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Re: [RedHotJazz] Re: More avout Boogie Woogie

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  • Hugh Crozier
    I disagree. Blues by King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton amongst countless others are clearly of standard 12 bar length. Pinetop Smith always used an orthodox 12
    Message 1 of 7 , Jun 8, 2005
      I disagree. Blues by King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton amongst countless others are clearly of standard 12 bar length. Pinetop Smith always used an orthodox 12 bar structure as did Meade Lux Lewis. Unorthodox approaches, like Texas Alexander with (ironically) King Oliver, who clearly adapted readily, have an unsophisticated sound to my ear. This flexible approach to bar length may be to do with a certain approach to the music - but at the very least by the 1920s there was a standard orthodox form.

      I have found the same disregard of bar division in pubs and even with jazz players in London over the last 40 years. I am sure it is to do with musical sophistication and understanding - nothing more.

      "David N. Lewis" <udtv@...> wrote:
      "Classic" Boogie Woogie is full of odd combinations of measures. I
      think the head of "New Orleans Hop Scop Blues" is something like 17
      bars long, is followed by another part that lasts 34, and the piece as
      a whole has like five or six sections. Don't quote me on that, it isn't
      exact and I don't have the music at hand.

      But regular length phrases in Boogie Woogie do not become the rule
      until about 1940, after Big Band arrangers began adapting these pieces
      and normalizing the phrase lengths. Certain older pianists, such as
      Jimmy Yancey, never conformed to this more commercial approach.

      For a real adventure, try to count out the measures in Turner
      Parrish's "Trenches" (1930).

      Uncle Dave Lewis

      --- In RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com, "tommersl" <tommersl@y...> wrote:
      > A comment FWIW about that BW article
      > (http://nonjohn.com/History%20of%20Boogie%20Woogie.htm) and a
      > question. My comment is about the movie "Ray" , my guess is that they
      > mixed up between stride pianist James P. Johnson and the Boogie Woogie
      > pianist Pete Johnson that worked with Ammons and Big Joe Turner. Ray's
      > "Mess Around" I think starts like Cow Cow's Blues then uses things
      > that reminds Pine Top's Boogie Woogie
      >
      > My question about BW is, both Cow Cow Blues and Pine Top's Boogie
      > Woogie had besides the 12 bar blues sequences also 8 bars sequences,
      > if I'm not mistaken. Pine Top even say "Boogie Woogie" and "Mess
      > Around" as a sign for the dancers or something on the record, and then
      > he does 8 bars. Isn't that a nessesserily characteristic for Boogie
      > Woogie to move from 12 bars blues to 8 bars Boogie woogie sequences ?
      > Just my lame thought.




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    • Andrew Homzy
      Dear Hugh, I agree with most of your points about the standard 12 bar length in early recorded blues progressions. What I would add is that the variants in
      Message 2 of 7 , Jun 9, 2005
        Dear Hugh,

        I agree with most of your points about the standard 12 bar length in early
        recorded blues progressions.

        What I would add is that the variants in meter are not necessarily
        unorthodox, but rather, driven by the words - and sometimes by the time
        needed for a self-accompanying performer to prepare for the instrumental
        responses.

        In the case of Turner Parrish's "Trenches", I attribute the variants to
        either: 1) an imagining of words or; 2) an unsophisticated or faulty
        technique. Having said this, I do believe that technique and expression are
        two different things. Poor technique does not necessarily equate to profound
        expression - or vice-vera.

        Cheers,

        Andrew Homzy, Montréal

        > From: Hugh Crozier <jellyrollstomp@...>
        > Reply-To: RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
        > Date: Thu, 09 Jun 2005 01:38:00 +0100 (BST)
        > To: RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com
        > Subject: Re: [RedHotJazz] Re: More avout Boogie Woogie
        >
        > I disagree. Blues by King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton amongst countless
        > others are clearly of standard 12 bar length. Pinetop Smith always used an
        > orthodox 12 bar structure as did Meade Lux Lewis. Unorthodox approaches, like
        > Texas Alexander with (ironically) King Oliver, who clearly adapted readily,
        > have an unsophisticated sound to my ear. This flexible approach to bar length
        > may be to do with a certain approach to the music - but at the very least by
        > the 1920s there was a standard orthodox form.
        >
        > I have found the same disregard of bar division in pubs and even with jazz
        > players in London over the last 40 years. I am sure it is to do with musical
        > sophistication and understanding - nothing more.
      • David N. Lewis
        Hugh Crozier wrote: I disagree. Blues by King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton amongst countless others are clearly of standard 12 bar length. Dave Lewis: Which
        Message 3 of 7 , Jun 9, 2005
          Hugh Crozier wrote:

          I disagree. Blues by King Oliver and Jelly Roll Morton amongst
          countless others are clearly of standard 12 bar length.

