Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Lonson, Sep 1, 2016.
Hmm, that looks good...
The 80s... Was that the worst jazz decade since the 50s ?
If I think about my (small) collection, and take all the Bill Evans final recordings out of the equation, I can hardly think of a handful of good ones from that decade.
Yes there are always good albums every year, but... You know what I mean... There was a lack of... enthusiasm in jazz (IMO).
Today I'll play this one from 1983:
Dave Holland was probably my favorite jazz player during the 80s.
Lack of enthusiasm, eh?
Not sure I agree with this.
At the end of the 70s and early 80s I would say that a lot of attention was being paid to jazz again after a few years when a fair number of interesting albums had only come out on small and underground labels. Some of the major labels were signing jazz artists again e.g. Columbia with Dexter Gordon, Arthur Blythe, Wynton (and Branford later); and island set up a specialist jazz label Antilles that recorded Ornette, Shannon Jackson, Gil Evans, Air etc.
And there was a lot of interest around Miles' comeback in 1981.
In the UK, even regular rock weeklies like the NME had regular features and reviews on jazz artists- Sun Ra, Braxton are ones I remember seeing. And the interest was such that a new jazz magazine could open - first quarterly and then monthly - The Wire.
I get why you made that statement because jazz did take a backseat but I would argue that it isn't much different than the 90s, 00's, and 10's. Let's face it, record labels (I'll use the old term) are big conglomerates today outside of a few boutique labels that try to make a go at it. Some artists like Dave Holland have created their own labels to put out their music. Unfortunately these small labels usually don't have good distribution or a lot of advertisement funds so finding the music can be challenging. Unlike the 80s we now have the interwebs to help in the search for these tiny companies.
I think there's a significant amount of jazz out there from these decades, even the 80s but it takes more effort to find it.
Fortunately European and Japanese labels took up some of the slack signing U.S. musicians. SteepleChase, Timeless, Black & Blue, Somethin' Else, Sony Japan, Red and of course ECM were releasing a lot of music (relatively speaking).
There's no doubt that jazz is no longer in its golden era but that has been true since the early 60s, i.e. 1964. When I was taking drum lessons from a guy who played in the SF Bay Area in the 50s/60s he told me that when rock & roll arrived the jazz musicians thought it was just a teen fad that would fizzle out at some point. How could such simple music proliferate to any significant level? Jazz musicians still had Las Vegas to play, at least until the musician strike and the casinos went to canned music in response. Bye bye Las Vegas jobs. Rock continued to grow and that was it for jazz as a major player in "popular" music.
WP Tomasz Stanko - Leosia (ECM) with guess who? Bobo Stenson, plus Anders Jormin and the great drummer Tony Oxley.
NP Kenny Wheeler - Angel Song (ECM)
W/Bill Frisell, Lee Konitz, Dave Holland. A gorgeous quartet w/o piano or drums. Take a rest Bobo!
Btw, I really dig Dave Holland's work in the 80s as well as his label mate Charles Lloyd.
Interesting discussion about the '80s. Upon reflection, it occurs to me that while my collection is dominated by the '50s and '60s, and I have quite a few releases from the new millennium, the '30s-'40s, and even the '70s, the '80s and '90s in jazz are almost a complete mystery to me. I think I might have an album or two recorded by Cecil Taylor or Andrew Hill during that period, but that would be it. I don't think I have a strong bias against the era, but I just rarely hear or read about anything from it (aside from Marsalis and co., which doesn't sound particularly promising). I do remember at the time (when I listened almost exclusively to pop and rock) hearing a fair amount of "smooth jazz" on the radio, which I really disliked then and continue to now.
There was good and interesting jazz in the 80s-90s. David Murray, Don Pullen, Dave Douglas, John Scofield, Joe Lovano, Dave Holland, Charlie Hunter, Geri Allen, Greg Osby, Steve Coleman, etc... I could go on. But I do agree that during this period, many major labels were pushing 'marketable' so-called young lions playing hard bop revival music. That has turned out to be a false renaissance.
Meanwhile labels like Soul Note and Black Saint were putting out some of the more interesting stuff.
I don't know an awful lot about Wynton & Branford Marsalis but I keep reading negative comments directed towards them on here (and elsewhere online), not that I have any issue with that but could someone summarise why they seem to be so unpopular with a lot of jazz listeners? It's something I've been wondering about for a while.
One of my latest purchases. Arrived today and now playing.
