Lazaro Vega

Do the Math: Iverson Interviews Wynton...

192 posts in this topic

David, that's the way it should be done, imo, get the real thing from the real cats, learn the lessons, and then put it to your own uses, build your own language from an informed experience of those who had their own. I have no quibble with that at all. It's the whole ideological thing that gets my goose in the juice. That's where too many lies end up getting told, believed, and built upon.

MG, when I say "work", I'm thinking specifically of the Marsailis movement. It's working, there's a whole school of players there, and they don't seem to stop coming along. They've heard the arguments against, and they are not persuaded to do anything else. so hey, a lot of us think it's all a lie, but they don't , and they have built their own world. So for "us" to argue against it in the face of it's ongoing existence and even thriving might not be anything other than pissing in the wind because we like a warm wet breeze, if you know what I mean.

Well the lie thing.....

I don't have a big problem with musicians lying to themselves so much, that self-delusion can be motivating. If they believe they are doing something and continue to work hard fueled by that belief than hey, more power to them. If you want to dress like it's 1948 as well then, I don't know, as long as your happy I guess.

The problem to me are the ones who believe their own press without the slightest hint of irony and act accordingly. Ego is a tricky thing but if you are not smart enough to take all the attention with a grain of salt and not let it deter you from whatever path you originally were on then you deserve whatever inevitable downturn in attention you get. Hype giveth and hype taketh away. There are few exceptions but eventually they will stop writing about you unless you continue (or begin) to be interesting. If your star was made by record labels and publicists and you believe the hype and get lazy or stop growing then there won't be much to cushion your fall from grace. One of the ironies of this is that many of the second generation of young lions are just coming into their own now, most of them ten years removed from their last record on a major label.

As for the college thing, me and Freddie Hubbard used to have this argument often and it started on during an on air interview at a college radio station. He didn't think going to school to learn jazz was useful or helpful in any way mostly I think because the folks who did this, came out with no personality of their own in his opinion. My argument was that this was perhaps true to a point but if you had the talent and you were going to get it, that you would get it despite the perceived harm studying at a college would do. I think he might be right though at this point though there are exceptions of course. I see a lot of young guys who seem to absorb the language of this music very quickly, some at an amazing rate actually but then as Jim said, they don't ultimately know what to do with it (or even know they are supposed to do something with it). How do you learn to be a bandleader if you've never worked in a band with a true bandleader. Now there are some with a real conception that have a strong enough vision to pull something off but this is rare. If you have enough talent or a look or something to get signed by a record company at a young age and you've never really led a band before but now you have 50- 100 dates a year as a leader and some at major jazz festivals, do you figure something out and grow into the role or do you just get a little better because you have some talent and you are playing more often. Do you develop a group sound because you are able to use the same guys for all these gigs or does your group just sound a little better because you have all these gigs together and can't help but improve a little bit but you have no real great bandleading skills or real group conception so you probably can't soar to the heights that a group with a strong conception and purpose would do with the same amount of work. Does it work anyway because of the press and the hype and because there aren't that many killing acts on the same program to put this to shame. Is that as big of a problem for the public perception of this music as J@LC?

Edited by david weiss

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Nice to hear your thoughts on KD, Mr. Weiss.

As to JALC and "regional" survival...from personal experience in and around Grand Rapids, MI...can't say that it is directly true. There are tiers to hiring touring groups and the venues that would have previously hired, say, a Columbia Artits Touring Package with Joe Williams and George Shearing and Joe Pass all on the same bill, for instance, The Gathering of Friends tour, would now be hiring JALC Big Band, as they have: Congo Square played Grand Rapids in '08 (DeVos Hall) and Branford in '06, maybe, Meijer Gardens . But that level, that price and audience size, never really impacted what went on at the mid-sized theaters around town, or the non-profits, let alone restaurants. Local musicians could manage to mount a larger concert if they had the gumption and hustle to make it happen, if they could talk The West Michigan Jazz Society into it. JALC wouldn't really effect that. Right now there are two big bands that play nothing but a jazz book in West Michigan and at least two more who play a swing book with jazz. Can't say that's much changed over the last 25 years. If fact, it is an improvement. There was always The Grand Rapids Jazz Orchestra, essentially, and The Truth in Jazz Orchestra is a great addition to Muskegon. The Beltline Big Band has been going for 9 years now thanks in large part to the swing dance revival.

I mean, while serving on the music committee/board at both the Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts and St. Cecilia Music Society that wasn't/isn't an issue. UICA is a small venue flexible enough to grab avant garde jazz bands -- Steve Lacy, Vinny Golia, Rova, even Lee Kontiz -- while on the road and give them a Thursday night or weekend afternoon and I was able to pull musicians out of Chicago for shows here over a 15 year period, which ended when we had kids and that type of volunteerism became impossible. Other producers there who took it more mainstream would be presenting Patty Barber or Fred Hersch. The non-profit, 120 seat theater and artists who were affordable for that scene had nothing to do with JALC. Randy could bring his craziest music in there, or The Northwoods Improvisers from Mount Pleasent could make a go of it. The JALC musicians often played in local college or high school concerts over the same period. The educators especially champion them. St. Cecilia, which is primarily a classical music venue with a 600 seat theater, has one big expensive concert a year that occurs outside of their classical and jazz series concerts, and that's where you'll find JALC or Branford's band playing, or the Julliard String Quartet.

