sábado, agosto 28, 2010

Um post Parkeriano

No "Jazz em Agosto 2010" o Electro-Acoustic Ensemble de Evan Parker.

EVAN PARKER (saxofone soprano)

PETER EVANS (trompete, trompete piccolo)


NED ROTHENBERG (clarinete, clarinete baixo, flauta shakuhachi)

PHILIPP WACHSMANN (violino, electrónica)

AGUSTÍ FERNÁNDEZ (piano, piano preparado)

BARRY GUY (contrabaixo)

PAUL LYTTON (percussão, electrónica)

JOHN RUSSELL (guitarra acústica)

PETER VAN BERGEN (clarinetes contrabaixo e piccolo)

ALEKS KOLKOWSKI (stroh viola, musical saw)

LAWRENCE CASSERLEY (processamento sinal)

JOEL RYAN (sample, processamento sinal)

WALTER PRATI (processamento sinal)

RICHARD BARRETT (electrónica)

PAUL OBERMAYER (electrónica)

IKUE MORI (electrónica)

MARCO VECCHI (projecção som)

KJELL BJØRGEENGEN (projecção imagem)

Aqui os primeiros 60 minutos
do concerto.

Chet dixit

"It takes a pretty great drummer to be better than no drummer"

Chet Baker

Trane + Winton Kelly trio

quinta-feira, agosto 26, 2010

"Letters from Evans"

O "Letters from Evans" é o resultado da paixão de Win Hinkle, contrabaixista de Boston, pela música de Bill Evans. Obscura publicação em 26 números com valiosíssima informação biográfica e técnica sobre Evans mas também artigos e entrevistas com gente importante para nós (you know who we are...)
Download aqui.

Mais recursos sobre Bill Evans:

Werner wisdom

Um artigo de Ken Werner com o título "Playing for the Right Reasons" publicado na obscura publicação online "Letter from Evans" (dentro de algum tempo postarei aqui todos os 26 números publicados)

"I played for all the wrong reasons. I played to impress and to manipulate. I played to create self-esteem where there was none. I lived and died by my last solo. These reasons still exist in some part of me today, for the old self doesn't die easily, and I need love and approval as much as the next person.

But today something more sustains me: I play to love and nurture myself, to discover my higher self. I celebrate life when I play, often thinking while the music is going on, that all thanks goes to the spirit that makes this possible. I'm so glad to be one of the ones chosen to carry this message.

Recently, I've become more and more aware of the true purpose of the music and the people who play it: to heal and unite the planet. Music is one of the most tangible manifestations of spirit today. And in a technological world driven by intellect and ego, spirit is a hard thing to comprehend.

At concerts I see people who have come to be entertained and who leave just a little enlightened. It is the widening of the eyes in wonder, the melting of the heart, and the opening of the soul that is the true purpose of the musician. But to be this kind of vehicle, the person playing the music must put his own house in order. He must prepare by emptying himself of personal goals and self will so that the music may fill him and spill out of him again. To be able to let whatever wants to come out to do so -- that's the thing. (You see, such spiritualism is possible, even for an American on a straight salt-and-sugar diet.)

It is a simple path for complicated people. The piano is a mirror that reflects the temperament and spiritual condition of the player. If one witholds love and approval from oneself, then the piano is an unforgiving, complicated machine with too many choices and no owner's manual. The player feels a wave of anxiety just by approaching this instrument. If you could watch him making his approach without the piano in view, you wouldn't know whether he was about to play music or defuse a bomb; the look would be similar.

But when Horowitz plays the instrument and the camera shows him from the shoulders up, he looks like a kindly old man waiting for a bus.

The fact is that if music is approached with commitment to effortlessness over excellence, it is possible through the years to develop an ease that is truly marvelous. I like to say that I have more trouble tying my shoes than making music, and the piano chair (I gave up that bench business a long time ago: too much effort to sit up straight) is the most comfortable chair in the house.

