Overview of Paul Rinzler's The Contradictions of Jazz Chapter 7: Responsibility
Overview of PAUL RINZLER’S The Contradictions of Jazz - Chapter 7
Ch. 7 - RESPONSIBILITY
- Responsibility limits people’s freedom.
- "Definition: responsibility is the requirement to fulfill the duties and obligations that are owed to another individual, group or institution.”
- "I feel that people can also create responsibilities for themselves. To live up to moral responsibility such as one's religion."
Conceiving the music
- “A composer's job is to create the music”
- “A soloist has the responsibility for conception and performance."
- “Musical performance always includes non-notated elements."
- “Technical skills are required to perform successfully.”
- Therefore soloists have complete responsibility for musical production.
- Quotation from Dana Reason: “It is not possible to claim that the music was not yours to begin with: you are held responsible for perceived failure or triumph – by you and the audience.”
- Once you play someone’s music then you take the responsibility for it whether you wrote it or not.
- Every musician is responsible for the music created because they are all improvising to some extent within the limits of their style.
- Exceptions are limited.
- “Jazz musicians are not responsible for the base or foundation sound.”
- “Even though they aren’t responsible they can act as if they are.”
- “Once you make something your own (embellish/improvise/play it etc.) you take responsibility for it.”
Responsibility to the ensemble: The Jazz Ensemble as a Team
- "Playing jazz, according to Leroy Williams, is a team effort with a specific job for everyone.”
- "You show your teammate’s strengths and distract from weaknesses & sacrifice someone’s ideas sometimes."
- Sports = jazz ensemble
- Given a layout or play which isn’t scripted.
- Basketball is most similar to jazz. Football is the most heavily scripted.
- Responsibility is to behave properly as a professional musician.
- Show up to gig or practice (90% is just showing up).
- "Charlie Parker was irresponsible and it detracted from musical ability and musical product when his music was supposed to be his highest priority.”
Responsibility For Musical Roles
A. “A member of a team has a responsibility to the team as a whole to fulfill that member’s role or assigned duties” (p. 71)
- Musicians have a responsibility towards the ensemble and towards the audience.
- Giving the audience the product that they wanted and expected.
B. Show Up on Time Musically
- “A fundamental responsibility that jazz musicians accept is to play notes and rhythms accurately and in synchronization . . . ” (p. 71)
Swing example (p. 72)
Wayne Shorter in Weather Report
- Shorter had met his responsibility not only towards the audience and style, but also to the ensemble and its goal of collective improvisation.
Responsibility to the Craft of Jazz
- “The apparent ease and effortlessness that the best jazz musicians display as they improvise is the result of many, many hours of dedicated discipline and practice” (Rinzler, 72)
- For people of any profession, such as musicians, they must spend countless hours practicing their instrument and mastering the different aspects which are needed to successfully play that instrument.
- Jazz musicians in particular, must be truly knowledgeable with not only their instrument, but other instruments in the orchestra as well as they often need to improvise.
Responsibility to the Audience
- “The musician has certain responsibilities . . . that concern the nature of the music to be played, however there is rarely any explicit contract or expectation about the music” (Rinzler, 73)
- Due to jazz musicians improvising quite often during concerts, they themselves are not even sure of what they will be playing themselves before the show starts.
- Often times, the advertisement showing the performance date, the composers, etc. will not even let the audience know what songs will be playing.
Jazz musicians are responsible for meeting some of the “audience’s set of expectations about a jazz performance in some fashion." (Rinzler, 74)
- Even though neither the audience, the composers, nor performers themselves know exactly what they will be playing, they all have a general idea of what it will be like and they must not go too far out of the boundaries of it being anything but a jazz performance.
All Quotations are from The Contradictions of Jazz by Paul Rinzler, pp. 68-76.