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AllenLowe

Gay Jazz Musicians

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grapefruit? :shrug[1]:

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I'm still not sure how an instrumental musician's "straightness" or "gayness" influences his or her music. I'm not saying it doesn't, just that I don't understand how it does. Would someone be willing to take a run at that?

Wha? Why would it affect vocal music differently? I must have missed Andy Bey's album Andy Bey Sings "In the Navy" 8 Different Ways In Leather Assless Chaps.

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I'm trying to understand the relevance here. For example,when a heterosexual musician plays "What is this thing called love" I assume they mostly play it straight. When a gay musician plays the same tune it probably sounds more like "What is this thing called, love?". Sexual preferences can help understand how and why a tune is played. I'm listening to Red Garland now. I'd never guess he was a boxer but I'm pretty sure he was a leg man. <_<

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The question arises as to how 'the music' is influenced by 'the sexual preference' (scare quotes because, in the process of making such an analysis, you'd expect the elements so termed and isolated to enter into new relationships and require other vocabularies). I won't try to conduct you through the whole of queer theory (I couldn't) but those who doubt that such an inquiry can even be begun should simply ask themselves have they ever witnessed any aesthetic phenomenon which they would call camp? The answer of course is yes - camp is normal. This is not to say that 'gay' and 'camp' are coterminal, not at all. But to acknowledge that there is/are such a thing/things as camp aesthetic/s is to admit that this question can be opened. That camp is now normal entails further analysis. This is a whole field. In relation to music it isn't just a question of private life but of many aspects of performance space and other aspects of mediation.

Jazz is also somewhat gendered and that is part of the same story.

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I'm still not sure how an instrumental musician's "straightness" or "gayness" influences his or her music. I'm not saying it doesn't, just that I don't understand how it does. Would someone be willing to take a run at that?

Well, to clarify my thoughts a bit--I don't think it's a one-to-one correlation. That is, my being a straight dude doesn't necessarily make my music "straight," because the idea that music is intrinsically gendered/sexualized (or even racialized) is extremely contentious (considering that those values are difficult to quantify--or are we measuring testosterone content by bpm?). People have historically tried to prove that such a correlation exists (ex. Bill Evans's music being less muscular and somewhat effete--i.e. "white" versus, say, Bobby Timmons's "black"), but how do we attribute ethnicities, sexualities, etc. to sound?

What can be quantified are how social factors influence the quality and existence of the music making itself. If I live in a culture where I (person A) cannot safely, or even legally, collaborate or cultivate a friendship with person B, that music cannot happen. When/if the music itself happens, it is possible that in programmatic content the music is informed by the opprobrium of the intercultural collaboration (as it is in many cases of "interracial" South African jazz created during apartheid--e.g., the Blue Notes). However, it's more often the case that social factors seemingly peripheral to the music (sexuality, race, etc.) comprise an important component of the narrative of the music--that is, the circumstance in which the music did or did not come to be. Again, it is not necessary to understand this narrative in order to enjoy the music--and by all means, turn yourself off to it if so inclined--but the narrative is there and did happen to these musicians we know and love. Sometimes it affects these musicians' careers and lifestyles, in which case it's perhaps as relevant an area of discussion as, say, the fact that Coltrane observed a sort of abstract monotheism/spirituality. (How many times have we recounted Trane's battle with heroin and his subsequent state of grace? Why is this or is this not relevant toward the understanding of his music?)

To frame this conversation differently, what if we had been discussing matters in terms of race and ethnicity? (I'm not necessarily a believer that race = sexuality in terms of social stigma or import, mind you--but these are both and/or have been topics of peril and contention in jazz circles and elsewhere.) This field of discussion has been plowed deep, deep into the ground, but I think it would be difficult to argue against the fact that the narrative of, say, Archie Shepp's life has been influenced by extramusical factors, whether or not his music is intrinsically "black." Little visible gay/queer jazz has been as visible with its politicism as Shepp's has been with afrocentric concepts, but what about music like Ornette's--surprisingly unpolitical in any explicit sense, but which people are nonetheless inclined to look at with reference to the social and aesthetic phenomena of the 50's and 60's? Why does it matter in some cases and not others?

Edited by ep1str0phy

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good. Please move on. There's nothing to see here. The Rotary Club meeting is down the street.

Edited by AllenLowe

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Talk about a totally irrelevant post!

Sorry, but I LOVE David Rose and "Gay Spirits" is a prime example of the subgenre that I've dubbed Happy Housewife music. These are two minutes of pure bliss that never fail to put me in gay spirits.

