Jazz Lineage

We talked a lot yesterday in my jazz history class about Hardbop.  We looked at the lineage of Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers and how you can trace a whole group of great musicians from that line, I’m not going to name them all but Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, Jackie McLean, all the way up to The Marsalis’s.  Then we talked about Miles Davis and his lineage, Cannonball Adderley, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Tony Williams, and Wayne Shorter has the distinction of being in both camps, all the way up to Kenny Garrett.  

Between Miles Davis and Art Blakey you can nearly sum up the whole history of modern jazz instrumentalists post 1954.  Now of course you have to acknowledge the other schools that came later like Betty Carter’s lineage of musicians, but this begs the question and which led to one of the discussions we got into. Is the jazz lineage still important today?  We used to give credibility to musicians who have played with “somebody,” is that still the case today?  

The current crop of jazz musicians unfortunately will not have access to some of the greats because they have passed on.  There are some still around fortunately, but they are not as accessible as the masters used to be in the past.  The current way to get tutelage is to sign up for applied lessons at a college or university.  It is possible sometimes to just approach some of the masters and get advice and maybe even schedule a lesson.  I had several impromptu lessons over the years from James Moody and Donald Byrd and from Wynton Marsalis, Wessell Anderson and Kenny Garrett.  Some masters are even giving Skype lessons.  Just like many musicians have done before you have to seek out the knowledge, it won’t come to you.  Let me know what you think about the current state of jazz tutelage and apprenticeship. Post a comment below.

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