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Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?

Spleen Cringe 24 May 09 - 08:28 AM
alanabit 24 May 09 - 09:39 AM
GUEST,lox 24 May 09 - 10:02 AM
SteveMansfield 24 May 09 - 11:57 AM
Spleen Cringe 24 May 09 - 12:27 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 24 May 09 - 12:50 PM
Spleen Cringe 24 May 09 - 01:03 PM
GUEST,lox 24 May 09 - 02:40 PM
greg stephens 24 May 09 - 03:14 PM
GUEST,Lord O'May (Sedayne Astray) 24 May 09 - 04:37 PM
Jack Campin 24 May 09 - 05:51 PM
GUEST,lox 24 May 09 - 06:01 PM
greg stephens 24 May 09 - 06:11 PM
Tootler 24 May 09 - 06:15 PM
Jack Campin 24 May 09 - 08:00 PM
Spleen Cringe 24 May 09 - 08:02 PM
Spleen Cringe 24 May 09 - 08:06 PM
GUEST,lox 24 May 09 - 08:25 PM
Jack Campin 24 May 09 - 09:03 PM
Richard Bridge 25 May 09 - 02:31 PM
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Subject: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 24 May 09 - 08:28 AM

I went to see jazz saxophonist and flautist Courtney Pine do a gig at St Clements Church, 200 yards from my house, last night as the finale of the 2009 Chorlton Arts Festival. It was fab night out with Courtney and a buzzing band mainly playing stuff off his latest album Transition in Tradition. Violinist Omar Fuente in particular was a revelation and it's not often you get to see someone like Mr Pine in a 250 seater venue...

The point I wanted to make was that at one point Courtney said something like: "Some people say jazz should be what it sounded like in 1930 or what it sounded like in 1960. But each new generation brings something different to it and reshapes it in their own way. And as long as you can still trace the roots of what they are doing back to the source, it's jazz".

This sounded eminently sensible to me. Without wanting to start another "what is folk/pro and anti 1954" thread, do people think there are any parallels in this comment on jazz music for folk music? I am minded of the similarity between Courtney's comment and how fRoots magazine describes itself as covering music rooted in tradition (rather than only traditional music or music not rooted in a tradition).

Comments on a postcard, please. Play nicely!


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: alanabit
Date: 24 May 09 - 09:39 AM

I am not really qualified to comment on either. However, it does seem that the audiences for both types of music can co-exist exceptionally well in many cases. Without wanting to get into the minefield of definitions, I think that they often cross over each others' borders easily and naturally. At one time there was a Reading Folk and Jazz Festival, which followed on as a smaller event after the big Rock Festival. It was a smashing Sunday out as well.


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 24 May 09 - 10:02 AM

Jazz has become a post modern artform these days, insofar as it takes an overview of all styles of music and is prepared and able to absorb any style into its repertoire.

John Mclaughlin was a typical example of this and his work in the realm of Jazz fusion resulted in the inclusion of Indian and flamenco scales and vocabulary (amongst others) into the jazz "dictionary".

In this respect I don't think Jazz and folk can be compared as While Jazz can derive interesting and useful ingredients from folk and remain Jazz, I'm not sure that folk can do the same in reverse without becoming folk fusion, in which case it is no longer folk but a sub-branch of Jazz.

Having said that, American folk is said to include many of the songs of Cole Porter, Gershwin etc, and their music also qualifies as Jazz music, whether performed exactly as intended or reinterpreted.

Generally I would argue that Jazz is distinct on the basis of its emphasis on original interpretation and spontenaiety, but even then the boundaries are blurred, as many folk songs are interpreted differently and written in pretty much the same format as many Jazz tunes and chord progressions are notated.

Both began as Aural traditions and in both cases, written scores are based on attempts to transcribe what the ear has heard, often wrongly.

There are vast grey areas, so much so that i would rather not give an opinion.


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 24 May 09 - 11:57 AM

"Some people say folk music should be what it sounded like in 1930 or what it sounded like in 1960. But each new generation brings something different to it and reshapes it in their own way. And as long as you can still trace the roots of what they are doing back to the source, it's folk music".





Works for me ...


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 24 May 09 - 12:27 PM

And me!


