Saturday, September 18, 2010

Francesco Cafiso – Ciminiera Verdi [Green Chimneys]

© -Steven A. Cerra, copyright protected; all rights reserved.

Some young, Jazz players use a lot of notes in their solos.

This tendency seems to be a part of the joys of first expression; the thrill of discovering that you can play an instrument and play it well.

Kind of like: “Look what I’ve found? Look what I can do? Isn’t this neat?”

Another reason why these young, Jazz musicians play so many notes is because they can.

They are young, indiscriminately so, and they want to play everything that rushes through their minds, getting it from their head into their hands almost instantly.

Their Jazz experience is all new and so wonderful; why be discerning when you can have it all?

If such abilities to “get around the instrument” were found in a young classical musician romping his or her way through one of Paganini’s Caprices, they would be celebrated as a phenomena and hailed as a prodigy.

Playing Paganini’s Caprices, Etudes, et al. does take remarkable technical skill, but in fairness, let’s remember that Paganini already wrote these pieces and the classical musician is executing them from memory.

In the case of the Jazz musician, playing complicated and complex improvisations requires that these be made up on the spot with an unstated preference being that anything that has been played before in the solo cannot be repeated.

But often times when a Jazz musician exhibits the facility to create multi-noted, rapidly-played improvised solos, this is voted down and labeled as showboating or derided as technical grandstanding at the expense of playing with sincerity of feeling.

Such feats of technical artistry are greeted with precepts such as “It’s not what you play, but what you leave out” as though the young, Jazz performer not only has to resolve the momentary miracle of Jazz invention, but has to do so while solving a Zen koan at the same time ["What is the sound of the un-played note" or some such nonsense].

Alto saxophonist Francesco Cafiso plays lots of notes in this interpretation of Thelonious Monk’s Green Chimneys [ciminiera verdi, in Italian].

At only 21 years of age, its hard to believe that he has this much talent [he was only 17 years old when this was recorded].

Monk’s music ain’t easy.

The eminent tenor saxophonist John Coltrane once said that losing one’s way in Monk’s music is like stepping into an empty elevator shaft.

As you will hear in this example of extemporized Jazz at its very best, Francesco never loses his way – not for a moment.

Oh, and he plays a lot of notes, too.