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Flattery or Imitation?

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  1. jazznan
    Member

    I know they say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but is that true (especially in jazz)?

    Can someone explain why this sounds exactly like Kurt, but it's not Kurt? I'm confused and don't understand this? I don't mean to mean, but this just sounds too much like Kurt. At what point do you say, "okay, I respect the technique and I can appreciate the tune, but this is too close to someone else's sound"?

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  2. Matt
    Member

    i dont think it sounds anything like kurt.... not nearly the verve and not nearly as interesting.

  3. thoeller
    Member

    I try not to get as upset about him using kurt's tone/feel to express himself. Kurt is the inventor and obviously there will be people using what he invented as with all things in music. At the same time my respect for Kurt is much higher in that he actually heard that shit and made it happen! This tune and playing is very nice and beautiful.

  4. jazznan
    Member

    I agree it's a beautiful tune....c'est la vie

  5. tricky. that intro thing doesnt feel all that happening as it might have been or could be when someone imagined it or played it in their room. the drums feel somewhat stiff there. anyways, it is tricky because ( as has been mentioned it does not really hold a candle to kurt's stuff on a lot of levels ) this feels cold to say but i say it because the attempt is so obvious it may be liberating to hear that it does not do it justice and that moving into a more personal terrain maybe something to try. that being said, i understand loving really loving the way something sounds and wanting to transcribe it and that satisfaction of ( for a moment ) being able to wear that magic , to try on someone's ideas through your own playing. that is what happens if we play bach let's say, he is dead he has been dead and yet you get to go into his mind and see the structure and experience it in a way that you couldnt if someone told you about bach. i believe kurt ( when asked about spending time checking out bebop ) has talked about the " level of refinement" of those players or that music and that it is that which draws him to it.there is nothing wrong with being in love with something and finding some friends or something that will help you or feel this way too and want to wear that aesthetic. maybe it's a huge assumption but - haven't we all done it? this is clearly being done again out of a love and deep respect for that music-an ode to it's impact.
    if anybody is to be criticized i think it should be a record company that maybe not taking a risk on someone else ( or even this person at a later phase or other material ) who may be making things we don't know about rather than going for someone who can wear a lil bit of a vibe that has been sprinkled in kurt-dust because it's a safe and smart bet right now. i am not too shocked by this, thinking of the greats... people trying to sound like the greats . kurt is great. it makes sense that if someone carves a path - people will go through them afterwards, right? again i think it's fine , i just dont think anyone needs it. it is a little insincere to after being blown away by something , go overboard with trying to codify what one thinks its all about to be able to " do it" - rather than just stay with the impressions of having been blown away . the other side is that if you do it- go all the way and really break it down for the things you dug in order to feed the direction you want to be going in and perhaps show yourself new things or get into a previously ineffable space which someone finally articulated for you and marvel at it- and then go beyond marveling and look objectively for tools , skills or ways. its funny, there are so many ways to be and make.there were times i didnt play things for people because i thought they needed a level of " formality" ... there are issues of process, and context... ther that thing that you secretly think is fascinating but you barely can grasp or hold because its new (and you become those dudes in the driveway that polish the carborator and never drive the mustang) only to see that someone has made a whole language out of that "unstable place"( exactly as it was rather than " perfecting it"... that has floored me and my little methodology" many times over. sure, learning classical stuff or being true to transcriptions or making stuff that demands a focus is super legitimate... ther is also a very volatile and current struggle that ( in this day and age as far as portable and high quality and acce$$ible gear with seemingly infinite space to burn) there is no reason to not be documenting things and their evolution because of an outmoded view of making all things presentable. this is a tangent about knowing when to stop with things- in visual art it is the easiest place to se this.
    overly simplified : you kill some magic to learn tricks, but that's cool because now you have more tricks and what you call magic will be taken to a new level... i resent these reductionistic little metaphors because obviously there are a ton of ways to learn and be impacted and listen or perceive things etc- it just serves as a shorthand to say that. the thing that is weird is to love it in a way that you wish you did it first , pretend nobody knows it and keep wearing it again and again ( in a static way where you dont learn things from it). it doesnt cover new ground... which may go against the whole thing anyway. a taxedermized bear can be set up showing its fangs and claws- as old people safely dine below it.

  6. jazznan
    Member

    Yeah, I get what your saying, but all the greats will say in interviews, how they admired someone and listened to them but didn't try and imitate them....I read an interview with Mehldau where he was blown away by a solo Keith Jarrett album.....but imagine if Brad tried to sound like Keith....I'm so glad he doesn't, so there are two great players instead of one great player and one who sounds like a version of him

  7. Poparad
    Member

    I've been listening to Mikkel Ploug for a while, and at first, yes, he did sound like a Kurt clone to me. I suppose having Mark Turner on his first two albums didn't help me to see past this at first. However, after I listened to him more, I started to notice a lot of things in his playing that are not coming from Kurt. The influence is still strong, yes, but there are a lot of interesting original things going on for him that are uniquely Mikkel.

