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Thread: Jimi Hendrix: Modern Jazz Axis

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    Jimi Hendrix: Modern Jazz Axis

    From JazzTimes, July/August 2001

    Bill Milkowski

    In 1965, my 11-year-old soul went into a nosedive when the Milwaukee Braves baseball franchise relocated to Atlanta. Gone were the heroes of my youth—Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews, Warren Spahn, Rico Carty—sending me into a deep depression. I would be rescued two years later by Jimi Hendrix, who elevated me to delirious heights with a kind of god-sent otherworldly music that got into my bones and altered my life. With his frizzy Afro hair, Fu Manchu mustache and psychedelic “eye shirt” beaming back at me through the purple-tinted fish-eye lens cover photo of 1967’s Are You Experienced?, Hendrix presented a provocative visage that made me forget all about Hammerin’ Hank and the rest. And the music contained on that perfect piece of vinyl was something else—loud, rebellious, exhilarating, nasty, dangerous, adventurous, totally transcendent. n And jazzy.


    As Jaco Pastorius put it, in assessing Hendrix’s jazz connection back in 1982: “All I gotta say is...’Third Stone From the Sun.’ And for anyone who doesn’t know about that by now, they shoulda checked Jimi out a lot earlier. You dig?” n Miles Davis readily gave it up to Hendrix, as did Gil Evans, who marveled at his “onomatopoeic approach” to guitar playing and later captured some of that quality on his 1974 recording for RCA, The Gil Evans Orchestra Plays the Music of Jimi Hendrix (with Ryo Kawasaki and John Abercrombie filling in the guitar chair that had originally been planned for Jimi). Tony Williams left Miles Davis in 1968 to form a band, Lifetime, which was partly inspired by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, and another Miles sideman, John McLaughlin, called Hendrix “a revolutionary force who single-handedly shifted the whole course of guitar playing.” n Jimi admired and respected Miles but he idolized Rahsaan Roland Kirk. Hendrix’s record collection, circa 1967, included Rahsaan Roland Kirk’s Rip, Rig & Panic right alongside Jeff Beck’s Truth and the odd assortment of Bob Dylan, Tim Hardin, Albert King, Buddy Guy, Muddy Waters, Kenny Burrell, Wes Montgomery and Ravi Shankar LPs. In a March 1970 issue of Rolling Stone, writer John Burks reported on the apparent affinity that Jimi felt for Rahsaan: “It’s revealing to hear Hendrix talk about jamming in London with Roland Kirk, jazz’s amazing blind multi-horn player. Jimi was in awe of Roland, afraid that he would play something that would get in Roland’s way. You can tell, by the way he speaks of Kirk, that Hendrix regards him as some kind of Master Musician. As it worked out, Jimi played what he normally plays, Roland played what he normally plays and they fit like hand in glove.”


    By all accounts (including a snippet from John Kruth’s book Bright Moments: The Life & Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk, which details their fabled jam at Ronnie Scott’s jazz club in London in the early part of 1967), Kirk and Jimi communicated on a mutual plane. Since Hendrix routinely layered three or more guitar parts on his recordings, he must have also felt an immediate affinity for the jazz iconoclast who could play three wind instruments at once. And Kirk’s amazing mastery of circular breathing allowed him to echo Jimi’s own sustained guitar lines. But their strongest bond came from recognizing that the blues was at the heart of their respective styles.
    Kirk’s name came up once again when Hendrix mused to Britain’s Melody Maker in an impromptu eulogy: “I tell you, when I die I’m not going to have a funeral. I’m going to have a jam session...Roland Kirk will be there and I’ll try to get Miles Davis along if he feels like making it. For that it’s almost worth dying, just for the funeral.”


    Of course, the Jimi Hendrix Experience had made several allusions to jazz along the way. Check out Mitch Mitchell’s slick 6/8 timekeeping on “Manic Depression” and his incessantly swinging ride cymbal work on the middle section of the suitelike “Third Stone From the Sun,” both from Are You Experienced? Dig Mitch’s deftly swinging brushwork on “Up From the Skies,” his hip Philly Joe Jones-inspired fills on “Wait Until Tomorrow” and “Ain’t No Telling” or his freewheeling Elvinesque abandon on “If 6 Was 9,” all from Axis: Bold as Love.


    If this doesn’t capture at least some of the spirit of jazz then Mona Lisa was a man.


    Much more HERE

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    Re: Jimi Hendrix: Modern Jazz Axis

    Big difference between Jimi/Mitch & the jazzers, J&M didn't look down on others, (ie like almost all jazzers [musical snobs]) they weren't interested in playing "jazz" it was all music to them. Jazzers still all thought they were "better" than Jimi etc., only trying to gain cred by association, while putting him down, or patronising (Miles hang your head in shame) it's sooo blatantly obvious (and it's there in print! so don't bother).
    Last edited by stplsd; 06-21-10 at 06:05 PM.
    Frank Zappa: "Rock journalism is people who can't write interviewing people who can't talk for people who can't read."

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    Re: Jimi Hendrix: Modern Jazz Axis

    I have an old Downbeat ('81 or '82?) from when some were starting to catch on---Jimi safely dead---and used it to make some rounds talking to people who knew more about music than I did.

    Friend Laughing Sam had a chance to talk with Al H a couple times but declined as there simply was no way Al would've been able to credibly answer the kinds of questions we both would've wanted to ask.