Going back to 80s jazz, I think I became more aware in the 90s when early pressings of 50s/60s titles disappeared from the used racks I frequented. That and reading jazz magazines which were more focused on the present.
Re:Marsalis, it was really just Wynton that people got upset with and it was due to his narrow view of jazz. He wasn't very supportive of current music that dared to move forward and also his dislike of the avant garde. At least that's my memory of it.
Some great info was just posted about this over in the Miles Davis FB group. I wasn't a jazz fan back then, but the story is when Wynton was young he was really vocal as to hard lining what definitions of real jazz were and it ticked off people from all camps. One anecdote included a guy who interviewed Art Farmer back then. Art told a story about a young Wynton showing up around him & some other players after a gig and bad mouthing all kinds of jazz musicians. Art's reaction was something along the lines of "I don't know who this guy is, but with the way he's running his mouth I sure hope he can play." When I hear this type of stuff it's always about Wynton and not Branford (or Delfeayo). He may have been mixed in but I haven't read anything. Anyway, apparently for the most part Wynton has made amends among the musician community since he's gotten older, but I gather there's still a decent amount of vitriol for his actions back then among various fanbases (and maybe other musicians as well), especially in how it was presented and broadcast via Ken Burns' Jazz doc on PBS.
Nina Simone "The Colpix Singles" Stateside/Rhino 2 cd set.
All those facts you mention are irrefutable. And as said there are great artists and albums in the 80s for sure. But with the distance that we now have to those decades it looks like (to me) that - in global terms - that decade was not as good as the preceding ones. Just that.
(Great post by the way)
I've just remembered something, that before getting into this forum, I had no one to talk to...
This track from Sonny Fortune is not a cover but it resembles too much "Us and them" from Pink Floyd. Same chords, notes... Couldn't find no reference to that fact though.
Here's Sonny's "version":
I was a big Pink Floyd fan as a teenager. Still like them, but don't listen as much. Dark Side Of The Moon was an absolute masterpiece. Rick Wright the keyboard player mentioned his love for kind of blue and the influence it had on his playing. The core of KOB was always in Rick's playing - extreme good taste and simplicity. A kind of sound that is timeless.
I know that I won't find many Pink Floyd lovers here. But let me tell you: don't put Rick in the same bag as all the other prog/rock keyboard players.
I was a massive Floyd fan back in the 70s and even early 80s. I still have the lps but I don't play them a lot these days.
Thanks for posting the music. I would listen now but my package from Music Matters just arrived!
Difficult to compare entire decades, but I would not underestimate the decade that gave me classic Anthony Braxton's Quartet, Henry Threadgill's Sextet(t), Joe McPhee's Po Music, Steve Lacy's Four/Five, Keith Jarrett's Standards Trio, Ronald Shannon Jackson's Decoding Society, David Liebman's Quest, Trevor Watts' Moiré Music, Lounge Lizards and Microscopic Septet. And that's just a tip of the iceberg.
Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers with Thelonious Monk, 1958 Atlantic (1959 London Records LP)
I had some free time this afternoon and finally got around to watching the documentary Bill Frisell: A Portrait. I ordered a bluray copy of it. I highly recommend it to anyone who is remotely a fan of Frisell. At first I thought it might only be about his latter day Americana music (which tends to dominate his catalog now) but the movie stretches way back and even includes a little bit about Naked City. Of the many people interviewed past and present I got a real kick out of drummer Joey Baron's recollections. I really enjoyed seeing some of the guitars in his collection as well - he has a lot of guitars and he seems embarrassed at the number he owns.
There's not much in the way of personal biography in this. The focus is strictly on music.
One sad part of this movie is the number of people interviewed who have since passed away: Paul Motian, Jim Hall, John Abercrombie.
Here's the trailer for the movie:
Paul Simon and Bonnie Raitt are the only 'celeb' commenters and they are only on briefly. Everyone else is a true collaborator and/or central to Frisell's story.
NP Grant Green's Green Street (Blue Note) Music Matters 33.3 , stereo
Interesting album but I have to admit I miss a chordal instrument and you can't depend on Green for that!
Btw @Yesternow I wasn't trying to say the 80s had an embarrrassment of riches and I'm not saying you did either. I just read RT's comments and agree. It wasn't a great decade for jazz but I'd argue that jazz has never recovered from it's best years and probably never will. let's face it, jazz fans are like classical fans, sticking together in dark musty corners.
