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#1129107 - 01/09/09 06:44 PM To Bebop or not to bebop
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
I guess the reading posts about new jazz piano players made me think about this.. when I was in school I felt like there was two school of thoughts..

On one side there were people who were really into to traditional stuff.. these people spent their entire lifetime trying to play like Oscar Peterson, and for them, Oscar is still the men. They don't seem to 'keep up' with what is happening with the new players.. In fact, a lot of them don't really like the new stuff.

I was surprised because I had couple of lessons with a really great player and when I brought ESP, he just said "some people are never meant to play modern stuff like that" He is still an amazing player, he can play just like Oscar, or Gene Harris.. so I was surprised to hear his attitude about post-bop.

On the other side there are people who is really into pushing the envelope so to speak.. I like what they are doing, but sometimes I feel like some people are going too far... I've heard good number of students who could play crazy Brad Mehldau licks, but they can't play standards and play bebop lines to save their lives.

Whats your take on this, and how is it like where you guys live? I moved back home after i finished school, and I guess I am a little frustrated about how old school everyone plays..

Everyone is playing stuff right out of the book, no one is really trying anything interesting like playing in odd time or reharmonizing.. very few people seem to have the concept of playing more "free".. its almost as if people like kenny kirkland or kenny werner never existed in their world.

Piano & Music Accessories
#1129108 - 01/29/09 02:39 AM Re: To Bebop or not to bebop
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Well, it depends on your goal, if you decide to be in a pro world and try to make a bit playing and composing, it is always good to be able to play the standards, transcribe some solos, cop some licks. If you can compose in a unique style, then that may be the direction to go.

Anyone learning and playing jazz piano has some influence in their study from the ole masters, whether it's Oscar, Tatum, Chick, Herbie, Wyn Kelly, Bill Evans, and many others. Oscar used to listen to Bill Evans, although you wouldn't recognize the influence of comparing Bill to Oscar. Bill, a more modal, spacious player, Oscar a huge sound using a lot of bluesy left and right handed licks in perfect facility. Both were great sight readers and could play many classical pieces. Oscar had certain signature two handed licks he played in many tunes, almost predictable as did Tatum, that same pentatonic run Tatum played on almost every tune. those licks are broken down on youtube by Dick Hyman, who can play styles similar to Tatum. Bill E on the other hand played many variations on his improvisations. I know, because I have several CD's with 2-4 takes of the same tune, and each one was unique, no one the same as the other. He had no "standard' lick, although he said he "borrowed" every bud Powell and Nat Cole lick out there and played anything Bach wrote.

I understand and hear Oscar and Tatum "clones" all over youtube and there is no question the players that pull this off convincingly is impressive. It's really no different than a classical pianist reading and learning Bach, Ravel, Debussy, etc. The difference of course is that jazz filters in blues, pentatonics and improvisation. What works for pianists like Brad M and Keith J may not be a good influence or fit for another player.

Another thing I hear some players do is, learn some of the 'standard" bop/Parker/Oscar licks and sprinkle it in throughout every tune they play. They really aren't improvising, but applying licks that sound good at the right time. Of course there isn't anything wrong with this other than not taking risks and playing it 'safe." I have my own bag of standard licks I drop into tunes I play. For instance, in a 12 bar blues, say in Bb, I IV V, each chord has a 12 note possibility as a starting note. It may be an approach note to resolve to a chord tone, or it may be outside. i may play it safe with a lick I know will sound good, but then I may not and go into an unknown territory.

Anyway, I think I get the point and it's a valid one to think about of what to do next


When I solo over changes, I purposely begin patterns in a variety of areas on the keyboard, meaning I might start a riff at an octave, a tenth and work backwards playing minor ninth intervals, really out, but then get back into chord tones and tensions to match the changes. I try to be aware of not always starting with the same notes in the same sequence just to play it safe, but to take a risk and see where it goes.

Oscar P told a story once in an interview that he kept hearing about this amazing pianist that copied Tatum almost note for note, this guy had the chops, ears, the who bag. Oscar went to hear him in a club one night and after hearing him play, he was impressed. Then Oscar asked him to play I think "I Got Rhythm." Tatum hadn't recorded that one yet, and the guy couldn't play anything other than what he had copied from Tatum. That was the time when Oscar made the decision he would not become a Tatum "clone" and would develop his own style.

#1129109 - 01/31/09 01:30 AM Re: To Bebop or not to bebop
Jazz+ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/04
Posts: 838
Loc: Banned
I think it's best to have a foot in both camps, to be able to wear many hats, to be verastile and fluent in multiple styles. Be comfortable in playing play straight ahead, fusion, Latin jazz, acid jazz, free jazz, etc.
Roland FP-4 digital piano, Mason & Hamlin acoustic piano.

#1129110 - 02/07/09 05:31 PM Re: To Bebop or not to bebop
delirium Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/19/07
Posts: 23
I agree, good to know both camps but I think it's silly to copy somebody work note by note or want to play like somebody whether it is Oscar or Bill or whoever. I want play like myself.

#1129111 - 02/07/09 10:26 PM Re: To Bebop or not to bebop
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
One thing I was told was that a lot of the great spent A LOT of time copying others. I heard a story that Ray Brown used to steal ideas from Oscar Pettiford so much that that people used to call him Ray Pettiford.

I think Brandford Marsallis played Bird's solo on just friends note by note on ken-burns jazz, and a lot of these people have committed an entire album worth of solo to memory by heart. I've also talked to some of the great players.. and they told me that I should learn to play Oscar Peterson's Candaiana suite CD note by note...

It's important to play like yourself, but there is nothing wrong with playing stuff note by note, that's part of the homework learning jazz.

And I think this part is what separates jazz from classical the most.. jazz is 'supposed' to be a tradition passed down aurally but schools and myriads of publication has made jazz education more like classical, which a lot of older accomplished players are not happy about.

#1129112 - 02/08/09 06:47 PM Re: To Bebop or not to bebop
Jazz+ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/04
Posts: 838
Loc: Banned
Mulgrew Miller told me he never transcribed or learned anybodys solo. Of course he took ideas and styles from many others as he was evolving his own playing. And other players enjoy the learning whole solos and transcribing. It depends on what approach you enjoy doing and what your goals are and how much practice time you have to achieve them.
Roland FP-4 digital piano, Mason & Hamlin acoustic piano.

#1129113 - 02/08/09 07:47 PM Re: To Bebop or not to bebop
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446

I can tell from his playing that he stole a lot of his ideas from McCoy, Oscar, etc.. there is nothing wrong with that, and it's part of the tradition. I think its important to have your own voice, but its important to do the homework first..

I think your own playing will emerge anyways through your studies, but without the study you will be limited in your understanding of harmnoy, rhythm, and the vocabulary that is part of jazz. you arn't going to learn bebop lines unless you study the greats like bird

#1129114 - 02/09/09 12:21 AM Re: To Bebop or not to bebop
Jazz+ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/04
Posts: 838
Loc: Banned
Agreed. Learning the A,B,Cs of jazz is neccessary.
Roland FP-4 digital piano, Mason & Hamlin acoustic piano.


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