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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > Who is a Contemporary Musical Genius?

Who is a Contemporary Musical Genius? (Page 4)
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besson3c
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Jul 5, 2005, 08:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by budster101
You seem to be an expert. I'm only an amateur at best, as I only listen to music. I viewed your website and am incredibly impressed. Why don't you do this; Explain to me all of Brubeck's accomplishments and then express to me why he shouldn't be in such good company?

Do you think Elvis should be on the list? It is on the one I posted. Why not DB?

Just curious.
Dave Brubeck brought Jazz to my life as he was the first I discovered, and realized why and how this man made Jazz more avaible to uninitiated listeners such as myself.
Thanks for your kind words about my website... it's still pretty young, but I'm hoping it grows!

Dave Brubeck was and is very popular, he is a great musician (still is). I was just speaking as a jazz historian. I'm not a complete expert myself, but I've studied a fair bit of jazz history and I study with probably one of the most authoritative jazz historians (and jazz musicians) in the world, so I guess it can be said that I know more than the average bear.

Jazz history is generally broken down into these sort of sub-genres created to help label various happenings that have developed out of the larger umbrella "jazz" over the years.

Some of these sub-genres include:

- Early Jazz (Brass bands up to Louis Armstrong)
- Dixieland
- Ragtime (briefly)
- Swing
- Bebop
- "Cool"/West Coast
- Modal
- Hard Bop
- Fusion
- Free
- Avant Garde

Along the way, Blues, R&B, Soul, Motown, and other styles emerged which are sort of married to the roots of jazz. Blues is an important part of jazz, and vice versa.

(I may have left some out, these are not necessarily in perfect order either).

Bebop basically was not music for dancing, the death of swing and the advent of bebop was really the mark of the end of jazz as the popular music of the country. Bebop represented a drastic shift away from swing: often frantic tempos, many chord changes in a bar, more complex melodies, etc.

In reaction to this, a movement often called "Cool" jazz or West Coast jazz took place, the first big "Cool" recording was called the "Birth of the Cool". It was composed by Gil Evans, and featured Miles Davis. Cool was much more relaxed, and "cool" sounding (think french berets and cigarettes).

Several other artists soon followed this movement including Chet Baker, Gerry Mulligan, Lee Konitz, Shorty Rogers, Pepper Adams, etc. Dave Brubeck was an important part of the "Cool School", but he basically played within this style. He is generally not seen as spearheading a movement in jazz or changing the musical landscape (but that's not a bad thing either, there were a lot of important musicians that were considered as codifiers of their style).

Here are some other actively performing jazz musicians I think are pretty accessible to non-jazz diehards:

- Diana Krall

- John Scofield (he just did an album with John Mayer, check out Uberjam in iTunes, or a track like "Freakin' Disco".

- Joshua Redman (check out his Elastic band, or the "Boogielastic" track in iTunes)

- Lynne Arriale (http://www.lynnearriale.com)


Here are some "jazz legends" that seem to be pretty appealing to the non-jazz diehards:

- Thelonius Monk (to some, he is pretty quirky but also pretty rockus. Check out "Five Spot Blues", you can hear the melody under "Blues Five Spot" in iTunes)

- Charlie Mingus

- Chet Baker

- Frank Sinatra

- Jimmy Smith/Wes Montgomery

- Dexter Gordon ballads (when you want to get laid

- Horace Silver (e.g. "The Preacher")


There's also the whole smooth jazz thing, but I don't know too much about that outside of Chris Botti and Kenny G.
     
mojo2  (op)
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Jul 5, 2005, 09:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by Briareus
Fun thread

I run into a lot of supremely talented people, both in the classical and popular music worlds. However, it's hard to pin "musical genius" on any of them like one could with the likes of, say Da Vinci or Edison in the non-musical world. Gershwin and Bernstein are likely candidates, as they were more than genius composers (also conducted and played instruments at the same high level as their compositions).

A couple people have crossed my path that have really impressed me: I had a music theory teacher that could sight-reduce orchestral scores to two-hand piano in any key or MODE. Damn scary. Also, I have a colleague at a local opera company who has some frighteningly amazing talent: he's conducted opera rehearsals while singing EVERY part (regardless of language) and provided piano accompaniment for 50 different arias & vocalists in one day (at a vocal competition). Damn again.

Certainly posessing elements of musical genius, for sure.
Fun thread, indeed! They say you are known by the company you keep. Which means you must be no slouch yourself!

     
mojo2  (op)
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Jul 5, 2005, 09:24 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c
I'm not really sure what the criteria are for this thread... there have been several musicians listed who are now dead, and may have died before some of us were born.

Very cool story about discovering Coltrane though
Anyone who lived or died AFTER 1935.
     
zigzag
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Jul 5, 2005, 09:25 PM
 
Originally Posted by budster101
Do you think Elvis should be on the list? It is on the one I posted. Why not DB?