At least the used market is still able to provide "new" old music for those willing to search (and sometimes pay).
I knew that Music Matters wouldn't last. It was a labor of love for Ron and Joe and the rest of their crew. They needed to do it and fortunately they were able for several years. It's been a fun ride. Now they will join Classic Records, Audioquest, etc. in the history bins.
Don't forget Wynton's big breakthrough playing classical music. That definitely upset many jazz fans, though I believe his intellectualism had as much to do with it. I was never against him myself.
In this time of climate warming and disappearing icebergs, that may not be the best analogy.
This was a drunk Discogs purchase from last week. The jacket is NM-, the vinyl doesn't have so much as a scuff, and it play grades a solid NM. Oddly, even though Miles in the Sky and Filles de Kilimanjaro were Miles' first two electric albums, these seem to be the ones that get completely forgotten and left behind in the lens of history because of the albums that came later like In a Silent Way, Bitches Brew, and On the Corner.
Miles Davis - Filles de Kilimanjaro (1968)
Original US 2-eye pressing on Columbia Records
The Jazz Tradition
Can you educate me please? Does the phrase 'anticipatory phrasing’ refer to matter of rhythm (beat) in this context?
Boy, I don't agree with that at all. It was almost a resurgent, explosive major decade after jazz took a kind of sideways turn in the '70s into proto smooth jazz of the likes of The Crusaders, and very poppy funk funk and fusion that was more rock than jazz.
You has the whole new young lions explosion with Wynton Marsalis et al.
You had all this amazing music that just kind of left behind the new thing schism of the '60s and the fusion schism of the '70s sort of embraces both the new and the traditional -- I'm think of stuff that the David Murray Octet albums of the decade which are all major records; something like Henry Threadgill's Slip Easily Into Another World or the WSQ records like Revue and Live at BAM.
You had major figures like Muhal Richard Abrams entering their period of greatest work -- like with The Hearinga Suite at the end of the decade.
You had Paul Motian making all those great albums where he emerged not just as a fine drummer but as a leading composer and bandleader.
You had the whole harmalodic electric jazz scene with Ornette and Shannon Jackson and Blood Ulmer who did amazing work in the decade not just with Odyssey but with Phalanx (Original Phalanx, Ornette's In All Languages, Song X with Ornette and Pat Methany, some of my favorite albums of all time).
You had new artists emerging like Bill Frisell and Fred Hersch and Jane Ira Bloom and Joe Lovano and John Zorn.
And that doesn't mention a lot of things that don't fit into easy narratives, like Don Pullen's music of the decade. Or the great work done by established musicians in a more conventional setting, like Joe Henderson's State of the Tenor.
Honestly, I think the '80s are an extremely exciting period for jazz. The '90s too.
I think I prefer the jazz of the '80s and '90s to the jazz of the '70s for example. It took me a while -- as I only recently mentioned on this thread -- to find my way to music that convinced me that the '70s wasn't really just a kind of lost decade for jazz.
In the 1980s, Wynton was the golden boy for a neo-conservative movement in jazz -- led intellectually by critic Albert Murray -- that it seemed really sought to purge jazz of its imagined impurities: the corrupting influence of rock and fusion, the effete (and white) influence of European art music, the "excesses" of free jazz. To not only celebrate the traditional elements of swing and blues and jazzing a melody, and well worn forms like hard bop and Ellingtonia, but to kind of rip all the stuff of the '60s and '70s that had maybe turned jazz in some different directions, out of the jazz tradition entirely. It wasn't that dissimilar in and aesthetic sense from the neo conservative political turns of the day in the UK and the UK. And it was open warfare for a while among artists and critics. Unlike the bebop battles between the modernists and the "moldy figs" or the battles over the New Thing, it was a great schism in jazz opened not by some artist moving forward, but by some artists -- and some very confrontational polemicists like Stanley Crouch, himself a reformed avant gardist -- moving back. And Wynton, an Albert Murray protege, was right in the middle of it all both in terms of his music and as a vocal proponent of what is and isn't jazz, what should and shouldn't be jazz. And in the jazz world in those days you were almost forced to be on one side or the other.
I adore Way Out West. But I pretty much adore all the albums Sonny Rollins made in the '50s. Work Time might be my favorite of his '50s albums. But I love Way Out West. I also love the under appreciated I think Sound of Sonny. The very celebrated album from the era that I've never loved the way others do is A Night at the Village Vanguard.
Separate names with a comma.