What’s in it?
For the Synopsis and Contents see below
For some extracts from the book go here
For the audio examples used in the book go here
For more audio of similar music from Graham Collier go here
the jazz composer, moving music off the paper is not an exhaustive survey, detailing the life and works of every jazz composer who ever lived, not even just the famous ones. It’s a philosophical look at the phrase ‘the jazz composer’, what it means in jazz, what it means for jazz, what it can mean for the future of jazz.
Part One, defining the situation, discusses the repertoire in terms of some of the tunes that are in common use throughout the music, and the performance, improvisation and arrangement, which are necessary to make them into jazz compositions.
Part Two, showing the way, deals with Duke Ellington and his skill in writing something more than a tune with some arranged elements. The performance is still vital to move it from the paper, but the composer’s regard for the individual voices of the players makes this into a different kind of music.
Part Three, rediscovering the potential, looks at how tradition can have a stranglehold on individuality and creativity, how Miles Davis and Ornette Coleman changed jazz for ever in the late 1950s, and how those changes affected jazz as an art, one open to any musician wherever he comes from.
Part Four, skinning the cat, shows the endless opportunities for more to be done with the tune, the arrangement, the composition and improvising now that individuality and collectivism have come back into jazz - and how Duke Ellington’s example is still vital.
The final section, directing 14 Jackson Pollocks, is a case study of my own work showing my inheritance from Ellington, Gil Evans and Mingus and how I deal with elements such as idea and form, what’s written versus what’s improvised and ‘invisibles’ such as space and levels. Examples of how what’s on the paper is transformed by the performance, is illustrated by the inclusion of the actual music used which link to the audio samples on this website.
take time out to listen introducing the jazz composer
Part One: defining the situation
1 something borrowed, something new
repertoire: the blues, broadway borrowing, a matter of choice
2 jazz happens in real time, once
the performance: magical practice, normal practice, reading practice
3 well man, we just blow
improvising: the heart and soul of jazz, three kinds of improvising, language skills
4 who does what when
arranging: arranging without music, writing it down, birth of the grey
Part Two: showing the way
5 one plus one makes three
duke the compiler: borrowing the tune, borrowing the musicians’ ideas, borrowing the musicians’ souls
6 thinking of a better way
duke the composer: the popular songs, the miniatures, the longer works, the competition, the co-composer
Part Three: rediscovering the potential
7 why would we want to repeat it?
the jazz museum: preserving the sounds, preserving the style, preserving the word, preserving the soul
8 infinite possibilities
the revolutionary decade: Kind of Blue in perspective, in the air, Ornette and Mingus, the legacy, does jazz need to progress?
9 deepening the game amid the background hum
jazz as art: realising its potential, the jazz media, the hidden present
10 it ain’t who you are (it’s the way that you do it)
on not being an American: on not being European, on not being a straight man, on the benefits of age, on not being black
Part Four: skinning the cat
11 no more blues?
reassessing the tradition: the common practices of jazz, new approaches to the tradition, the changing role of the soloist, the changing role of the rhythm section
12 don’t be afraid
advanced arranging: achieving beauty, unbearable lightness, grey versus creative, florentine glass
13 I hear a symphony
painting new pictures: doing more, mingus, mingus, mingus, classical influences, a question of form
14 taking a chance
relinquishing control: just five scales, just blowing, just enough
Part Five: directing 14 Jackson Pollocks
15 rolled steel into gold
a basis for change: rounding in the freefall, where it starts, idea, process, form, making things clear, creating gold from rolled steel
16 'play a rat patrol sound'
moving beyond the notes: space, levels, jazz form
the final word
recognising the vibrations
jazz in an age of deep pluralism