Showing posts with label Jazz influence on Rock. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jazz influence on Rock. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Nancy & Lee, Part V: Pop vs. Rock

The summer of 1967 became known as the “Summer of Love,” in effect an opportunity to market new fashions, rock music, and alternatives to Western (or European) thought and religion to the young people of America. As a moment in history, the designation was supposed to signal a profound shift in consciousness. A pop song was written to announce this shift, John Phillips’ “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair),” sung by Scott McKenzie. Thousands of young people, celebrating the American values of freedom and the open road enabled by the automobile, flocked to San Francisco, later to Monterey (for the Pop Festival), where that summer “bohemian chic” was all the rage. Fashion designer Thea Porter was responsible for most of the bohemian chic fashions of the 60s and 70s—caftans, diaphanous patterned shifts, and Middle Eastern (or Oriental) influenced dresses and blouses.

“The hippie look started out as more of a political statement, a type of anti-fashion, but it soon became the fashion itself,” states Laura McLaws Helms in her book, Thea Porter: Bohemian Chic, co-written with Venetia Porter, the designer’s daughter. Changes in fashion allowed for new, exotic, and, occasionally, bizarre expressions of individuality. The Fall of the Summer of Love began on October 17, 1967, when the musical Hair had its off-Broadway debut at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater in New York, later opening on Broadway in April 1968. The Monterey Pop Festival was to rock (a noun that once had been a verb) what Hair’s “tribe” was to Bohemian chic. The entertainment industry realized that it was time to market products specifically for the counterculture.

Pink Floyd’s The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, released in August 1967, featured the band members in jackets designed by Thea Porter on the album cover.
The vaguely Oriental jackets, coupled with the band being photographed using a prism lens, all suggested an hallucinatory “trip.” As purveyors of Bohemian chic, the band announced itself through the album cover as playing a new kind of music signaling a new form of consciousness. Any number of terms were applied, correctly or incorrectly, at the time to the band’s music—psychedelic, hallucinatory, “mind-expanding,” “trippy.”

NANCY SINATRA: My music was left behind in a way…since I was never embraced by my peers. I was stranded, on my own, to fend for myself . . . . I remember, years later, meeting Stevie Nicks and Sheryl Crow at the Clinton White House. They virtually snubbed me. I was hurt.

An interesting comment, to be sure. However, I’m not sure that it was Nancy Sinatra’s music that was left behind. She represents a pop music aesthetic that signifies values that certain individuals, such as those named above, hold in disdain. She is a representative of a fashion style that was considered conservative—miniskirts, go-go boots, simple A-line dresses—that was rejected by rock culture’s adoption of the values represented by Bohemian chic—non-Western, Oriental, and superficially radical. Anti-fashion became fashion, earnestness became pessimism, and the supposed shift in consciousness became an obsession with sex and hallucinatory drugs. Pop music was for so-called “empty people,” superficial in thought and feeling. In contrast, rock was for those who felt deeply, those who adhered to the fundamental modernist values: individuality, spontaneity, inspiration. By associating itself with modernist values (previously adopted by jazz culture), rock leveraged itself into the position of being the superior pop musical form.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Bang The Drum All Day

Apparently, Marlon Brando once wanted to be a jazz drummer, and was a big fan of Gene Krupa. Widely considered to have been the first drum soloist, Gene Krupa interacted with his fellow band members in such a way as to introduce into jazz music the extended drum solo. His flamboyant performances are preserved in movies such as Hollywood Hotel (1938), Ball of Fire (1941), Beat the Band (1947), and The Glen Miller Story (1953). Watching Krupa in these movies, flailing away with his sticks as he performs his sexuality and masculinity, was clearly an influence on many of the first generation of rock drummers (check out Krupa’s performance in this youtube video).

Given that early rock culture was so influenced, if not outright imitative, of jazz culture, especially in its emphasis on individualism, it is not surprising that rock drummers eventually incorporated the extended solo. The Who’s Keith Moon, perhaps the most overtly imitative of all rock drummers of Gene Krupa’s flamboyant style, no doubt contributed to the popularity of the drums. The popularity of drum solos seems to have grown during the 60s, peaking around 1968-69, for reasons that are not entirely clear. Rolling Stones’ drummer Charlie Watts once remarked, “I don’t like drum solos, to be honest with you, but if anybody ever told me he didn’t like Buddy Rich I’d right away say go and see him, at least the once.” I happen to agree with him: I’ve never particularly liked drum solos. I think they are boring. But if you twisted my arm, though, I’d probably say that Ron Bushy’s drum solo in “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” as the one I dislike the least, primarily because of his use of the Leslie speaker. Nonetheless, there are more than a few drum solos worth mentioning.

12 Songs With Drum Solos:
Ron Wilson – “Wipe Out” (Wipe Out, 1963)
Hughie Flint – “What’d I Say” (Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton, 1966)
Keith Moon – “Cobwebs and Strange” (A Quick One, 1966)
Fito de la Parra – “Fried Hockey Boogie” (Boogie With Canned Heat, 1968)
Ginger Baker – “Toad” (Wheels of Fire, 1968)
Ron Bushy – “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” (In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, 1968)
Bobby Colomby – “Blues, Pt. 2” (Blood, Sweat & Tears, 1968)
Danny Seraphine – “I’m A Man” (The Chicago Transit Authority, 1969)
Ginger Baker – “Do What You Like” (Blind Faith, 1969)
John Bonham – “Moby Dick” (Led Zeppelin II, 1969)
Michael Shrieve – “Soul Sacrifice” (Woodstock, 1970)
Bill Ward – “Rat Salad” (Paranoid, 1970)