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good. Please move on. There's nothing to see here. The Rotary Club meeting is down the street.

LMAO

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Here is another David Rose tune that never fails to put me in gay spirits, and a favorite of a particular jazz genius who may very well have been gay:

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unsure how relevant this is to the matter, but i found this quote by John Lurie fairly interesting and convincing

Q: Miles Davis and Frank Zappa were two terrific players, but were perhaps equally as renown for their ability to recruit top-flight talent for their bands. You also fit that description, with your bands having included John Medeski, Steven Bernstein, Michael Blake, Marc Ribot, David Tronzo, Billy Martin, Jane Scarpantoni, and the list goes on and on. What are you listening or looking for when you select your musicians?

A: How they fit together is important. For example, if the drummer is macho, then the bass player has to be a little lenient. There is a big masculine/feminine thing in who I hire. Not male/female but just a sense of who is sensitive and who is strong. It is best to have both in the same person, but if you don’t, then you need to balance it out. I have hired some musicians without even hearing them play; just seeing how they pack up their instrument after talking to them can be enough.

from this interview:

http://www.jambands.com/features/2011/02/01/john-lurie-sustains/?1

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in case anyone thinks I'm the king of non-sequitors, my prior post about the Rotary Club was in re: a post that was removed by by someone whom I shall not out -

Edited by AllenLowe

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in case anyone thinks I'm the king of non-sequitors, my prior post about the Rotary Club was in re: a post that was removed by by someone whom I shall not out -

It was me. I just think this thread is pointless. Who cares if someone is gay. If you like their music that's all that matters.

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Well, at least you had Valerie laughing her ass off!

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Well, at least you had Valerie laughing her ass off!

that wasn't related to his post though!

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btw, as some of you may have noticed, this thread has veered off the subject quite a bit. i just checked out post #1 to confirm my thought.

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On a more serious note, I see that a few people have referred to homosexuality as a sexual "preference", and then proceed to question how this could influence their artistry. While sexual activity can reflect individual preferences, we're talking about sexual "orientation" here, i.e., the point from where one begins, a basic and inherent aspect of one's identity, a fundamental part of a person's sense of self. Consequently, one doesn't have to "play gay", "compose gay" or "arrange gay" for their sexual orientation to be a part of the music they create. It is, simply, who they are. I find it both sad and amusing when heterosexuals try to identify or judge the "gayness" of an individual's work. "Breeders" simply don't have a clue, and they call homosexuals "queer". :rolleyes:

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On a more serious note, I see that a few people have referred to homosexuality as a sexual "preference", and then proceed to question how this could influence their artistry. While sexual activity can reflect individual preferences, we're talking about sexual "orientation" here, i.e., the point from where one begins, a basic and inherent aspect of one's identity, a fundamental part of a person's sense of self. Consequently, one doesn't have to "play gay", "compose gay" or "arrange gay" for their sexual orientation to be a part of the music they create. It is, simply, who they are. I find it both sad and amusing when heterosexuals try to identify or judge the "gayness" of an individual's work. "Breeders" simply don't have a clue, and they call homosexuals "queer". :rolleyes:

Amen and well said.

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On a more serious note, I see that a few people have referred to homosexuality as a sexual "preference", and then proceed to question how this could influence their artistry. While sexual activity can reflect individual preferences, we're talking about sexual "orientation" here, i.e., the point from where one begins, a basic and inherent aspect of one's identity, a fundamental part of a person's sense of self. Consequently, one doesn't have to "play gay", "compose gay" or "arrange gay" for their sexual orientation to be a part of the music they create. It is, simply, who they are. I find it both sad and amusing when heterosexuals try to identify or judge the "gayness" of an individual's work. "Breeders" simply don't have a clue, and they call homosexuals "queer". :rolleyes:

Yes--preference is a poor choice of words, and I agree with the notion that identity is a point of origin in work (and not necessarily something that has to be explicit to "be there"). As a Filipino-American improviser, for example, I'm often quizzed about the degree to which my music is Filipino--to which I say it just is, because I was born that way and I'm making the music. I don't need to paint a flag on my forehead or playing along to tinikling for this to be the case.

On another note, however, I've always understood "queer" as a self-identifying term in the GLBT community, of only because my GLBT friends have used that term as a self-descriptor. I never meant to use it as an epithet, mind you.

Edited by ep1str0phy

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The best way to accept---even honor---someone's sexuality is to ignore it and pay attention instead to the achievements. Listen to the music. It is asexual, great art, speaks to the soul of all kinds of people whatever color,age, sexuality, etc. and that's all you need to know about these people.

