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May 22, 1955 - Image 8

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1955-05-22

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Page Two


Sunday, May 22, 1955

.oc-e To THE ICHIGA DAILYSo, ,csv 12 1


- you wear 5 smart ways!

JAZZ: Spontaneous Art
True Jazz Artist Creates
Something New Each Time


Jazz is spontaneous, non-func-
tional, creative, musical improvi-
sation expressing the sum total of
all of the emotional experiences
the improvising artist has ever
It is played, without thinking,
in a relaxed manner with unity
and coherence- preserved by the
perpetuation of a steady flowing
rhythmic pulsation and a unified
architectural structure, assembled
from a given recurring harmonic
pattern. All of it depends on
strong, masculine, note-to-note
"Jazz is spontaneous"-
Many people who have heard a
jazz band play a written arrange-
ment interspersed with instrumen-
tal and vocal jazz solos have dif-

ing be exactly identical with the
creating feeling.
Many musicians who claim to
play jazz are in reality assembling
the creative work of others, tak-
ing something from each of many
different sources (other jazz solos,
popular songs, classics, etc.) much
like one would assemble a jig saw
puzzle. A true jazz musician cre-
ates completely new and original
melodies and rhythms each time
he plays, although some parts of
his solo may be borrowed-some-
times from his own previous work.
"-played, without thinking-"
A lot of people think that a jazz
musician must "think-up things to
play" while he is playing. Nothing
could be farther from the truth.
His mind is as near a blank as pos-
sible. I once asked Charlie Parker
what he was thinking about while
he was playing. He answered,
"Why nothing, man, I'm just lis-
tening." As Lennie Tristano puts
it, the ABC's of playing jazz are
"relax, listen, play."
"-expressing the sum total of
emotional experiences-"
If the jazz musician's mind is a
a blank, his improvisation will
come from a sort of subconscious
emotional reservoir of feeling.
Feeling is the most important fac-
tor in playing. There is nothing in-
tellectual about jazz. If a man has
had few emotional experiences, his
playing will probably be similarly
impoverished. Although a man us-
ually plays best when he is happy,
because of this back-log effect, his
playing may not express happi-
"... exactly expressing,.
A musician's playing will exactly
express his feelings only if he plays
what he intends to play. Some
musicians cannot express them-
selves because their playing is sat-
urated with mistakes, some of
which are not detectable because
of a lucky mishap which only they
themselves realize. A musician
can sometimes turn a mistake into
a good sounding passage by elabor-
ating on it-turning an accident
into an idea.
"... in a relaxed manner ...
Some people think that a jazz
musician should work himself in-
to a wild, furious, hyper-excited
state of nervous and muscular ten-
sion. These people are wrong. On-
ly when there is complete mental
and physical relaxation will a
broad coherent line of musical
feeling' and self-expression flow

In all jazz, unity and coherence
is encouraged by a steady flowing
rhymthic pulsation which is re-
fered to as a swinging beat. The
beat, which is primarily the res-
ponsibility of a drummer and a
bass fiddle player, should not be
choppy or irregular. On the con-
trary, it should have a smooth, ev-
en, lyrical, legato feeling regard-
less of individual differences in
playing it. The beat is the heart of
jazz and therefore should be play-
ed with the greatest possible emo-
tion and feeling-not with uncon-
trolled wildness and anxiety but
with relaxed discipline. '
. . . unified architectural
structure.." $
Another aid to unity and coher-
ence is inherent in the jazz style.
When a jazz musician says he will

suit sport outfit

play, "I'll Remember April," he
means he will play original melo-
dies and rhythms based on the
chord progression of "I'll Remem-
ber April." It would be impossible
to maintain harmonic unity with-
in a jazz group if every jazz musi-
cian in the group did not have a
particular set of chord progres-
sions in mind.
Most jazz solos are based on tra-
ditional or standard songs such as
"Back Home in Indiana," "All the
Things You Are," "All of Me" and
the like. These songs are all made
up of four bar phrases arranged in
various patterns. The pattern is
just as much a part of the song as
the chord progression and must
be adhered to at least in a gen-
eral overall sort of way in order
that the jazz group can "stay to-
See JAZZ, Page 4


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