I agree with coalport that most of the time the theremin is playing the melody, and the jazz feel comes from the accompaniment. The biggest hurdle to my mind is that it is very difficult to do the percussive syncopated attacks that are common in jazz performance, as well as the scarcity of improvisation in theremin performances. This being the case, I see no reason why the rich trove of melody contained in the "jazz" standard repertoire can't be mined...
I never expected to see a performance of Leonard Cohen's Halleluja with theremin, but coalport's performance of this is fantastic...jcn
PROJECT PIMENTO's version of the classic CARAVAN (a song which is really more Latin than jazz, written by Puerto Rican trombonist, Juan Tizol) is an example of a performance in which the jazz feel is provided by other instruments, while the theremin plays a fairly simple, unembellished version of the melody.
Here is Dizzie Gillespie playing a much more jazzy rendition of the tune, with the kind of improvisational ornaments and liberties one would expect in a jazz version (ornaments which cannot be done on a theremin).
You will also find that Wikipedia mentions in its article on Jazz that many purists believe that Duke Ellington's music was not jazz at all because it was carefully orchestrated.
I knew Duke Ellington personally, and saw him perform many times. Believe me - IT WAS JAZZ!
I'd be happily classified as "Folk" or "Ethnic" -or at least not boring, either. Is "Venerable Preteritial European" a recognized ethnicity?
It's especially gallant of you to take the time to listen. I've always liked Kitaro, and listened to Alan Stivell as far back as the '70s, but listening to Ravi Shankar and Hamza El Din is how I was drawn into this kind of art.
What is it about the "New Age" musical category that musicians seem to dislike? Why does it rub so many of them the wrong way? It doesn't matter what you do, or what kind of music you make, some people are going to like it and some are not.
Everyone may have an opinion on a piece of art or music but very few are able to tell you why they feel the way they do. Usually what you get is, "I don't know anything about art but I know what I like". There's nothing wrong with that but as a musician and entertainer I often want to know why people feel the way they do.
If someone is making art purely for art's sake, then the opinions of others don't matter. If you are trying to make a living through your art and put food on the table for your starving kids, then it's a good idea to listen carefully to what others say about your work. If you were a baker, and people were saying that your bread was too salty, you'd use less salt.
It is not possible to make a living playing the theremin. Ya gotta have a day job! Most of the theremin music we hear today (including my own) is the product of enthusiasts who are sharing their work purely for the love of it. What we don't get in that non-professional environment is genuinely valuable feedback. Comments like, "Your music transports me to a world of beauty and peace" and "Your music really suks" tell the artist nothing. They are simply statements of "like" and "don't like".
I wanna know WHY!
What I realized recently is how music is primarily considered a performance art, while I am trained (MFA, Southern Methodist University, Dallas) in the "plastic" arts. I realized also that performance is often comparable to Sport. When we talk about a performance we immediately compare it to another and attempt to declare a "winner." We are fortunate in the plastic arts to be more accepted for just who we are, and avoid the comparison of apples to oranges.
Many people are inarticulate about just what gets their attention, holds it, and finally inspires them to make it part of their life. Fortunately, with all the tools of the Internet I can track just what is getting attention, and by whom. As a professional "plastic" artist I have many opportinities to discuss in fine detail with designers exactly what they want, and they often have an excellent vocabulary for this. When it comes to music, I rely on statistics more than anything and I have a good idea about the differences between tracks that are popular. I don't make any money with music, but I'm compelled to create it.
(What does this have to do with Jazz? Hardly at all. What happened to Klezmer in the Wiki article? It's all that Jazz.)
I mostly make music to get emotions out that I feel would weigh me down over time. i share it willingly with others, if they like it, i am tickled pink. If they don't, I am fine with it. I would love to make music for a living, but i am just not "special" enough to benefit from doing it full time. I am just glad I am able to do it at all and fortunate enough to have theremins to wrap my life with beauty and definition.
the "Dump everything that doesn't fit" New Age category doesn't bother me at all. I think there are so many different styles of music within that category, it is fascinating to take the time and listen to diverse artists and what they have to offer... I can be in a Barnes & Noble going through these artists, all day and still feel like I am a child in a candy store by 5pm :)
The influence that jazz had on traditional klezmer music brought to America by eastern European Jews in the late 19th and early 20th century, is discussed in the Wiki article on klezmer. There is a movement to de-jazzify klezmer music and return it to its true, pre-jazz roots.
Last year I spent a few weeks experimenting with klezmer music on the theremin and got nowhere. Klezmer can be played quite convincingly on a continuum. As Dr. Hoffman, Clara Rockmore and others have shown, the slower more plaintive Jewish liturgical music can be played very effectively on the theremin but klezmer is basically dance music for weddings and celebrations and unfortunately the theremin can't boogie.
I doubt that the suggestion that "the theremin can't boogie" will start anything. It's a simple statement of fact! Other instruments around it can boogie, and the theremin can sail nicely along for the ride, but it sho' can't boogie by itself.
In 1927, before going to America, Leon Theremin presented a demonstration of his new instrument at the Savoy Hotel in London. The audience, we are told, was filled with celebrities. Among them were Julian Huxley, writers Arnold Bennett, and George Bernard Shaw. One journalist wrote of this evening, ".....Spontaneous applause greeted Mr. Termen's first experiment, followed by subdued murmurs of 'How does he do it?' 'Is it a fake?' and 'I hope he's going to play something gay.' He played nothing gay."
Nobody could play anything gay on the theremin back in 1927, and they can't do it in 2012 either, with the possible exception of Pussy Willow's recent New Year's Eve drag extravaganza.