Classical Jazz is not the same as classic jazz. The latter refers to music, and the musicians who played it, which has stood the test of time. One example would be Stompin’ At The Savoy first recorded in 1934 by Benny Goodman (listen here), and by hundreds since.
Although jazz was a strong thread running through my father’s record collection, the very first long-playing record I bought (at Woolworths, so it was cheap) was Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos. Looking back, it seems rather strange, given that my second album purchase was With The Beatles by … erm … I forget now.
It was jazz clarinettist Benny Goodman who had first alerted me to J.S.Bach, who was by accounts a very accomplished improviser (as was the deaf Beethoven). Yet, I’ve never really embraced many of the classics, partly because of the stiff rituals I’ve encountered at concerts.
I wrote this about one such that I went to in Singapore almost thirty years ago.
There is a musical snobbery amongst classical music concert goers; there is none of the exuberance or immediate appreciation shown at jazz or rock concerts. A quietness, as if in a puritan church, pervades. The audience shows a reverence for the music which I don’t feel is appropriate. The gavotte movement of Thuille’s Sextet, for example had fine ensemble playing and moments of wry humour in the responses between players. I wanted to alternately laugh – or, at least, chuckle – and applaud. The music we heard was composed by courtiers, perhaps jesters: it was written to be enjoyed publicly.
I had noticed before that it is only in classical music concerts that a throat tickle becomes an embarrassing choking cough, as if people have forgotten how to breath properly. The hush of a breath taken in catches. Maybe shallow breathing reflects shallow thinking.
Sam Gillies wrote last year about a report which claims to show that jazz musicians are more creative, more musically active, and undertake a greater number of creative projects than musicians from a classical or folk background.
Then composer Mark-Anthony Turnage asked why so few classical musicians take jazz seriously. He does, as this preview of his Blood on the Floor (which was written with and for guitarist John Scofield, drummer Peter Erskine, and saxophonist Martin Robertson) clearly shows.
Aaron Copland wrote his Clarinet Concerto for Benny Goodman. This is a performance from February 17, 2012 by clarinettist Eddie Daniels and Orchestra Sinfonica G. Rossini conducted by Roberto Molinelli.
The following downloadable tracks have been culled from my archives.
01. Fats Waller – Bach Up to Me (1932)
02. Benny Goodman – Bach Goes To Town (1938)
03. George Barnes & Jazz Renaissance Quintet – Fugue in G Minor (1962)
04. Jacques LoussierTrio – Bach’s Pastorale in C minor (1959)
05. David Darling & The Adagio Ensemble – Bach’s Persia (2000)
06. Ray Brown & Laurindo Almeida – Air On The G-String (1984)
07. Oscar Peterson – The Bach Suite (Allegro-Andante-Bach’s Blues) (1986)