    My favorite two albums of his are from the Equilibrium trio with Sissel Vera Petersen and Joachim Baddenhorst. Due to the setting (guitar, voice, bass clarinet) being so different from something you might hear Kurt in, it's a lot easier to see past any similarities and listen to Mikkel for who he is.

  8. totally. there is panning out for a vibe or contours of things vaguely beholding how things can be and there is transcribing. holdsworth said after a while he was like " well im getting awfully good at sounding like charlie christian..." that says what he is saying pretty clearly. it becomes somewhat static. it is super useful - just not necessarily something you take on the road. interesting to see that this points towards kurt's stature, that people are trying to distill things and arrive at the essence in order to navigate an assumed him-ness! kind of crazy- but also makes sense. again he is really great.
    i dont think it's wrong, its a question of function. in 40 years it wont seem like such an affront. because of time its less of a big deal to get into jim hall or django this way? it's like a schtick though, like the " art on the main " dude who paints the wolf by the stream. you are a craftsman that does that and someone said "wow you watercolor a mean wolf, dude" and it becomes "sure you want to dress up your b and b with this? i can provide this service/ product for you. that is different and more craft/ artisanal and " the romance of "the artist " stuff is dropped because it's safe - not the shit that only i care about because nobody knows about it yet/ or it just plain sucks / or it sucks for the lobby of your b and b etc.

  9. JorgeRubiales
    Member

    I'll tell you what I think about this, and this is only my opinion.

    Copying past giants is necessary. Most of the greats have copied someone themselves, often to a high degree of success. Take Ulf Wakenius for example. It's very obvious he has done a lot of Metheny transcription/copying. Lately he has found a little more individuality, but he sometimes sounded like a clone. By copying you learn things that aren't related with the notes and more with the music: rhythms, inflections...

    There's an obvius danger to sound like someone you're copying by copying too much, and I think that's what happened in this case. It's allright to steal, but doing it from just one source is too obvious and a waste of resources. Plus, I wouln't record myself in that state, sounding like a clone of someone. It's allright to quote songs, or give a wink to someone with tone or phrases at a certain point, but come on, you can't base your career on someone's work if you respect yourself as a musician.

  10. Quintricacy
    Member

    There are always going to be clones. It was the same with Brecker when he started to really become a huge figure, thousands of sax players wanted to sound like Brecker and it's the same with Kurt. I've always found Mikkel Ploug's sound to be way too close to Kurt's for me to be able to enjoy more than 10 minutes of his music and generally I find I don't really listen to modern guitar players much anymore because it's all too similar with the exception of Nelson Veras and Lionel Loueke. In the end the imitators always are going to have a very narrow concept of the sound they're trying to imitate and in the long run it makes me appreciate how great the person they are trying to imitate actually is/was.

  11. steepcreeks
    Member

    Studying Kurt's sound "palette" is a lot of work, thought, skill, exploration, talent, luck, etc. Hopefully when a shedding guitarist is able to understand a multitude of the individual tonalities they will eventually assimilate them in other logical creative ways. Many of those tonalities are only appropriate for different places w/n a solo, specific to an accompaniment setting, song, harmonic/rhythmic vehicle. It's not just A sound:) I was thrilled to have discovered one more of his subtle unique tonalities on last night's gig! I've also had some recent friendly advice from a NYC heavyweight to consider laying off the Kurt as it was becoming a little too noticeable. I tend to think of it as a Chapter. Cheers y'all:)

  12. jazznan
    Member

    I've been thinking more about this after reading the comments, and maybe the problem is globalization and recordings. Maybe if we weren't so globalized in the negative sense of the word, and people didn't feel the need to record everything, then it wouldn't matter as much.

    Or maybe who cares if you sound like someone else, if it's good it's good. My natural instinct is to not like something that sounds to close to someone else...like if I saw a painting by someone that looked just like a Picasso....I'd say, nice painting, but it looks just like Picasso.....maybe I should be more childlike about the whole thing and say, nice painting-but then a child wouldn't buy the artwork.

    I guess this thinking out-loud approach comes at the expense of Mikkel, whose probably a really nice guy who's just playing music and could care less, so I'm just going to buy his album and enjoy it like a kid with a bit of money. Which album should I get?

  13. JorgeRubiales
    Member

    In the end, if you like it you buy it. I, personally, don't. But I'm a little picky with soundalikes...

  14. silverwater
    Member

    I heard a lot of Monder and Frisell influence, especially in the first minute or so...but honestly it seems like these days it's hard to find a young jazz guitarist who hasn't been heavily influenced by kurt ;-)

  15. 26-2
    Member

    I think there are various degrees of deepness in understanding somebody else playing, if you keep to the surface it will sound probably like a bad copy, like playing stealed licks here and there for instance, but if you nail the essence you can use it for your own creative purposes.
    Said that i think Mikkel sounds good, and who cares if it sounds similar to kurt, if you wouldn t know kurt you will probably like it!

  16. Barry Mando
    Member

    This is a very interesting topic indeed but I havent seen anything on a particular topic I talk about with my students discussed here yet.

