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Connotation

The word of the day for Monday, January 23rd, 2012 is:

Connotation

  • The associated or secondary meaning of a word or expression in addition to its explicit or primary meaning
  • The meaning that a word suggests or implies.  A connotation includes the emotions or associations that surround a word (dictionary.reference.com)

Song: Blues Connotation

Artist: Ornette Coleman: The Ornette Coleman Quartet

Album: This is Our Music

Year: 1960-61

Okay, so I’m just putting this out there: I really do not care for jazz. Anyone who knows my musical tastes (particularly MC) will attest to this.  I’ve tried, honest to goodness I’ve tried and occasionally I’ve found stuff that I do enjoy.  Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack jazz standards, swing, big band, Glenn Miller, Ella/Etta/Billy/Rosemary – But, when it gets experimental, long solos and combos and jams on stage it seriously gets on my nerves, or I start to tune out completely waiting for the song to get to the POINT.  The closest I’ve gotten to liking that kind of thing is listening to MC’s & my friend’s – cousin’s band Media Addicts and there influences range from Miles Davis to Metallica leading to this quote found in a description of them: “What is this . . . is this Jazz?” the other answered “Yes. And I like it.”  Pretty sure those were my sentiments at the first of their shows I attended, only mine was more like, “But, I LIKE this . . .?”

Which is where I stand with this song by Ornette Coleman.  NO WAY I should like this, but I do.  Coleman was basically one of the main innovators of Free Jazz in the 1960’s – a genre of music that, though expressed very differently by different artists, had the same basis – they weren’t satisfied with playing the structured jazz of the 1930’s and 40’s and wanted to challenge, tear apart, and deconstruct jazz, pushing its boundaries.  This almost seems to be a theme so far:

  • Herbert challenging music with non-musical instruments to create important and meaningful sounds which are then mixed into music
  • Art & Language and Red Krayola challenging modernism with conceptual art, going beyond visual art and taking words and music to create a different kind of art altogther

And Zealous Friars, well, those puppies are just happy as clams with their guitars and standard pop format, but that’s cool 🙂  You don’t have to be dissatisfied to make good music, but it does seem to be an important factor in becoming known as an “innovator” “father/mother” of a whole new genre which you can then reject as it seems to confine rather than define your work.

But back to “Blues Connotation.”  Ornette Coleman is known for his distinctive blues-influenced high, crying saxaphone timbre according to my best friend Wikipedia.  You can definitely hear that as you listen to this recording.  But, as far as Blues goes, I’m still not much of an expert except that it’s a melancholy music with a steady groove that is departed from on occasion when the emotion of the lead voice gets to be too much.

“Blues Connotation” doesn’t sound melancholy with it’s driving beat and the bass player happily plucking away in the background, but the saxaphone solo work is intensely emotional, taking on vocal qualities of blues singers.  The 2:18 mark in the music especially has a blues feel with repeated melodic strands: you can almost hear the ragged intake of breath of a singer as they let out that pain in a LOOONG drawn out note  “and I feeeeeeeeel, and I fee-eee-eeee-eeee-eeeeel so sa-aah-aah-aahd”

But does the song have a blues feeling to it because of the music, or because of the title?  By titling the song “blues connotation” even a non-jazz head such as myself will listen for bluesy aspects in the song.  Ornette, you are a sly devil: you gave a piece connotation by saying it has connotation!  I’m sure that really, it probably follows some standard blues chord progressions and other stylistic features akin to blues, but I’d have to work A LOT harder to figure out that stuff, and you know, I’ve gotta get up in the morning . . .

No, I am content with what I have, which is moving to my toes to count the number of jazz songs I can say “But, I LIKE this . . .” about.

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Filed under Music, The Music/Vocabulary Experiment