Well, some -- many -- improvisations are planned. Duke Ellington
incorporated some of the improvised solos created by his men into the
published texts of his compositions. Before Charlie Parker you don't have a
lot of guys that dive into their 8/16 bars not knowing what they
were going to do in some way, save for Bud Freeman and a few others.
Usually the player had something in mind. Sometimes, like Ted
Lewis, it was a retinue of pre-ordained gestures that would be recombined
in various ways. Not very artful, but efficient, and I guess how
artful it was depended on how good you sounded. I don't essentially have an
answer to your question, but some comments about the
nature of improvisation in jazz; it was evolutionary like every other
element. And it was also individual; you have Thelonious Monk, hunting
around in a room full of stuff for something that cannot be found, or Bud
Powell bursting with ideas and creativity and hardly able to hold
anything back; all approaches are essentially valid.
The ODJB had some glancing contact with Blues, mainly through their first
pianist Henry Ragas who had a talent in composing in that style.
They lost him to the Spanish influenza epidemic in early 1919. When Emile
Christian joined the band to replace Eddie Edwards in 1918, he
contributed "Satanic Blues" to their book which Victor recorded, but didn't
pass. They recorded it for English Columbia in 1919. But needless
to say, blues may not have been the ODJB's strong suit.
Uncle Dave Lewis
On Sat, Apr 6, 2013 at 6:11 AM, Don Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> On 05/04/2013, Tom Fine wrote:
> > One area of debate in some circles is if tightly and precisely
> > arranged Swing music is jazz music or more akin to dance-hall pop
> > music with some jazz elements written into the arrangements. I lump it
> > with jazz, but I can see both sides of the argument. I think strict
> > classification of music genres is kind of like sorting baseball cards
> > -- probably quite helpful to keep one person's shoebox of cards in an
> > order that he can understand and appreciate, but probably of little
> > use to anyone else.
> It varies from song to song. Many dance bands included musicians who
> liked to play jazz, and on some songs space was left in the arrangements
> for improvised solos, while other songs were completely written out. But
> if the arranger has a jazz background, the written out stuff sounds like
> There are many recordings where a vocalist sings fairly straight, and is
> followed by an improvised solo with arranged backing. However,
> collective improvisation is not possible in this setup.
> And several bands had small groups who would play a couple of songs as a
> jazz group to vary the evening's entertainment. They would also jam
> together after hours. (Timeless have a good CD of "Glenn Miller's G.I.'s
> in Paris" with Peanuts Hucko, Mel Powell, Django Reinhardt, etc playing
> what is certainly jazz.)
> So I don't think you can always classify a particular band as either a
> popular dance band or a jazz band.
> And is the key thing that makes it "jazz" improvisation, or the blues
> feeling which is the most African element in jazz ? (There isn't much
> blues in the ODJB.)
> Don Cox
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