    I feel, as do a lot of heavies out there, that people transcribe WAY to much. Its one thing when you are first starting and need to get some vocabulary down but if all one does is transcribe and memorize every solo by this guy or that guy than your spending to much time on someone else and not enough time working out your own ideas. At some point you have to sit down without paper and a pencil and figure out this shit for yourself. If transcribing is important to you then look at the ideas not the exact phrase at which someone else is playing. In other words find out what that person is thinking like; "Wow! Is Scofield using the Half-Whole Dim over that Alt chord?" Then practice the hell out the HW Dim by yourself, with no accompaniment, and figure out some killer shit to play. To my way of thinking there is no greater reward and its fun!

    Best

  17. Barry Mando
    Member

    This is a very interesting topic indeed but I havent seen anything on a particular topic I talk about with my students discussed here yet.

    I feel, as do a lot of heavies out there, that people transcribe WAY to much. Its one thing when you are first starting and need to get some vocabulary down but if all one does is transcribe and memorize every solo by this guy or that guy than your spending to much time on someone else and not enough time working out your own ideas. At some point you have to sit down without paper and a pencil and figure out this shit for yourself. If transcribing is important to you then look at the ideas not the exact phrase at which someone else is playing. In other words find out what that person is thinking like; "Wow! Is Scofield using the Half-Whole Dim over that Alt chord?" Then practice the hell out the HW Dim by yourself, with no accompaniment, and figure out some killer shit to play. To my way of thinking there is no greater reward and its fun!

    Best

  18. jazznan
    Member

    I was just at a clinic with Robert Glasper and then another one with Christian McBride and Steve Wilson and they said the same thing...too much academics and just get the feel and make it your own...

  19. thoeller
    Member

    I also think that we may go in the wrong direction trying to figure out what it is that everyone else has figured out. How about figuring out what you want to hear!? Figuring out your own shit. I feel that sometimes I'm on the path to be able to understand what it is all the great artists are doing to be what they are. The more i've thought about it the more I've realized that they really think about when playing. which to me is expressing an Idea. they all are connected to that idea in a way that is pure of heart and free from the care of academia. Academia is used to describe in words what is actually there without words, and words are very hard to use to explain the full depth of a concept. So i think that the greatest musicians out there like christian mcbride and Glasper and Kurt, Have separated the magic of music from words and academia in order to accomplish what they have.

  20. arewolfe
    Member

    Nice trio sound. Total Kurt worship - not out of the ordinary these days! The 5-note ostinato progression felt out of place, but I liked the intro. I love guitar trios, and this one is above average - at least he's not shredding for 7 minutes. I actually wish there was more contour to his lines.

    on that note WHERE IS NIR FELDER'S RECORD! That thing is going to deliver.

  21. Sandemose
    Member

    What about this one then? I hear even more of Kurt in this one...

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  22. jazzacast55
    Member

    I've seen that one before sandemose, I know what you mean, but at the end of the day Mikkel is doing gigs with Mark Turner and Kenny Wheeler, more then what I'm doing, more power to him!

  23. Sandemose
    Member

    jazzacast55: I like the way he plays, really nice touch and all, and as you said, he plays with some brutal cats so that cant be held against him. Still, I wonder why someone want to sound so close to their idols..? Hope Im not offending anyone.

    Best, Sandemose

  24. juliaanderson
    Member

    that sounds pretty good but not the actual Kurt. but still a very charming from jazz
    termite los angeles

  25. jorgemg1984
    Member

    I think I missed this thread - transcription is a very interesting topic! I disagree about people transcribing too much, I think most people don't transcribe enough or transcribe too much of the same thing. HOW you transcribe and WHAT you transcribe is the important thing - transcribe different players or transcribe the same player but from several records or transcribe other instruments or transcribe solos from various periods of jazz. Guys like Metheny or Stern say they still transcribe these days. And there are a lot of great players that don't transcribe of course but that doesn't mean its a bad thing.

    And even if you really obsess about something that doesn't mean you will sound like that player. I think Metheny must have learned a lot of Wes and Hall solos and that didn't stopped him from being who he is. I have read Dewey Redman knew all Parker solos and he was a major figure on the free jazz revolution. Didn't Wes knew all Christian solos? Didn't Brecker got really deep on Coltrane? I know a Spanish player who transcribed entire Wes and Hall records and he clearly has his own voice. You have to know what to do with your transcrptions. Imitate, Assimilate, Inovate. Never forget the last one.

    And its also important what you listen. I think most people that sound a lot like other player is because they listen too much of their music not because they have transcribed everything from them.

    This is a very good article on the topic

    http://www.daveliebman.com/earticles2.php?WEBYEP_DI=13

  26. jazzacast55
    Member

    Has anyone come across this guy before? Jeff miles is his name, although he has the Rosenwinkel thing happen a bit it doesn't bother me, I love his playing in this clip and he can really play, I'm looking to see if he has a cd out.

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    If anyone else has heard of him I've been trying to find out a bit of info, anyone know what type of guitar he's playing? Interested in string gauge also as he seems to get around the neck great but I can't tell if he's got 12s with wound g or just 11s, if it's 11s the he gets a great tone with them in this vid!


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