Tuesday, November 04, 2014

VOQOTD: Dejohnette on chops

The first of many valuable things I'm sure we'll be mining from the Percussive Notes archives. Here Jack Dejohnette, interviewed by Charlie Perry, says something we hopefully already knew, but which bears repeating:

P: You have an excellent technique. Did you devote a lot of time to developing it?

D: Let me put it this way: When I practiced, or played a gig, I tried for musical ideas. I wasn't out to be just a good technician but a whole drummer, a musician. My technique grew along with everything else.

P: In other words, you developed the appropriate technique and drumistic skills that were necessary to execute your ideas and function as a musician.

D: That was the idea.

P: Too bad more drummers don't follow that line of reasoning. Some of them, particularly the younger drummers, the students, become so involved with technique that they lose sight of the music. They function as technicians rather than musicians.

D: Yeah. Well, some cats use technique for an ego trip. You know, they play a lot of freaky things just to stand out. That's because a lot of people (audiences) are floored by “flash.” They say, “Wow, ain’t that something!” But sometimes it’s really nothing.

P: Just a bunch of notes played fast without rhyme or reason.

D: That’s about it! Another thing is that some drummers think the faster they play, the more they say. It’s like a cat who talks real fast and uses a lot of fancy words but talks nonsense. What the drummer, or any musician, has to say, should fit into the musical conversation. If it doesn’t, it shouldn't be said.


Ed Pierce said...

Hopefully this is not too far afield, but this exchange reminds me of an article I read recently on the movie "Whiplash": http://www.newyorker.com/culture/richard-brody/whiplash-getting-jazz-right-movies
I haven't seen the movie (nor do I plan on it; even though it's gotten great reviews, from the trailers it's always looked pretty bogus to me), but my son did, and he confirmed that he got the same feeling from the movie as that expressed by the fellow who wrote the article. The only thing I might take issue with in the article is his dissing of Buddy Rich--Rich was, after all, a major jazz and big band drummer--; but I understand the point he is making about someone who claims to love jazz drumming but only cites Buddy Rich as an influence (although I don't think that's a reason to denigrate Rich, per se, only the attitude of the person who idolizes him).

Todd Bishop said...

Thanks for the link! I like this line: "The movie’s very idea of jazz is a grotesque and ludicrous caricature."

That was the impression I was getting from the advance stuff... I should probably go see it, since I've been kind of ripping it apart.

Not that I've encountered that many of them, but I've never been able to relate to people who are only into Buddy-- so I can dig where he's coming from. He does come off kind of harsh about him. It is pretty offensive if Buddy is the only drummer the filmmakers have heard of. WTF business do they have making this thing, if that's the case? I'll give this a dedicated post once I see the thing...

Ed Pierce said...

Yeah, I can see where he's coming from, too. When I meet a drummer who says he loves jazz, and then I ask who his favorite drummers are, and all he can say is "Buddy Rich" (with maybe a "Louie Bellson" thrown in), it's a red flag that the person probably hasn't done any listening homework. Still, that's not Buddy or Louie's fault; just because someone is ignorant of Max Roach, Philly Joe, Elvin, Tony, et al, is no reason to call into question the jazz bonafides of Buddy Rich (even if he isn't to the writer's personal taste).