AllenLowe

Yanow Is Here

171 posts in this topic

so, I wake up this morning and I find this from Yanow:

"I just wanted to thank you for all of the kind words that you've said about me on the Organissimo threads. It's greatly appreciated.

Scott

P.S. Why did you put out That Devilin' Tune without personnel listings, sometimes using scratchy surfaces that are inferior to other reissue projects, and with liner notes that often do not mention the recordings? For example, you have the first-ever example of scat-singing by Gene "The Ragtime King" Greene and don't even mention it in the notes. I know that there was a reason for all this. I'm just curious as to the strategy."

yes, Scott, with your usual brilliant insight you may just have caught something I should have mentioned per Gene Greene; and you're full of shit, as I mention a GREAT MAJORITY of the recordings in the text, and at the least refer to them stylistically per the period in which they were recorded - yes, I may miss a few but, gee, I'm sorry, I'm really sorry - as this was done over a 5 year period on my own time, with my own collection, without a penny of financial support , AND I did all restoration work - and just happens to have been praised to the skies by just about everyone else who has heard and read it -read Signal to Noise this month, or Joe Milazzo's review in One Final Note, or the review in Cadence - so it may be possible that not all recordings are the best sources; name however, 10 that sound better on other reissues. And than do your own damn project rather than writing badly about everyone else's - sorry, also, that I could not list full personnell for the 1,000 recordings that were re-mastered for the box; I do note key soloists in most cases. But just in case you're still confused, Bix was a cornetist -

ALSO, I would hope, given the fact that, yes, I never tire of saying publicly what an incompetent hack you are, that you refrain from reviewing Devilin Tune, as there is clearly a conflict of interest on your part; just as I could not, now, objectively review a work of yours in a publication, I hope you would admit same -

Edited by AllenLowe

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If he sent you this email, why are you responding here???

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'cause I did not send him an email - figured I could out him as the kind of guy he is - that was, after all, not really a question he asked but a reponse to my own chronic dislike of his work. The difference is, unlike me, who would say "Yanow is not good and I have said this before and I do not like his prior work," he couches his criticisms in pseudo-objective language. Unfortunately, the guy is not even good at sarcasm -

Edited by AllenLowe

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might as well post this:

BOOK REVIEW

Allen Lowe

That Devilin' Tune : A Jazz History, 1900-1950

(Music and Arts Programs of America)

by Joe Milazzo

January 2002

In 1958, Sonny Rollins wrote this about his Riverside recording Freedom Suite:

"America is deeply rooted in Negro culture: its colloquialisms, its humor, its music. How ironic that the Negro, who more than any other people can claim America's culture as his own, is being persecuted and repressed, that the Negro, who has exemplified the humanities in his very existence, is being rewarded with inhumanity."

Diction aside, in a mere two sentences, Rollins expresses the central tenets of what was come to pass—and what we've become accustomed to as—jazz criticism in the past 40 some-odd years. Perhaps Ken Burns was right when he diagnosed jazz intellectuals with chronic inability to arrive at civil consensus on even the most trivial musical facts. But Burns mistook the symptom for the disease, and missed completely that jazz criticism still suffers from a hereditary weakness, a lack of collegial trust that stems from perceptions of race and power. Whether Sonny Rollins, since typecast as modern jazz's most lasting enigma, ever envisioned or currently approves of the racialist ideologies of Albert Murray and Stanley Crouch is something which we will perhaps never know. But Rollins' statement, like so many of profound cast, presents truth and obfuscation in equal measure. It's up to us to separate them, to see what justice time has meted out to them, and to peel back the layers of paraphrase and misinterpretation that now cling to these ideas.

