People often view the double bass as an awkward and grouchy member of the group. But with its noble origin, it is essential to the sound of a jazz band. Without the double bass as a point of reference, the other instruments would be lost.
Troppo spesso il contrabbasso viene considerato un personaggio ingombrante e di poca importanza per la musica jazz. Eppure è uno strumento - di origini nobili e antiche - fondamentale per il sound dei brani.
Thelonious Monk, Minton's Playhouse, New York, ca. September 1947. Photograph by William P. Gottlieb
On our tour of jazz at i-Italy, we have been revisiting important instruments—and, as a result, phenomenal musicians—that form the story of the music, both in America and in Italy. And we intend to continue along that path, because it’s important to pique the interest of people who don’t know the music well.
Of all the instruments most commonly played in jazz, the oldest and noblest is without question the trumpet. Because it is a wind instrument, and therefore attached to the most direct form of communicating emotions (i.e., the voice), it often vies for the lead role with the saxophone.
Two years ago I began writing this jazz column for i-ItalyNY for two reasons: the honor of having been asked to work with such an esteemed publication and the desire to extend my knowledge of American and Italian jazz to casual listeners.
In 1841 a Belgian musician based in Paris decided to invent a musi- cal instrument which would possess a fuller, more vibrant sound than the bass clarinet he usually played.
And the Italians? We have many in both the past and present! Tenor players Max Ionata and Francesco Bearzetti, altoists Fran- cesco Cafiso and Rosario Giuliani, sopranos Stefano Di Battista and Emanuele Cisi and baritones Carlo Actis Dato and Beppe Scardino
Se provassimo a chiedere a qualcuno che conosce anche solo un po’ il jazz, qual è lo strumento che si identifica con questa musica, che la rende riconoscibile rispetto alle altre, quasi inevitabilmente ci verrà risposto: il sassofono o la tromba. Strumenti a fiato, dunque. In pratica prolungamenti esterni della voce, di ciò che è più diretto, umano, nella comunicazione fra esseri.
Il respiro che esterna la nostra stessa anima, quindi ciò che ci identifica e ci differenzia di più fra gli altri. A questo punto c’è da chiedersi: perché il jazz viene generalmente identificato con il fiato, l’emissione dell’aria dai nostri polmoni?
If we were to ask someone who knew even just a little bit of jazz what instrument he most associated the genre with, which instrument made jazz stand out from other musical genres, he or she would almost inevitably say the saxophone or trumpet. Wind instruments. Extensions of the voice, practically, extensions of the most direct, human form of communication. Breath externalizes our soul, gives us our identity, sets us apart. It begs the question: why is jazz generally associated with the emission of air from our lungs?