AllenLowe

Integrity in the Music Media:

58 posts in this topic

Allen, I just read the review, and this was my favorite part:

"...I could understand how just “some guy who collects records” could sit around and play these things without cringing (I’ve met several of these), but I find it puzzling why Lowe, a professional jazz musician, inflicts so much pop drivel on the listener and then makes such comments as “I like it, so there.”

You couldn't PAY for a better line than that.

That sentence alone sealed the deal for me.

Can I give you my credit card number?

That's pretty weak! Makes me want to buy the set too and send the reviewer a note -- from an actual "guy who collects records". I've never read Fanfare, and this quote and the above behavior ensures I won't.

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That reviewer is quite astonishingly clueless, as well as annoyingly pedantic.

"But shortly after the blues were born, they were co-opted by popular and jazz musicians, who blended them with marching band and ragtime music. The blues’ rather monotonous melodic style and 12-bar choruses were changed by these musicians in different ways"

If you start from the point of view that blues melodies are monotonous, I mean crikey... contrast this with the wealth of striking and expressive melody that runs through Allen's set.

"Thus there are four types of music that can legitimately be called blues: [blah blah]"

Allen, didn't you take Blues 101?? That question was on the exam!

"Really the Blues? comes with its 72-page booklet on a CD-ROM. This is a commendable bow to “green” technology, but frankly, I don’t enjoy reading a 72-page booklet on my computer screen."

Then print it out for Christ's sake. Sheesh.

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I've worked as a designer on magazines for about 15 years - there's often a tension between the editorial dept and the ad sales - the ad sales push to have their clients included in the editorial... the editors usually resist as much as possible. The ad sales people say "we pay your wages" the editorial say "not for long if the magazine deteriorates" etc...

But I don't think I've ever encountered a case where somebody is explicitly included editorially on the proviso that they buy an ad. ALTHOUGH, they do this 'advertorial' thing, that looks like a feature, but is paid for, and sometimes has the words 'advertising feature' printed at the top, and sometimes not....

Anyway it sounds extremely unethical to me. Once I did a scuba diving guide book that made it's money on the advertising, they didn't really need to sell any copies, so they just left them in the warehouse - naturally the advertisers were each sent a sample copy. They paid crap too (surprise surprise).

Edited by cih

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"That seems to be the case here - the mag was not, as far as I can tell, promising a favourable review in return for expenditure on ads. "

well, what they promised was a nice interview, favorable in its perspective. Almost the same thing, I think.

Look, I know that the music media is too cozy with the sources of the music and their money - but this really crossed the line, I thought. And I have to admit, it was exacerbated by the fact that the review was really pretty stupid. I've had bad reviews before, and their painful no matter what, but it's different when the critic has some sense of what you're trying to accomplish.

so the way it looked was: they give an idiot my box to review - someone who clearly thinks they have the knoweldge but does not - and then I end up having to pay (literally) for their unfairness.

Edited by AllenLowe

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it was exacerbated by the fact that the review was really pretty stupid.

Yeah, it was a shocker. Clueless is a word that comes to mind.

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The box grants the listener/reader with a degree of knowledge/understanding which it challenges with other angles... or rather, it goes well beyond the obvious - clearly this person doesn't have the understanding that's being challenged - so misses the point. Actually, I don't think they've read it... as a reviewer neither of these factors is a good start :blink:

Edited by cih

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and Bix, by the way, had a huge amount of blue feeling in his playing - listen to the solo on I'm Coming Virginia.

the other thing that bothered me was her complaints about the sound in the first box, and her comment that she was able to do better with some program she has. Aside from the fact that I've received a fair amount of compliments on the restoration, I know what KIND of program she was using, as there's lots of bad de-hiss out there, in particular. I emailed the editor offering to do A-B comparisons, but have not heard back -

it's important to realize on 100-year old recordings that you can reduce certain kinds of noise but also lose what little presence there is.

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Thread on rec.music.classical.recordings about this reviewer, who at the time of this thread (2009) apparently had just been dropped for committing egregious errors:

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.music.classical.recordings/browse_thread/thread/7daa197e2f6e34c2/40ef6072bde2eed0

But she's back! One poster also alludes to the longstanding general corruption at Fanfare that Allen was just treated to.

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The risk of falling prey to this kind of injustice is just the reason I have carefully avoided producing anything of merit throughout life

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thanks Larry - also, a little research shows that she has written a book on Mingus!

run for your life....

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This is 2010.

You mean you guys actually still a) pay for and b) read print magazines?

You guys are sooooo 40s, err, 50s, err 60s, err, 70s, err 80s ...

Get with the program already.

;)

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actually I shoplift 'em from the local blind newsdealer - I just tell him it's the wind. 1_2_6_guiding_the_blind_01.jpg

Edited by AllenLowe

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This is 2010.

You mean you guys actually still a) pay for and b) read print magazines?

That's because the predominant attitude in Western society is: why should I pay for anything if I can get it for free? Just ask Allen or any other artist about their CD sales, for example.

Anyway, as to paying for a magazine and its value, I would rather pay for smart criticism where I know that the writers have a level of competence and aptitude than the other end of a spectrum. Many "online" writers are dreadful.

This writer is obviously a joke, but I would caution people that are so quick to write off every critic so blindly. Does that mean that no one pays attention to, say, Larry Kart, John Corbett, Kevin Whitehead or Ken Dryden to name just a few, anymore?

Sorry for sidetracking your thread, Allen.

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This is 2010.

You mean you guys actually still a) pay for and b) read print magazines?