I can remember when this was not so. I would contort my face and body and do any damage that was necessary to squeeze some little extra juice out of the music. Had I not met two people, Madame Chaloff and João Assis Brasil, I would have continued down that destructive road.

Madame Chaloff was a legend among music students in Boston. She was supposed to have taught Keith Jarrett and Herbie Hancock and other luminaries at one time or another. But what she was mainly revered for was some secret mystical approach to playing the piano. I went to Madame Chaloff, a woman in her 80's with the demeanor of an angel. Her golden hair had a halo quality, but I've always been susceptible to those kinds of visions. "Miracle on 34th Street" and "Here Comes Mr. Jordan" were two of my favorite movies. But, as all who knew her agree, she was one God-inspired lady.

Until I met Madame, I thought you pushed the music out by the sweat of your brow. I thought that if you didn't practice at least two to seven hours a day, you weren't accomplishing anything. This belief was a major problem for me: I had problems practicing two to seven minutes a day. Music was a burden. And in Boston, where I was studying, the popular saying was, "I gotta take a semester off and get my head together!" The implication was that there was so much material to absorb that one needed to isolate oneself completely and do nothing but woodshed! Of all the material being taught, very little was actually showing up in anyone's playing. Of personal musical expression, there was none at all. But when I heard Madame Chaloff speak of "the secret of playing music" and how it centered around learning to play just one note correctly, I was greatly intrigued. Being basically a lazy person with no discipline whatsoever. I was hearing what sounded a lot more realistic than those hours and hours of practice. But it turned out to be much more difficult (or simple, perhaps?) than I had thought. Her concept of playing a note correctly was to "defy gravity," as she put it. This was to be done with complete effortlessness. The concept baffled me. It made perfect sense in light of her presence, but as soon as I got back to my room, I scratched my head and wondered what had really just taken place.

At the time I met Madame Chaloff, I was hardly ready to surrender to the meditative study of one note. It just seemed beyond me. We worked together for six months and I couldn't get it. Also, Madame was coming from such a high place that she didn't take into account all my neuroses, the head trips that got in the way of effortless concentration.

But this lady was definitely a prophet, a mystic, and a forebearer of my goals in music. Even though I missed the message of Madame Chaloff, it seems the powers that be wanted me to get this thing because they sent not one, but two guides to help. That was pretty amazing when you consider that her point of view is so rare.

A year after my experience with Madame, I had the good fortune to play in Brazil, where I met my second guide, Juao Assis Brasil, brother of the great saxophonist Victor Assis Brasil. He had been a concert pianist. His story was that he was really showing promise as he toured through Europe entering piano competitions when, suddenly, he had a nervous breakdown. Over-achievement (eight hours a day of practicing) had finally taken its toll. They sent him back to Brazil, where he lived with his parents and recuperated. He was in therapy five days a week and was practicing from scratch, just trying to do five minutes at a time of "effortless non-goal-oriented playing" (a phrase that rolls off the lips rather nicely). He had a little exercise: a teacher in Vienna had showed him how to relax completely his arms and fingers and just drop the fingers onto the keyboard, one through five. He talked of effortless piano, but his head wasn't in the clouds, as Madame's was. Because of his own pain, he could relate to mine; he knew that the torture of piano neurosis is mentally damaging and, if not dealt with, physically also. I have since come to believe that it is also the result of a spiritual malady. He was well versed in the ways a person could beat on himself trying to make music. He knew the obsession involved.

One day we were listening to Horowitz play on record. Juao was sitting there conducting in the air and enjoying himself. I was sitting with eyebrows furrowed, obsessively biting my fingernails as I suffered over Horowitz's greatness. I was thinking. Yeah, wow, that's great playing. I feel horrible. I'll never play like that. But wait. If I start practicing now, five hours a day maybe, by the time I'm X years old I'll be able to --- Juao must have been reading my mind, or I was probably much more transparent than I thought, but just at the right moment he startled me by putting his hand on my shoulder and saying, "kind to yourself. Enjoy the music." This was nothing short of a revelation. I instantly relaxed my whole body, which I had been unaware was tense in the first place. I've since realized that I had trouble listening to good music because it hurt so much. Oh, I could listen to the immortals and hang with that OK, but when a contemporary of mine really sounded good, man, that was hard to take. That sense of comparison had blocked me from much beauty. It took me years to detoxify myself of the belief that I had to be the greatest pianist in the world or nothing at all. You really have to avoid listening to a lot of music to believe this fairy tale about yourself.

