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The Mort Report

Sex and the Jazz Musician: The Brutal Truth!

By Published: January 27, 2013
Well, if you're familiar with my feelings on the topic, then you know where I'm at. I'm not going to name any names other than one, just so you can get some sort of a timeline for what I'm about to explain. From my old chum Ornette (see the AAJ archived article Ornette & Me), who is starting to sound like Jimmy Dorsey
Jimmy Dorsey
Jimmy Dorsey
1904 - 1957
to me now, with all of the people strutting their inharmonious stuff these days people blowing bird whistles; folks reaching over the top of the piano and arbitrarily plucking a string here and there; with the drummer hitting the cymbals with his elbows and using a marching bass drum mallet to hit the freakin' bass drum intermittently; and the bassist? On occasion pulling a freakin' string and then staring euphorically off into space with a (no doubt practiced) look, like he had just discovered the cure for herpes—guaranteed to arouse the interest of any of the young ladies at the performance, who had gathered there expecting and receiving a wonderful life lesson from this group of musicians (?) that were—ahh, ahh playing (?) that day. Oh, and these cats have a hit record going for them. Ahhhhh, man! I've seen this crap—oops, strike that! Got a mild but stern reprimand here at corporate once for using the C word in a comment I made about a group not unlike the one that I just described.

Let me explain/make my point further, musicians, take five for a bit while I run over some basic fundamentals for some of the good folks that are reading this and who have never studied music before. Moving—hey, you! Get your arse back in here; I said musicians, dude. All of European and so called Western Hemispheric music is based on 12 tones/sounds—in an octave there are 8 notes/sounds, each note with a letter giving it a name, as E, B, F and so on. Music is written on five horizontal lines and four horizontal spaces. I'll use the word songs when referring to a work of music. Equally spaced vertical lines called bars segment the lines and spaces. See Wikipedia for a more enhanced and detailed description, if needed. OK. Are ya with me? Between these bar lines there are notes running linear which is usually thematic and making up the core value of the song the composer is giving you, the listener.

Also, on another set of lines and spaces there are vertical clusters of notes called chords— each chord determined by its name; for example, E has a complete scale that runs through it, meaning at the given space and the time allotted to same, any note one would play in the E scale would be in harmonious sync with that chord at that moment in time. No, I'm not going to get into key signatures or meter/tempo options here. OK. Break's over, guys, c'mon back in here.

Rules; yes, they count and do not impede progress or enlightenment.

In literature such as James Joyce's Ulysses', William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, Allan Ginsberg's Howl, Jack Kerouac's On the Road and like that, sometimes free stream was used—and to a degree, disregarding traditional punctuation and accepted classical sentence structure. But certain rules remained steadfast, such as the spelling of words—dotting I's crossing T's, and so forth, giving the reader some kind of a road map so they would have some idea of what the fuck the writer was talking about. OK. I've given you some of the basic rules of the road re: harmonic structure. I'll take that one more step further; on the chord explanation there are things called extensions, meaning that one cannot only play the basic note therein, but extended a little further out harmonically with notes further away from the first or root note, something that was used in classical music from the 1900s on and in to jazz circa, oh, say, somewhere around 1943ish.

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