When this reviewer first read on page 13 of tenor saxophonist, arranger, composer and scholar Allen Lowe's That Devilin' Tune: A Jazz History, 1900-1950, about the "deep African and African-American roots of all [emphasis mine] American culture", a tiny bit of despair entered into the reading experience. But what quickly becomes obvious over the course of the next 250 pages or so is that Lowe is perhaps the most rational writer to attempt a project of this subject and scope. Take, for example, just these few sentences on Thelonious Monk's career:

"Who was Thelonious Monk? No one really seems to know, though toward the end of his life (he died in 1982) the pianist was revered as the last of jazz's great eccentrics and offered large amounts of money (which he refused) to perform in public. The very things which had once made his music so difficult and incomprehensible to many—the odd melodic turns of phrase, the percussive primitiveness of his touch, the unresolved dissonances, and, most of all, his reputation for inscrutable eccentricity—were now, in a more modern and tolerant age, the stuff of marketer's dreams... From his earliest days as a professional musician Thelonious Monk had gone his own way... Though his stance—his absolute refusal to do anything but play his music in his own way, without compromise—was seen by many as heroic, it was more likely the only choice he had. In truth, Monk had a kind of artistic tunnel vision, something which was to his and jazz's benefit, though he was lucky to have a built-in support system—his wife and, later, record companies, promoters, and booking agents—that allowed him the luxury of such a principled life." (193)

The personal, the political, the musical—there it all is in a package that is not so tidy as to be smug, but tight enough to withstand the jostlings and pryings of dissent and rebuttal. Incorporating historical investigation (sometimes impertinent, but most questions are), discographical detective work, personal interviews, and, most crucially, often pithy and memorable musical analysis—such as his likening of Frankie Trumbauer's C-melody saxophone playing to "a painter using only straight brush strokes" (112)—Lowe combines the best features of the musicological and (often "amateur" or "enthusiast", as Terry Treachout defined in an essay from last year's Nation) jazz critical traditions.

Perhaps the most notable aspect of this book is that Lowe returns to the notion that jazz is a popular music, with all the wonderfully fascinating and difficult complexities that entails. His consideration of the music's growth and transformation during the first half of the 20th Century yanks jazz out of its isolation as "art music", an aesthetic phenomenon only, without confusing the music's socio-historical context for its actual and sole meaning. Citing Richard Gilman, Lowe views "artistic creation... [as a] counter-history, the generation of a psychological and aesthetic alternative to the prevailing artistic and social order". (176)

Yes, this book could be five times its current length, and it sometimes moves too swiftly, especially when one is not all that familiar with the recordings under discussion. But That Devilin' Tune is criticism of the best sort. It does not evaluate, rank, or taxonomize—it elucidates and makes relevant to the way we perceive the totality of the music, the way we recreate these sounds in our own imaginations. It is a perhaps the first real jazz morphology; in That Devilin' Tune, jazz is a musical attitude, a loose alliance of very different kinds of information, that manages to cohere and flow through any available circuit, and across any geographical and anthropological borders:

"We've discussed in earlier chapters... issues of musical black and white, acknowledging jazz's roots in the techniques and experiences of 19th century black America. That truth notwithstanding, jazz could not long be contained in one community, so strong were its powers of musical persuasion, and so tempting and attractive were its expressive elements—as a matter of fact, an argument can easily be made that jazz's racial and multinational proliferation was a tribute to the genius of its African American inventors. They had devised cultural and musical strategies that were so irresistibly populist and ingeniously community-based, while still amounting to great art, that jazz itself held, in the very essences of its aesthetic and mass appeal, the key to its racial and commercial dispersal, to those very things which would aid and abet its separation and ultimate flight from the African American community." (147)

Aside from it's dramatic irony, this thesis points toward Lowe's other major achievement in That Devilin' Tune. Suppose we do as he has done, and we consider early jazz vocalist Annette Hanshaw, 1920's cornetist Thomas Morris, swing-era saxophonist Rudy Williams, and European band leaders Ray Noble and Spike Hughes? Or, as Lowe himself writes:

"And then there are those groups and musicians whose impact and visibility is like that of a hit and run driver, who are here one day and, though sometimes traceable by label (rather than plate) number, nearly gone the next, having vanished into the fog of the jazz and dance band's world of economic uncertainty." (106)

