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mjzee

Can Jazz Be Saved?

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I can hear some serious jazz playing being done in this context:

Now, let's hear all the "reasons" why it couldn't/shouldn't/won't happen (and I'm sure there will be many), and then ask again if jazz can be saved.

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I can hear some serious jazz playing being done in this context:

Now, let's hear all the "reasons" why it couldn't/shouldn't/won't happen (and I'm sure there will be many), and then ask again if jazz can be saved.

Just asking for information -- no "reason" to get testy about it. And, please, I'm not one of those professional "jazz savers" that rightly get your back up.

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About 20-30 people danced to our stuff (which included some straight-up traditional organ jazz) for about two hours in a light rain last Friday. :party:

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I can hear some serious jazz playing being done in this context:

Now, let's hear all the "reasons" why it couldn't/shouldn't/won't happen (and I'm sure there will be many), and then ask again if jazz can be saved.

The drum beat on that actually sounds almost the same as Paul Wertico's drumming on the title track to Metheny's We Live Here. Maybe not identical, but the similarities are close enough to make me wonder if they sampled it.

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Looks and sounds like a heck of a lot of fun, and maybe a good deal more than that, but it happened over there and not here for what reasons do you think?

American jazz musicians, for the most part, so not want to be danced to. They think it demonstrates a superficial "understanding" of their music. They want people to sit still, shut up, and listen. Like a direct reflexive connection isn't enough, you gotta stun them into a Pavlovian submission of sit, applaud wildly after each solo, SHOW YOUR APPRECIATION, and all that bullshit. I mean, yeah, ok, sometimes that is what is called for, but then again, most motherfuckers don't have enough to say to make that thing valid for more than a tune or two, never mind a whole night. But oops, sorry, I forgot, they don't need to - they're Artists, and theya re making Art.

Yeah, whatever.

That is, is it a function of their virtues and circumstances, or of our scenes' failure to be in a certain way?

Personally, I think that the acceptance of "jazz" as "art" in America came after most of the real artists were gone. So now it's like, "Hey, we finally got art, now we gotta have artists. What we gonna do now?" So now we got role players, not artists, playing for an audience (such as it is) that wants to be role-played to. Having never visited the UK, I don't know what their scene is, but hell, it sounds like there's an ongoing community that looks at "art" as a way of living everyday life, not as a collection of "objects" to "admire". If true, I can only say, "Right =On".

And is it over there a response to recorded music that already exists, or is it interacting with music that is being made by musicians over there right now?

Both, is my understanding. But the music made by the living musicians may as likely be of the "Acid Jazz" variety as of the "Hard Bop" kind. And to that, all I can say is, "so what?"

And truthfully, "America" is no longer the point, not when the reality of now is increasingly global, not regional, both musically and technologically. That's just the way it's going, and militancy to the contrary runs the risk of ending up sounding like Joe The Jazz Plumber, somebody who feels that they've been villainously deprived of a Golden Age when in fact all they are is just too damn blind and/or lazy to try to make one of their own in the here and now out of the her and know.

Hey, check out 4Hero w/Ursula Rucker (from 11 years ago!):

Ain't nobody worried 'bout no "art" or "tradition" or tired shit like that, just people making serious music that takes a lot from the past, but uses it instead of uses it.

If I got a cjhoice between, say, Phil Woods (A GRAND Representative of the GREAT American Art Form Called Jazz) or Ursula Drucker and/or 4 Hero, and thank god i do, then i think i know where i'm going.

Sorry, Phil.

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There is a lot of great, exciting and forward looking music being produced (and heard) all over the world.

It's just not played or performed in the major concert halls or politically correct clubs. Those venues have to try to make money first, if they can.

I'm not saying it's right or that they should be doing more nurturing of different and new talent, or even if it's the smart money move, that's just the way it is.

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I can hear some serious jazz playing being done in this context:

Now, let's hear all the "reasons" why it couldn't/shouldn't/won't happen (and I'm sure there will be many), and then ask again if jazz can be saved.

Just asking for information -- no "reason" to get testy about it. And, please, I'm not one of those professional "jazz savers" that rightly get your back up.

Yo man, I'm so not "testy" about this! I cashed my reality check long enough ago to know that it's gonna be what it's gonna be, nothing more. Been thinking about changing my name from Sangrey to Sanguine, in fact. :g:g

fwiw/the fact that this "testy" post came after a post of yours, and in the middle of a dialogue between us should not be construed as a comment to/at you or your post(s). Maybe I've gotten enough of a Digital Mentality now that I post a "general" comment in the middle of a series of "specific" ones and not even notice it, much like how at work now I can email, IM, and interact w/task-specific software all at once (it did take some readjustment time, though, like...years...). Anyway, that's the deal, really. sorry if i failed to properly "directionalize".