Juao told me that after his breakdown he had to use the words "be kind to yourself" many times each day. Sometimes, in a fit of expectation, he would have to retreat into the bathroom and with clenched lips repeat to himself over and over, "I must be kind to myself, I must be kind to myself."

At the time I met him he had been practicing this philosophy and the five-finger relaxation exercises for a couple of years. He was able to take it easy on himself mentally while practicing with grace at the piano, and it all blended beautifully. What I observed was a loving, comfortable, and productive person who could now practice for ten hours with more ease than I could for fifteen minutes. He told me that if I practiced five minutes a day of effortless concentration, those five minutes would become ten; ten would become twenty, etc., until I could practice as long as I wanted. This was another revelation. Also, at times, it was hard for me
to believe it. But I realized that my life was dysfunctional because I expected so much from myself. These five minutes a day could reprogram me to focus on whatever I was doing and not about the overall result. I had thought that I was on some sort of timetable that was crucial to my success. But this concept contradicted that.

He had me try an experiment that would convince me once and for all that this was the path for me. He told me not to play anything but the five-finger exercise for no more than five minutes at a time. The exercise, which I have since shown to many people, requires just sitting at the piano, unloading all the excess baggage that you're carrying, and dropping each finger onto the keys. (I have described the exercise in greater detail in my last article for "Organica"). But he wanted me to do this for two weeks. I thought he was insane. Sit at the piano for only five minutes and then walk away? I had to prove my pianisthood every time I sat down. I had to convince everyone of my worth. But he was telling me to release the whole game and relax my mind and body and just sink into the key. I was sure I was going to lose my chops and forget everything. But because it was his home I was living in and because I was greatly influenced by him, I decided to give it a try. It was an uncomfortable feeling, on the one hand, because I felt I was doing nothing at all. But, on the other hand, I had never succeeded at fulfilling any other teacher's practicing requirements.

I finally broke down and played at a party of some friends. When I got there I had no idea what I would sound like, since I had done next to nothing (or so I thought) for five days. Then the miracle happened. My playing had gone through a complete metamorphosis. My sound was totally different, something like Bill Evans' touch. My lines sounded fresh and tasty and very economical. My chords were either completely changed, or they just sounded that way. There was a balance and control in my playing that I seemed to little to do with. It was as if I had swallowed some magic pill that transformed me into perfection. And the tape confirmed it. Right then and there I became a believer and disciple. It's been about fifteen years since that experience and as I continue on that simple path, the freedom and joy continue to grow, and to flow through my life, widening my view of life itself.

As the years have passed, the concept has changed to reflect my experience with it. Now it goes something like this: I am an empty vehicle, ready to be loaded with music which I let flow through me unobstructed so that it may reach its intended parties. The joy I receive more than compensates for the apparent loss of control. I try to stay in a state of gratitude. This I do quite imperfectly, but I try nonetheless, because in that state, the responsibility to play great falls not on me but on God. And just who is God? For me, God is the groove, the wind at my back, the life energy that envelops me and nurtures me if will simply fall into it. Although it's just an earth groove, I can tense it up and shake it off, or I can kick back and let it flow.
What could be easier for a lazy guy like me?

quarta-feira, agosto 25, 2010

Happy birthday Wayne Shorter

Wayne Shorter faz hoje 77 anos. Obrigado por alguma da mais incrível música do planeta. Yeah!

