garthsj

Jazz and the Black Audience

80 posts in this topic

I still intuit that rap coupled to Ayleresque playing would have real meaning.

The meeting of Ayler and the spoken-word occurred forty years ago during that melding of politics , poetry and avant-garde jazz known as the Black Arts Movement . Arguably , that movement wouldn't have had the meaning it did without the political foundation . By contrast , for whom would contemporary Ayleresque rap have 'real meaning' , given the lack of a galvanizing , unifying , political consciousness today ?

I think Ayler knows about ghettos in a universal way - that is he knows about the existential despair that exists in them. But he also knows something else universal, about how to transcend them. This gives his music that characteristic flavour of both despair and joy held in some kind of fugitive balance. I think it transcends the moment of the 60s and the poetry and politics of that time so that the meaning has to do with universal truths that speak to ghettos of all times and all places.

So fuse it with (=speak to) rap (with it).

Simon Weil

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re: undie innovation

I definitely disagree with this statement.

Guy

how the fuck so, Guy & respectfully, how well do you really know the history of the American record biz? we can name a handful of exceptions-- Dylan's evolution on Columbia, the Ramones on Sire (which had been indie)... & what else? distribution deals do NOT count!!! Prince? fine, keep going. (& don't tell me Duke on Victor or any such hogwash... the assimilation of the record biz into greater pop cult machine is the worst godamn thing that ever happened, then & now. edc knows it, you should know it too.

MG's original statement (which you deleted) said:

Innovation has always come from indies, at least in America.

This is quite clearly false. As you stated yourself, Dylan on Columbia and Duke on Victor (and Columbia) are major exceptions.

Sticking to jazz, two of the most important jazz innovators in the past half century (perhaps THE MOST IMPORTANT) did much of their most important work for major labels -- John Coltrane on Impulse!, Miles Davis on Columbia. I'm sure we can come up with other, less significant innovative recordings by other artists for major labels.

(Was Decca a major label when they recorded the Basie band?)

If we're going to talk about rock, besides Dylan (already mentioned) we have the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Santana, the Band, the Velvet Underground, and Frank Zappa. I'm sure there are other examples.

Guy

Impulse wasn't a major label. In the sixties, the criterion for major label status was that the firm had to own its own distribution network. ABC didn't.

I'm not an expert on Davis. The story I heard was that Columbia did Prestige's manufacturing and the boss of the pressing plant told his boss about how many Miles Davis records he was manufacturing, so Columbia hired him. Sounds to me like Prestige did the legwork, Columbia took over a ready made star.

Prior to WWII it's quite difficult to tell which were the major labels. From 1926 to 1938, for example, Columbia clearly wasn't. It went bust in 1926, after nearly 2 decades of financial problems during which it had continually had to sell off bits to keep going. It was then acquired by its former UK subsidiary, then sold to an engineering firm called Grisby-Gronow or something like that, then sold to ARC, who closed it down in 1934. It wasn't reopened until CBS bought ARC in 1938, shut down Brunswick and Vocalion and restarted Columbia and OkeH.

Nor am I an expert on rock. However, Zappa (and Velvet Underground?) started up on Verve. As for ABC, MGM, the owner of Verve, wasn't a major. Not sure how innovative these other bands you refer to were but in any case, we're talking about black music here.

MG

Even if Miles was already a star when Columbia signed him, and that's most likely true, Prestige had nothing to do with the major artistic innovations that Miles achieved while with Columbia. That seems to me to be patently obvious to jazz fans who are not experts on Davis.

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re: undie innovation

I definitely disagree with this statement.

Guy

how the fuck so, Guy & respectfully, how well do you really know the history of the American record biz? we can name a handful of exceptions-- Dylan's evolution on Columbia, the Ramones on Sire (which had been indie)... & what else? distribution deals do NOT count!!! Prince? fine, keep going. (& don't tell me Duke on Victor or any such hogwash... the assimilation of the record biz into greater pop cult machine is the worst godamn thing that ever happened, then & now. edc knows it, you should know it too.

MG's original statement (which you deleted) said:

Innovation has always come from indies, at least in America.

This is quite clearly false. As you stated yourself, Dylan on Columbia and Duke on Victor (and Columbia) are major exceptions.

