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I would say that most show business today misses the point of music - because it's all either for fame or for money.
<<Study all the various names for different styles of jazz, such as Mainstream, Traditional, Dixieland, Swing, Bebop, Hardbop, Postbop, etc. Before you play, decide in which style you are going to perform. If possible, attend a class at a music school to learn what licks and phrases are appropriate to each style. Limit yourself to text book examples of the style you are playing and avoid anything that falls outside of those examples>>
Ok. We get it. Being overly rigid in terms of musical categories stifles one's creativity. Agreed. However, unlike the jazz musicians of 1930, we are able, and in fact are likely to encounter a bewildering array of jazz styles which have evolved since that time, some of which are compatible, and others which are not. I would argue that being aware of of historical styles is a good thing. Playing within the general guidelines of a certain style is challenging, and, I would say, just plain fun. The danger, artistically, is being afraid to mix and match if it seems appropriate or strikes your fancy.
" By mixing various styles (and especially changing the style with every tune) you will again be thinking about music in a way that is completely opposed to how all the greats thought "
First off all, I'm not sure know how you could possibly know what the great musicians were thinking while they were playing. In any case, using different rhythms (mambo, cha-cha, bossa nova, calypso,etc) to add variety to 4/4 jazz has always been a part of jazz performance. It's not surprising that other rhythms (waltz, 6/8, reggae, funk, rock) have in recent years become part of this tradtion as well. Ironically, the old-timers (I'll include myself in that category), knew how to play a cha-cha, how to play a calypso, how to play a samba. Today I rarely encounter musicians who feel entirely comfortable with these rhythms. It's kind of sad, but in one sense you are right. I've learned to settle, and have stopped expecting musicians to be able to play these rhythm with any degree of authenticity. I'm less frustrated now, but I wish it weren't this way.
<<Pay more attention to favorite recordings than to the musicians with whom you're actually playing.The great musicians of the past listened to each other while they played and came to the bandstand without any preconceptions. In order to miss completely the point of music you must have as many preconceptions as possible. >>
Again we get it. LP and CD recordings represent a musical event that happened once, at one single moment in the past. Each moment in music needs to be a new beginning. I agree wholeheartedly.
That said, it would be naive to think that the great jazz musicians of the past did not look to recordings as a common ground or a jumping off point for their personal styles. Charlie Parker memorized Lester Young solos, Wes Mongomery memorized (and played back on the bandstand!) Charlie Christian solos, and the list goes on and on. The same goes for drummers and bass players and singers. The truth is, in any era of jazz, the vast majority of players are skillful utilizers of an already established style. Yes, Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Coltrane, and others broke with established traditions, but most came under the spell of one of these or other great inovators. To say the (imitators) were "lesser" musicians, seems like a reasonable statement. But to say they were "missing the point of music" because they chose to play in a certain pre-existing style is insulting.
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