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There is a lot of great, exciting and forward looking music being produced (and heard) all over the world.

Indeed there is, and a lot of it is "jazz-influenced" to one degree or another, enough so that it really makes more sense (to me anyway) for it to be taken more seriously as an influence for "new jazz" than does a way of life-music that not only barely exists any more, but was made by people who younger musicians can only know as one degree or another as "legends", which is a step or five away from turning into "myths".

And - the existence of this music in small, but global, pockets means that traditional "performance" is not a viable career-sustaining possibility. But just documenting/disseminating/existing thru recordings is not enough either. I'm sure that a way out of this quandary will someday be found, the spirit is too strong for it not too (but is the ego supple enough, that's the big question)...say what you will (or won't) about the results of Belden's Miles From India project, but the guy had some player playing in real time in different locations. This type thing is still in its infancy, and yeah, it sure is "different", but...it's there to be dealt with, and it can surely provide an end to The Isolation Blues, at least in its own way.

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About 20-30 people danced to our stuff (which included some straight-up traditional organ jazz) for about two hours in a light rain last Friday. :party:

And every time we play someone comes up to me and says something along the lines of, "I don't like jazz, but I like your music!"

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By "way of life music", do you mean music that is part of the social structure of a neighborhood where people live, work and play? Like the old African American neighborhoods?

If so, I guess that you can say that non-existent. Gone the way of the corner grocer.

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There's no doubt in my mind that the popularity of music is tied directly to its "danceability". Just follow the tracks. It's easy because they go back hundreds of years. Some music is meant to be danced to and some isn't. The idea of dancing to bebop is absurd on its face unless your goal is to wind up looking like Elaine Benes at the J. Peterman company Christmas party. That's why jazz was America's music in the '30's. The less danceable it became, the fewer people were interested. Further evidence of the fact that most people aren't really interested in the music itself, but the outlet it provides.

One other thought about the state of the music. Can anyone name me a contemporary jazz artist who you would prefer to listen to over someone from the halcyon days of yesteryear. I can't.

Up over and out.

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That's a big part of what I mean, yeah. Not all of it, but a big part.

I mean, how can somebody today really live "Joyspring"? You can live the records, sure, but there was a time when you could live the tune too, it's harmoniess and contours and "message" were there when you left your record player and went outside. Far less so, if at all, the case today... which is ok with me, because there's a part of that song's message that is eternal (at least i hope so).

But it's not the "musical style" part. And I think that not willing to let go of (or at least give the sentry at the gate a nice retirement party) the "musical style" is what's stunted waaaaay too much of American Jazz.

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One other thought about the state of the music. Can anyone name me a contemporary jazz artist who you would prefer to listen to over someone from the halcyon days of yesteryear. I can't.

Up over and out.

Uh... yes, I can. Nobody was doing what Wayne Krantz, to pull the first name out of my hat, is doing now 60 years ago. I listen to lots of current jazz.

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The idea of dancing to bebop is absurd on its face unless your goal is to wind up looking like Elaine Benes at the J. Peterman company Christmas party.

Welllll......maybe not....

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One other thought about the state of the music. Can anyone name me a contemporary jazz artist who you would prefer to listen to over someone from the halcyon days of yesteryear. I can't.

Up over and out.

Uh... yes, I can. Nobody was doing what Wayne Krantz, to pull the first name out of my hat, is doing now 60 years ago. I listen to lots of current jazz.

Joe,

I'll have to check to the power on this one, as all I know about Wayne Krantz is that he plays guitar and that he was born right here in Orygone. However, I'm sticking to my original statement. Regardless of how talented Mr. Krantz may be, I still can't imagine that I would prefer him to Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Raney or Rene Thomas if given the choice.

Up over and out.

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One other thought about the state of the music. Can anyone name me a contemporary jazz artist who you would prefer to listen to over someone from the halcyon days of yesteryear. I can't.

Up over and out.

Uh... yes, I can. Nobody was doing what Wayne Krantz, to pull the first name out of my hat, is doing now 60 years ago. I listen to lots of current jazz.

Yep... and Metheny. As far as organists, since that's what I mainly listen to in the jazz realm, I'd take Larry Goldings or John Medeski over the bulk of folks that came after Jimmy Smith in the 60s, as much as I love them.

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You can live the records, sure, but there was a time when you could live the tune too, it's harmonies and contours and "message" were there when you left your record player and went outside.

This. Oh hell yes... this. Sangrey sums it all up for me in this one sentence. This is exactly what I think is going on (or, at the very least, this is what I'm experiencing in my own musical interactions these days).

