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09/24/2012

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Nate Chinen

thanks, Jeff and Alexander, for your comments. I've been thinking about your points. It comes as no surprise to me that Jamison Ross has more to show than what he showed at the competition. I wish I could have seen him from more angles over the course of the two days — but his strategy, if that's what it was, certainly worked. I wonder if he got any advice from anyone before heading in.

One thing I left out of the notebook, because it didn't really pertain to the drumming competition, was the fact that Ross included two "original" compositions, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. I use the scare quotes because the pieces were obviously built on tunes we know from Herbie Hancock and Tammi Terrell. Whereas some of the other original pieces we heard in competition, by Justin Brown and others, sounded genuinely new. Had the judges decided to evaluate the contestants as overall artists, we might have seen a different outcome. That's not to say Ross isn't an artist, by the way; please don't get me wrong.

I happened to be standing next to Jamison after the event just at the moment when Chris Dunn introduced himself. (Dunn is the Senior director of A&R at Concord.) The exchanged hugs and business cards, and Jamison promised to be in touch soon. Chris smiled. "I've got your info, you don't need to be in touch," he said. "I'll be in touch with you. This is going to be fun." Obviously it will be interesting to see what path Ross decides to take with his solo recording debut. As a critic, my hope is that he doesn't play to expectations, as he did (so monstrously well) in the competition. But that's why I'm not on the business side of this, right?

Alexander Rocha

Some people have pointed out more or less idiosyncratic contestants who have placed in the finals or won previous contests, but then suggested that the participants were dialing down some of their idiosyncracies (I don't want to say individuality, because I don't want to suggest that the more mainstream competitors aren't individuals) to fit a "mainstream" context. Perhaps, Jeffalbert, Jamison Ross approached the competition by imagining how he'd sub for Philly Joe Jones in the Miles Davis Quintet. Everyone seems to agree he does have magnificent feel.

I get why Ethan Iverson made his question about Monk - it's the obvious rhetorical move - and I think a lot of people missed the point a little bit when they said "hey, Monk could play a lot of piano!" and "he won competitions as a kid!" Yeah, but after 1945 or so Monk played Monk, uncompromisingly, willing to live and die with the respect of some of his peers and the scorn of others. I feel like the question could've been posed even more forcefully, though less ironically, about Ornette Coleman.

Does anyone really think there's any way Ornette could win the Monk competition on saxophone? Again, whatever else he can do on the horn (and I think there are fewer voices saying that Ornette can do a mean Charlie Parker impression, or whatever), Ornette does Ornette Coleman, uncompromisingly.

Some of jazz's most important innovaters have been powerful undeniable virtuosos who could and did play the standard language as it existed BEFORE they revolutionized it. That's not how Monk and Coleman (of equal importance in my estimation, if not greater) did or do it.

And yet at the end of the day, in a drum competition, maybe the guy who swings hardest should win, right? Good for Jamison Ross.

Jeffalbert

That's interesting. I have heard Jamison play a few times in New Orleans, and conservative isn't a word I'd use to describe him. Maybe that is what the competition setting will do.

He recently played with the trio called Troika at the Tuesday night series that I run, and they were far from conservative. They played a variety of grooves, a track with drum machine, and Jamison even sang some (and well). There is audio evidence of it here: http://openearsmusic.org/troika-audio-archive-4-september-2012/

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