Sticking to jazz, two of the most important jazz innovators in the past half century (perhaps THE MOST IMPORTANT) did much of their most important work for major labels -- John Coltrane on Impulse!, Miles Davis on Columbia. I'm sure we can come up with other, less significant innovative recordings by other artists for major labels.

(Was Decca a major label when they recorded the Basie band?)

If we're going to talk about rock, besides Dylan (already mentioned) we have the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Santana, the Band, the Velvet Underground, and Frank Zappa. I'm sure there are other examples.

Guy

Impulse wasn't a major label. In the sixties, the criterion for major label status was that the firm had to own its own distribution network. ABC didn't.

I'm not an expert on Davis. The story I heard was that Columbia did Prestige's manufacturing and the boss of the pressing plant told his boss about how many Miles Davis records he was manufacturing, so Columbia hired him. Sounds to me like Prestige did the legwork, Columbia took over a ready made star.

Prior to WWII it's quite difficult to tell which were the major labels. From 1926 to 1938, for example, Columbia clearly wasn't. It went bust in 1926, after nearly 2 decades of financial problems during which it had continually had to sell off bits to keep going. It was then acquired by its former UK subsidiary, then sold to an engineering firm called Grisby-Gronow or something like that, then sold to ARC, who closed it down in 1934. It wasn't reopened until CBS bought ARC in 1938, shut down Brunswick and Vocalion and restarted Columbia and OkeH.

Nor am I an expert on rock. However, Zappa (and Velvet Underground?) started up on Verve. As for ABC, MGM, the owner of Verve, wasn't a major. Not sure how innovative these other bands you refer to were but in any case, we're talking about black music here.

MG

Even if Miles was already a star when Columbia signed him, and that's most likely true, Prestige had nothing to do with the major artistic innovations that Miles achieved while with Columbia. That seems to me to be patently obvious to jazz fans who are not experts on Davis.

I don't know that I would give Columbia credit for that, either... at that point in his career, my impression is that Miles did WTF Miles wanted to do.

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re: undie innovation

I definitely disagree with this statement.

Guy

how the fuck so, Guy & respectfully, how well do you really know the history of the American record biz? we can name a handful of exceptions-- Dylan's evolution on Columbia, the Ramones on Sire (which had been indie)... & what else? distribution deals do NOT count!!! Prince? fine, keep going. (& don't tell me Duke on Victor or any such hogwash... the assimilation of the record biz into greater pop cult machine is the worst godamn thing that ever happened, then & now. edc knows it, you should know it too.

MG's original statement (which you deleted) said:

Innovation has always come from indies, at least in America.

This is quite clearly false. As you stated yourself, Dylan on Columbia and Duke on Victor (and Columbia) are major exceptions.

Sticking to jazz, two of the most important jazz innovators in the past half century (perhaps THE MOST IMPORTANT) did much of their most important work for major labels -- John Coltrane on Impulse!, Miles Davis on Columbia. I'm sure we can come up with other, less significant innovative recordings by other artists for major labels.

(Was Decca a major label when they recorded the Basie band?)

If we're going to talk about rock, besides Dylan (already mentioned) we have the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Santana, the Band, the Velvet Underground, and Frank Zappa. I'm sure there are other examples.

Guy

Impulse wasn't a major label. In the sixties, the criterion for major label status was that the firm had to own its own distribution network. ABC didn't.

I'm not an expert on Davis. The story I heard was that Columbia did Prestige's manufacturing and the boss of the pressing plant told his boss about how many Miles Davis records he was manufacturing, so Columbia hired him. Sounds to me like Prestige did the legwork, Columbia took over a ready made star.

Prior to WWII it's quite difficult to tell which were the major labels. From 1926 to 1938, for example, Columbia clearly wasn't. It went bust in 1926, after nearly 2 decades of financial problems during which it had continually had to sell off bits to keep going. It was then acquired by its former UK subsidiary, then sold to an engineering firm called Grisby-Gronow or something like that, then sold to ARC, who closed it down in 1934. It wasn't reopened until CBS bought ARC in 1938, shut down Brunswick and Vocalion and restarted Columbia and OkeH.