The trouble with St. Cecilia bookings is that there just aren't as many jazz "stars" a place such as Grand Rapids recognize or know enough about to fill the place. It takes an across the board appeal to make a jazz audience: old/young, black/white, well off and working class. If you're just getting one aspect of that mix, that just won't make it. So artists who appeal in the broad sense and have any commercial value are harder to come by. Joe Lovano and Kurt Elling recently did ok, not sell outs, but close. Bill Frisell and Jim Hall were scheduled this fall (Hall was replaced at the last minute by Russell Malone) and there may have been 300. Now in the past Ramsey Lewis, Billy Taylor, Ahmad Jamal and even Oliver Jones could fill the place up, but as they age and their fees rise, there aren't as many musicians with a "name" who can step in and fill the house who are affordable (say $10,000 - $12,000 for everything: fee, hotel, travel).

The State Theater in Kalamazoo seemed un-affected by this aspect of JALC, too.

Yes, I don't doubt they've sucked the air out of a lot of places which in part explains this phenomenon of fewer jazz "stars," yet at the same time, without that -- without Wynton and Branford and their activities pulling in all the school kids, as well as middle of the roaders who know about them from television, plus the black audience -- it's tough to find jazz instrumentalists with "star" power these days. Rollins, Herbie, Brubeck -- very expensive now. Was pretty shocked by the audience pianist Marcus Roberts drew up in Sutton's Bay, Michigan, a year ago. Big, for a small resort town, and wildly enthusiastic. Mentioned to Jason Marsalis that I was M.C.ing then joked they might not be able to trust me up there because of my love of Cecil Taylor's music. We talked about that a bit and Jason basically said, after admitting his respect for Taylor and Ornette etc., that they're from "another generation." It's within this generation, musicians in their 40's or so, that they were most concerned with knowing who James P. Johnson was, for instance. In any case...

This is not the best time to judge audience size in Michigan. The state's been in recession since 2000 and now...the Lions can make it 0-16 today, the perfect metaphor for Goldman Sacks Socialism.

Edited by Lazaro Vega

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just to revive this thread a bit - you may recall from last week's episode (or was it the week before?) how WM and I clashed over the issue of the incarnation of minstrelsy in the 20th century medicine show, which he labeled just more racism and which I argued was a significant and positive cultural force - well, as I've been researching my blues book I came across an ecstatic description of a 1930s medicine show in Paul Oliver's book, Songsters and Saints, by - guess who? A.B. Spellman, none other. So I sent him a somewhat detailed email about what I've been working on, and on WM's response, and he reponded last night and seems quite interested in discussing the subject - so I will be talking to him probably some time after the new year -

Edited by AllenLowe

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well, ok, just this once - :excited:

now you have to dress as the lonely milk maid -

Edited by AllenLowe

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now you have to dress as the lonely milk maid -

If it's part of a 3-way with Marsailllllllllllllis & Spellman, hey, it's a dirty job, but somebody's got to do it.

What's the relationship like between Crouch & Spellman anyways?

Edited by JSngry

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good question - I will bring it up -

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I mean, Crouch relative to Jones/Baraka, Spellman, et al, even Kofsky, devolved in real time to me like Marsailis' music did to it's sources, from a thinking that there might be something relevant going to happen, to a realization that, no, guess not, oh well, to a final, oh god, how much more fucked up can it get? (and they're still working on that one, it seems...) All that "doctrinal" writing of the 60s had "flaws", but they were (mostly) the flaws of passion and the flaws of "the moment". In other words, the kinds of flaws you almost want to have in your work if you're getting on in there and doing it in real time. But Crouch, damn, that shit is just evil (and not even particularly well-written evil at that!), especially since I'm pretty sure that he knows better, or at least did at one point...

Shit, for a "Black Perspective" on "Black Music", I mean, hell, it don't get too much better than a set of Freddie Roach liner notes. Seriously. Stanley Crouch should take a lesson.

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I've also been trying, through intermediaries, to get Crouch to sit for an interview - no luck so far - I have his address so I may have to send him a letter - or maybe just knock on his door - anybody have a burning bag of dog poop?

Edited by AllenLowe

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well, ok, just this once - :excited:

now you have to dress as the lonely milk maid -

Oooo! May I?

MG

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Shit, for a "Black Perspective" on "Black Music", I mean, hell, it don't get too much better than a set of Freddie Roach liner notes. Seriously. Stanley Crouch should take a lesson.

Yes. But that's not "serious" music, is it? (Or is it? I wonder what those guys actually think of people like Roach, Gator, Doctor Lonnie &c.)

MG

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Franlkly, I don't care what they think. I'm old enough and "experienced" enough to know that what Freddie Roach says is true, and that what Crouch says is at best (which is not all that often...) "true". Even if Roach speaks from a perspective that is wholly personal and therefore not always "macro" in scope, what he say contains no lies.

Crouch should be so blessed.

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Franlkly, I don't care what they think. I'm old enough and "experienced" enough to know that what Freddie Roach says is true, and that what Crouch says is at best (which is not all that often...) "true". Even if Roach speaks from a perspective that is wholly personal and therefore not always "macro" in scope, what he say contains no lies.

Crouch should be so blessed.

Well, that's true enough. And I've got to admit that this is the first time since about 1970 (perhaps '69) that I've ever thought it interesting to wonder what a critic thought of that music. (We ended up converting said critic to Braith and Green :))

MG

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All i can say is that the deeper immersed I got into that whole "scene" & ones tangentally related to it, the less use I had for "objective" critical analysis of it, mainly because "objective" almost always ended up being a euphemism for "clueless"...

But oh well about that. People gonna do what people gonna do, doncha' know.

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Haven't read through the whole thread.

Allan, when will we be able to see/hear/read your interview with W?

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not sure, but will see what I can do in the next month or so -

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Now, that doesn't mean that I've gone over to the side of the Unprincipled Whore...

Surely that band name has been taken already?

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