Larry Kart

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About Larry Kart

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  1. Again, it's a matter of habits/tastes/preferences etc. After all, one could say that the sound of the Ellington sax section is by and large an extension of Sidney Bechet's throbbing timbre(s) on soprano -- this via Ellington's acknowledged early love for Bechet and the fact that Johnny Hodges stemmed from/loved Bechet -- and you have a sax section ideal that was based on the presence of a great many jostling overtones alongside the much less so inclined work of players like Otto Hardwicke, the whole a virtual musical equivalent to a Delacroix oil painting. That this was Ellington's reed-instrument ideal ought to go without saying. Part of the non-problem problem may be that, as the Bechet connection suggests, this was a sound and a sound-ideal that has (a la the Art Ensemble mantra) a definite "Ancient to the Future" strain to it, and the ancient side of it, I think, is what puts some arguably prissy ears on edge. P.S. A key factor in that reed sound BTW is that Ellington almost always had two quite disparate-in-sound clarinetists -- a Bigard-Procope liquid New Orleans-style player and a relatively pure toned Jimmy Hamilton type. To state the obvious, this was no accident -- Ancient and Future, so to speak, in one basket. And don't forget Carney's occasional ensemble clarinet work.
  2. No need to do that. Just a matter of different expectations/habits/"standards"/limitations of taste.
  3. A notable musician who went on record (I think in a Leonard Feather Blindfold Test) about the supposedly bad intonation of the Ellington sax section (plus IIRC their supposed general lack of unanimity) was Jack Teagarden.
  4. Some maybe but not most. You can read passages from the book using Amazon's "Look inside" feature.
  5. On Strayhorn, a crucial supplement to Hadju or even a first choice: In particular, Van De Leur is terrific and quite detailed on how Strayhorn's music actually works, and he also nails down exactly who wrote what between Ellington and Strayhorn, mostly by examining the autograph manuscripts but also (and this is fascinating and important) by identifying particular musical maneuvers that each man made and the other did not. Leaving aside the actual sound of the Ellington orchestra, which of course can't be left aside and which affected everything Strayhorn wrote, when this information is understood, there is little doubt as to the considerable differences between Ellington and Strayhorn's ways of writing music. IIRC, Hajdu's account of who wrote what is a fair bit more anecdotal.
  6. The Bill Savory Collection

    I think you've made my point for me. If "statements like that are just an insult," then they are not really "opinions on music [that] are largely a matter of taste and of what one expects to hear in this or that music," let alone "the impossible to reach "absolute truth" -- they are, in intent and effect, insults. And in the case of this piece, IIRC, the insult was not even made in anger (which might be a partial excuse) but was a calculated act of provocation that was aimed at stirring a journalistic uproar that would serve to puff up the name and standing (in some quarters) of the hurler of the insult. The rest of what you say above is to me a mixture of disparate issues. There is, in my world, (virtually) no current or past musical style in jazz that is inherently more or less valid, with the possible exception of straw hat/red garters Dixieland (which IMO has little to do with any actual traditional jazz). OTOH, as far as what you refer to as " "reproduction" and "copyism" in jazz, I think one needs to look at the historical context of that approach or alleged approach, which in recent times has been to some significant degree, albeit not exclusively, linked to the itself by now quite historical advent of Marsalis-ism, with all its ideological baggage as to how jazz should be played and its strictures as to what ways of playing are, by contrast, not jazz -- these claims of course resting on claims of "absolute" aesthetic and social "truth." Beyond that, when one gets to young or by now well-into-middle-age figures who more or less consciously work within "the tradition, " I admit that it comes down both to personal taste and also personal life experience on the part of the listener. If one was, as in my case, age 14 in 1956 and heard, say, Rollins' "Saxophone Colossus" when it was brand new, one's reaction to a young player whose style is steeped in c. 1956 Rollins is bound to be affected by both the fact that one has heard this before and heard it when it was a personal novel utterance on Rollins' part. BTW, let me emphasize "personal utterance," because there are many styles of jazz where "personal utterance" is not or not as much the case, and these styles do lend themselves to re-creation, if the re-creation is done with insight and care -- witness the music of France's Les Petit Jazz Band or all the glories of Trad-based music that have come out of Australia, beginning in the late '40s and for many decades thereafter. OTOH, to take only example, it's not impossible that a young or by now well-into-middle-age figure who is (to stick with Rollins-inspired players) can also come up with striking personal utterances. I hear that, for example, in tenorman Grant Stewart; and while I can explain or claim in some detail why I feel that is the case, this is only my "truth," and I know that others disagree on the value and individuality of Stewart's music or do value it but then see no particular difference between him and other players who seem to them to be in a similar stylistic bag but who seem to me to be lacking in inventiveness and individuality. So it goes. But then again, having been a jazz fan since 1954, I don't recall an era when the questions or issues I've just touched upon have been on or near the front burner as much as they seem to be now. Did, say, anyone demure in 1954 at the rooted-in-tradition music of Ruby Braff? Well, yes, IIRC, some critics did (some British critics with Leftist inclinations in particular, pretty much along open or covert racial lines -- the claim was that it was somehow wrong for a then fairly young Jewish kid from the Boston area to play the cornet in a manner that owed such a debt to Louis Armstrong). But the beauty and quite evident "personal utterance" factor in Braff's music pretty much carried the day, thanks be.
  7. The Bill Savory Collection

    Hope you're right; John is a good friend and a brilliant writer. I thought he was saying that my use of the phrase "morally ugly" was akin to what 2nd-rate pundits say.
  8. Return Of The Film Corner Thread