    Neither of us are particularly photo or memorabilia collectors but it somewhat amazing what you acquire just in the way of investigating the music. Some do have some incredible private collections though, it would blow some minds even here, I would suspect.

    Sam's high school guidance counselor came over from England, chance convo brought out she'd seen the Quarrymen. "Really? How 'bout Hendrix?"

    Nobody else knows what she gave him (nothing to her, she was just a clubber). Nor did he, the import of it, for years.

    And new things turn up all the time, partly thanks to Al Gore's internet. Stones fans, Who fans, all kinds of fans picked up things along the way re Hendrix that meant nothing to them from that standpoint.

    You read an old article lets slip Hendrix sat on stage, visible to band AND audience, at the Garden the night of his birthday (the one we have party pics & juicy stories from), you look for a photo someone might've taken of the stage.

    Fascinatingly tantalizing stuff at times.

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    Re: Jimi Hendrix: Modern Jazz Axis

    Interesting articles scoutship,and stp/lsd,whats your problem with jazz players???
    If you put all "jazzers" in one pile you're looking down just the way you accuse the "jazzers" of doing. Most of the above intervieuwed reconize the influence jimi had on them and take him for the highly tallented total entertainer he was I'd say.

    All the best,
    Thunderbaas.

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    Re: Jimi Hendrix: Modern Jazz Axis

    Quote Originally Posted by thunderbaas View Post
    ...stp/lsd,whats your problem with jazz players???
    If you put all "jazzers" in one pile you're looking down just the way you accuse the "jazzers" of doing.

    Did you happen to read any of the stuff by Keith Shadwick on that point?

    Anyway I'm trying to get that old Downbeat article up by this evening or tomorrow a.m. at the latest, bit crunched with some other work so a bit of patience if I don't quite make "deadline."

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    Re: Jimi Hendrix: Modern Jazz Axis

    "jazz' was just another tool in Jim's box. I bet, being the exciting performer Jimi was, he thought most jazz was boring. Blues had Jimi's heart, not jazz. Not even close.
    'The very fact you oppose this makes me think I'm onto something'

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    Re: Jimi Hendrix: Modern Jazz Axis

    Quote Originally Posted by outasight View Post
    "jazz' was just another tool in Jim's box. I bet, being the exciting performer Jimi was, he thought most jazz was boring. Blues had Jimi's heart, not jazz. Not even close.
    Regarding all this about jazz and Jimi fail to mention the BOG sessions specifically the "Blue Suede Shoes" long jam. We hear Jimi on mic with his headphones on say"JAZZ", as we hear the horn playing thru the speakers. Then he tries to get Buddy to play the intro for the song. Stoned and listening to Jazz, imagine that? He found all forms of music fascinating as most genius musicians do. Jimi was a sponge, look at him when jamming with other guitarists and bass players.In some of the photos he's checking them out. You can clearly hear his Wes Montgomery influence clearly at Woodstock playing Villanova Junction Blues! It is also evident on the LA Forum 25 April 1970 recording during the Room Full of Mirrors, Hey Baby medley into Villanova Junction Blues. One of his best jazz performances in terms of playing you will ever hear.

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    Re: Jimi Hendrix: Modern Jazz Axis

    Quote Originally Posted by outasight View Post
    Blues had Jimi's heart, not jazz. Not even close.
    Jimi was influenced by a multitude of musical genres including jazz, blues and classical. I think that was one of the reasons he was so great. You couldn't pigeonhole him into any one category. As he said in his last interview: "I just hate to be in one corner. I hate to be put as only a guitar player, or either only as a songwriter, or only as a tap dancer. I like to move around."

    Jimi did like jazz and this can be seen in his admiration for the jazz multi-instrumentalist Roland Kirk. As for the blues Jimi himself was critical of just focusing on playing only the blues. He said in the Boston Garden interview in 1968 responding to a comment by Jeff Beck that he took the blues too far that "Any note I hit on my damn guitar is my notes, regardless if it came from the blues or regardless where its coming from. Almost all the music now is based upon blues, but who in the hell wants to play that for the rest of your life. It's silly that they get uptight when you try to expand. I don't consider myself playing blues until I sing a song that is blues."

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    Re: Jimi Hendrix: Modern Jazz Axis

    This discussion could go round and round. In my opinion, everything Jimi played was based in the blues. That was the foundation. And just because he improvised and 'freaked out' doesn't mean it's jazz, not to me at least. It's a futile argument really, but which way did Jimi lean most of the time? Blues and Rock is the answer. And just because Jimi played some scales in 1983 that sounded like classical, doesn't mean he was going to put out a full on classical record, or get with those cats. It's not pigeon holing to say Jimi was into mostly blues and rock, because the last time I checked, there is a lot that can be done with that. I'm glad Jimi wasn't a snob, and I don't think he could ever relate to the 'jazz snobs' anyway.

    Is there even one traditional jazz song Jimi played?.........but he sure tried to play and record plenty of traditional blues.
    'The very fact you oppose this makes me think I'm onto something'

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    Re: Jimi Hendrix: Modern Jazz Axis

    I recently discovered the Charles Mingus opus The Black Saint And The Lady Spinner, which was recorded on 20Jan.1963 and began to ponder how Jimi would have liked it? Its truly mind blowing featuring 11 musicians conducted by Mingus on the bass. A foreshadow of Bitches Brew. I'm still taking it in, learning it, comprehending it. Its funny to compare Mingus music from The Black Saint to say Little Miss Lover. I truly wonder if Jimi ever listened to The Black Saint And The Lady Spinner?

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