about Keith Jarrett and Miles Davis's ensemble



The Miles Davis Lost Quintet and Other Revolutionary Ensembles 

by Bob Gluck(2016) 


Chapter 7 The Revolutionary Ensemble 




Musical Form and Structure 



Jerome Cooper comments on the group's distinctively cohesive playing: 



When we were really together we were really together. It was almost like a basketball team! We played a concert once ― someplace in Cologne ― and people wanted to keep the tape and run off. And bam, I went here and Sirone went there. I remember we had grabbed the tapes. 



People didn't know what had happened [we were so in synch]. Musically, we were totally in tune. Totally. We didn't have to look at each other. Another thing is we never played a bad concert. We might go to a concert, fighting it out, screaming and yelling, and once we'd hit that bandstand, all the stuff would just go away. We never played a bad concert.  

(Jerome Cooper) 




The unique nature of the Revolutionary Ensemble can be first detected in its instrumentation: violin, bass, and percussion (sometimes supplemented by bugle, piano, viola, and harmonica). Trios without a piano are rare outside classical chamber music, no doubt because instruments that can play multiple notes add density to the spare instrumentation. One thinks of Ornette Coleman's 1960s trio with bassist David Izenzon and drummer Charnet Moffett (with Coleman doubling on violin and trumpet). Even saxophonist Lester Young's trio, which had no bass, included a piano, plus drums. 



The strength of a two- (or three-) melody-line trio is the ability of its instruments to interweave phrases, if not play counterpoint. If there is a harmonic foundation, it is subtly implied rather than spelled out. This was why the piano-less trio and quartet formations were excellent vehicles for Coleman's harmolodic approach, where melody lines are semiautonomous. Pianist Paul Bley sought similar results in his free-improvisation trios, where the piano's function was to provide an independent melodic voice rather a conventional harmonic foundation. The flexibility of the trio format was well suited to the dynamic approach of the Revolutionary Ensemble, as evidenced throughout the band's first two recorded performances, Vietnam and Manhattan Cycles. 

メロディラインが2つ(場合によっては3つ)あるトリオが力を発揮するのは、対位法とは行かないが、フレーズを相互に絡め合うことができる楽器群の能力だ。和声の土台がある場合は、逐一全部音にするというよりは、わずかに聞かせるという感じ。だからこそ、トリオでもカルテットでもピアノ奏者を置かない編成は、コールマン流の、メンバーが自分の考えでハーモニーやメロディを作ってゆくやり方(ハーモロディックなやり方)にとって、この上ない推進力となるのだ。ここでは、メロディラインは半分は自律的に機能する。ピアノ奏者のポール・ブレイは、同じような演奏効果を、自身のフリーインプロヴィゼーションのトリオで狙っていた。そこでは、ピアノの役割は、従来型の「和声の基盤を与える」というよりは、独立したメロディ声部としてものだった。トリオ編成のもつ柔軟性が、レヴォリューショナリーアンサンブルのダイナミックなアプローチにぴったりだったのだ。そのことは、このバンドが最初に収録した2つの作品「Vietnam」と「Manhattan Cycles」によく現れている。 


On Manhattan Cycles, the importance of the instrumentation is immediately apparent. We first hear the sound of strings and wood ― unmistakably connecting these sounds to their source in the physical instruments. The musical action unfolds quickly: Sirone rapidly sets the stage by playing a rapidly repeated high C, first arco and then pizzicato. Jenkins adds textural pizzicato sounds and then a melody that morphs into an upward arpeggio. 

「Manhattan Cycles」では、この編成の重要性が、演奏開始早々から明らかにされている。まず耳に飛び込んでくるのが、2つの弦楽器と、木を叩くような音だ。明らかにこう言ったサウンドと、自分たちが実際に使っている楽器の持つ根源とを、結びつけている。演奏面での機能が、すぐさま明らかになる。シローネが速いテンポで細かく刻む高音域のCの音を弾いて、演奏はあっという間に動き出す。まずは弓を使って(アルコ)、そのあとピチカートで。ジェンキンスが曲の基本構造となるようなピチカートを添えて、その後、上昇形のアルペジオとなってゆくメロディを演奏する。 


His whimsical gestures lead to a rising and falling arco run, from which flows a melodic exposition. Moving into the upper register, Jenkins plays a double stop, repeatedly sliding up and down the neck, as Jerome Cooper enters with quiet taps on the side of a cymbal. Sirone's sonorous arco bass emerges from a brief silent pause. Jenkins joins with lightly bowed figures, and then the two string players race furiously upward, reaching a note that they rapidly repeat, at the top of their ranges. Cooper taps a cymbal in support, and Jenkins adds harmonics as filigree. Sirone returns to his opening figure, which again closes out the section in silence. Next, the band mixes lo-fi sounds of a barely audible recording of Billie Holiday with Cooper's light tapping sounds, to which Jenkins juxtaposes a quiet melody, variations on the song Holiday is singing, now louder, "Lover Man." 