terça-feira, agosto 24, 2010

"To a Young Jazz Musician" de Wynton Marsalis

Excerto do livro

"To a Young Jazz Musician"
de Wynton Marsalis e Selwyn Seyfu Hinds

The Humble Self

"Dear Anthony,

Today would have been a good day for you to hang with us. We just pulled into Maine for a performance. Did the usual bit: check in at the hotel, head to the venue for sound check, back to the hotel to change for the show. Oh, and look for lobster. I also had a chance to talk to some kids about playing. They were high school age, a bit younger than you. People filled the school auditorium—dads, moms, brothers, and sisters, cousins. All watched the kids in the school’s jazz band. Those kids did okay. It touched me to hear them play so earnestly, to watch them listen so intently in their effort to get better. And I love the feeling of pride and expectation that pours out from the families as they enjoy the results of hard work on display. You should have seen the drummer; fifteen years old. Trying to be so cool we called him Ice. He looked great, but damn sure wasn’t swinging. Afterward, I ended up telling ’em the usual: stay encouraged, play with each other, and keep practicing. I wonder sometimes if saying “practice” is enough. Practice what? Talking with those kids brought to mind something someone once asked John Coltrane, “Trane, when do you practice?”

“I only practice when I’m working on something,” he replied.

Yeah, man, you can play tunes forever. Play enough, play every night, and you’ll get to blow on a lot of songs. Experienced players get to know the changes and play a lot of standards. But you, and those kids in Maine, don’t have Coltrane’s experience. Y’all need to practice—and practice the “something” Trane talked about. It could be your sound, a deeper swing, solo construction, or just hearing bass lines. The bottom line is practice”something” every moment you can. Don’t just sit around and wait for something to happen, that same something is waiting on you.

So, I spent some time thinking about what we should talk about in this first letter, and I came to the notion of humility. You consider yourself humble? Ever really think about it? Let me tell you, humility is the doorway to truth and clarity of objectives for a jazz musician, it’s the doorway to learning. Check it out.

When you start playing, you’ve got to have objectives: What are you playing? Why are you playing it? How do you want to sound, and how will you achieve that sound? When you have those things clear in your mind, it’s much easier to teach yourself, and ultimately, that’s what you have to do. No one’s really going to teach you how to play.

I’ve been lucky: Early on in my career I spent a good deal of time around great musicians, for instance Art Blakey. You might ask me, “What did Art Blakey teach you?” And I’d tell you “nothing,” at least in the way your probably meant the question. Art didn’t say “play your scales” or “play a G on this.” You’d start playing, and he would tell you something like, “You need to be more physical.” Or he would come in and say, “You’re bullshitting.” That was your lesson. What did that mean? Stop bullshitting. That’s Art. That’s what he taught you.

Today you have all these universities putting out loads of jazz musicians. But these institutions breed misconceptions, particularly the one that says you need great technique. How many times have you heard of an older cat grumbling that these young kids can’t play nothing but fast nothing? But what they really mean is that everyone’s being educated into believing that fulfilling a few technical objectives is actually playing. Style over substance. Like a lot of academic writing, piles of big words that add up to one response: “Huh?” If you wanted to become an engineer, certain basic, fundamental levels of technical expertise would just be assumed when you showed up for the job.

In jazz, scales and chords are belabored ad infinitum as is playing fast, meaningless lines. Thinking that practicing rudimentary techniques is advanced study will not take you where you need to go to develop musicianship and your personal direction, to develop your conception, and to unleash your own personal power.

In fact, it’s a question relevant to just about any situation in which you find yourself: How do I unleash my personal power? It could be in your family. It could be when you relate to your kids. Most relationships will require you to address the issue of how you participate as yourself without being selfish. And in jazz, the power in this sense is your unique creativity. Unleashing your personal power is the result of codifying, articulating, and projecting your own hard-earned objectives in playing.

