Solos in order: Red Allen (trumpet), Coleman Hawkins (tenor), Vic Dickenson (trombone), Pee Wee Russell (clarinet), Rex Stewart (cornet). Philly Joe Jones cool and handsome and smiling behind the drumset.
And that’s just some top-quality Moldy Fig stuff. Put on your big-boy pants and I’ll show you some Bebop.
Nah, you haven’t paid attention to the meat of the argument.
Personally, I tend to be more a fan of jazz musicians as composers, since it’s the composition that I appreciate. Louis Armstrong was a great musician but doesn’t do anything for me in particular. I actually kinda dislike Billie Holiday (Sarah Vaughn instead, please). Dixieland is an example of something that has been done so much that it all sounds a bit silly now. I had Dukes of Dixieland records in the 70s that I listened the hell out of, however. Big Band is a big category. I really like Kay Kyser, and I tend to like 30s big band over 40s (regardless of the fact that Kyser is mostly 40s).
No, I think all be-bop pretty much sounds the same as well. It is dazzling, but it all seems like dazzling in the same color. But if I had been around and going to clubs when it was new, I’m sure I would have loved it. I saw the movie D.O.A. from 1950, and there is a scene where people are in a jazz club, really getting into it as this amazing new thing. One guy seems stoned and says, “I’m here getting enlightened.” It all seems very quaint now.
Sturgeon’s Law applies to jazz, just as it does to everything else. It’s true that a lot of jazz is mediocre, especially current-day smooth jazz.
Imagine that you were just learning about some other musical genre - popular music of the soxties, for instance. Let’s say you tried to learn about it by listening to everything that made radio airplay during the era. You’d have to listen to a lot of trash to find the good stuff. You’d probably get sick of it before you found enough of the best material to satisfy you. Most of it would seem banal and repetitive, and this is from one of the great eras of popular music.
The same thing is true of jazz - a lot of it is unimaginative. That doesn’t make it different from any other art form.
It always surprises me when I learn I have something in common with a poster I often find myself at odds with. I’m one of the unhearalded millions who love smooth jazz, and Paul Hardcastle is far and away my favorite smooth jazz artist.
I hope this news doesn’t ruin your enjoyment of his music. Smooth jazz guys need all the fans they can muster.
Sturgeon’s Law overlaps with other factors, I believe, making it bit difficult to isolate said other factors.
Some genres are stronger than others. I think country is lyrically strong but tonally weak–it’s hard to write a country song at this point that truly stands out, as the tonality is pretty limited and the low-hanging fruit got grabbed in the golden age of the genre. OTOH, “rock” as a genre has quite a wide range of possible tonalities before it starts sounding like something other than rock.
To go back a bit in time, I think most classical Lieder sound the same and sound pretty ludicrous. A handful stand out as masterpieces. It’s a genre with quite a narrow tonality and vibe, so to speak.
I’ve already said what I think limits the appeal of jazz, so I won’t repeat it.
Mahler’s “Saint Anthony of Padua’s Sermon to the Fishes,” from the song cycle Das Knaben Wunderhorn, is a particular favorite of mine. Gus re-used it in the Scherzo of his Second Symphony, where it got even better backed up by his wondrous use of full orchestra.