Also, I don't believe artistry is asexual, it's the culmination of everything the artist is, including their sexuality. To quote Homer Simpson, We're here. We're queer. We don't want anymore bears!

I hear what you're saying about honesty and the whole person going into art. But I can't say I agree entirely with that response because it would be a shame IMO if the art (artist?) stopped there. My statement ended with 'pay attention to instead to the achievements'. Maybe I said it poorly, but what I was really getting at is that really great art speaks to all humanity. It sort of supercedes ethnic concerns or those of sexuality. Otherwise I fear there could be a danger of, perhaps, a certain kind of self-absorption---or at least self-limitation. If someone wants to make a statement in music or art about their sexuality, ethnicity, repression or prejudice against the above or whatever else, that's cool with me. But messages without content or quality isn't IMO. I sure as hell would hope, to begin with, that a person's art was well-written or played or painted, etc. because if it isn't no matter the statement that limits its power straight away. Then it becomes maybe limited in success comparable, say, to a political screed. OK, but not the best art out there or anyway not put to the higher purpose of having something everyone can see some of themselves or their own potential in, but perhaps lack the talent, time, or resources to express themselves.

Anything can be taken too far as a thing in itself. If someone believes in it or has cultural pride and wants to express that, cool. But understand the inherent dangers of 'preaching to the converted'. For a very extreme and perhaps unfair example (because of its very ridiculousness) there's a very fine composer, David Del Tredici, who taught at my Alma Mater, City College. He's a great orchestrator I wish I studied with. He happens to be gay, and proudly out. That's all great, but he actually made statements in the NY Times to the effect that his pieces contain 'gay chords'. Let's assume he was accurately quoted---a big leap of faith sometimes, I know---but would someone please explain to me what the hell a 'gay chord' is? I'll wait...

There's a reason why Louis Armstrong was loved all over the world by every race, etc. He was a great artist who it only took one note of him playing or singing to tell that he was even more of a great humanitarian. He really loved the human race in its entirety in his art. He brought out human potential and not all artists or art do that.

Just my opinion.

(edited for grammar. JF)

Edited by fasstrack

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Kenneth Cole often has very interesting, meaningful and clever print ads and this is his latest:

"Those Against Same-Sex Marriage Aren't Thinking Straight (Or Are They?)"

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Nothing left to say about the music? Here we are. I Remember Clifford's Thread.

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Interesting discussion. I tidied some things up. Let's keep it clean. Thanks.

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ok, i'm conviced! sex has nothing to do with music.

We're arguing in circles, at least insofar as a massive heap of arguments have been made in favor of why this is a worthwhile topic.

Disagreement is good--it means people give a damn. I'm of the mind that an artform is genuinely irrelevant when it ceases to respond to the exigencies of the culture at large, and that's a big reason why jazz holds such a small market share (of an already small market) right now. New jazz studies (addressed, obviously, in a different) thread has been trying to superimpose contemporary race, gender, sexuality (etc.) studies on music from the 50's for years now, but this is like seeing a black and white film in color. The exigencies of the culture have to have a natural outlet in the music, otherwise the music doesn't serve its social purpose (maybe the academic, aesthetic, historical, yes, whatever...).

I'll take jazz as a listening habit any day of the week, but the erudite commentators of today are listening to Odd Future and Kreayshawn because all that jive is at least connected to what's happening to the masses right now. It's been over 50 years since 1960! Jesus, in the past decade--9/11, Prop 8, Obama--what the hell does jazz have to do with the world we're living in? I'll even take an abstract relationship to the times, for whatever that's worth--which is why, musical value being debatable, I'm all for Iyer, Mahanthappa, Lehman, Mostly Other People... Again, disagreement is good, but if the conversation isn't even worth having (for any number of the arguments made above), then shit. The advanced artform of jazz is behind Lady Gaga in addressing issues of contemporary sexuality.

As for what Moms said--my first thought was that we have a thread called "Sexiest Album Covers." And the conversation didn't shut down the last time we talked about spousal abuse in the Max Roach household, or Miles's history of abuse--this is all stuff tied up in sexuality.

(Edited after seeing Jim's post!)

Edited by ep1str0phy

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ok, i'm conviced! sex has nothing to do with music.

