“In Jazz, A Song Is Just A Suggestion…”

This is a clip from a longer show about John Coltrane. The title of this post comes from a small interview with Joshua Redman and I loved it as soon as it came out of his mouth.

It is really weird to hear him say this because I was listening to Michael Butler’s excellent interview with Donovan in Rock N Roll Geek Episode 357 (which is one of the best interviews he has done) and a piece of advice was given regarding songwriting. Donovan asked Keith Richards about songwriting and was told (I’m paraphrasing here) “When I get ready to write a song, I listen to three Buddy Holly songs in a row, then I write a fourth.” Donovan and Butler talked for a few more minutes about doing that process.

That form of songwriting is what Redman describes. The only difference I can see is that long-form jazz allows for the musician to take familiar songs and add to it through improvisation, but the short-form nature of pop songs and rock tunes only allows for straight reinterpretation or else the songwriter is labelled as derivative at best.