That's because the predominant attitude in Western society is: why should I pay for anything if I can get it for free? Just ask Allen or any other artist about their CD sales, for example.

Anyway, as to paying for a magazine and its value, I would rather pay for smart criticism where I know that the writers have a level of competence and aptitude than the other end of a spectrum. Many "online" writers are dreadful.

This writer is obviously a joke, but I would caution people that are so quick to write off every critic so blindly. Does that mean that no one pays attention to, say, Larry Kart, John Corbett, Kevin Whitehead or Ken Dryden to name just a few, anymore?

Sorry for sidetracking your thread, Allen.

You did notice the smiley, right?

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back to Jay's post, I consider criticism to be a co-equal art form.

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back to Jay's post, I consider criticism to be a co-equal art form.

Good point. Quality analysis of a recording or performance often adds to appreciation and understanding. It doesn't even have to be highbrow. Look at something as available as the Penguin guide to jazz. It's imperfect, and is flawed by only covering things in print (and not all of those), but as an introduction to the music it is very good. I have a whole pile of books that I have picked up over the years that I re-read, sometimes when I'm listening or going to see a particular artist. A well-informed writer also can lead you to things you haven't heard before. The book "Delta Blues" by Ted Goia is a personal example.

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So Hank Aaron = Furman Bisher?

I don't think so.

"Parallel" & "equal" are different things. That's why we have Oscars & Emmys.

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back to Jay's post, I consider criticism to be a co-equal art form.

Good point. Quality analysis of a recording or performance often adds to appreciation and understanding. It doesn't even have to be highbrow. Look at something as available as the Penguin guide to jazz. It's imperfect, and is flawed by only covering things in print (and not all of those), but as an introduction to the music it is very good. I have a whole pile of books that I have picked up over the years that I re-read, sometimes when I'm listening or going to see a particular artist. A well-informed writer also can lead you to things you haven't heard before. The book "Delta Blues" by Ted Goia is a personal example.

I like (1) writers about jazz who have done the research and can put forward a strongly evidenced-based interpretation of the music or musicians. I like writers who (2) are good at explaining what is going on in the music and why it matters. I also like (3) reading people's personal reactions to music when it's expressed with some humility and an understanding that others might hear different.

Where 'criticism' has got itself a bad name is that too often the critic is passing off the third (without the humility) as the first or the second.

I thought Ted Goia's book on West Coast Jazz was a model of (1).

Edited by Bev Stapleton

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no, I do think great criticism is equal to great art, per:

George Bernard Shaw

Stark Young

W.T. Ilhamon

Richard Gilman

Samuel Beckett's book on Proust

Allan Robbe Grillet: "Toward a New Novel"

Walter Benjamin

Larry Kart

Jim Miller

Richard Williams (the British guy)

Max Harrison

Stanley Kaufmann

Larry Gushee

Francis Davis

Dan Morgenstern (his notes on Louis Armstrong have changed the course of jazz criticism and the study of jazz history, no kidding)

Gary Giddins (hate to include the SOB but at his best he's quite good)

Robert Christgau (one must pick and choose as he writes too much)

Tom Smuckers (obscure but brilliant)

Martin Williams

Gunther Schuller

Eric Bentley

Theodore Solataroff (spelling?)

Greil Marcus (Mystery Train is still a landmark)

Scott Yanow (the Joyce Carol Oates of the jazz world; Leslie Gourse reincarnated; kind of like the woman in India who gives birth every 3 minutes)***

Chris Albertson (we take him for granted because he's one of us; his blog is one of the most important cultural events on the net)

Goia's great on the West Coast thing, but there's really lots of better blues people, and his blues book is really 2nd hand in terms of the work other people (Pete Lowry, Paul Oliver, also the guy at Brown, can't think of his name) have done.

these people have taught me as much as the great works they describe.

***old joke on the population explosion: "In India there's a woman giving birth every three minutes. We've got to find this woman and stop her."

Edited by AllenLowe

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Interesting list, Allen.

Considering some of the inclusions are, to me, a little surprising, I'm interested in your views on The Penguins.

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Great criticism is great stuff, but I don't like the term "co-equal" because it sounds like the start of an argument and/or puts people's backs up. I like to look at it (in part) like this: The link between the right critic and the right piece of art is like a marriage that works; both parties were no doubt cool before they met, but when they did meet, a third very good thing began to happen. Also, though people on the making art side tend not to want to credit this, a whole lot of art (especially from the semi-distant and/or oblique past or from "what the heck is this?" present) can benefit quite a lot from (even flat out need) the right kind of understanding/interpretation. See, for example, Leo Steinberg's book on Da Vinci's "Last Supper." Mind-blowing/utterly convincing/enriching, and quite unlike (with one almost forgotten exception, a Polish critic at the turn of the century) anything that anyone has said about the work before.

More names for Allen's list:

Terry Martin

Jack Cooke

Michael James

That would be Steinberg's "Leonardo's Incessant Last Supper":

http://www.amazon.com/Leonardos-Incessant-Last-Supper-Steinberg/dp/1890951188

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Marsh is, unfortunately, illiterate -

understanding Larry's point, I will just add what a major art form that I consider criticism to be, in and of itself.

and I'll add George Steiner to the list (that's NOT Steinbrenner) -

also: Roland Barthes and Donald Barthelme (primarily a fiction writer, but I have one book of his essays which is wonderful) -

Edited by AllenLowe

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Marsh is, unfortunately, illiterate -

That's the least of his problems, IMHO. I can't believe that guy had a career.

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