Monday, May 02, 2005

"High Fly," Randy Weston

When people write textbooks about jazz history in 1000 years, I bet there will be entire chapters on the ii-V-I progression. In large part, it has defined jazz harmony since its beginnings, and will continue to do so, even though composers nowadays stray as far away from that progression as possible.

That being said, "High Fly" is a ii-V-I tune we're playing in jazz combo, and it's made me realize how bland a lot of jazz actually is. Composers can and will continue to write as many melodies on this kind of progression that they want, but they will still be linked by that darn progression that all beginning jazzers have to study.

It's got an easy swing feeling, so the style is also not very interesting. Overall, I feel pretty bored when I hear it, unless the soloist does something different.

I guess the ii-V-I is to the evolution of jazz as IV-V-I is to the evolution of classical music. The things that made composers of any time good, interesting or innovative was largely about the way they avoided or manipulated that cadence.

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