Out to Lunch

I have been busy trying to get stuff done before going to DC on Friday for the National Cathedral piece. I’m not sure what internet access I will have while there, so this might be the last post for a bit.

Despite this week’s busyness, I have been doing some reading, including dipping into David Schiff’s fascinating The Ellington Century, which features a few pages on Eric Dolphy’s tribute to Monk, “Hat and Beard”. Schiff writes:

There is not a single moment in “Hat and Beard” where the rhythmic patterns suggest the expected patterns of bebop, let alone swing. Yet it swings. The rhythmic layering and the vocabulary of rhythmic gestures in play all stem from the jazz tradition, and the exquisite timing and phrasing of the five performers sum up generations of rhythmic experiment by musicians predating even Bechet and Armstrong. The loss of pop tune harmonic progressions seems no loss at all; on the contrary, they feel like an unneccessary encumbrance, mere scaffolding. The rhythmic and harmonic implications of the ostinato theme seem more rigorous and apt in their demands on the players. There’s life after rhythm changes.

(For the uninitiated, “rhythm changes” refers to the chord changes of Gershwin’s “I Got Rhythm”, a perennial choice of harmonic underpinning for jazz tunes.) The personnel: Eric Dolphy, bass clarinet; Freddie Hubbard, trumpet; Bobby Hutcherson, vibes; Richard Davis, bass; and an eighteen year old Tony Williams on drums.

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