It's funny, really. In the past 24 hours alone I've heard classical musicians/writers/composers on NPR talk about how to "save" classical music... I've read in a local music zine how "rap/hip-hop" is dead... read a scathing interview with Burning Spear on the Roots-Archives website in which he argues that the youths in Jamaica today just aren't playing reggae "the way it was meant to be"... heard that the Knitting Factory here in Los Angeles is closing its doors later this year, thus introducing the possibility that Chris Murray's Bluebeat Lounge (a weekly avenue for ska, rocksteady, and reggae artists that's been going strong for 6 years) might be shutting down permanently. So the question of "can ______ be saved" is being applied to virtually every form of music these days.

Yet they will all go on. Every form of music will go on, in one way or another. It won't ever be like "the good old days" for any of them, and for that I'm glad, actually.

Cheers,

Shane

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Chuck Green was God.

And "No Maps On My Taps" is The Bible.

Nobody should do what they did like they did, but they sure as hell should do what they did.

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Joe,

I'll have to check to the power on this one, as all I know about Wayne Krantz is that he plays guitar and that he was born right here in Orygone. However, I'm sticking to my original statement. Regardless of how talented Mr. Krantz may be, I still can't imagine that I would prefer him to Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Raney or Rene Thomas if given the choice.

Up over and out.

Well, then your original statement holds for you, but not for everyone, as we all have different listening priorities. I love listening to all the players you mention; they all play so beautifully. But there's a different kind of beauty in what Krantz, or Ben Monder, or Metheny at their best have to offer. They are dealing with musical options that simply didn't exist for those previous generations, and so as a fan and a musician, I find that it's very much worth my while to spend time with their music.

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What I want to know is if success will spoil Rock Hunter or not.

Much as I love the 1920-1990 era of jazz (and a quite a lot after), I get bummed when I see intense/reflexive reactions to things like the "Re-mixed" projects. Granted, a lot of those aren't successful for one reason or another, and I'm not saying they're the salvation of the music or anything like that...it's just that often there's such a "How dare they!" response to such things. A bassist who used to play with a local group I like quite a lot here in town was visiting a couple of weeks ago, and he was talking about how the younger musicians (this includes him--he's 31) in his current city just don't pay much attention to hard boundary lines when it comes to music. For one thing, they can't afford to, or they'll be shutting themselves out of gigs. We also joked about the attitude that "Everything must sound like 1963! (or insert some other year) Jazz is all about FREEDOM and IMPROVISATION, so everything must sound like 1963!"

I think that from the historical perspective musicians, educators, writers, DJs etc. can all make a better effort to hip people to what's happening in the music and how to listen to/better enjoy it. (Two DJs I really admire in this regard are Lazaro and Jae Sinnett.) And to do that in a way that's fun & enthusiastic (which can simply be playing music that's alive & having a good time doing it, a la Organissimo). But I'll do my broken-record routine and say yet again that any "jazz future" that extends beyond the classical/museum model is likely to be in different instrumental configurations than we've been used to--not to mention different aesthetic configurations. (And some people are going to argue that it's not "jazz.") Quartets/quintets, piano trios & all that will continue, to be sure. Players like Josh Berman will come along and extend the sound in interesting, compelling ways. But I think the most creative and intriguing developments will allude to the tradition and bounce off it and around it without being prisoners of it at the same time. And they'll also reflect everything that's gone on in music and the wider world over the past 5, 10, 15-30 years. Some of this is already happening, but it's under the middle-brow radar (a place where I all too often find myself gravitating towards as I get older... it's too damn easy, for one thing). OTOH the Internet makes it much easier to investigate new scenes & sounds if you get hip to them. For me, the future ends up being more murky than gloomy... I know I'll never get tired of listening to Ellington, Coltrane, Bird, Bud Powell, etc. I could probably live with just that music for the rest of my life! But I know my life would be a richer one if I also kept my ears open and listened for new sounds...albeit ones that won't give me the same immediate pleasure/comfort that Ellington et al do. And in fact, new sounds tend to rejuvenate my appreciation for the older players, whether I find myself liking said new sounds or not.

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I can hear some serious jazz playing being done in this context:

Now, let's hear all the "reasons" why it couldn't/shouldn't/won't happen (and I'm sure there will be many), and then ask again if jazz can be saved.

Just asking for information -- no "reason" to get testy about it. And, please, I'm not one of those professional "jazz savers" that rightly get your back up.