Just curious.
I think of genius as exceptional, one-of-a-kind talent that, in most cases, redefines the art and changes the cultural landscape. In many ways, it's intangible and can't be defined. That's why, even though one had infinitely more musical ability than the other, Elvis belongs and DB doesn't. Elvis was an intuitive genius who, without any formal musical training and only above-average pipes, changed everything by absorbing what was around him and making it into something new and unique. That's a kind of genius even if it's not what we would consider pure musical genius. A lot of his peers had more musical talent, but Elvis was a force (or, some would say, freak) of nature. It seems hard to believe now, but in the early days, the guy made women wet their undies. I'll take that over fancy time signatures any day.

it will be said, of course, that all Elvis did was get undeserved credit for imitating black musicians, but that's a superficial view - there was no one quite like Elvis. That he happened to be white and look like a greaseball only added an extra dimension.

"Before Elvis, there was nothing" - John Lennon, someone who would know

Brubeck was a great musician and deserves all the credit in the world for it, but he didn't redefine jazz or change the landscape. Monk, on the other hand, changed the very way we hear music. But if you want to define genius as anyone with talent who made an impact, then I guess Brubeck would qualify.

Someone else mentioned some musicians he knows who can sing in eight different languages and transpose music in their head and so on. That makes them extremely smart and talented and gifted, but I think that to qualify as geniuses, they have to turn it into something uniquely meaningful and powerful. Ry Cooder has accused Keith Richards of stealing his licks, but Keith Richards made the likes of Stray Cat Blues out of them, and Ry Cooder didn't. That's the difference between genius and talent.
     
besson3c
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Jul 5, 2005, 09:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by zigzag
Brubeck was a great musician and deserves all the credit in the world for it, but he didn't redefine jazz or change the landscape. Monk, on the other hand, changed the very way we hear music. But if you want to define genius as anyone with talent who made an impact, then I guess Brubeck would qualify.
Just FYI: Brubeck is still alive (and active)
     
budster101
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Jul 5, 2005, 09:47 PM
 
Besson:
Yep. Tours with his sons.

Zig:
He opened up Jazz to an audience that would otherwise not listen to it, so yes, he did make an impace and is a genius.
     
ghporter
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Jul 5, 2005, 09:53 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c
Sorry, odd metered jazz tunes are a relative blip in jazz history.
I have to disagree with you if by this you mean that odd meter had no later impact on jazz. I think that playing with meter and tempo and even changing the definition of what a chord was were important steps in creating modern jazz (both Modern Jazz and any current music that really qualifies as jazz). By breaking the bonds of conventional musical theory, Brubeck (and others) vastly increased the creative range of the genre. The "unconventional" music they made is often grating and disquieting, but it is DIFFERENT and that was the point.

And I can't disagree with a single one of your other jazz greats, except to perhaps say that it may slight some of the swing artists like Artie Shaw, who took late 30's-early 40's jazz and ran with it. And where's Ella?

Originally Posted by scottiB
Elvin Jones's drumming in A Love Supreme is the purest I've ever felt. The entire album is what its titled.
I agree that A Love Supreme is one of the most moving pieces of jazz ever performed. The blend of horn and drum, seemingly only barely connected, actually works to reinforce the musical mood just perfectly. It's like Coltrane and Jones were reading each others' mind.

On a completely different subject, I recommend everyone look into a Scotts band that makes its home in Texas. It is called (I'm not making this up) Tartanic. What can I say about a band that can perform Smoke on the Water or In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida on bagpipes? I think of their sort of reimagining what you can do with instruments that seem locked into a particular genre as genius. And they're crazy as loons when they perform!

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
zigzag
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Jul 5, 2005, 09:55 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c
Just FYI: Brubeck is still alive (and active)
I know, but the ingenuity he's being cited for happened 45-50 years ago.
     
budster101
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Jul 5, 2005, 09:57 PM
 
     
besson3c
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Jul 5, 2005, 10:13 PM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter
I have to disagree with you if by this you mean that odd meter had no later impact on jazz. I think that playing with meter and tempo and even changing the definition of what a chord was were important steps in creating modern jazz (both Modern Jazz and any current music that really qualifies as jazz). By breaking the bonds of conventional musical theory, Brubeck (and others) vastly increased the creative range of the genre. The "unconventional" music they made is often grating and disquieting, but it is DIFFERENT and that was the point.
I'm not saying that the odd meter had no impact on jazz. I'm just saying that DB wasn't the first to play in odd meters (like 5/4 in "Take Five"), nor was playing in 5/4 some sort of ingenius musical invention that had never been done outside of jazz. What I think was more important in leading to modern jazz was removing the bar lines altogether. in 60s Miles and albums like Love Supreme, there often is no clear 4 beats to a bar like before (they exist, just well disguised). Playing around with compositions entirely based in odd metered time signatures was something some jazz musicians seemed to only briefly flirt with. There are no clear bar-lines in much of modern jazz today (e.g. several "ECM" jazz albums). I think this was more of the breaking of conventions you are speaking of.

