El Jazz y La Musica Clasica

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  • Chapter17TheRelationshipofJazztoWesternClassicalMusic 1

    17THERELATIONSHIPOFJAZZTOWESTERNCLASSICALMUSIC

    ATWOWAYCONNECTION

    Whilemanyhavearguedthattherehasneverbeenacloserelationshipbetweenjazz and Western art music, a case can be made that certain relationships havealwaysexistedbetweenthesetwodivergentstylesofmusic.Itistheveryexistenceofthese relationships that has in many ways helped to enable jazz to move forward,always pushingearlier boundaries, rejecting stereotypes, and redefining itself. Jazz,likemostartforms, isanexperiment,aworkshopproducingmusicnotalwaysboundby traditional rules and accepted practices. Sincerity, practicality, freshness, andspontaneityhavebeen itsgreatestvirtuesand theonly ruleoftenfollowedhasbeenwhether it sounds good. Racial prejudices often were responsible for the earlyboundaries between jazz and European art music. It was virtually impossible for ablack musician to be accepted into an established symphony orchestra or operacompany,sobyvirtueofnecessity,AfricanAmericanshadtocreatetheirownmusicbutmusiciansonbothsidesof the imaginaryboundarybetweenclassicalmusicandjazz, regardlessofcolor,havealwaysvaluedexperimentationand the importancetotheirartofraisingnewquestions.Perhapsitwasthisurgentneedtoexperimentthathelpedtoeventuallydrawblackandwhitemusicianstogetherinaquestfornewwaysto present their music. It is only logical then that there should be common groundbetween these seemingly disparate musicians. A chronological examination of thebondbetweenthesetwomusicalstyleswillillustratethispoint.

  • 2 Chapter17TheRelationshipof JazztoWesternClassicalMusic

    EARLYJAZZ

    Weknowthatmostoftheearlyjazzmusiciansresponsibleforformulatingthestylehadverylittle if any formal training. Few blacks had access to formalmusic instruction, though theelevatedsocialstatusofCreolesaroundtheturnofthecenturyinNewOrleanspromotedtheiraccess tohigherformsofcultural trainingandexperiences.PianistandcomposerJellyRollMorton touted his classical background as a Creole by quoting from Chopins FuneralMarch inhisDeadMansBluesrecordedby theRedHotPeppers in1926.Ragtime, theearliestofjazzstylesthatservedasthebasisformuchearlyinstrumentaljazz,hasdeeprootsin the European tradition, borrowing sophisticated, multithematic forms from classicalmodels.WhiletheemphasisonreoccurringsyncopationsmayhavebeenuniquelyAmerican,everyotheraspectofragcompositionswasEuropeanderived.Thepremierexponentsofthisstyle sought to further validate the ragtime style by composing extended, multimovementconcert works based on their earlier piano works in the style. For example, Scott Joplincomposedhisfirstopera,AGuestofHonorin1903,thoughhispublisherrefusedtopublishitanditwasperformedonlyonce.In1911JoplinpennedTreemonisha,hissecondmorelengthyopera in the rag style. Harlem stride pianist James P. Johnson premiered his symphonyYamecraw in Carnegie Hall in 1928. He followed this effort with the Harlem Symphony(1934) and American Symphonic Suite (1934) among others that represented his efforts tomergejazzwiththeclassicaltradition.

    ItisalsowelldocumentedthatBixBeiderbeckeandsomeofhiscohortsfromthePaulWhiteman and Gene Goldkette Orchestras were attracted to the French classical style ofcomposition in the 1920s and created pieces that reflected the impressionistic qualitiesassociatedwithClaudeDebussy,GabrielFaur,andMauriceRavel.ArrangerandfriendBillChallisnotatedseveralBeiderbeckepianocompositions,ofwhichInaMistisbestknown.PaulWhitemanemployedarrangerssuchasFerdeGrofwhowereperhapsmostcomfortableintheclassicaltradition.Whitemanhimselfwasaclassicallytrainedstringplayer.Inhis1926biographyJazz,Whiteman indicateshowcommitted hewas to themarriageof the classicalmusicdoctrinetotheemerging jazzstyle inordertocreateanew,Americanmusicthatwasreflectiveofanewlandandnewculturalaesthetic.TheWhitemanOrchestras1924premierofGershwins Rhapsody in Blue, orchestrated byGrof, was his first success, proving thatelements of the two divergent styles could coexist. The Rhapsody was followed by hisConcerto inF,TheAmerican inParis,and the trulyAmericanopera PorgyandBess, lateradopted byGil Evans as a showcase for jazz trumpeterMilesDavis. In the same year thatWhiteman premiered Gershwins Rhapsody, society bandleader Vincent Lopez organized a40pieceorchestratopremiereattheMetropolitanOperaHouseW.C.HandysEvolutionoftheBlues.

    BandleaderPaul Whiteman,promotedasthe"KingofJazz"inthe1920s,posesforapublicityshot.

  • Chapter17TheRelationshipofJazztoWesternClassicalMusic 3

    Beiderbeckeslackofformaltrainingbecamemoreofanexceptionthanthenormevenformanysecondgenerationjazzplayers,however,anditbecamecommonplaceinthemidtolatetwentiestofindjazzmusicianswhohadopenlyembracedclassicaltraining.Theirsolidtraditionalfoundationenabledthemtoworkintheaters,radio,andothersituationsthatdemandedamoreclassicallytrained,literatemusician.BennyGoodmanisanexcellentexampleofthenewerbreedofjazzmusicianstoemergeinthelate1920s.Goodmanrecordedandperformednumeroustimeswithclassicalmusicians.HisrelationshipwithclassicalmusiciansisexemplifiedbyhisrecordingoftheMozartClarinetQuintetwiththeBudapestStringQuartet(1938).HelatercommissionedBelaBartktocomposeContrasts(1938)andAaronCopelandandPaulHindemithacceptedcommissionsfromGoodmanin1947tocreateclarinetconcertos.Asaversatileperformer,Goodman premieredboth.CopelandhaddemonstratedhisinterestinjazzinthetwentieswhenhecomposedMusicfortheTheater(1925)andthe1927PianoConcerto.

