Salient: Victoria University Students' Newspaper. Vol. 24, No. 8. 1961.
Jazz Club A.G.M
Jazz Club A.G.M.
With a typically friendly and relaxed atmosphere, the Jazz Club A.G.M. was held on May 1 in the Music Room at 2 p.m. A good sized group of new members was welcomed by the newly-elected president, Roy Murphy. Other officers for the coming year include G. Girvan (secretary-treasurer), A. Loney, B. Talbot, J. Robbins and G. Murphy (committee). In addition, G. Murphy, G. Kennington and M. Cutten were elected as honorary life members.
An outline of future activities includes a series of concerts, beginning with the Arts festival concert; Sunday afternoon "jam sessions" at the Studio Jazz Club (an affiliated club located in Manners Street); and talks at University by guest speakers—all of which should be of interest to many students still not actively associated with the club.
Brubeck. Dialogues for Jazz Combo and Orchestra. Dave Brubeck Quartet with the New York Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra conducted by Leonard Bernstein. Bernstein. Maria, I Feel Pretty, Somewhere, A Quiet Girl, Tonight, played by The Dave Brubeck Quartet. Coronet KLP 895, Mono.
Attempts at synthesizing jazz material and "classical" music have been made before, notably by Stravinsky, Ravel, Lambert, Milhaud, and Copland, on the one hand, and John Lewis, Teo Macero, Duke Ellington, and Dave Brubeck on the other. The attempts of the classicists in the 'twenties usually consisted in throwing into the piece a few slurred notes, a bit of syncopation and odd noises from the percussion department. These compositions might have been interesting or important on their own account, but they certainly didn't have much jazz in them. More important has been the influence of jazz on the harmonic structure and rhythm used by contemporary composers.
Walter Damrosch made a boo-boo when he made his classic statement about Gershwin's Rhapsody In Blue, to the effect that "various composers have been walking around jazz like a cat around a plate of hot soup, waiting for it to cool off so they could enjoy it without burning their tongues, hitherto accustomed only to the more tepid liquid distilled by the cooks of the classical school. (Jazz has not been raised) to a level that would enable her to be received as a respectable member of the musical circles. George Gershwin seems to have accomplished this miracle." But Gershwin never claimed to have amalgamated jazz and symphony anyway. He was a tin pan alley composer and what he did was to utilise the pop song rather than jazz. That his Rhapsody in Blue, Concerto and American In Paris have so much vitality is due to his particular genius for melody and rhythm. Form is more or less non-existent.
I think there is a record in the domestic American catalogue of a Concerto for Jazz Band and Orchestra by Rolf Liebermann, played by the Sauter-Finigan Orchestra, with the Chicago Symphony under Fritz Reiner. The music criticis wiped the floor with it. Similarly, Matyas Seiber has written a piece with the same format, more recently. Now Philips have issued a record of Howard Brubeck's Dialogue for Jazz Combo and Orchestra played by brother Dave's quartet and the New York Philharmonic Symphony under Bernstein.
Here the orchestra plays straight, while the quartet improvises at certain places. The work is in four movements labelled Allegro, Andante Ballad, Adagio Ballad, Allegro Blues, and the classical part of it is very poor indeed. Except for the odd solo passages, the New Yorkers are reduced to making various noises in the background, while the D.B.Q. rattles around out front. They sound pretty tired really, though the trumpets once or twice, tear off a couple of phrases which suggest they would really like to cut loose. Who said the New York Philharmonic doesn't swing? Whoever he was he was right. And on the evidence of this record, Dave Brubeck doesn't either. It may be that he has run out of ideas, but much of his playing consists of repeated hammering at the same chords or meandering up and down the keyboard—"pling-pling jazz." Paul Desmond is the only musician who stands out at all. He blows some nice sounds and shows that he is a good reliable boy, even if he isn't particularly adventurous.
The reverse consists of tunes from Bernstein's West Side Story and one from Wonderful Town. These are interesting enough in a paltry and conventional way, but are not likely to send anyone into raptures. The recording is adequate, but not top class—I suspect difficulties in trying to balance the quartet against the larger mass of the orchestra. Surfaces are quiet.