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 24 May 09 - 12:50 PM

Jazz values sponteneity, improvisation and experimentation. Don't sound like folk to me, except maybe bluegrass.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 24 May 09 - 01:03 PM

Hi Jerry, I understand that. I'm not trying to draw a parallel between the two forms per se, just wondering it Courtney Pine's comment can equally be applied to folk, as per sfmans' revision of it above.


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 24 May 09 - 02:40 PM

"Don't sound like folk to me, except maybe bluegrass."

Yet there's a million different versions of every song, as interpreted by different singers and instrumentalists.

This can be described as filling in the flesh onto a skeleton structure, which is basically how Jazz works.

Remember that improvisation doesn't have to mean solo's, it can also mean harmonization, comping, rhythmic flexibility and reharmonization (using different chords).

The thing that Jazz and folk have in common, unlike classical music, is that specific parts are not preordained for different instruments.

In fact, specific instruments are not ... erm ... specified.

She moved through the fair can be sung unaccompanied, or it can be played on the pipes with a harp accompanist or any other way you choose to play it if you lke it.

The important thing is the melody, so you are free to reharmonize or improvise youe own accompaniment. You are also free to embellish the tune as you wish.

Taste is the arbiter of the extent to which a melody may be improvised upon ... just as one would find in Jazz ...

African folk and African American folk (blues) are nothing if not centred around free interpretation and improvisation. That is the main source from which Jazz got the idea, though not the sole source.

I don't know much about bluegrass so I can't really comment on that comparison.


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 May 09 - 03:14 PM

"Some people say folk music should be what it sounded like in 1930 or what it sounded like in 1960": discuss.
Courtney Pine said this about jazz. He is right. There are people who say, or have said this about jazz.However, I have never heard anybody say this about folk.THere are people who accuse other people of saying this about folk, but I have honestly never heard anyone express this viewpoint, from diehard traddie to "my songs are folk,honestly, I'm really relevant to the people". Everybody connecte with folk accepts that some kind of change is inherent in the tradition.


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: GUEST,Lord O'May (Sedayne Astray)
Date: 24 May 09 - 04:37 PM

Sounds like you're having lots of fun in Chorlton anyway, Spleen - I'm growing ever-so slightly envious! The highest culture we get over here is Ken Dodd...


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 May 09 - 05:51 PM

Courtney Pine has an interest in a specific kind of jazz, and his argument is attempting to sideline people who are specifically interested in kinds of jazz that predate him.

The internal politics of jazz is just as messy as what goes by the name of "folk".

There are kinds of jazz that embrace all sorts of technical innovations unknown to (say) Louis Armstrong, and there are people who do just fine staying within Armstrong's idiom.

There are still a few people (particularly in the UK) who would rather there was no jazz that went beyond that era, but it sounds to me like Pine is overreacting and creating his own strawman to argue with, like the singer-songwriter's fantastical Aran-sweatered beer-swilling finger-in-ear 1954-quoting bugaboo.


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 24 May 09 - 06:01 PM

I think that this kind of comparison and argument between those who favour Trad Jazz and those who favour Modern Jazz is completely absurd.

I liken it to an argument between someone who says that Newton was a better scientist that einstein and another who says that einstein was better than newton.

Thats not science this is ... no its not ... etc

In fact, together, they are just a part of our knowledge.

There is no einstein without newton, and newtons theories are inadequate without einsteins embellishments.

The same is true in Jazz. Its evolution had depended on those who came before, and those who camee before were seeking to push new boundaries which those who camee after were able to bring to fruition.

The same is true of the progreession from Medieval, to rennaissance, to Baroque, classical, romantic, modernist and post modernist developments in musical composition.

Music evolves and we can classify it according to genre and stage of development according to certain signature features.

Sometimes those signature features overlap.

The result is discussions like these about folk, jazz etc.

Music is so fluid, and its borderlines so flexible that sticking to rigid definitions, like the 1954 stone tablet from God delivered unto the great mudcat on mount sinai is absolutely absurd.


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: greg stephens
Date: 24 May 09 - 06:11 PM

Lord O'May (Sedayne Astray)--as he seems to be calling himself today--says   "The highest culture we get over here is Ken Dodd..."

Well, in that context I think we should pay attention to our Ken's prowess on the D/G Erica melodeon. Check him out   fronting the Boat Band


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: Tootler
Date: 24 May 09 - 06:15 PM

Music is so fluid, and its borderlines so flexible that sticking to rigid definitions, like the 1954 stone tablet from God delivered unto the great mudcat on mount sinai is absolutely absurd.