    MODERNCLASSICALCOMPOSERSEMBRACEJAZZ

    Most of the European classical composers discovered early jazz through published sheetmusicofrags,cakewalks,andtwosteps.Somewitnessedearly jazzfirsthandbytravelingtoNewYork,whileothersexperienceditthroughAmericanmusicianstravelingtoEuropeintheearlytwentiethcenturyorthroughrecordingsthatmadetheirwayslowlyacrosstheAtlantic.Theprimaryingredientinjazzthatintriguedtheseclassicistswastherhythmicvitalityanditsexperimental nature. Composer John Aldan Carpenter recognized jazz as the first artinnovation originating in America to be accepted seriously in Europe1 and LeopoldStokowski, conductor of the Philadelphia Orchestra, admired jazz musicians who are nothampered by traditions or convention, and with their with new ideas, their constantexperiments, theyarecausingnewblood to flowin theveinsofmusic.2ClaudeDebussysGollywogsCakewalkandIgorStravinskysRagtime,LHistoiredusoldat,andPianoRagMusic all show an infatuation with the rhythmic aspects of jazz, however, most areconsideredmore novelties thangenuineworks that embrace and reflect the essence of jazz.PaulHindemithsSuite1922illustratesasimilartendency.DariusMilhaud,however,inhis1924LaCrationdumondeTheCreationoftheWorldretrospectivelyreceivedthemostattentionasaworkthatnotonlyreflectsjazzsrhythmicvitality,butalsotosomedegreeitsinstrumentation.Adrumset isusuallyfeatured inperformancesof thispiecealongwith the

    ClarinetistBennyGoodmanina1954reunionifhistriowithTeddyWilsononpianoandGeneKrupaondrums.

  • 4 Chapter17TheRelationshipof JazztoWesternClassicalMusic

    altosaxophone,rarelyheard inclassicalscoresandusedhereasasubstitutefortheviola.Ajazzlikefuguealsohelpstoestablishthisworkasoneofthemoresuccessfulearlytwentiethcenturyclassicalcompositionstoembracejazz.Thesubjectofthisfugueisabluesscalebasedon the juxtaposing of major and minor thirds that is the essence of this fundamental jazzphenomenon.Asideperhaps from thisMilhaudwork, the early efforts to absorb and reflectelementsof jazz inclassicalscoreswereforthemostpartnotsuccessfulatdoingmorethancreatingdilutedcaricaturesofjazz.Milhaudswork,however,palesincomparisontotheworkof American jazz performers that same year including the efforts by Paul Whiteman andGeorgeGershwin.

    DmitriShostakovichsSuiteNo.1(1934)andSuiteNo.2(1938)areoftenincludedin discussions about the influence of jazzon classical composers. It is a stretch to considereitherof theseworksasmuchmore than light,multimovementworks that reflectedFrenchcabaretmusicofthe1920s.Thetitleswaltz,polka,foxtrot,andmarchprovideanaccuratedescriptionofhisadaptationofthesestyles.TheuseofthetermJazz inthetitlesofthesesuitesisagoodexampleofhowthistermhasbeenblatantlymisused.

    Aside from the 12tone serial composers, Igor Stravinsky was one of the mostadventuresome classical composers of the twentieth century. His early interest in jazz isapparent in LHistoire du soldat and Ragtime. The rhythmically driving ballet scoresFirebird, Petrushka, and TheRite of Spring served to encourage jazz performers inlateryearstocommissionhimtocreatenewworksinacrossoverstyle.HisEbonyConcertowascommissionedandpremieredbytheWoodyHermanBandatCarnegieHallin1946.ThepieceisinthreemovementsModerato,Andante,andModerato.Therearesimilaritiesinthiswork to his Symphony in ThreeMovements and Ragtime. Donald Fuller in his 1946Modern Music review declared that the piece succeeded amazingly in combining jazzelements with the lighter side of [Stravinskys] neoclassical manner.3 In some ways,Stravinskys work, like those concert works by James P. Johnson and other cited jazzcomposers including Duke Ellington, is a precursor to the thirdstream jazz style and thenumerouschamberjazzworksthatemergedinthecatalogofthismovement.

    Leonard Bernstein, one of the finest examples of an American musician and trueRenaissance man, while upholding the highest standards as a composer and conductor,embraced jazzasasourceof inspiration.Hisscorefor themusicalWestSideStory isa fineexample of how jazz has permeated many aspects of American music, including musicaltheater. Following Stravinskys example, Bernstein accepted a 1949 commission from jazzclarinetistandbandleaderWoodyHermantocreatehisPrelude,FugueandRiffs.While itclearlyshowstheinfluenceofjazzrhythmsandisindebtedtothefreespiritedimprovisatorynatureofjazz,Bernsteinsworkdoesnotmakeuseofthewiderangeofpossibilitiesavailableinthejazzorchestra.Thispiece,likesomanyothersbyclassicalcomposersuptothispoint,resemblesmore closelya traditional