Nor am I an expert on rock. However, Zappa (and Velvet Underground?) started up on Verve. As for ABC, MGM, the owner of Verve, wasn't a major. Not sure how innovative these other bands you refer to were but in any case, we're talking about black music here.

MG

Even if Miles was already a star when Columbia signed him, and that's most likely true, Prestige had nothing to do with the major artistic innovations that Miles achieved while with Columbia. That seems to me to be patently obvious to jazz fans who are not experts on Davis.

I don't know that I would give Columbia credit for that, either... at that point in his career, my impression is that Miles did WTF Miles wanted to do.

My point was to disagree with MG statement that innovation always happens with indie labels and to agree with Guy's example that Miles's work with Columbia was very innovative - I was not giving Columbia the credit although they probably deserve some.

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I undestand. I was just getting nitpicky.

Anyway, I never really thought that MG literally meant "always" in his original post - I took that as a colloquial "always" since the literal interpretation is obviously false. If you read his statement as a colloquial always, then I absolutely think the statement is correct.

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re: undie innovation

I definitely disagree with this statement.

Guy

how the fuck so, Guy & respectfully, how well do you really know the history of the American record biz? we can name a handful of exceptions-- Dylan's evolution on Columbia, the Ramones on Sire (which had been indie)... & what else? distribution deals do NOT count!!! Prince? fine, keep going. (& don't tell me Duke on Victor or any such hogwash... the assimilation of the record biz into greater pop cult machine is the worst godamn thing that ever happened, then & now. edc knows it, you should know it too.

MG's original statement (which you deleted) said:

Innovation has always come from indies, at least in America.

This is quite clearly false. As you stated yourself, Dylan on Columbia and Duke on Victor (and Columbia) are major exceptions.

Sticking to jazz, two of the most important jazz innovators in the past half century (perhaps THE MOST IMPORTANT) did much of their most important work for major labels -- John Coltrane on Impulse!, Miles Davis on Columbia. I'm sure we can come up with other, less significant innovative recordings by other artists for major labels.

(Was Decca a major label when they recorded the Basie band?)

If we're going to talk about rock, besides Dylan (already mentioned) we have the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Santana, the Band, the Velvet Underground, and Frank Zappa. I'm sure there are other examples.

Guy

Impulse wasn't a major label. In the sixties, the criterion for major label status was that the firm had to own its own distribution network. ABC didn't.

1) This article on wikipedia suggests they DID have a distribution network -- they distributed Dunhill Records. Maybe I'm not clear on these terms.

2) Even if Impulse! didn't have their own distribution network, calling a record label owned by a large media corporation an "independent label" certainly stretches the meaning of the term.

I'm not an expert on Davis. The story I heard was that Columbia did Prestige's manufacturing and the boss of the pressing plant told his boss about how many Miles Davis records he was manufacturing, so Columbia hired him. Sounds to me like Prestige did the legwork, Columbia took over a ready made star.

As other people have pointed out, Davis did most of his major innovations while on Columbia. He also recorded The Birth of the Cool for Capitol.

Nor am I an expert on rock. However, Zappa (and Velvet Underground?) started up on Verve. As for ABC, MGM, the owner of Verve, wasn't a major.

Again, from wikipedia:

MGM Records was a record label started by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio in 1946. In the early 1950s, MGM Records was considered as one of the "major" record companies (besides Columbia, RCA, Decca, Capitol and Mercury). Subsidiary Cub Records was launched in the late 1950s and Verve Records was acquired from Norman Granz in 1961. Other MGM subsidiaries and distributed labels included: Kama Sutra (from 1965 until Buddah Records bought the label in 1969), Ava, Heritage, Metro (for budget albums), Hickory, MGM South, L&R, and Lionel.

My earlier comments on ABC/Impulse apply to Verve/MGM as well.

Not sure how innovative these other bands you refer to were but in any case, we're talking about black music here.

Well, I didn't see this qualification in your claim about "innovation comes only from the indies". That said, I think even with this qualification the claim is incorrect -- major innovations by artists involved in "black music" did happen on major labels.

Debating is fun! :)

Guy

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I'm not an expert on Davis. The story I heard was that Columbia did Prestige's manufacturing and the boss of the pressing plant told his boss about how many Miles Davis records he was manufacturing, so Columbia hired him.

