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Re: Konitz contra Braxton, plus Videos

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  • mgraymcn@yahoo.com
    Mr. Handley: I am not sure what your musical background is, but it seems like you miss some things in Anthony Braxton s music, which makes you call it outside
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 9, 2001
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      Mr. Handley:

      I am not sure what your musical background is, but it seems like you
      miss some things in Anthony Braxton's music, which makes you call it
      "outside of the tradition"

      To many people, the so-called "avant-garde" and "free" jazz music has
      been created wholly outside of the jazz tradition. There are
      detractors and exponents (and even, it seems, some practitioners) of
      this music who think this way. It is VERY difficult for many people
      to tell who among these musicians has done their homework in bebop and
      earlier periods of jazz, and who is just noodling. I am very
      surprised that Chick Corea cannot hear the tradition in Braxton's
      music, and I am saddened that the great Lee Konitz also places Braxton
      on the outside of jazz.

      It's been a very long time since I've heard the "In the Tradition"
      records, so I cannot comment on them. But you say that the "Paris
      Concert" rendition of "Nefertiti" "could be anything." It most
      definitely COULD NOT be anything besides "Nefertiti." I sat down one
      day at my keyboard, turned on the record, and played the melody and
      chord changes while Braxton played his solo. Braxton KEEPS THE FORM
      AND THE CHORD CHANGES ALL THE WAY THROUGH. He plays chord tones VERY
      OFTEN, even at what some would consider the most "free" moments. It
      is BY NO MEANS a "free" cut, it is simply the quartet playing a
      standard sixteen-bar form, called "Nefertiti," over and over, making
      an essay on the melody and chord changes. (And I checked my
      observations with Paul Smoker, a frequent Braxton collaborator, just
      to be sure). If you want to hear "anything," you ought to buy a Ken
      Vandermark record. I cannot see a way by which Braxton could have
      achieved his music except by digesting as much tradition as he could.


      I don't know enough about the particulars of Warne Marsh's music or
      Lee Konitz's music to say to what extent they have influenced Anthony
      Braxton's treatment of harmony. I do know, however, that when Braxton
      played "Nefertiti," he capably addressed the harmony all the way
      through his solo.

      Many people (again detractors, exponents, and practitioners alike)
      seem to think that the "avant-garde" can be created by someone with no
      knowledge of tradition. And from my own, albeit limited experience
      listening to, performing, and composing music, I have found that
      knowledge of tradition as well as intuition are indispensible in
      creating great art.

      MGM
    • Michael McNeill
      Dr. Davis: Your post encourages me to clarify a few things which I wrote. Certainly, playing the right notes over changes is not at the heart of the jazz
      Message 2 of 4 , Jul 11, 2001
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        Dr. Davis:

        Your post encourages me to clarify a few things which
        I wrote.

        Certainly, playing the "right notes" over changes is
        not at the heart of the jazz tradition. However I
        think that jazz musicians and other artists hold a
        sort of "organic unity" and consistency as a priority
        in a work. Most jazz musicians have been able to
        achieve a level of consistency through playing on
        various "song-forms," in a way that relates primarily
        to the melody and secondarily to the harmony of the
        original tune (though some might argue with that
        hierarchy). In this way, we can rightly call Anthony
        Braxton's performance of "Nefertiti" just that,
        instead of "sixteen bars by Wayne Shorter, followed by
        some far out jamming." So we can tell from that and
        other recordings of standards by Braxton that he has
        worked extensively with "consistency-generating
        structures," as he might call them. And I think it
        makes a difference in his oeuvre that he has worked in
        that technical side of the jazz tradition. To my ear,
        there is a clear difference between the "avant-garde
        jazz" musicians who have worked on bebop techniques,
        harmony, and instrumental techniques and those who
        have not.

        As to when Lee Konitz and Chick Corea have criticized
        Braxton, see Scott Handley's post Re: Konitz contra
        Braxton, plus Videos.

        MGM

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