You learn a piece in class. And you do it again and again—eight thousand times. You’ll be so tired of doing it that every time you gotta do it again, you’ll say to yourself, “Man, not this!” And if it’s part of a course of study in school, maybe you’ve done it for five or six years now. What if it had been for twenty-five years? You can repeat something forever or you can look for things. “Things” are possibilities in jazz, and possibilities in jazz never run out. That’s why the music lives on. Consider just the rhythm section alone. They can slow down. They can speed up. They can be solo-specific and change grooves. And you, playing with them, you realize the different things you could do on your own. You can interact with your drummer. You could modulate to another key. You could do a million things with it.

But I guarantee you, twenty-five years from now, you will go all over the world and you will play with people, and they’ll play the same basic vocabulary held by the people who play jazz now. Melody, a string of too long solos, then you’ll play a long one (even though you know better), then a bass solo. Everyone will play his or her own version of the common vocabulary. So start now, don’t accept this for yourself. Unleash the unlimited freedom in the music for your unique articulation. Don’t just stand up and play clichés all the time, all night, the same patterns. Use your ingenuity and your creativity.

And to do this, you must develop some objectives. When you have objectives, when you understand what you’re trying to do, then you try things as you’re playing. They might sound sad at first, but you have an objective—you’re working those things out. It’s important to understand that in order to be different, you have to do something different. The first inkling of difference comes with thinking in a different way. Then, make sure that that thinking reflects how you truly feel.

Let’s rap about your favorite musician for a second, Charlie Parker. Whenever Charlie Parker used to play Jazz at the Philharmonic with other all-star musicians, they would always play these loud, obnoxious riffs behind him. He didn’t like it, but they did it anyway. Why is that? Maybe, unconsciously, the others didn’t want to hear Parker’s playing because it stoked a kind of anxious competitiveness in them. They didn’t want to deal with the weight and power of what he was playing, and they most likely didn’t know what they were doing. They were’nt purposefully thinking, “He’s playing great. Let’s play loud.” It’s just the psychological impact of being on a bandstand with a musician of real genius.

Parker had specific themes to his art—for example, his root music, the Kansas City blues—and a fleet-footed conception of melodic virtuosity, absolute technical clarity—a way of playing the shuffle rhythm in a manner distinct from Lester Young. Bird was a great musician and he had a different mind for music, but the bottom line on the vocabulary and the objectives were clear. That’s why so much of Charlie Parker’s early material is the blues, the American popular song, and originals that have song form.

But at a certain point, all of that became unimportant to his acolytes. How can I explain? Well, when somebody puts on a two-thousand-dollar suit, you look at the suit and not the person. Charlie Parker’s surface style was fast, and it had a certain type of flash to it. Underneath, it possessed soulful melodies and the blues—Midwestern swing and other earthy elements that are comprised the foundation of his required to successfully carry that level of sophistication. But you could not see that. The flash blinded you.

That’s where education is needed, to open your eyes. When root objectives are lost, it becomes impossible to contribute. The best that you can hope for is to create some new form with an entirely different meaning. The proof sits before us. For all the talk of innovation, we don’t hear as much as we should, given the mountains of talents out here. People are not being moved the way Parker or Armstrong or Erroll Garner moved them. The late, great composer John Lewis once told me he would go to hear Charlie Parker and there would be all types of people listening: longshoremen, policemen, people who simply heard his sound and were touched by it. Lewis would be hurrying home and just happen to stop in a club for a second. But Charlie Parker’s playing was so gripping it made him stay.

When we teach Charlie Parker, that’s what we should focus on. What gave him this relationship to his environment? What gave his playing such power? You need to evoke that or some portion of it to get a good grade. The style comes after. With Parker there came a point where style was elevated over substance, conventions over objectives. Don’t confuse conventions with objectives. Don’t confuse conventions with the actuality of the form. For example, after Charlie Parker, everybody started trying to play his melodies on their instruments. Trombone players started playing like Charlie Parker; bass players wanted to play Charlie Parker; piano players wanted to play Charlie Parker. Granted, a lot of piano players sounded great in that style, but one of the strongest aspects of the piano is its capacity to voice separate melodies simultaneously when played with two hands. Now, because Charlie Parker played with a single-voice instrument, no pianists are gonna stride with two hands? Or take the three-horn New Orleans counterpoint. ’Cause Bird didn’t do it, was it no longer worth doing? Or not modern? You see, that’s the problem with following something as if it’s the whole thing. Who are you: a part of a fad, or a jazz musician?