A complete tangent --

MG, where did you read/hear this story? I've never heard it mentioned before. It's generally stated that George Avakian signed Miles to Columbia after the latter's performance on "Round Midnight" (and the crowd response) at the 1955 Newport Festival. (Which also fits the timeline.)

Guy

Edited by Guy

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re: undie innovation

I definitely disagree with this statement.

Guy

how the fuck so, Guy & respectfully, how well do you really know the history of the American record biz? we can name a handful of exceptions-- Dylan's evolution on Columbia, the Ramones on Sire (which had been indie)... & what else? distribution deals do NOT count!!! Prince? fine, keep going. (& don't tell me Duke on Victor or any such hogwash... the assimilation of the record biz into greater pop cult machine is the worst godamn thing that ever happened, then & now. edc knows it, you should know it too.

MG's original statement (which you deleted) said:

Innovation has always come from indies, at least in America.

This is quite clearly false. As you stated yourself, Dylan on Columbia and Duke on Victor (and Columbia) are major exceptions.

Sticking to jazz, two of the most important jazz innovators in the past half century (perhaps THE MOST IMPORTANT) did much of their most important work for major labels -- John Coltrane on Impulse!, Miles Davis on Columbia. I'm sure we can come up with other, less significant innovative recordings by other artists for major labels.

(Was Decca a major label when they recorded the Basie band?)

If we're going to talk about rock, besides Dylan (already mentioned) we have the Byrds, the Beach Boys, Santana, the Band, the Velvet Underground, and Frank Zappa. I'm sure there are other examples.

Guy

Impulse wasn't a major label. In the sixties, the criterion for major label status was that the firm had to own its own distribution network. ABC didn't.

1) This article on wikipedia suggests they DID have a distribution network -- they distributed Dunhill Records. Maybe I'm not clear on these terms.

2) Even if Impulse! didn't have their own distribution network, calling a record label owned by a large media corporation an "independent label" certainly stretches the meaning of the term.

I'm not an expert on Davis. The story I heard was that Columbia did Prestige's manufacturing and the boss of the pressing plant told his boss about how many Miles Davis records he was manufacturing, so Columbia hired him. Sounds to me like Prestige did the legwork, Columbia took over a ready made star.

As other people have pointed out, Davis did most of his major innovations while on Columbia. He also recorded The Birth of the Cool for Capitol.

Nor am I an expert on rock. However, Zappa (and Velvet Underground?) started up on Verve. As for ABC, MGM, the owner of Verve, wasn't a major.

Again, from wikipedia:

MGM Records was a record label started by the Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film studio in 1946. In the early 1950s, MGM Records was considered as one of the "major" record companies (besides Columbia, RCA, Decca, Capitol and Mercury). Subsidiary Cub Records was launched in the late 1950s and Verve Records was acquired from Norman Granz in 1961. Other MGM subsidiaries and distributed labels included: Kama Sutra (from 1965 until Buddah Records bought the label in 1969), Ava, Heritage, Metro (for budget albums), Hickory, MGM South, L&R, and Lionel.

My earlier comments on ABC/Impulse apply to Verve/MGM as well.

Not sure how innovative these other bands you refer to were but in any case, we're talking about black music here.

Well, I didn't see this qualification in your claim about "innovation comes only from the indies". That said, I think even with this qualification the claim is incorrect -- major innovations by artists involved in "black music" did happen on major labels.

Debating is fun! :)

Guy

First I've heard of MGM being a major. Obviously I was wrong there.

I do know that ABC definitely didn't own its own distribution system, and the Wik article doesn't contradict that. What that meant, in practical terms, is that, to achieve distribution, a firm had to have lots of contracts with independent distributors. But a firm that was big enough could distribute, through that method, the product of a lot of other labels. Atlantic and Bell (before Arista was formed out of it) were particularly active in this area, as was ABC.

As JL says, of course, I didn't mean the sentence in absolute terms. There are always exceptions and Louis Jordan is another who hasn't been mentioned yet. As a general principle, however, I still stand by what I said, and in particular, on the possible impact this has on today's music through the control the majors are much more capable of exercising than used to be the case. (This might be because the second tier has gone or been acquired by the majors over the years - Atlantic, Chess, Imperial, Motown, Mercury, King, Vee-Jay etc.)