彼の奇抜な演奏の仕方は、弓を使っての上昇/下降を繰り返す音形となり、そこから主題提示となる。音域が高いところへと移ってゆき、ジェンキンスは同時に2つの音を鳴らす。上昇/下降を繰り返すスライドする音形を繰り返し、そこへジェローム・クーパーが押さえた音量でシンバルの縁を叩きながら入ってくる。シローネの高らかに歌い上げるベースが、一瞬静寂をもたらす間から現れる。ジェンキンスが軽快な曲線を描くフレーズで加わる。そしてこの2人の弦楽器奏者は、上昇音形で激しく追いかけっこを展開し、頂点で、2人共最高音域で細かく速いテンポでの繰り返しの音形を弾く。クーパーがこれを支えるシンバルの刻みを加え、ジェンキンスは優美な飾りとしての倍音を加える。シローネが冒頭の音形に戻り、これが再びこの部分を締めくくって、静寂をもたらす。次にバンドは、ビリー・ホリデイの演奏音源を殆ど聞こえないくらいの「ロー・ファイ」(⇔ハイ・ファイ)でミックスする。ここに、クーパーが軽快な刻みを添えて、そこにジェンキンスが静かなメロディをそっと置く。ビリー・ホリデイが歌う「Lover Man」の変奏が、ここで音量を上げてくる。 




Parallel Play as a Mode of Musical Engagement 



The balance of the first half of Manhattan Cycles, part 1, represents a shift from foregrounded solos with accompaniment to parallel play, in which the three musicians match energy levels and rates of change, but rarely intersect in unison or display conventional harmonic relationships. This is the kind of interplay and group dynamic at which the Revolutionary Ensemble particularly excelled ― its own realization of Coleman's theories of intergroup dynamics, simultaneously individualized by each musician while joined together in ensemble. The group creates a breathless speedy gesture that becomes a shared leitmotif, with each player freely expressing variants. Throughout the second half of part 1, all three musicians are fully engaged, listening closely to one another, yet contributing in a manner that betrays little obvious conventional musical dialogue. Instead, there is a shared energy level, evidence of a cooperative construction. Even when vigorous and forceful, the musical glue has qualities that are more inchoate and magical than they are the product of rules governing idiomatic jazz or classical music. Parallel-play construction continues to govern Manhattan Cycles, part 2. 

Manhattan Cycles第1部の前半のバランスのとり方を見ると全面に押し出す各ソロ伴奏を添えるというやり方からパラレルプレーへとシフトしていることが分かるパラレルプレーとは、3人の奏者が、演奏そのものの圧と展開する変化の度合いを、同じレベルで保ちつつ、調和させてゆくやり方だ。滅多にユニゾンで重なり合うことがなく、また従来型の和声を添え合うという奏者間の関係性も、滅多に見られない。これこそ、レヴォリューショナリーアンサンブルの真骨頂である、インタープレイのやり方であり、グループ内での互いの音量のとり方である。コールマンの手法をバンド独自に消化したやり方により、グループ間で互いに音量を設定しあい、同時に、個々のメンバーが、合奏体としてお互いにその中に身を置きつつ、個性を発揮する。バンド全体が生み出す、息もつかせぬスピード感のある演奏表現は、やがて3人が共有する示導動機(レイトモチーフ)へと変わり、個々のメンバーが自由にその変奏形を披露する。第1部の後半全体を通して、3人全員が完全に噛み合い、互いに集中して聴き合いつつも、従来型の演奏面での会話のやり取りであると、多少明らかに示すようなやり方をしている。それでもなお、3人が共有する演奏の圧のレベルが維持されており、それこそが、3人が協調して音楽を作っている何よりの証拠である。活気に満ちて力強く演奏する場面においてさえも、コテコテのジャズだったり、クラシック音楽だったりを演奏する際の縛りとなる決まりごとの産物というよりは、どちらかというと混沌として神がかった性格の結束の仕方をしている。パラレルプレーによる曲の組み立て方は、「Manhattan Cycles」第2部も全体を支配することになる。 


A second example of parallel play is in evidence at the opening of Vietnam, after a pentatonic melody is played in unison by the strings, repeated, and then extended with a coda. From there, the floodgates open and out flows an energetic violin and bass duet based on the melody, lightly accompanied by Cooper on shimmering cymbals. Jenkins's and Sirone's lines move sometimes in parallel, counterpoint, or parallel play, often sharing aspects of all three. Five minutes later, Jenkins's lines continuously flow forth new material, adding twice- and multiply repeated double stops and scalar runs, while Sirone sculpts continuously unfolding, cascading bass lines, never resting long in one spot. Cooper presses the ensemble's thick, dense energy forward. Near the end of the twenty-three-minute-long part 1, after many ebbs and flows of parallel and sometimes imitative play and an extended bass solo, the trio is back in its trademark integral yet parallel-play ensemble mode.  



