Category Archives: Influence

Influence In Strange Places…

I feel like a lot of artists these days are looking to music from the 80’s for inspiration. This seems strange to me. Not because there wasn’t good music in the 80’s, but because despite this it is still considered a ‘lost decade’ for music. Take any decent sample of generic Americans and ask them which decade had the best music, the 70’s, 80’s or 90’s, and I’d wager a large sum that the 80’s would consistently be chosen last.

But recently I’ve heard more and more about artists looking to groups from the 80’s for inspiration. In some cases, I can’t discern the influence in the final product, but in others it’s almost painfully obvious.

This track, for example, most likely could have come out in 1987 and no one would have known the difference:

The album is still great though, check it out…


Bird speaks!

Found a link to a REALLY old interview:

This interview is amazing for a variety of reasons.

For one, I had never heard Parker’s voice before. I know it sounds strange, but hearing his voice on tape was very eye-opening; it was like a confirmation that he really existed.

And to hear how smart, humble and gracious he was! Oftentimes when thinking of Bird I think two things: his music and his drug addiction. To hear that behind the horn and behind the legend and infamy lay a real person, one with deep thoughts and real issues, was amazing.

Secondly, it was really interesting to hear his relationship with Paul Desmond. If one week ago you had asked me if Paul Desmond and Charlie Parker ever crossed paths, I would have said “doubtful”, let alone that they knew each other and had a mutual respect for each others playing.

Most interesting of all, though, is Parker’s plans and hopes for his future. Clearly, Parker did not foresee his health’s decline, and had many interesting plans for the future.

To qualify his comments in this regard to the right degree, it is important to contextualize Parker at the time of this interview in his own life as well as in the jazz scene in general:

If by “early 1954” we are to assume sometime between January and March 1954, this interview was conducted around the exact time that the first lineup of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messenger’s were recording their legendary Birdland sets, with Clifford Brown and Lou Donaldson taking what Dizzy and Bird had down and developing it slowly, planting the very first seeds of Hard Bop. Miles was about to record Walkin’, still a few years from forming his first great quartet. Sonny Rollins had just recorded his first album, taking the saxophone in a slightly different direction, and Lee Konitz, who had diverged from Parker’s omnipresent style very early on was just coming out as a leader after years engrossed with Lennie Tristano.

As for Paul Desmond, this time may have been at the peak of his first round of fame (the second being after Time Out) as Jazz at Oberlin had just been released and the famous Brubeck college touring was well under way. This might explain why the radio station chose Desmond to be the interviewer: Desmond was most likely the most famous white jazz saxophonist (and thus probably the most famous jazz saxophonist overall) at the time.

Parker was truly in his last days, though. This is just a few months after the recording of Jazz at Massey Hall, and only a few before his last known recordings. His health was most likely already deteriorating, but from the way he speaks, you can’t tell that he’s realized yet.

Parker sounds extremely optimistic, and this comment, in particular, makes me wonder, as probably so many others have, what might have come about if Parker even had just another 5 years:

Well, seriously speaking I mean I’m going to try to go to Europe to study. I had the pleasure to meet one Edgar Varese in New York City; he’s a classical composer from Europe, he’s a Frenchman, very nice fellow and he wants to teach me; in fact he wants to write for me because he thinks I’m more for, more or less on a serious basis you know, and if he takes me over, I mean after he’s finished with me I might have the chance to go to the Academy of Music out in Paris itself and study, you know. My prime interest still is learning to play music, you know.

– Charlie Parker

Parker was clearly still trying to develop as a musician, and just to think about what could have come of him leaving new york and digging into new ideas in Europe with Varese is overwhelming.


Influence…

As I have mentioned before, it’s pretty easy to mask the influence of others’ music on your own and call it an original composition. Whether this is done intentionally or innocently (or both), it still surprises me when I find antecedents to songs which show that, in essence, they were essentially already written.

Maybe I’m a little out of the loop on this one, but in all my years, no one has brought this to my attention:

1. Written: 1938

This 20th century composer was popular in the early to mid 50’s among jazz musicians, enough to inspire this interpretation:

2. Recorded: October, 1955

Now, if you haven’t noticed it already, check out 1:36-2:17 on the first track, and 1:36-1:56 on the second…

It’s really interesting to see the progression of influences that helped lend a hand to the development of modalism. It would be interesting to know if Coltrane wrote “Impressions” based on the latter or the former, but its far more likely that it was from the latter (which should be a hint).

Oh, and if you’re wondering, October 1955 was certainly prior to the writing of Coltrane’s “Impressions”. November 1955 was the first recording session John Coltrane had with Miles, meaning he was at least two or three years from beginning to explore modalism.

So does anyone know the sources?


Influence ~~

Another bizarre one. I wouldn’t call this influence so much as daylight robbery, but it’s not actually that simple. Alan Silvestri is a seasoned film scorer, having been in the business for about 40 years. His score for “Forrest Gump” is one his most memorable and lauded works, even though he didn’t come away with an Oscar or a Golden Globe. But what is most interesting about the main theme from this score is that it bears an extremely strong resemblance to a very specific rendition of a classic pop song. And who recorded the rendition? An unquestionably major influence on Silvestri. A few notes:

– This specific rendition is from a 1969 album

– The song’s most famous version was sung by Richard Harris in the 1960’s.

– The melody as played by the “renditioner” is actually slightly different than how it was written, but clearly connects the original song to the theme from “Forrest Gump”.

– Very ironically (and this is a dead giveaway), Silvestri won a very prestigious award recently that bears the name of the “renditioner”.

Alan Silvestri’s:

And the 1969 rendition of ____? (performed by _____?):

Perhaps if someone brings this to light I will post the most famous recording of the original song.


More Influence…

Another one of these. These aren’t actually songs but rather introductions to albums, but the influence cannot be ignored, just take a listen.This one is interesting because you would not assume that one of these artists would influence the other. However, despite the fact that they operate in different genres, I do actually think that one of them holds the other in high regard. A few clues:

– One of these tracks appears on an album recorded between 1995 and 1999 but not released until 2001, and the other is from an album from 2006.

– The tracks do appear in chronological order.

– Both artists have openly displayed a respect for the other’s style of music.

Track 1:

Track 2:

Any takers?