Origins of third-stream music (formerly "Any MJQ fans here?")

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Origins of third-stream music (formerly "Any MJQ fans here?")

Post  pinhedz on Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:12 am

We'll get to MJQ in due course--the The Modern Jazz Quartet seems to be considered the foremost proponent of "third stream music"--music that is jazz and classical at the same time.

Few people (other than ATU members) have heard of Paul Nero, who predated the MJQ, and died in 1958 at the age of 41 (the other "Paul Nero" from the '60s and '70s is no relation). But he was writing "third stream music" before it had a name. He called it "West Coast music," or "the second plateau."

The following excerpts (which were sent to me in manuscript form by Nero's son) have never been published in this unedited form--complete with pot shots at Barber, Menotti, and Bernstein (although an edited version can be found on the back of Nero's one and only LP). The LP consists of jazz numbers arranged for string quartet plus jazz trio.

Although the following excerpts read like the very earliest emergence of third stream music, Nero in another part of the article hints that George Gershwin had perhaps been a third stream musician all along (and Gershwin--like Nero--started out in New York and ended up on the West Coast).

A bonus for me was that Nero got the pinhed hep to cats like Shorty Rogers and Jimmie Giuffre:



"... My own stumbling efforts have been spread over many years, from the time when I studied long-hair fiddle at the Curtis Institute of Music and simultaneously worked in the Jan Savitt "Top Hatters" band at WCAU [radio station]. Certainly I can appreciate how fabulous an opportunity this was for assimilating ALL the fields music at the same time. Naturally I was on the defensive in both camps. By day I was trying to "sell" jazz to the long-hairs and at night trying to impress the "cats" with the interesting music to be found around Rittenhouse Square."

"The only result of my campaign was to find myself looked upon with the suspicion by both sides. When it came to my writing, I was really in trouble. In my counterpoint and composition classes, I found myself in such august (today) company as Gian-Carlo Menotti, Sm Barber and Leonard Bernstein, all of whom dug me not at all. Our venerated teacher, Rosario Scalero was so unimpressed by my early attempts at "West Coast" writing (the use of classical devices, forms etc. combined with jazz idioms) that he asked me on no uncertain terms to stay out until I could learn to keep "sixth" chords out of my Gregorian chants."

"This turned out a blessing for me as I had more time to work on my arranging lessons for Johnny Warrington, who was at that time one of my colleagues at the radio station. However my classmates lost their only opportunity to pick up on their jazz education, and though it had little if any effect on Barber an Menotti, it left a lasting scar on Bernstein's musical life. He still thinks he's a hipster, and in spite of his many esoteric speaches, his many attempts to incorporate jazz into his symphonic works, he's still and 'East Coast' writer."

"But I digress. The above background is meant to serve as an objective explanation of how, due to unique circumstances I was given a well-rouned musical education. All of which brings us to the present time. I Had to wait nearly 20 years for the jazz department to discover long-hair music. Once the Rugellos, the Shorty Rogers', the Jimmy Giuffres discovered that there was more to music than a 32-bar phrase, we were in! We had now reached the second plateau. We now had fertile, daring minds, brought up in a very earty idiom, studying the basic precepts of an art form combining the two to make some very exciting sounds."

"For some strange reason, better left to students of anthropology, these strange hybrids all settled in what Mr. Ulanov refers to as a 'cultural desert'--California. How our smoggy, sunny, balmy climate tends to affect the trend of music is beyond my Ken. Suffice it to say that in spite of the Sage of Bethune street, ALL our new music is coming from this side of the Rockies and I'll let him figure out why."

-- Paul Nero (aka Kurt Polnarioff), 1956

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Re: Origins of third-stream music (formerly "Any MJQ fans here?")

Post  pinhedz on Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:18 am

Since the MJQ thread--unlike the "Origins of 3-stream" thread--was rescued, the logical next step follows here:

http://acrosstheuniverse.forummotion.com/t541-mjq-any-fans-here

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Re: Origins of third-stream music (formerly "Any MJQ fans here?")

Post  pinhedz on Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:21 am

It is probably telling that the MJQ were black. For black musicians it was probably a more common experience to acquire classical technique, and then, being denied opportunities to perform on the concert stage, to then adapt their classical technique to popular and jazz performance.

Hazel Scott is another good example--some of her classical/jazz mix-ups are posted here: http://acrosstheuniverse.forummotion.com/t584-first-black-woman-to-have-her-own-tv-show

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Re: Origins of third-stream music (formerly "Any MJQ fans here?")

Post  pinhedz on Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:46 am

Pauls Nero's first and only LP (1956) with jazz trio plus string quartet:


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Re: Origins of third-stream music (formerly "Any MJQ fans here?")

Post  pinhedz on Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:47 am

His 78s are very hard to find:




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Re: Origins of third-stream music (formerly "Any MJQ fans here?")

Post  pinhedz on Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:49 am

Paul Nero had one hit record--The Hot Canary. Here it is played by a 14-year old girl:


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Re: Origins of third-stream music (formerly "Any MJQ fans here?")

Post  pinhedz on Mon Jul 04, 2011 10:51 am

I reckon a link to the jazz-fiddle thread is in order:

http://acrosstheuniverse.forummotion.com/t41-jazz-fiddle-thread

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Re: Origins of third-stream music (formerly "Any MJQ fans here?")

Post  pinhedz on Mon Jul 04, 2011 11:01 am

Here's an oddity--Maynard Ferguson's rendition of "Hot Canary" mis-labelled as Venuti and Grappelli. scratch

It really works much better on the fiddle:


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Re: Origins of third-stream music (formerly "Any MJQ fans here?")

Post  pinhedz on Thu May 10, 2012 10:55 am

This might be the continuation of 3rd string music--Esperanza Spalding with a bowed-string chamber ensemble:








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