Parallel play was an approach found to a limited degree in Circle and even less so in Miles Davis's Lost Quintet. The Revolutionary Ensemble had no leader looking in from outside the hub of activity, no Miles Davis to limit musical forays from continuing until their logical end, however anarchic the journey.  





Integral Role of the Bassist 



Sirone's understanding of his function as the group's bassist is another important feature of the Revolutionary Ensemble. In idiomatic jazz, the bassist's role is to anchor the harmony, keep a metric pulse, and solo when it is time to do so. These distinctions often lose their meaning in the setting of this band. A superficial listen to its recordings might suggest that Leroy Jenkins's violin is the lead instrument, supported by a rhythm section that doesn't seem to keep much rhythm. Certainly, Jenkins's obvious virtuosity is constantly on display. Yet a closer listen clarifies that the band is an integral group of three that, as we have seen, sometimes plays in parallel, with the bassist as an equal partner.  



Sirone rarely plays a conventional supportive role, in that he constantly invents and generates new melodic, rhythmic, and textural ideas. In an ensemble dominated by parallel play, distinctions between solo and support can sometimes be obscure. Throughout his solos, Sirone constructs continuously unfolding gestures built from a collection of articulations, performance techniques, and idiomatic elements. Among them are walking melodic lines, often jagged and angular and sometimes stop-start, along with arpeggiated motifs, repeated notes, hints of ostinati, harmonics, double stops, portamenti, and metrically changing lines. Literal repetition is rare, but gestures are treated as material for endless variation and extension. A phrase suggests its antecedent, although the relationship between the two may not be linear or obvious. Stream of consciousness can suddenly give way to surprise turns in direction. 



In Manhattan Cycles, part 2, the start of Sirone's solo overlaps with Jenkins's. After a while, Sirone's melody briefly suggests qualities of a folk tune, but quickly returns to a more abstract, stop-start, stitched-together alternation of lines and repeated notes and octaves. Later, harmonics lead to a more textural section where Sirone's partners scratch and tap rhythmic patterns as the bassist plays high pitched portamento lines. Twelve minutes later, Sirone's solo continues unabated, focusing on high pitches and harmonics while the others make further tapping sounds. He then revisits the musical figures that opened part 1, playing a rapidly repeated, high note arco. Jenkins adds intense, rapid bowed figures, supported by Sirone's fragmentary lines and Cooper's drumming. All three fade out, and a brief segment of recorded instrumental music returns to conclude the performance. 

Manhattan Cycles第2部ではシローネのソロの出だしに、ジェンキンスがオーバーラップする。暫くした後、シローネのメロディが、短く民謡のような性格を示す。だがこれは、そそくさと元に戻り、それまで以上に曖昧で、中断しながら進んでゆき、複数の旋律を交互に縫い合わせたり、繰り返しの音形やオクターブ違いの音を発信したりしてゆく。その後、倍音のあとに続くのが、それまで以上に曲の全体構造を魅力にした部分である。ここではシローネの相棒2人は、ひっかくような音や、叩くような音で、リズムのパターンを作り、そこをこのベース奏者は、ポルタメントを生かした、高い音域のメロディを聞かせてゆく。その12分後、シローネのソロは依然力をキープし、高い音域と倍音に焦点を当て続ける。この間他の2人は、更に叩くようなサウンドを発信し続ける。するとシローネは、第1部冒頭の音形に戻り、今度は速くて細かい繰り返しの音形を、弓を使って高い音域で弾く。ジェンキンスがこれに圧の強い、速くて細かい音形を弓を使って加える。これを、シローネの断片的なメロディラインと、クーパーの刻みが支える。3人揃ってフェードアウトし、予め録音した楽器音の短い部分が戻り、演奏を締めくくる。 


At ten minutes into Vietnam, part 2, Sirone provides a five-note bass ostinato, from which he periodically draws while constructing a continuous, forward-moving line. He is joined by Jenkins's fluttering violin and then Cooper's tom-toms and cymbals. He offers glimpses of the ostinato figure along his hesitant walk. Then the drums and violin lay out, leaving him to solo, which he constructs from harmonics and widely angular arco phrases, and then pizzicato articulation. Sirone plays an energetic phrase, pausing to reflect, and continues, next ferociously strumming the strings, before he returns to a more spacious construction, which builds in energy despite the pauses between phrases. High-register double stops are followed by intense melodic phrases and then a return to a more angular, repeated gesture approach. Sirone's solo concludes with strummed strings before shifting to walking bass, joined by Cooper's steady cymbal-ride pulse and then Jenkins's stop-start phrases. 



Listening to Sirone is akin to reading James Joyce, where sound, diction, and grammatical construction work in tandem, obscuring familiar roles and expected emphases. With Sirone, the listener should expect invention and surprise.