Jazz on the Flute?
June 11, 2007 11:01 AM   Subscribe

My niece, a freshman in high school, is interested in playing jazz on her flute and in convincing her teacher that there is a role for the flute in the school's jazz ensemble. I'd like to get some really good C.D.s of jazz flautists for her enjoyment and to enlighten the teacher, so I am turning to MeFi for help. Please help me find C.D.s of good jazz played on the flute. (No need to mention Bolling's Suite for Flute and Jazz Piano Trio; we already know about that one.)
posted by pasici to Media & Arts (28 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'd suggest some Rashaan Roland Kirk, but he was usually doing something ridiculous like playing the flute and singing or playing the sax simultaneously. Nonetheless, two tracks where he plays flute are "Three for the Festival" and "Hip Chops".
posted by LionIndex at 11:08 AM on June 11, 2007

Ian Anderson's solo albums. "Divinities-12 dances with God", and "Rupi's Dance". While they are not Jazz per-se they do show quite a bit of versatility with the flute.
posted by Gungho at 11:14 AM on June 11, 2007

Flutes are rare in Jazz. Any recording of Eric Dolphy on flute would be great. Here is a little history of Jazz flute which might give you some ideas about flutists which match you and your niece's musical tastes.
posted by caddis at 11:14 AM on June 11, 2007

Eric Dolphy, especially Out To Lunch's "Gazzeloni." He's a little avant-garde, but the swing is undeniable.

Jethro Tull's version of "Bouree" isn't bad either, although I don't think it gets points for its technical brilliance from master flautists or anything.

(On preview, Gungho's recommendation is the lead singer/flautist from Tull.)
posted by peacecorn at 11:15 AM on June 11, 2007

Hubert Laws sold a lot of records in the 70s and 80s, and is still active. jazz-flute.com would be a good resource for your neice. AllAboutJazz.com has a page on modern flautists.
posted by paulsc at 11:15 AM on June 11, 2007

Perhaps you should just play the jazz flute scene from Anchorman for the teacher.
posted by jitterbug perfume at 11:21 AM on June 11, 2007

2nding Hubert Laws.
posted by gnutron at 11:21 AM on June 11, 2007

Maybe what she ought to do is something like learn to play saxophone (relatively easy for most woodwind players) and then play sax in the jazz band with the occasional flute part/flute solo.
posted by flug at 11:22 AM on June 11, 2007

When Anderson/Tull recorded Bouree he was holding and fingering the flute incorrectly. It wasn't until years later that he learned the proper method.
posted by Gungho at 11:22 AM on June 11, 2007

Every time I've seen Chris Vadala, I've been blown away, and I don't even like jazz flute. Plus, he's director of Jazz Studies at University of Maryland and an approachable, friendly guy, so I bet you could enlist his aid; his email's on his website.
posted by MrMoonPie at 11:23 AM on June 11, 2007

posted by waxbanks at 11:24 AM on June 11, 2007

He's not really to my taste, but the prolific Paul Horn might have something to offer. Downloads at this website.
posted by Rumple at 11:27 AM on June 11, 2007

Katisse also infuses a bit of funk into his playing, but he's an amazing flautist. I think hes working on a record to be out soon.
posted by Asherah at 11:30 AM on June 11, 2007

Best answer: If it's a typical school jazz ensemble, it's a 'big band' with trumpets, trombones, saxophones and a rhythm section, totalling twenty people. The trouble with adding non-standard instruments to such a group is that the music just isn't written for them; when you buy a piece it doesn't come with a flute part. Even if it did, a flute would only fit on some types of pieces - ballads or bossa novas - otherwise the saxes would bury it. A good example is a standard called 'Soul Bossa Nova', which was used as the Austin Powers theme. On such pieces, sax players are occasionally required to play flute or clarinet for some parts of the song before switching back to saxophone, a practice known as 'doubling'. Supposedly once you know one of these instruments it is relatively easy to learn the others. As flug said, the best way to get into this scene is to learn saxophone.