MG

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I'm not an expert on Davis. The story I heard was that Columbia did Prestige's manufacturing and the boss of the pressing plant told his boss about how many Miles Davis records he was manufacturing, so Columbia hired him.

A complete tangent --

MG, where did you read/hear this story? I've never heard it mentioned before. It's generally stated that George Avakian signed Miles to Columbia after the latter's performance on "Round Midnight" (and the crowd response) at the 1955 Newport Festival. (Which also fits the timeline.)

Guy

In conversation with Bob Porter.

MG

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I'm not an expert on Davis. The story I heard was that Columbia did Prestige's manufacturing and the boss of the pressing plant told his boss about how many Miles Davis records he was manufacturing, so Columbia hired him.

A complete tangent --

MG, where did you read/hear this story? I've never heard it mentioned before. It's generally stated that George Avakian signed Miles to Columbia after the latter's performance on "Round Midnight" (and the crowd response) at the 1955 Newport Festival. (Which also fits the timeline.)

Guy

In conversation with Bob Porter.

MG

Hmm... was Porter working for Prestige in 1955?

Guy

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I'm not an expert on Davis. The story I heard was that Columbia did Prestige's manufacturing and the boss of the pressing plant told his boss about how many Miles Davis records he was manufacturing, so Columbia hired him.

A complete tangent --

MG, where did you read/hear this story? I've never heard it mentioned before. It's generally stated that George Avakian signed Miles to Columbia after the latter's performance on "Round Midnight" (and the crowd response) at the 1955 Newport Festival. (Which also fits the timeline.)

Guy

In conversation with Bob Porter.

MG

Hmm... was Porter working for Prestige in 1955?

Guy

No - but I rather think that would have been a story he would have heard from an authoritative source when he did work for Prestige. I'm inclined to credit it.

MG

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I'm not an expert on Davis. The story I heard was that Columbia did Prestige's manufacturing and the boss of the pressing plant told his boss about how many Miles Davis records he was manufacturing, so Columbia hired him.

A complete tangent --

MG, where did you read/hear this story? I've never heard it mentioned before. It's generally stated that George Avakian signed Miles to Columbia after the latter's performance on "Round Midnight" (and the crowd response) at the 1955 Newport Festival. (Which also fits the timeline.)

Guy

In conversation with Bob Porter.

MG

Hmm... was Porter working for Prestige in 1955?

Guy

No - but I rather think that would have been a story he would have heard from an authoritative source when he did work for Prestige. I'm inclined to credit it.

MG

Well, without independent verification of Porter's claim (I believe you, not necessarily Porter), I'm somewhat more skeptical. But it's definitely plausible that Columbia became interested in Davis as a result of the 1955 Newport Festival, checked his sales at Prestige, and then signed him.

Guy

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As for the ABC distribution situation, it may have been more akin to Cadence Jazz/Northcountry at that time. Actually, Beggars' Banquet/Matador/etc. is maybe a better analogy.

For the record, though, I did consider them to be a "major" in the 1960s.

Edited by clifford_thornton

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That's Pee Wee Ellis and Ron Carter in a social club called the Pythod Room ( Knights of Pythias & Odd Fellows ), in Rochester, N.Y., in 1958.

The demise of social clubs like these, and their communities that were destroyed and cut up by Urban Renewal, is a factor in the loss of jazz roots in the black reighborhoods. IMHO

The race riots in the 60's didn't help either:

J64UO~22.jpg

Edited by marcello

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I did an interview with Billy Harper about a month ago and asked him about that.

Mr. Harper believes that once the White establishment realized that Jazz is worthwhile they "confiscated" it from the Blacks by trying to erase the Black elements of the music - Swing era & White Big Bands. They did the same thing with Elvis.

The White establishment used its funds to move the venues away from the Black Neighborhoods into the white ones. Jazz needs subsidy to survive as much as the opera - but the White establishment never subsidized Jazz. They also raised prices. All that chased the Black Audience away from Jazz. In addition, the White establishment "educated" the Blacks to prefer certain musical genres that the Whites regarded as inferior, such as Rap/Hip Hop.