The image, for this reviewer, immediately recall the Joe / Josephine and Jerry / Daphne of Billy Wilder's Some Like It Hot, musicians in dresses and heels madly scrabbling across boundaries not in self-conscious violations of taboo, but in search of some safe haven (and maybe a little fun). One of the most often-repeated tenets of early jazz research is the fact that we know so little. We have tall tales about Buddy Bolden, first-hand accounts of the brothels of New Orleans and we know that the Gennett studios were almost literally on the wrong side of the tracks, etc. But Lowe exposes this assumed paucity of knowledge for the canard it is. Throughout That Devilin' Tune, Lowe reminds us that, if we just open up the established canon of jazz recordings even the slightest bit—if we deign to turn critical attention to the likes of Wilbur Sweatman, Guy Lombardo, Raymond Scott, and Hank Garland—it comes to light that we know more than we expected we did. Recordings, for all their flaws (and early recordings may not be so much flawed per se as much as they are a different form of expression altogether) are the most important documentary resource we have. Working from these assumptions, Lowe is also able to devote much needed attention to musical styles that, existent—and in some cases, still evolving—parallel to jazz as it's canonically defined, both drew from and contributed to the music's vocabulary: The rural blues, minstrelsy, and Western Swing. Some may argue that his hunting for hints of jazz in the acetate dross of the early 20th Century is an attempt to pollute the music with allegations of influence that run counter to "the facts". But, consider, as Lowe does, the impact of the recording as a technology:

"Jazz and its categorical offshoot popular blues still largely emanated from the African-American community, but as soon as the music reached shellac and national distribution any proprietary ideas of ownership had to be abandoned." (73)

Doubtless it is no accident that That Devilin' Tune's final paragraph is dedicated to a quick, "coming attractions" appreciation of Sonny Rollins"n everything he played there was a sense of a work in progress, of structures built to last yet still unfinished". (258) This very thing is what Sonny Rollins was trying to communicate to us in 1958; the punning overtones and sorrowful, indicting inflections that surround the words "humor", "people", "humanities" and "inhumanity" as Rollins employs them in his little annotation to Freedom Suite still ring clear and harsh today. Like any good jazz player, Lowe has the ear to hear it, and to know that, in many ways, the attempted remedies have been worse than the affliction itself. At times cauterizing, That Devilin' Tune cannot help but heal without hurting. With Lowe currently at work on a companion volume that brings us through the 1950's, another period that saw "white" and "black" forms of jazz sharply defined in the critical and popular imagination, we will see if his cure takes.

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:tup Allen

I don't see anything wrong with your posting of that mean-spirited e-mail.

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or let's try Stuart Broomer, from Signal to Noise:

"There's nothing like Lowe's CD compilations, providing an extraordinary portrait of the forces and variables in American music...the music is likely to come as both a revelation and a joy...the book and CDs are entirely worthy of the material they cover...in extraordinary detail"

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thanks, Chris - it was the passive aggressive tone of it that I found worthy of noting - and that took it out of the realm of personal communication - and waking up to it was a little like hearing the sound of a Hezbollah missle incoming - though I hope that, unlike the Israelis, I did not over-react -

Edited by AllenLowe

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Maybe, but it was sent as a personal email with the intention that it was for Allen, not the entire forum. If Yanow wanted the forum to see it, he would've posted it here.

I'm sure you've had lots of correspondance over the years, be they over the phone or letters or emails, that you wouldn't want posted on a public board, would you Chris?

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not the same thing - it was not really a question, or even really a personal message, but basically the email equivalent of a a crank call -

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not the same thing - it was not really a question, or even really a personal message, but basically the email equivalent of a a crank call -

Yeah, it is a personal message, because it was delivered via email.

He could have posted the exact same message in the Ellington article thread or elsewhere.

He didn't.

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so, I wake up this morning and I find this from Yanow:

"I just wanted to thank you for all of the kind words that you've said about me on the Organissimo threads. It's greatly appreciated.

Scott

P.S. Why did you put out That Devilin' Tune without personnel listings, sometimes using scratchy surfaces that are inferior to other reissue projects, and with liner notes that often do not mention the recordings? For example, you have the first-ever example of scat-singing by Gene "The Ragtime King" Greene and don't even mention it in the notes. I know that there was a reason for all this. I'm just curious as to the strategy."

IMO the private e-mail thing is a crock. The point of this little note can only have been to stick a finger up Allen's nose in an attempt to provoke him. Pure trollish-ness. Witness the utter disingenuousness of this: "I just wanted to thank you for all of the kind words that you've said about me on the Organissimo threads. It's greatly appreciated." And of this: "I'm just curious as to the strategy."

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so, I wake up this morning and I find this from Yanow:

"I just wanted to thank you for all of the kind words that you've said about me on the Organissimo threads. It's greatly appreciated.

