The Evolution of Jazz
The idea of orchestration reminds me of Bartok’s Music for Strings, Percussion and Celesta. That piece uses a large percussion section which Bartok wrote for in great detail. Listen to the section that at times sounds like they’re playing something completely different and even against what’s going on with the strings and the brass.
Is it comfortable to sit in an orchestra next to the percussion section banging out some odd rhythms against what you are playing? No. But when you hear the whole piece together from the proper perspective it sounds wonderful–so much so that it bears repeated listening precisely because of the depth of its multi-layered orchestration.
There is not simply one preordained musical direction in the approach to jazz I am describing. There was in the era of Oscar Peterson, Ahmad Jamal, Red Garland, George Shearing and the other great traditional trios.
They played the head followed by a piano solo followed by a bass solo, then traded fours followed by the head out.
That was a great template for its time but jazz evolved, and that older style became a cliché. So jazz embraced a new template. When Oscar and those guys created their style, it was fresh in the 50s because they evolved from the earlier styles of stride and swing.
Bebop sounded fresh and innovative in its time but the evolution of jazz has lead to the much more free type of improvisation I’ve been describing and on display in our recording of the The Snow Leopard.
Contemporary jazz allows the music to take you on a journey never before played or heard. Playing this style of jazz means being secure in your own ego and free of fear and insecurities that will get in the way of musical flow and spontaneity. It means abandoning your fear of ‘mistakes’.
It means trusting your technique and intuitive musical sense. It gives you the freedom to express what you want to say. It’s a group journey when everyone is on the same wavelength.