That's how mr. Harper regards these issues.

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In addition, the White establishment "educated" the Blacks to prefer certain musical genres that the Whites regarded as inferior, such as Rap/Hip Hop.

Am I the only one who thinks this is a massively paranoid crock of shit?

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In addition, the White establishment "educated" the Blacks to prefer certain musical genres that the Whites regarded as inferior, such as Rap/Hip Hop.

Am I the only one who thinks this is a massively paranoid crock of shit?

No, you're not.

Edited by rockefeller center

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If the problems facing jazz today were all a white conspiracy, they might have been easier to solve.

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Look, I don't want to come across as a total prick, but there's a recent book about all this ------

My favourite treatment of the subject is in Chapple and Garofalo's brilliant Rock and Roll is Here to Pay. The book's long out of print, but I liberated all the best bits for mine.

Was that terribly annoying?

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I did an interview with Billy Harper about a month ago and asked him about that.

Mr. Harper believes that once the White establishment realized that Jazz is worthwhile they "confiscated" it from the Blacks by trying to erase the Black elements of the music - Swing era & White Big Bands. They did the same thing with Elvis.

The White establishment used its funds to move the venues away from the Black Neighborhoods into the white ones. Jazz needs subsidy to survive as much as the opera - but the White establishment never subsidized Jazz. They also raised prices. All that chased the Black Audience away from Jazz. In addition, the White establishment "educated" the Blacks to prefer certain musical genres that the Whites regarded as inferior, such as Rap/Hip Hop.

That's how mr. Harper regards these issues.

Well the point about subsidy raises some issues. Cause when the language of the music is so far removed from that which you will naturally acquire through osmosis, you've gotta go to school to learn it. Seriously who that's at the mercy of street life and an insecure home environment has got the time and inclination to 'learn' 251s and "coltrane's' superimpositions over them. you want to relate and express yourself in something far more immediate and urgent. I remember reading a jazz musician saying once that 'the whole world was singing the blues these days and that a rapper has the blues so bad he can't even sing anymore, he's just got to speak'. The poetry of Coltrane is so far back in the distance. That the urgency and intent of rap was able to become another commodity and grow consumer culture legs is now a given. I think it's the distance of the jazz language and it's connection to another eras conception of pop culture that relagates it to the same, subsidized academic spaces as the opera. Much more than rappers filling a vaccuum that was already there, and needed something more direct than three part harmonies. If Fire music/venting could have been commodified it would have been. After all Fluxus is now entry level cognition for the visual arts.

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Guy-- not to discourage your inquisitiveness but sometimes you gotta take a deep breath-- two, then three-- & do some work on your own, serious work, reading, & thinking about this shit... esp. since, presumably, yr too young to have known this stuff even second hand... majors/indies-- do you even know that means, & when? was Decca a major label with Basie?? dude!!! at least send Goldberg a mentor fee, if not edc, Roy Hall or Webb Pierce & check yourself against the simple notion that the record biz was some binary kind of thing... it's really a terrific subject & a very important one wrt to the preservation of American (& world) culture(s) but yr flailing so much it's hardly even worth fixing at this point... just. start. over.

Whatever. MG made a statement that was in fact not true, and I pointed that out.

Guy

Edited by Guy

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With regard to the Billy Harper ideas reported here--wasn't it Billy Taylor who campaigned tirelessly to have jazz labelled "America's classical music" and to have jazz become part of the academic establishment?

What self-interest could possibly be furthered if some powerful white people controlled black people into not liking jazz? What would be in it for the powerful white people? It's not like jazz is a gold mine of revenue--and if the white people controlled jazz, wouldn't they want to increase the number of people buying it, white and black alike, instead of driving away a whole group of potential buyers?

And how could these unnamed powerful white people influence generations of black youth to like rap and not jazz? How could that even be accomplished, if it was someone's goal? Just try to get one child of yours to listen to ANY album you wish they would like, and the impossibility of shaping the musical taste of youth will become apparent.

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... Just try to get one child of yours to listen to ANY album you wish they would like, and the impossibility of shaping the musical taste of youth will become apparent.

Apparent to a parent?

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