Yo man, I'm so not "testy" about this! I cashed my reality check long enough ago to know that it's gonna be what it's gonna be, nothing more. Been thinking about changing my name from Sangrey to Sanguine, in fact. :g:g

fwiw/the fact that this "testy" post came after a post of yours, and in the middle of a dialogue between us should not be construed as a comment to/at you or your post(s). Maybe I've gotten enough of a Digital Mentality now that I post a "general" comment in the middle of a series of "specific" ones and not even notice it, much like how at work now I can email, IM, and interact w/task-specific software all at once (it did take some readjustment time, though, like...years...). Anyway, that's the deal, really. sorry if i failed to properly "directionalize".

OK, I get it. No problem. Also, I've been talking and thinking in a contentious bag on this thread, and sometimes one "projects."

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Joe,

I'll have to check to the power on this one, as all I know about Wayne Krantz is that he plays guitar and that he was born right here in Orygone. However, I'm sticking to my original statement. Regardless of how talented Mr. Krantz may be, I still can't imagine that I would prefer him to Grant Green, Wes Montgomery, Jimmy Raney or Rene Thomas if given the choice.

Up over and out.

Well, then your original statement holds for you, but not for everyone, as we all have different listening priorities.

Amen. I'd much rather listen to Metheny than Montgomery. Yeah, I know that means a lot of people here think I don't know my ass from a hole in the ground now, but that's the way it is.

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I like both Wes and Metheny. The issue is that Wes is sadly no longer with us, whereas Pat is still making incredible music.

Modern jazz artists are truly competing not only with pop / rock / rap / country music (not to mention video games, TV, movies, etc.) but also with the Dead Giants like Coltrane, Jimmy Smith, Miles Davis, etc. Makes things a lot harder.

I realized awhile ago that although fans like to claim that jazz is "free", it really isn't. So many of them want to hear the 1950s. That's it. Anything outside of that and it's "not jazz". No wonder its in trouble. There's no support for contemporary artists doing their thing.

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"And every time we play someone comes up to me and says something along the lines of, "I don't like jazz, but I like your music!"

interesting, because with me it's more like "I like jazz but I don't like your music."

but seriously folks, we are missing the damage that Lincoln Center has done - I've posted this before, but I was told very specifically some years ago, by a guy who had previously been able to book avant garde groups into larger venues, that Lincoln Center, with its huge price, basically was wiping out local jazz budgets - think what this means - less concerts, and the ones they book are much more narrow, stylistically speaking.

But let me add that I am so completely bored with most jazz, and if this is so, think of the rest of the world who have much less commitment to it. And I don't think that the link Jim posted is the answer - to me that's just more slick stuff -

to me the answer is closer to Larry's - accept that this is a minority music but keep looking for creative ways to do it - pure and simple - we try to market it like we're 14, and we fail. Over and over again.

beyond this, the answer is to create smaller underground venues - places that, when holding 50 people, look full. Create a true network, of cooperative musicians that help get each other into these venues, and make it nation-wide. And convince jazz musicians to stop loooking only in the mirror, and covering their own asses, because that creates the jealous gig situation we have now. This might actually produce a national creative music movement, but it is unlikely to happen if jazz people remain as they have always been, which is shortsighted and professonially self destructive.

Edited by AllenLowe

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I realized awhile ago that although fans like to claim that jazz is "free", it really isn't. So many of them want to hear the 1950s. That's it. Anything outside of that and it's "not jazz". No wonder its in trouble. There's no support for contemporary artists doing their thing.

Depends on whether those contemporary artists are doing a thing that will allow even relatively open-minded listeners recognize (without straining their ears beyond all extremes) that there IS a CLEAR continuity with what the essence of jazz has been for decades.

I guess your statement is an indicator that today's artists are payinig the price for the fact that for several decades (ever since the early 70s, I'd say) there have been SOOO many artists and stylistic currents that would not have fit any other category of "non-classical" music have been lumped into jazz even though their connections with jazz were extremely limited (if existing at all). "If it can't be marketed as anything else, market it as jazz!"

All this electronic and "world music" and "ethno" and "extreme avantgarde" and whatnot - and then on the other hand and at the other extreme "smooth jazz" pushing in as well ... And then jazz writers and publicists stating openly that "swing" is no longer an essential ingredient in jazz, that jazz does not have to swing in order to be jazz - etc. etc.

Can you blame it on jazz listeners that they'd like their jazz to remain passably true to the actual form of jazz, even if you take this form of jazz to span the entire stylistic boundaries of oldtime jazz to hard bop (and possibly beyond, including offshoots and further developments such as post-bop etc.)? At least there's some continuity and recognizable common ground there ...

After all even the more circumspect "free" jazz exponents realized a long time ago that SOME kind of "form" is still needed even if the music is considered "free".

Edited by Big Beat Steve

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