    That the members of the Resistance unit whom Melville depicted had a good deal in common with gangsters morally was one of the film's points. Recall, for example, the killing of Simone Signoret’s character when the Resistance unit's leader admits that even though has no way of knowing whether she betrayed them, an example must be made. Likewise perhaps, but also inside out, the real-life gangster who was the model for the character Lino Venturi played in “Le deuxieme souffle” was a notorious collaborator with the Nazis during the war. BTW, in Signoret’s autobiography she recalls the shooting of the scene of her death in “Army of Shadows,” which was tricky because it had to take place amidst real people, not extras, on an actual city street, and they would get only one chance to get it right. Just beforehand, Signoret asked Melville for guidance at to what expression she should have on her face at the moment she realizes she’s going to be shot -- guilt because she had betrayed the group, perhaps? Said Melville, “What makes you think you did?” As a result, the expression on her face arguably was perfect, one of unreadable enigmatic consternation.
  9. The Bill Savory Collection

    You don't think it's immoral to say that if you admire late Coltrane, you're mentally ill? What claim that a group of people who are not mentally ill ARE mentally ill do you find morally acceptable? Also, FWIW, that piece was quite calculated/written in cold blood. It was not a mistake or an aberration but, as I said above, "essentially an act of provocation, an attempt to kick up a fuss in order to further John's profile as a Truth-Telling Noble Traditionalist."
  10. The Bill Savory Collection

    This detour came up when JSngry posted this re: the Savory collections focus on Benny Goodman: "Chicago's own...what's the guy's name, John McDonough? he used to be one of those staunch Goodman advocates back when I read the mag, going back to the 70s. Didn't have a problem with that per se, b/c BG did have some really excellent bands, but I was troubled that he was quite often dismissive of Ellington, and there's always something weird to me when somebody has that extreme of a divide." I then responded with further details because I've known McDonough since high school, and down the rabbit hole we went.
  11. The Bill Savory Collection

    The Coltrane thing is both revealing and well nigh unforgivable IMO -- and BTW the piece didn't come from the '60s, when Trane was being labled "anti-jazz" by John Tynan and all sorts of other alarmed defenders of the status quo in jazz but from the '90s, long after Trane was dead. Revealing and unforgivable because it was not so much, if at all, an expression of taste on John's part (lots of reasonable people of various ages don't like post-"Chasin' the Trane" Coltrane) but a solemn insistence that there could be NO rational reason to like late Trane and that those who said they did were either lying or that their belief that they did find value in this music was a sign of mental illness. If you don't see how morally ugly that is... Also, though I don't have the piece in front of me, my recollection was that it wasn't even a genuine piece of bitchery but essentially an act of provocation, an attempt to kick up a fuss in order to further John's profile as a Truth-Telling Noble Traditionalist.
  12. The Bill Savory Collection

    The question is when and all why John fell in love with Frazier's work. Based on my fairly clear memories of John in his early days, I'm pretty sure it was because Frazier's dandiacal tone, image, and views evoked an aspect of the world just before John was born, as aspect of that world that he very much wanted to embrace and even return to, even though the latter act was impossible. Again -- as I think I said above -- it's one thing to love and be fascinated by the art of the past because of its artistic virtues and another thing to do so as a means of expressing your distaste for the present. Hey, I have a taste for Benny Goodman, but not because his music somehow stands opposed to that of Charlie Parker or, heaven forbid, Ornette Coleman. (Again, BTW and if memory serves, John's taste for the jazz past pretty much begins only at the advent of the Swing Era and its social-musical paradise. For him, Jelly Roll Roll Morton, Johnny Dodds, et al. are just precursors or even primitives.) An excerpt from John's bio in our 50th high school reunion book: "One way or another, it would seem, we're all outcomes of our adolescent obsessions.... For me -- and this may sound silly -- it was a fascination with a period of American life that I had just missed by a generation: the '20s, '30s, and '40s." Sounds harmless so far, and it's led to some genuine journalistic accomplishments on John's part, e.g. uncovering those Lester Young army documents. But when it extends to that Down Beat piece that claims that those who admire later Coltrane are mentally ill? If you think that was an aberration, you don't know your man.
  13. What Classical Music Are You Listening To?

    Good friend of and early influence on Jim Hall. I have this album, but the one time I listened it didn't make much of an impression on me:
  14. The Bill Savory Collection

    I'd have to go back again to be sure, and I do doubt myself in this (if only because of the weight of Krupa's mostly negative reputation), but there are times when I've thought while listening to BG's small groups that Krupa was the Tony Williams of the Swing Era. That is, his interjections/decorations or what you will were at once compositionally coloristic and rhythmically meaningful, albeit meaningful in a significantly different, more discursive (if you will) manner than the work of Jo Jones, Catlett, et al. In particular, placing Krupa's actual merits and debits a bit to one side for the moment, one ought not to get caught up in a "progressive" narrative of jazz's rhythmic styles and development. Krupa, I would say, comes from a Chicago-style approach in those realms, an approach that he helped to shape; and one could argue that -- again placing a bit to one side the "wave" of jazz's historical stylistic development -- it too had/could continue to have (at least until it became too "historical"?) its own musical validity. Not quite the same thing, I admit, but did Lester Young's undeniably more "progressive" approach invalidate that of Coleman Hawkins? Further, as the example of Sonny Rollins' relationship to Hawkins should perhaps make clear, is it not possible for any number of aspects of a style that has been more or less been run over by the "progress" of history to later on recur quite strikingly, albeit in somewhat altered forms, because another master finds them necessary and meaningful.