Wednesday, March 08, 2006

ee pov

Ellery Eskelin (whose Hat Hut records are pretty much indispensable parts of dangerous 'n' dirty 90s and 00s avant-jazz) makes a very interesting point which kind of relates to recent discussions here.

"It's a tricky thing, dealing with the past. I think it probably boils down to being removed from the environment that created those players that one may be trying emulate. (...) I often think that if you really wanted to copy an earlier player you would not only have to study that player but know what that player came up listening to and how they reacted to what they heard in order for you to really be able to do anything more than just mimic their surface qualities. If hear some early jazz on the radio, for example, I'm reminded that that sort of swing feel is almost impossible to capture any more. To try and copy it directly doesn't really get it. It's much more elusive than that...the subtleties...just where that feel comes from...what it came out of and what it felt like to play that way (meaning why you would play that way) in the society at that time. Otherwise it almost becomes more of a caricature.

"I'm not a person who goes around telling aspiring saxophonists that they need to know everything Charlie Parker did before they try and play something that came after him...sometimes people ask me if they need to know how to play bop before they play free and I say no, of course not. But this is an interesting issue since each successive generation changes what came before it in some way, even if it's by loss or change of meaning. This is natural and normal. I'll never be able to play like Prez even if I spent my whole life trying."