24 sept. 2008

What can I say about Wynton? My view is hardly original or unusual, but Wynton is a not a first-rate player at all, despite his considerable virtuosity, earnestness, and jazz erudition. The missing element is that "it." That tastiness and conviction. There's often a pedanticism about playing older styles, one that is stylistically correct but misses the essential element of those styles: that indefinable tastiness we get in Nat Cole or Coleman Hawkins. Even more minor figures than Wynton have this quality in greater abundance. I think Wynton strives for that but misses it by a country mile. His classical playing is virtuosic but rather pompous; I'll take Alison Balson over him.

Of course tastiness is a function of taste. Wynton's supporters will have a different opinion than mine. Of course, they will be wrong, but what I can do about that?

9 comentarios:

Andrew Shields dijo...

I saw Wynton here in Basel seven or eight years ago with the Lincoln Center Orchestra. They played incredible old charts by Mary Lou Williams and others of her generation, and they killed them by playing them as if they had sticks up their butts. Then they played Wynton's compositions and they swung their butts off (no signs of sticks). Then they played Johnny Hodges charts and the sticks were back in place! But as their final encore they did a New Orleans parade around the auditorium with everybody dancing. All I could think was: What the ...? The earnestness killed the great old charts, even though the players repeatedly proved that they could have made those charts dance as much as anything else. It was half museum and half party, so schizophrenic as to be, in the end, utterly unsatistying (despite the good bits).

Bob Basil dijo...

Marsalis is a good teacher and, in a way, a musical historian. But you are right: He lacks the "it." He has no style of his own. Red Rodney's way more exciting.

Tom dijo...

I thought Wynton was boring too for years. Where are the memorable phrases? I thought. Then I heard his Carnival of Venice. No one does it better. Good to compare it against Gerard Schwartz for example who absolutely flags at the end compared to Wynton. Also listen to "Seductress."

As for pedantry. True. Always a big problem because he is always speaks out. I too hated this. And it seems to affect the opinion about him because the verbal pedantry bleeds into the playing. People are left with a bad taste. But tell me what is particularly pompous about his classical playing on Hummel here vs. Balsom and Andre?:

Wynton, Hummel Concerto 3rd movement

Maurice Andre Hummel

Balsom Hummel

Also, what conviction and tastiness is lacking in this version of Cherokee?:


Tom dijo...

The other issue I have here is a generational one. Is it possible to have the tastiness you refer to in jazz after 1970? Who among the living is allowed to have it? It's a lot harder for a jazz musician after that point because so much had been done, and the audience is tiny.

Jonathan dijo...

I don't know what the size of the audience has to do with any thing.

If so much has been done, then maybe we are at a point where there won't be that quality of tastiness any more. But that's a point for my side of the argument.

Jonathan dijo...

That Wynton version of Cherokee exemplifies everything deadly boring about him! I see virtuosity, some ingenuity and trumpet athleticism, but absolutely no tastiness or conviction. You're going to have to come up with something better than that. It's like a robot with no soul trying to play jazz. It doesn't even register. Compare all that to one single phrase from Clifford or Miles. Am I wrong? It wouldn't be the first time but I don't think I am in this case. I'm going to have to listen to Brownie play Cherokee with Max Roach now to get wash this out of my system.

Tom dijo...

The size of the audience has to do with getting the music heard. If you are not Wynton, damn his soul, who lives in a museum bubble, is well paid and well-known, then where do you play and where are you heard?

"THAT quality" of tastiness. No, you won't have that particular tastiness any more. I guess my question to you is, aren't there any living jazz artists you would rank highly? Anyone whose career started after 1970? The list you give is canonical and unimpeachable. I mean: Coltrane, Hawkins, et al. No one would argue with you. These are like mythical creatures. I had the same reaction to your list of singers a while ago.

Is jazz dead?

I still maintain the youtube clips of Wynton have tastiness and conviction.

Jonathan dijo...

I like Pat Matheny, Bill Stewart. Regina Carter is good. Joe Lovano would have his partisans. Lee Konitz is still alive as is Sonny Rollins and Roy Haynes. There are countless very good jazz musicians still playing. I saw Buddy De Franco recently and he was proficient at about 150 years old. There are very good and technically proficient drummers. i love any good bass player like the guy whose name is escaping me at this exact moment, from Philly, played with Matheny?

I'm underwhelmed by the generation of young lions, as a whole. That comes from being immensely spoiled by having easy access to recordings of Sonny Clarke, Mingus, Bobby H., Monk, Miles, Coltrane, Roland Kirk, Lester Young, Sarah Vaughn. If you know the good stuff you won't be that impressed by Joshua R., Branford, etc... This might be deeply unfair because some of the young lions generation are prodigious musicians who ought be to be recognized for what they've accomplished. But i can't just will myself into thinking these are on the same level of the canonical group. I can't explain it because these musicians had the advantage of good education and better working conditions.

Andrew Shields dijo...

There are a number of players who have come up since 1970 that I think have an "it" that should count as great jazz, even if that "it" is now a different "it" than the earlier players had. David Murray, for example, not only has internalized the entire history of the tenor saxophone in jazz in a manner that should make him as well known for his understanding of jazz history as Wynton is, but also manages to express that sense of history with great emotional power.

Another tenor player whose work I find emotionally powerful is Chris Potter, whom I have seen four or five times with the brilliant Dave Holland Quintet. His duets with Robin Eubanks in that context are especially striking.

Piano-wise, I am a great admirer of Brad Mehldau, though I have come to understand why many people do not like his work (without losing my taste for it!).

On guitar, my particular favorite is Bill Frisell (whose work with Joe Lovano in the Paul Motian Trio is endlessly surprising), though John Scofield has stayed more in a strictly "jazz" mode for the most part.