And I can't disagree with a single one of your other jazz greats, except to perhaps say that it may slight some of the swing artists like Artie Shaw, who took late 30's-early 40's jazz and ran with it. And where's Ella?
I also missed Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, and many others...
     
besson3c
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Jul 5, 2005, 10:20 PM
 
Here's that John Scofield Freakin' Disco track... pretty freakin' catchy.

http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/M...ItemId=1118643

I'm on a Scofield kick right now...

edit: corrected URL

If you really want to see what Scofield can do on his guitar, check out:

http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/M...ItemId=7053985
( Last edited by besson3c; Jul 5, 2005 at 10:37 PM. )
     
budster101
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Jul 5, 2005, 10:22 PM
 
Benny Goodman. Incredible. And Glen Miller... Pensylvania Six-five-o-o-o.


I was brought up on Benny Goodman. Second Hand of course as I'm too young, but I was introduced to him along with Gershwin at a very young age. Music is one thing that truely speaks to one's soul.

I missed your earlier quite lengthy and educational post about Jazz!

--

I'd love some recommendations such as "Love Supreme".

--

Back to the thread in progress. I'll second the motion of this thread being one of the coolest if not THE coolest in the Lounge in a long time.
( Last edited by budster101; Jul 5, 2005 at 10:39 PM. )
     
scottiB
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Jul 6, 2005, 08:32 AM
 
Originally Posted by budster101
I'd love some recommendations such as "Love Supreme".
Tunes/albums to start:

John Coltrane: My Favorite Things
John Coltrane: Giant Steps

Charlie Parker: Yardbird Suite

Charles Mingus: Mingus Ah Um
Charles Mingus: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

I'm sure besson3c and others will provide more comprehensive lists.
I am stupidest when I try to be funny.
     
Briareus
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Jul 6, 2005, 10:10 AM
 
Just wanted to say thanks to all the jazz afficionados that have posted links, artists, & titles. The major downside of being a classical geek is that the art of improvisation has been pretty much lost over the last couple centuries and is pretty much not taught in the conservatories of today to developing classical musicians. We end up "glued to the page", as they say.

I have the utmost respect for those musicians that have mastered (yet alone even grasped the concept) of improvising - thanks for giving me the empetus to explore more of this.
     
Hawkeye_a
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Jul 6, 2005, 10:29 AM
 
Bruce Springsteen
     
ghporter
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Jul 6, 2005, 12:10 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c
I also missed Billie Holiday, Benny Goodman, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, and many others...
I wonder why those names didn't spring to my mind when I was posting... I'm a big swing fan, and there was so much cross-polination between jazz and swing through the 30s and 40s that it was hard to draw a line sometimes.

Wow, now I have to pull all my Glenn Miller stuff out and spend a while listening to it. Poor me!

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
lavar78
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Jul 6, 2005, 12:43 PM
 
You should've listened to Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke." He name-checks quite a few.

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funkboy
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Jul 6, 2005, 08:51 PM
 
Originally Posted by Briareus
Just wanted to say thanks to all the jazz afficionados that have posted links, artists, & titles. The major downside of being a classical geek is that the art of improvisation has been pretty much lost over the last couple centuries and is pretty much not taught in the conservatories of today to developing classical musicians. We end up "glued to the page", as they say.

I have the utmost respect for those musicians that have mastered (yet alone even grasped the concept) of improvising - thanks for giving me the empetus to explore more of this.
That is unfortunate, but true. In fact, I thought improvisation was something classical musicians just don't know... I've only learned since I've lessened my piano playing that a lot of this music was improvised, which is something I love to do but wasn't trained in the school of jazz. Maybe I could look into improvisation in the classical way.


Originally Posted by lavar78
You should've listened to Stevie Wonder's "Sir Duke." He name-checks quite a few.
Good observation, very true. That's a run-down of a big chunk of musical history.
     
loki74
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Jul 6, 2005, 09:04 PM
 
Alexi Laiho is a musical genius.

Seriously, once we all stop whining that "all they do is scream" nonsense (a stereotype that crappy groups that truly only scream and bash things established) you can really appreciate his musical genius.

I mean, take all these greats... elvis, the beatles. Fine, fine. They know how to please a crowd. And dont get me wrong, they are talented. But they just dont deliver the full depth (for lack of a better term) of what music and the theory behind it has to offer. I would consider people like that as only ok musicians, but excellent businessmen.

Songs I reccomend:
Kissing The Shadows - Children of Bodom
Taste of My Scythe - Children of Bodom
Northern Comfort - Children of Bodom
Bodom Beach Terror - Children of Bodom
(pretty much anything Bodom...)
Gates of Nevermore - SuidAkra
Darkane Times - SuidAkra
Gathered in Fear - SuidAkra
To Rest in Silence - SuidAkra
The Alliance - SuidAkra
(pretty much any Suidakra)
Jotun - In Flames
Jester Script Transfigured - In Flames

... ok theres too much to list. All that stuff, plus pretty much any jazz or classical. People find it odd that I like classical and metal, but most of the metal I listen to has lots of influence from classical music. And then theres SuidAkra, who has a kind of Irish, Celtic, etc feel.

Granted, those are all groups and not people, so I guess they could not be considered geniuses, but whatever. Well, except for Children of Bodom; I think for the most part thats all Alexi.

"In a world without walls or fences, what need have we for windows or gates?"
     
 
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