class Five emphasized that bebop, or "modern" jazz, gave rise to several styles of playing that are still the predominant type of jazz heard today. In some ways they were a reaction to the frantic tempos and extremes of bebop. One can differentiate five types of jazz, although it's not always possible to draw precise lines between them. Many musicians contributed to all these types.
For further clarification of Modes and Chord changes, see item 5 below.
(1) A synthesis of orchestration and soloing using the bebop "melodic language," although toned down. The music is epitomized by the Birth of the Cool session recorded in 1948 -1949. In class we played "Boplicity" (by Miles Davis) and "Jeru" (by Jerry Mulligan). (Note: the date given for Boplicity in some sources is 1957. However, the music was recorded in 1948 -1949; the date 1957 is when Capitol Records released the entire session as an album.
We showed how the sound achieved by Davis's 1949 nonet was revived by Herbie Hancock in 1967 in his album "Speak Like A Child," using the title tune ("Speak Like A Child") and "Riot" as examples of orchestrations which frame solos. Other albums by Hancock of this type are "Maiden Voyage" and "Speak Like a Child," which helped to establish his reputation in jazz during the early 1960s.
(2) hard bop -- a more accessible reconstruction of bebop using the blues, popular song forms, or original chord progressions, emphasizing individual soloing; We played "The Jody Grind" and "Blowin' the Blues Away." There are many more examples in this vein: "Sister Sadie," "Señor Bues," and "Song For My Father" are good examples. I have not added links to these titles, but you can find them all on Youtube by searching for "Horace Silver <song title>.
Herbie Hancock later composed music that derived from the hard bop style of jazz pioneered by Horace Silver (whose music we reviewed in class -- also see blow for links). Hancock's famous "Watermelon Man" and his "Cantaloupe Island" were examples of the hard bop influence. Cantaloupe Island is an example of hard bop "funkiness" in its rhythm combined with "modal" approach to improvising -- based on scales, not chord (harmonic) changes. In the "Watermelon Man" performance, Herbie explains how he came up with the rhythm and melody. The Canteloupe Island quintet has the best soloists Herbie played with in his own groups, Freddie Hubbard (tpt) Joe Henderson (tenor sax), Ron Carter (bass), and Tony Williams (drums).
(3) show tunes and popular music rendered as jazz, and based on chord changes. There are more major musicians during this period than would fit into a reasonable sized paragraph, but a few names that come to mind are Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Lee Morgan, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Cannonball Adderley, Thelonious Monk, Freddie Hubbard, Gil Evans (an arranger), Oliver Nelson, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gordon and so many dozens more.
(4) Jazz compositions based on chord changes. Some songs composed by jazz musicians cross over into popular music (e.g., Ellington's "Satin Doll" or Erroll Garner's "Misty" but between 1949 - 1969 many composed pieces were intended as jazz and were played primarily by jazz musicians. (See the list at the bottom of this page.) One example we viewed in class was Monk's "Round Midnight," and this week, John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." Specifically, we heard (and watched) "Giant Steps" - an animation. "Giant Steps" is interesting because the harmonic progression it uses is so unique.
(5) Beginning in 1958-59 there was a reaction to chord-changes (or harmonic progressions) as the basis for improvising. What is usually called "modal" jazz refers to improvising on a variety of "modes" (or scale patterns) rather than on chord changes. Improvising on a scale or mode creates a very different sound than improvising on chord changes / harmonic progression. The album Kind of Blueintroduced this concept in 1959. It became one of the most popular and influential albums in the history of jazz and perhaps it is not too much to say that one cannot claim to have a jazz collection without this music as part of it. At the end of the class we viewed this Miles Davis/ John Coltrane video: "So What." The "So What" example is rare and excellent picture of both soloists. If you listen to Coltrane;s solo you will hear how he frequently comes back to the same note. Everything else swirls around it. That is why I describe it as meditative: it has a single point of focus. We will talk more about Coltrane's tone and "spiritual" intent in Class Six.
Chord changes vs. modal jazz.
Doesn’t every melody have some harmony behind it? Harmony is formed by playing a chord, so how can we have music that isn’t based on chord changes? In what way is modal music different.
In jazz based on chord changes behind the melody, there is a harmonic progression that carries the music from beginning to end. Imagine (or listen to) “Bye Bye Blackbird” and pay attention to how the song moves from start to finish. In chord-change based jazz, the improvisor is following the structure of the song and maintaining the harmonic progression (while improvising melody).
Another way to think of this is that a harmonic progression tells a story, which is why chord based songs, the 32-measure popular song, are often called "ballads." The harmonic progression moves you from the tonic (starting place) through different key changes, through a pattern of "ups and downs" until it resolves again to its home key (the tonic). Modal music, based on a scale, establishes a tonality but does not provide movement-in-need-of resolution, as a harmonic progression does. Listen to Bye Bye Blackbird and how the music (even without its lyrics) tells a story. Then listen to "Milestone" (Miles Davis, 1958) and observe the lack on any harmonic movement and its effect on the improvisors.
However, in modal jazz, the melody may have harmony behind it, but it is fairly static (listen to "So What”) and when the soloist improvises, he (or she) is playing on a scale pattern, usually for many measures at a time. (On “So What”” the soloists are improvising on 16 measures of a D Dorian (mode) scale for the first 1/2 of the song's form. Even if you don’t know what the notes in a D Dorian mode are, it’s enough to know it’s a scale pattern. This gives the music a more open and unresolved sound; it also requires more resourcefulness from the improvisor. In contrast, in “Bye Bye Blackbird”, the chords change in almost every measure; sometimes a single measure will have two chords. Thus, the improvising is more confined by these changes than it is in mode-based playing.
List of recommended albums:
(Trumpeter) Lee Morgan's "Sidewinder."
(Pianist) Horace Silver compositions: Played in class: "Peace" (theme from Erik Jackson's "Erik in the Evening" on WGBH; Blowin the Blues Away. Recommended : Nica's Dream, Song for My Father, Sister Sadie, the Jody Grind.
Miles Davis: "So What" (based on scales, not chord changes). Recommended. Album titles follow: Kind of Blue, Cookin' with the Miles Davis Quintet, Steamin' with the Miles Davis Quintet, 'Round About Midnight, Milestones, Some Day My Prince Will Come, My Funny Valentine, 1964.
John Coltrane: Recommended albums: Blue Train, My Favorite Things, Ballads, Coltrane Jazz, Coltrane Plays the Blues, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, Monk /Trane, Giant Steps. Under "class six," there will be additional Coltrane albums that reflect his music from 1962 - 1966, such as his greatest work, "A Love Supreme" (1964).