I'm of the mind that an artform is genuinely irrelevant when it ceases to respond to the exigencies of the culture at large, and that's a big reason why jazz holds such a small market share (of an already small market) right now. New jazz studies (addressed, obviously, in a different) thread has been trying to superimpose contemporary race, gender, sexuality (etc.) studies on music from the 50's for years now, but this is like seeing a black and white film in color. The exigencies of the culture have to have a natural outlet in the music, otherwise the music doesn't serve its social purpose (maybe the academic, aesthetic, historical, yes, whatever...).

I'll take jazz as a listening habit any day of the week, but the erudite commentators of today are listening to Odd Future and Kreayshawn because all that jive is at least connected to what's happening to the masses right now. It's been over 50 years since 1960! Jesus, in the past decade--9/11, Prop 8, Obama--what the hell does jazz have to do with the world we're living in? I'll even take an abstract relationship to the times, for whatever that's worth--which is why, musical value being debatable, I'm all for Iyer, Mahanthappa, Lehman, Mostly Other People... Again, disagreement is good, but if the conversation isn't even worth having (for any number of the arguments made above), then shit. The advanced artform of jazz is behind Lady Gaga in addressing issues of contemporary sexuality.

Who's going to remember Lady Gaga in 50 years? Whatever she 'addresses' no one will because she's a flash-in-the pan with little talent or even a message that goes beyond now. Charlie Parker has been gone 56 years and his impact is as fresh as a daisy, b/c he didn't do throw-away art that addressed only the 'culture at large'. The basic human condition art adresses never changes much and 'art' that's genererated and hyped by commerce or marketing people or even the desire to address the short-run contemporary hot issues has never lasted and never will last. The test of time is a great barometer of what does and doesn't resonate. You can fool some of the people for a while but in the end the bullshit fades and ends up in its rightful happy hunting ground: history's junkpile. It is, blissfully, thrown there not by certain self-serving historians or critics whose careers and incomes are predicated by riding short-term trends, but people. People will separate wheat from chaff every time, but only OVER time. They are the ultimate arbiters of what lasts and why. I'll believe that til I die.

If we start getting lulled by the short-term popularity of garbage 'music' based on market research or gimmickry, like Lady Gaga; or from 'musicians' like hip-hoppers who are too musically illiterate or lazy to learn instruments so they steal it by sampling everything we're seriously up a creek.

I think one major reason jazz has receded in popularity is that many musicians do exactly what you broach: they reflect the self-absorption of the me me me culture at large with its head up its ass and people playing with the latest hyped device some huckster told them they need, blathering idiocy on cell phones and making eye contact with no one. Too many of the younger musicians imitate such stupidity rather than set an example of what art and people could be. Too much of jazz has become equally self-absorbed with 'clever' music, music that stresses technology over universal soul and the mistaken assumption that long, self-absorbed solos by me me me musicians like Kurt Rosenwinkel (who plays very well, but go to a gig and end up in Kurtland, the isle of short-sightedness. It's all about Kurt and his purported cleverness, not the audience or even the band) has something to do with jazz.

Jazz is CURRENTLY unpopular because society has dumbed down and too many musicians have followed that trend. Oddly enough, it once was a music that was social at the core. The musicians came out of the communities (mostly black communities, and nationwide) they performed in and after they came off the stand or walked around the 'hood they knew everybody and mostly didn't have big heads. This included giants like Monk. And their work was speaking to those people by showing them the best part of themselves, not bowing to bullshit trends.

When the world gets stupid it takes no courage to jump in the water and take a swim in stupid. Better to wait it out or keep doing what you believe in and working with quality. Someone will hear it.

Have courage, musicians and artists, and don't succumb to mindsets that will make you popular for a day. Jazz is better than that.

Edited by fasstrack

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To clarify, Jim deleted my post about Lucille Bogan with the lyrics to Shave 'Em Dry pasted below. Jim's call to remove tho' it's interesting how a 75 year old song by a black woman can still make people uncomfortable (if not Jim personally than those who might confuse O. site with Jim A. the musician, an old story.)

Regardless, anyone who doesn't know the dirty dirty (hot) "Shave 'Em Dry", is missing out-- and anyone missing out, is missing the point of history altogether.

the version I'm referring to is the last quoted here--

http://www.philxmilstein.com/probe/pix/oliver.htm

I wrote an arrangement of this for kazoo orchestra + tenor obbligato I'm hoping Allen Lowe will someday record but...

Meanwhile, I'm still waiting for the "I don't care about" s-e-* crowd to explain Little Richard & Esquirita to me.

And didn't Miles say the the first thing he does is "look at my ding"?

Oh my!

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