Now that's what I call fighting talk <very big grin>


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 May 09 - 08:00 PM

Lox, you don't get the point.

Jazz has not changed uniformly. There are many different forms of it being played today, some of them nearly indistinguishable from what Armstrong was doing in the 30s, others using electronic techniques and material from other cultures in ways that were not possible until this millenium. Pine represents a moderately modernist tendency, the big new thing of 25 years ago.

For somebody outside the jazz scene and just listening to the stuff, there is no obvious reason why these different subgenres shouldn't all coexist. (I'm quite happy to listen to both Sid Phillips and Anthony Braxton).

But there is a reason why they shouldn't if you're DOING jazz. You will be competing for funding and gigs with everybody else who labels themselves as a jazzer. And there is a LOT of money at stake - far more public money is thrown at jazz than at anything called "folk" or "trad" (in Scotland anyway, and I doubt if England is any different). Pine's position is not that of a disinterested critic, he has a financial stake in marginalizing competing subgenres (like the 1950s neo-trad subgenre which is maybe the UK's most distinctive invention in jazz so far, or the dance/electronica movement which gets both the largest audiences and the least coverage from "official" jazz media). So he has to say that jazz has moved on as a whole from what Armstrong was doing - in the teeth of the obvious fact that for many players out there making a living at it, it hasn't - they can do just fine while ignoring the post-bebop harmonies that Pine uses, never bothering with laptops, and making no effort to learn any Arabic rhythms.

And I do see a parallel here. Somebody who claims that traditional music doesn't exist any more (with preposterous bullshit rhetoric like sticking to rigid definitions, like the 1954 stone tablet from God delivered unto the great mudcat on mount sinai is absolutely absurd) is lying, just as Pine is, and often for the same reasons - there's money in getting people to believe that. (But not very much money, which makes the attempt look a bit daft).


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 24 May 09 - 08:02 PM

Great photo Greg! Now where's the sound file?

Sean, Chorlton has gone slightly bonkers right now. I think it's trying to remind me why I moved here...


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: Spleen Cringe
Date: 24 May 09 - 08:06 PM

Jack, fair point, but what Courtney Pine is doing right now is probably the best stuff of his entire career. He sent me somewhere in a way he never has before.


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: GUEST,lox
Date: 24 May 09 - 08:25 PM

Well I'm not looking for money - and I do Jazz - so I'm no outside observer.

My analogy with Science still stands.

Einstein and Newton were doing completely different things within the realms of their own contexts.

Einstein had to justify what he was doing as being worthwhile and not just Newtons work repackaged.

I accept of course that many other scientists may have rediscovered the same rules - and maybe courney pine is on that trail.

Likewise, Pat metheny would like I have no doubt to argue that his work is as valid in its own context as Charlie Christians was in his. And he would wish to be clear that the twwo contexts were exclusive to each other.

However, it is also true that without Christian there is no Metheny.

Without Newton there is no einstein.

Without Bach Rameau et al, there can be no polytonality or serialism as there can be no evolution from 7 notes to 12 and no intermediate discovery of and then movement away from functional harmony.

The 1954 definition is useful. But it is like a coastline drawn on a map.

The sea does not inhabit a fixed point on the edge of a fixed shoreline. In reality, waves go in and out - the tide goes in and out - the sea level rises and falls as the earth warms and cools - the rocks erode.

The grey areas leave room for manoevre.

And in music as well as science, we accept that our theory is comprehensive but not complete.

Why folk music should be exempt from that way of looking at things and governed by a rigid set of rules is beyond me.

Refusing to allow definitions and understandings to be flexible, updated or revised is akin to supressing scientific discoveries on religious grounds.


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 24 May 09 - 09:03 PM

what Courtney Pine is doing right now is probably the best stuff of his entire career

OK, thanks. I haven't heard him for a couple of years, and nearly all I've heard of his stuff seemed to me like it might crystallize into something amazing any moment, but never quite did. If he's finally got there, I'll be looking forward to hearing it.


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Subject: RE: Courtney Pine on Jazz: Folk Parallels?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 25 May 09 - 02:31 PM

The definition of folk is about derivation, not style. Is there any definition of jazz, or is it simply a style or family of styles? What distinguishes jazz from metal, or any other form of music in which there is improvisation?


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