Scott

P.S. Why did you put out That Devilin' Tune without personnel listings, sometimes using scratchy surfaces that are inferior to other reissue projects, and with liner notes that often do not mention the recordings? For example, you have the first-ever example of scat-singing by Gene "The Ragtime King" Greene and don't even mention it in the notes. I know that there was a reason for all this. I'm just curious as to the strategy."

IMO the private e-mail thing is a crock. The point of this little note can only have been to stick a finger up Allen's nose in an attempt to provoke him. Pure trollish-ness. Witness the utter disingenuousness of this: "I just wanted to thank you for all of the kind words that you've said about me on the Organissimo threads. It's greatly appreciated." And of this: "I'm just curious as to the strategy."

The very definition of "trollish-ness" is that the acts are in public Larry. This was a private message.

Allen has been ripping Yanow publicly here, and Yanow responded in jest. And he did it in private.

This is a bullshit thread that serves no valid purpose whatsoever.

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the difference between Scott and I, Dan, is that I own up to my dislike of his work and don't pretend to making one point when I'm really trying to make a much different point - and as I said, his email was nothing more than the equivalent of a crank call - intended, as Larry said, to provoke, and though I did indeed go for the bait, I figure it says as much about Yanow as it says about me. The thing I am really curious about is whether he will now go public with his "review" of my set, as his opinion is clearly tainted by his awareness of my dislike of his work -

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Maybe Allen ought to delete the thread, just as I did with the one I started re Scott's website.

Can't we all just get along??? :lol::lol:

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This thread should be deleted. Posting a private e-mail in public is in very bad taste. :tdown

Guy

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nonsense - that was not an email but a flame, as Larry pointed out. Even a bit of a threat, I would say, kind of Yanow's way of saying that he, the public critic, was preparing a bad review - as a matter of fact, looking at it, the ethics of it are deplorable on Yanow's part - he's basically saying, you don't like my stuff, well here's what's bad about your stuff, so beware -

Edited by AllenLowe

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The very definition of "trollish-ness" is that the acts are in public Larry. This was a private message.

Allen has been ripping Yanow publicly here, and Yanow responded in jest. And he did it in private.

This is a bullshit thread that serves no valid purpose whatsoever.

The definition of "trollish-ness" is in large part saying something in an attempt to wound and thus provoke to anger someone else. As for the intent to provoke -- Do you think that Yanow would have sent the same "private," supposedly "in jest" message to Allen if he didn't know that we all participate in this public forum? That e-mail is private in the same way that someone kicking you under the table so no one else at the table can see it is private.

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This thread should be deleted. Posting a private e-mail in public is in very bad taste. :tdown

Guy

...agreed! :tup

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I absolutely agree that there is nothing in this thread that warrants it being deleted. Scott's e-mail to Allen was uncalled for and he deserves to have it brought into the light. I also think that deleting the other thread, as John Tapscott apparently did, was a mistake. Why are we being protective of Scott Yanow? Because he might write a bad review? I don't doubt that he would, but I do not praise him simply because he has reviewed my albums favorably--it works both ways. If Scott allows criticism of himself to dictate how he will view someone's work (and I am not saying that he does, just that it is implied by his protectors here), then, in my book, he does not deserve to be shielded from criticism.

Jim expressed concern that Scott might allow what he reads here to determine how or if he reviews the Organissimo group. That, IMO, may well be a bigger slap in Scott's face than anything posted by the rest of us. Think about it, Jim.

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The very definition of "trollish-ness" is that the acts are in public Larry. This was a private message.

Allen has been ripping Yanow publicly here, and Yanow responded in jest. And he did it in private.

This is a bullshit thread that serves no valid purpose whatsoever.

The definition of "trollish-ness" is in large part saying something in an attempt to wound and thus provoke to anger someone else. As for the intent to provoke -- Do you think that Yanow would have sent the same "private," supposedly "in jest" message to Allen if he didn't know that we all participate in this public forum? That e-mail is private in the same way that someone kicking you under the table so no one else at the table can see it is private.

that is complete and utter bullshit and your comparison to getting a kick under the table is laughable.

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I can't even imagine the amount of shitty PM's or e-mails members of this board receive, but do we go posting them all for the world to see?

The fact that Yanow is a jazz critic does not change anything. It shouldn't have been posted, and this thread shouldn't exist.

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