          Dave Lewis:
          Which Boogie Woogie pieces did they write? (sorry - I couldn't resist
          that.)

          tommersl:
          All the Boogie Woogie since Cow Cow's Blues that I think was the
          earliest have this (i.e. alternating 8 and 12 measure structures)

          Hugh Crozier wrote:
          Pinetop Smith always used an orthodox 12 bar structure as did Meade
          Lux Lewis. Unorthodox approaches, like Texas Alexander with
          (ironically) King Oliver, who clearly adapted readily, have an
          unsophisticated sound to my ear. This flexible approach to bar length
          may be to do with a certain approach to the music - but at the very
          least by the 1920s there was a standard orthodox form.

          I have found the same disregard of bar division in pubs and even with
          jazz players in London over the last 40 years. I am sure it is to do
          with musical sophistication and understanding - nothing more.

          Dave Lewis:
          When Boogie Woogie was mostly within the realm of players, and
          transcriptions of the pieces were not yet needed by publishers, there
          was a loose regard as to bar length depending on the pianist. 8 or 12
          bar divisions constituted a serving suggestion rather than a full
          fledged dogma or orthodoxy. Players from the big cities (such as Mr.
          Pinetop) tended to play in more rigid phrase lengths than those who
          worked extensively in rural areas, such as Cow Cow Davenport.

          Andrew's point about singing having a part in mutating phrase lengths
          is certainly true - the phrase in Skip James' "If You Haven't Any
          Hay" is stretched out to an odd count partly because the two lines
          that make up the verse occupy about three quarters of a 12-bar phrase
          each, and are dovetailed togther in the middle.

          Pinetop Smith only made eight recordings. We can assume at least he
          was consistent, and he was credited by his colleagues for giving
          meaning to the Boogie Woogie format. By comparison, Meade Lux Lewis
          made many recordings, and I have heard most of them. If he _always_
          used a twelve-bar structure, how do you explain a piece like "Rough
          Seas," which is like a Lisztian fantasy expressed in Boogie Woogie
          terms? And what of James "Stump" Johnson, the unknown pianist behind
          Sammie Brown or Jimmy Yancey? In the last case, what sounds to be his
          most "unsophisticated" stuff actually contains some of the most
          advanced compositional ideas to be found in Boogie Woogie.

          How would you explain a player like Wesley Wallace, whose "No. 29"
          (1929) is a Boogie Woogie piece in 6/8 time stated in phrase lengths
          that average between nine and eleven bars each? But for the lack of
          two notes, Wallace's basic boogie pattern would be identical to Mr.
          Pinetop's. Clearly in the 1920s particularly the standard orthodoxy
          regarding Boogie Woogie was still in a process of development.

          Incidentally, the Vocalstyle roll of Cow Cow Blues actaully does have
          one phrase of 7.75 measures in length, but this may be due to too
          aggressive editing of the roll. But the roll is a little different
          from the earliest Cow Cow Blues on record, and his subsequent 1939
          version are all formally a bit different from one another. The vocal
          version is radically different from all of these, for the reason that
          Andrew suggested.

          But I don't hear guys like Cow Cow, or for that matter King Oliver
          play an uneven phrase and say "that's unsophisticated." I say "that's
          different." I wouldn't even think of comparing a player like Cow Cow
          Davenport to someone who plays in a local bar down the street, unless
          the guy down the street was especially good. Nor would I listen to
          Boogie Woogie music from before the time I was born with the
          expectation of certain formulas and then say the player
          is "unsophiticated" if these criteria are not met.

          Uncle Dave Lewis
        • pryordodge@aol.com
          For all its worth, when I was a kid, I had worked with my father, Roger Pryor Dodge, transcribing solos. I remember a few cases of 16 bar blues where the
          Message 4 of 7 , Jun 9, 2005
            For all its worth, when I was a kid, I had worked with my father, Roger Pryor
            Dodge, transcribing solos. I remember a few cases of 16 bar blues where the
            last 4 measures were like a type of coda added to the standard 12 bar form.


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