Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Mulligan Meets Monk

Maybe the best version of "Rhythm-a-ning" on record. It's on Riverside, from 1957, with Wilbur Ware and Shadow Wilson rounding out the rhythm section. The rapport between Monk and Mulligan on that tune is just phenomenal. A lot of times cats will treat rhythm changes (or blues) as a warm up exercize or just another excuse to blow. Well, there's room for that too, but it's a particular joy to hear cats getting creative with a familiar tune, at a high level of engagement like that.

What enables a crystaline rapport in improvisational music, bebop in particular? Familiarity with the tune, for sure. With it's underlying chord changes, and with the melody as well. Familiarity among members of the ensemble. A panoply of expectations about how tunes are constructed, about the different roles in an ensemble, about how or when to transition between comping, soloing, riffing, getting back to the head. But rapport has to involve more than that, which basically describes what it takes to be a competent player in a jazz ensemble. Rapport is about listening, obviously. It's also about saying something worth listening to, something relevant and surprising at once.

So it's a mystery? Sure, it's a mystery. Socrates heard the Muses say, "Socrates, make music and work at it" (mousikên poiei kai ergazou), so he devoted himself completely to philosophy. Is that revealing?

posted by Fido the Yak at 4:54 PM.


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