More Jazz Violin Pt 2

Edited: September 3, 2022, 9:31 PM · Some Charlie Parker for you



Chick Corea


The last time I posted someone tried to say Coltrane isn't Jazz, not at all surprising considering some people once described Chopin's music as "ear splitting dissonance". No, nothing played here was read from looking at a book.

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Edited: September 3, 2022, 10:55 PM · First, these videos are impressive technical accomplishments, and they're fun and inspiring to listen to. Thanks for sharing the links. Not only are the notes played accurately, but the style and feel of the original solos are faithfully rendered.

The original recordings are jazz in the sense that Charlie Parker and Chick Corea improvised their solos. The violin performances, in contrast, are not improvised. Whether or not they are jazz -- I leave this question to the philosophers. I was truly hoping, after hearing John Garner play twice through the head to "Ornithology" that he would break into a freshly improvised solo, but I settled for a well-played transcription.

Further you wrote, "nothing played here was read from looking at a book." It's possible that the violinists patiently transcribed the original recordings by ear, committing what they were hearing to memory. It's also quite possible -- and I would say more likely -- that the original music was transcribed to staff paper and then learned from there. These players are good enough to have learned entire romantic-era concertos, so a few choruses of a bebop solo probably poses relatively little challenge.

Moreover, an entire volume of Charlie Parker's solos is widely available as a classic that many students of jazz (including me) have in their libraries, called the "Charlie Parker Omnibook," with the transcriptions having been done by Jamey Aebersold and Ken Slone. (Aebersold is still alive; Slone died last year.) It would surprise me if Bird's solo on "Ornithology" is not in that book, but I would have to look to know. There are also books of transcriptions of Chick Corea's solos and the solos of many other jazz heroes.

This is jazz violin:

At least, I hope it is. :)

Edited: September 3, 2022, 11:41 PM · I agree with Paul. While it reflects on the skill of the player, this kind of practice is somewhere in-between the interesting parts of genres. Someone playing Charlie Parker's note-for-note solo on violin really just makes want to listen to Charlie Parker. I think you could kind of adapt any of these into something more violinistic.

To get at Mike's thread from yesterday, you could probably make an interesting cadenza to Brahms VC by incorporating the Coltrane Changes from Giant steps, or hell, if you want to go full Schnittke, you could pretty much just do Giant Steps. Maybe it wouldn't work, but maybe it would be a gas in the sense that the Schnittke is.

To me, it's not really jazz without the improv.

I have thought about making some Hermeto Pascoal arrangements for violin at some point, but I would think of those as being more properly arranged compositions than improvised jazz. We'll see if I ever get around to attempting it.

I would see these dudes in a heartbeat:

Edited: September 4, 2022, 9:39 AM · Backstage with the Steep Ravine Band in 2014:

My grandson's band for 5 years. They played some derivative jazz on stage (such as heard in this video) but only recorded their original compositions (3 CDs out there). It was hard to find this one on line.

My grandson (Simon Linsteadt) was the guitarist and lead vocal. The violinist was Jan Purat (already a graduate in violin from UC Santa Cruz). My grandson stopped college to work the band for 5 years and finished college after the band folded (in 2017), getting a degree at The New School (NYC) in Music/Mannes and Film/NYU. He currently lives on the Maine coast and works as a composer (his 8th album of original music is due out soon).

Edited: September 4, 2022, 3:45 PM · @Christian, now that's the stuff! Thanks for sharing that link! We see guys like these sometimes on the facebook groups.

I'll note, however, that in their rendition of the head of the tune, it's tight ... but not as tight (e.g., between guitar and violin) as you'd expect a Beethoven string quartet to be played (at Banff these guys wouldn't make the first cut -- sorry for the stereotypical "classical musician's comment"), or as tight as you'd expect to hear from Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays. After the violin solo they did a little better. But the blowing is outstanding. And I'm glad to see someone else (besides me) who uses a Fishman V200 (from what I can see in the video). Keyboard player is a total savant too. Awesome band.

Edited: September 4, 2022, 4:11 PM · I can read "tight" a few ways. One way is what I think of when I hear a string quartet trying to do some kind of cross-over pop stuff and they all sound really together, but it's sounds like they all sat on their bows, and they stay really tight so the bows don't fall out, and there doesn't seem to be much "groove" or "pocket".

I think you mean "tight" in the sense that the players are really in the pocket together. I listen to a lot of Monk, and he played "tight" in the second sense, although even when he played a little slop, I find it totally compelling.

I'm trying to figure out if the Beethoven String Quartet level is something you are putting forward to emulate or not?

Edited: September 4, 2022, 5:43 PM · What I mean is that if you have a bebop (ish) head, and two instruments are doubling, then they should play the same notes, at exactly same time, with the same articulations, inflections, etc. These musicians are certainly capable of that. They just need to rehearse more carefully. The reason they don't is because most jazz listeners have acclimated to slightly sloppy doubling of heads going all the way back to the early days. PS better at 6:49 too, maybe they just needed to be a little more warmed up. :)

Another funny thing is that Ilitskii looks very slightly like Nathan Cole.

Edited: September 5, 2022, 1:52 PM · It’s tough to see, but his pickup looks like an LR Baggs to me. I guess you’re still the only one using a V-200.
September 5, 2022, 6:30 AM · "What I mean is that if you have a bebop (ish) head, and two instruments are doubling, then they should play the same notes, at exactly same time, with the same articulations, inflections, etc."

Paul, is this true? Often I've heard it as a dialogue.

Edited: September 5, 2022, 8:23 AM · J, if you listen to the recording, you can see that they're trying to play the same notes at the same time, just not succeeding at a level that is commensurate with their apparent skill. They would just need to rehearse it more, or just try harder while they're performing, but obviously they don't view it as critical, and most of their audience doesn't either. Heck, *I* don't think it's critical. I'm not bothered by it at all. But that's also because I'm used to it in this idiom. I'm really just making the observation that it's not as "tight" as it could be, if we're applying the same standards as we would to a Beethoven string quartet. Would I *like* to hear it that tight? Yeah, I have to say I would. But I don't *need* to hear it that tight in order to thoroughly enjoy the performance as a whole.

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