As you grow older, self-knowledge becomes one of the hardest things to acquire. In our context, as jazz musicians, it’s more difficult than you think—to know what you will play; how your playing will evolve; whether you might say, “Yeah, I’m standing up here, trying to be hip.” Much like those cats playing with Bird, riffing all loud. They probably didn’t articulate that thought. But something said, “Get in Bird’s way.” Thus, “Mess the music up.” The first level of mastery must occur over self. And the first test of mastery over one’s self is humility. True humility. You look at yourself and say, “Man, I don’t want to be sad anymore. I want to learn how to play.” True humility has nothing to do with me, your friends, your lady; and it’s in such short supply out here, man.

Do you know how you can tell when someone is truly humble? I believe there’s one simple test: The humble exhibit greater growth and development over time. Because they consistently observe and listen, the humble improve. They don’t assume, “I know the way.” Of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of musicians that I’ve worked with, I’ve seen true, continuous development in eight or nine. That’s in twenty, twenty-five years, man. In most of my experiences with musicians, I hear them when they’re fifteen or so and I think, “Damn, this guy’s unbelievable.” Then all the obstacles of life appear, and by the time they’re twenty-five or twenty-six, I think, “How did that happen? How did you start with this much ability, this much genius, and this much creativity, and end up here ten years later?” Man, it’s hard out here.

Understand something, Anthony: You will hear the same thing over and over again, but you have to develop the requisite humility to learn, to love to learn. Humility engenders learning because it beats back the arrogance puts blinders on. It leaves you open for truths to reveal themselves, so you don’t stand in your own way. You realize this: It’s all about you. Your learning won’t live or die with your school or me. You have to become the center of your education. Once you realize that, you’ll understand that learning means figuring out what you need to do to get where you want to be. I hope I’m not beating the point to death, but I have to make you understand the importance of your personal involvement in your own growth and development.

Some people don’t show up for class. In truth, they don’t want to go to school. But that has nothing to do with any teacher. It’s your own time and opportunity lost. What if the commitment was a job? You might have been told to show up at 9:00 a.m., or hand in paperwork by Friday. And you don’t. So they fire you. Your employer is not going to have much interest in asking, “Why didn’t you show up on time?” That’s for your parents, or people who love you with such intensity that they feel a sense of personal loss when you give bullshit.

Real life won’t work that way. A jazz musician’s life won’t work that way. People don’t know, or care about your issues. They spend hard-earned money to go out and enjoy some music that they want to hear. They don’t have a personal involvement with you, or me. So it’s incumbent upon you to figure out: “What do I want to do? Will I kill myself to learn how to play this difficult music and develop my voice so that I can play something provocative enough for people to want to hear it enough to hear me play? What do I have that I can present to people that will make them feel better about being alive?

This is a tough thing we do, a tough road we travel. It demands your respect and commitment; it lives through your humility. Man, listen: Whether you’re a grizzled veteran like me, or a nineteen-year-old like you, or in high school like those kids back in Maine, as jazz musicians we’re engaged in the same thing—grown folks’ business. So treat it seriously, man. ’Cause it damn sure will treat you seriously.

In the spirit of swing."

terça-feira, agosto 10, 2010

Coreia do Norte

Com os 7 a zero que Portugal deu á Coreia do Norte no Mundial imediatamente me interroguei quanto aos castigos que os pobres dos jogadores e treinador seriam sujeitos quando chegassem a casa. Afinal não foi tão mau como imaginei. 6 horas de castigo em pé defronte do Palácio da Cultura de Pyongyang para os jogadores e (a esse correu pior...) trabalhos forçados para o treinador. Mais pormenores aqui.
De passagem, um documentário inglês sobre a Coreia do Norte que vale a pena ver. Incrível!
links nos "comentários".
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