That said, in a small combo where individual instruments play melodies and solo, anything goes. The teacher should be encouraged to start up a combo to give interested students a chance to play in a less structured setting than the big band. This would typically be bass/drums/piano and between one and four other instruments. If the teacher is not able to start up such a group, a senior student could lead it.
posted by PercussivePaul at 11:32 AM on June 11, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh, and Loyal Canadians listening to "As It Happens" on the MotherCorp will be familiar with Moe Kauffman, who composed the opening and closing themes of that show, with its over-the-top jazz flute solos.
posted by Rumple at 11:45 AM on June 11, 2007

100 greatest jazz flutists. Jeremy Steig's track Howling For Judy (great tune!) has been sampled by the beastie boys ans st. germain, fwiw.
posted by ashbury at 11:48 AM on June 11, 2007

I am surprised nobody's mentioned Herbie Mann, prolly the most successful jazz flautist of all. He recorded many excellent albums from the 50s up into this century. I particularly recommend his Brazilian Bossa Nova records of the early 60s.
posted by wsg at 11:49 AM on June 11, 2007

Seconding PercussivePaul, if the jazz band is a big band (as are most HS jazz ensembles), the director has a good reason to exclude flute players from the group-- very few big band charts include flute parts. Think of it as a reason to learn how to double on sax (I'd go with alto for someone coming from flute.)

If the jazz group is a smaller combo, then play some Dolphy for the director.
posted by andrewraff at 12:18 PM on June 11, 2007

Nthing the sax recommendation. As said before me, traditionally, flute players wanting to play jazz do go the saxophone route; primarily because most school-jazz scores typically don't contain a part for the flute. It's an relatively easy transition from flute to sax; usually to an alto. But if she really really wants to play the higher, melodic parts, perhaps she might have an easier time with the idea of a soprano sax; it's smaller and looks more like a flute as well. Although the same problems will apply; ie not all scores will include a soprano sax line. But technically, with a soprano sax she could also double the tenor sax line when there is no specific soprano score, if she's willing to be drowned out by the others and the instructor is willing to take some liberties with the original score.
posted by cgg at 12:29 PM on June 11, 2007

Let me also add that during my several years in high school jazz bands, it was normal for about half of the sax players to be flautists or clarinetists by trade. They played their primary instrument in music class and in the wind ensemble, and then played sax in the jazz band. It was more work for them but they enjoyed it.

Your neice has work to do if she chooses to learn the saxophone and initially will be at a disadvantage compared to others with more experience. However, there is a lot more to jazz than technique. if she can learn how to improvise and solo - which she would in a combo, or perhaps with private lessons - then she would be an asset to any band, no matter what instrument she's playing.
posted by PercussivePaul at 1:26 PM on June 11, 2007

Henry Threadgill
posted by rhizome at 1:58 PM on June 11, 2007

Dolphy is in a class by himself, but let's not forget Yusuf Lateef and the great Charles Lloyd. Nice history of jazz flute here.
posted by languagehat at 2:31 PM on June 11, 2007

There are some good suggestions here. (If that link doesn't work, search Google Groups for 9180819d6e4282e7, which is a thread wherein somebody posed the same question to Rec.Music.Bluenote in October 2000.)

If I were going to recommend one disc to satisfy your criteria, it would be Flutology. Ali Ryerson is probably the most high-profile flutist in modern jazz, and any of her CDs would fit your niece's needs. I'd suggest that one simply because 3 flutists are better than just one — and because I own it, and it's good.

Just for kicks, I'd add a note about Flutistry, a somewhat obscure CD featuring the not-at-all obscure Henry Threadgill playing original works written for flute quartet — but that's not the album I'd recommend for your niece to persuade her band leader. It's a bit abstract for your purposes.
posted by cribcage at 4:06 PM on June 11, 2007

Best answer: If you want to show your niece's teacher how beautifully jazz flute can be seamlessly integrated into a small ensemble, the best example I can think of is Sarah Vaughan's 1954 album with Clifford Brown on trumpet and Herbie Mann on flute. It's a stunningly swinging and intimate set, with lots of room for Mann to solo. It's perfect for convincing someone that jazz flute isn't a joke, not to mention also being (as Allmusic puts it), "one of the most important jazz-meets-vocal sessions ever recorded." I think it'll do the trick better than Dolphy, whose stuff is great but much more avant-garde.

Herbie Mann later put out lots of stuff under his own name, ranging from brilliant to schlock; here are some others that are worthwhile:

At the Village Gate
Live at Newport
Flute Flight
posted by mediareport at 5:03 PM on June 11, 2007 [2 favorites]

Also, Heavy Flute: Funky Flute Grooves from the 60s and 70s is fantastic, funky collection of jazz flute songs, with a few mildly avant pieces thrown in. It's a great introduction to the soul-jazz side of things on the instrument.
posted by mediareport at 5:06 PM on June 11, 2007 [1 favorite]


posted by Joseph Gurl at 5:21 PM on June 11, 2007

Don Burrows. Nuff said.
posted by flabdablet at 7:13 PM on June 11, 2007

James Newton (wikipedia)
posted by Eothele at 7:46 PM on June 12, 2007

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