Written by Bruce Hawes
SPOTLIGHT ON - "LUIZ SANTOS"
Sep 20, 2017
THE EVOLUTION OF JAZZ
INTRODUCTION: THE EVOLUTION OF JAZZ
Jazz| (noun): is a type of music of Black American origin characterized by improvisation, syncopation, and usually a regular or forceful rhythm, emerging at in many forms created by musicians from the middle of the 19th century into the beginning of the 20th century. It has evolved afterwards into different forms of Jazz music for more than 100 years. Brass and woodwind instruments and piano were originally particularly associated with jazz, until the electric guitar was later added to this music genre. White musicians of the early 1920s often utilized violins in their form of JASS music. They played primarily Dixieland and Rag Time music made popular when teenagers gravitated to it in the early 1920s. However, “Rag Time” music can only be associated with the term: “JASS” music. White college students that crossed over and across the tracks into Black American Gin Joints for entertainment in the mid 1800s first used the term.
New Orleans later became a city known for its “Multicultural Celebration.” Which means, New Orleans became the home of The Blues and The JASS, (i.e. Rag-Time). Like in all things, evolution will not be denied. In the 1930s, Blacks, Cuban Latinos, and Mexicans, along with brave White musicians who went against the Jim Crow laws of the 1920s, continued to enjoy their multicultural efforts and infused new versions into the New Orleans society. These multi-cultural mix of musicians became the #Hip-hop antithesis of what was the mainstream in teenager pop-culture of the Roaring 20s, which was “Rag-Time” music genre.
Simultaneously across the tracks Black Americans were drawn to the Blues music made by Bessie Smith. Musician artists like Satchmo became quite successful, and the Blues became normalized. Then the Jazz art form with musician artists like, Charlie Parker, introduced intricate chromatic modal chord expressive music with counterpoint-metered phrases. Charlie performed with 3 other musicians to form a band, playing chromatically orchestrated written horn lines to a swing beat. He and other musicians of the 1930s successfully created what has become known as traditional “JAZZ” music.
There is a difference between JAZZ and JASS. Later onto the 1940s and 1950s Jazz became a popular underground music culture that spread all over the world. Jazz music took another turn with the introduction of Synthesizer instruments. But traditional acoustic instrument Jazz musicians remained true to the sound made popular by their predecessors in Jazz music.
ECM style of Jazz (also known as ECM jazz) became popular by musicians like John Coltrane, and Miles Davis right before the 1970s. This style of Jazz music emerged as very popular underground sound heard in night clubs in the late 1950s into the 1970s. Later it became largely associated with ECM RECORDS (ECM stands for "Edition of Contemporary Music") with musicians Free-styling, spontaneous instrument music performances. You can think of the ECM style as a creative performance reaction to what is being heard. This form of Jazz music only requires musicians to have chord charts of the music work they are to follow. Which brings us me to the featured artist that I shall write about now.
"MODERN JAZZ ARTIST: ‘LUIZ SANTOS”
This short history lesson brings us to my latest featured artist; “LUIZ SANTOS.” He is a great modern Brazilian traditional Jazz musician, drummer and pianist.
The heartbeat of Luiz Santos’ music is the continuous pulsation of his percussion instrument, which entwines with complex compound metered measures in his music. This perfectly describes the type of music that he as a young man has played since the age of 9 and mastered at a young age of 13 years old. So when I heard Luiz’s music I immediately wanted to hear more. I sat down, and I carefully listened to selections from his 12 or more albums recorded over the years. Gradually, and incrementally the listening session revealed 2 distinctive musical traits that is uniquely a part of Luiz Santos’ music. He had rhythmic percussion performances, and pentatonic scale percussive Jazz piano performances against chromatic music chord passages which is a very much a modern Jazz improvisational tradition. There was a 3rd reoccurring musical trait in his music. He had a reoccurring orchestral creative approach to his keyboard dominated music body of works. As an example of his classical music leaning tendencies, in his orchestral like music there were expressive chord patterns that led to ethereal heavenly musical passages in his songs, like on his, “OUTPOURING FROM HEAVEN” album. His creations are very much like a musician that was a student of classical music.
Luiz is an extraordinary musician because he does not rely on traditional musical tonal patterns in order to create music. But at times he does. Sometimes oppose to the percussion matching instrument tones, the instrument tones at times matches his percussive patterned drum performances, which is the direct opposite of the way that a keyboardist, guitarist or orchestrator would approach writing music parts as exhibited in the song that was written by the drum percussion minded musician: ‘Luiz Santos.’ An example of Luiz’s percussive musical inclinations can be heard in the following song:
“Cascades Of Light Chapter 2”
Most of Luiz Santos’ latest and previously recorded drum dominant music has an Afrocentric feel to it. Even his classical Jazz music makes you feel like you are in the jungle or on an Island in a beautiful calm place with the sound of the Jungle surrounding you. An example of Luiz’s classical musical inclinations can be heard in the following song:
“Thunder” by Luiz Santos
Yet with Luiz’s utilization of the Saxophone and in some instances, the Flute instrument in some of his music works, his music becomes reminiscent of Coltrane’s last music works, which were mostly improvisational in confined written patterns, in cut time with multiple measured meters, (i.e. BPMs). Coltrane was a superior musician exhibiting years of mastering his instrument, and so is Luiz Santos. Like a primal scream of a prehistoric man, Coltrane’s music cried out to the listener at the end of his career. Luiz seems to incorporate or has a similar approach in some of his music. The similarities to Coltrane’s last music legacy works seem to make its way into Luiz’s music. Perhaps it happens without Luiz actually trying. It’s this talented musician, Luiz Santos’ instinctive creative tendency to be extremely expressive.
Luiz Santos is a dynamic musician because one of his instruments is a dynamic one, the drum kit. He slices his drum performance through multiple patterns with ease as he cuts and breaks, where other music works usually settle into groove patterns heard in other forms of Jazz expressive music. Luiz doesn’t stop and pocket groove like other drum musicians. He challenges the listener because he is a great percussionist and percussion performer with exceptional, spontaneous reactions to complex rhythmic patterns. One of my favorite songs Luiz Santos’ body of music works is from the album entitled: “Brazil Contemporary Art,” is an instrumental Jazz piece that you can listen and enjoy by clicking the link below:
“Brazy Blues” by Luiz Santos
This song has a bit of Chick Corea, and Quincy jones, flavor in its horn combination sound to it, Chick Corea mostly favored a more subtle melodious approach with the dominant lead electric Rhodes keyboard playing in unison with the flute in his music or songs.
When I listened to Luiz’s piano based music; of which he created and played, his music work took on more of a symphonic or chamber music inflection or mood incorporated to the music. It was somewhat a dreamy or ethereal sounding of music. Yet his piano solos have a dynamic approach in them. Many of his piano dominant tracks were created in such a way that made the music sound like he was reaching out for the maker of the universe through his music. In some of his entire body of his album of music works you’ll find songs that are quite spiritual, as if they belonged along side of a Buddhist chant.
What I came away with after taking a musical journey to the musical mind of Luiz Santos is this:
BRUCE’S REVIEW SUMMARY: LATIN JAZZ ARTIST ‘LUIZ SANTOS’
Luiz Santos’ music is complex. He is an innovative musician. His music making skills are uniquely his own. He follows his own path and invites you to challenge your ears and your music knowledge as well throughout his music catalog of songs. I feel that the music legacy of LUIZ SANTOS is significant! For all forms of Jazz music lovers, it is well worth the time to take the long journey into the music history and the mind of this great musician, “Luiz (#TheGreat) Santos.”