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Mark Stryker

Kamasi Washington: NYT Magazine profile

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Esperanza Spalding is an interesting comparison. To my knowledge, she did not inspire the sort of strong emotion (positive and negative) produced by Kamasi Washington and "The Epic." What is there about Kamasi Washington and "The Epic" that gets people so stirred up, both positively and negatively? :

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5 hours ago, jazzbo said:

I get that. But there's been a planned use of jazz inclusion in other albums Kasami and others have appeared on that certainly may not be the same "planned agenda" but may be a bit similar. . . . 

Despite Allen's lack of jealousy (which I believe I guess) I do think there's some jealousy in some reactions (not saying here) to this release. I think I'll pull it out of the shelves and put it into the listening pile again, I like it.

I suspect a lot of it is typical fandom behavior - a discomfort with an influx of newcomer fans who haven't "paid their dues" by genuflecting to the "fandom canon".

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name one such fandom person.

it's too easy to cast aspersions. You gotta be specific.

Edited by AllenLowe

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It is intriguing to me. When I play "The Epic", I hear a pleasant enough, but somewhat slight, album. It's almost an easy listening album in spots. I like the piano solos, and the trumpet and trombone solos, although I recognize that they are not up there with the greatest works of all time. Some of the melodies are pleasing, if not legendary.

So I do not understand why masses of young people attend his concerts, and why the album ends up on Top 10 Lists in national publications. Not Top 10 jazz lists. It is on Top 10 music lists period. I do not understand why people have written so enthusiastically about it. I have read more than one account of people being very enthused upon initially hearing the album. Really? Where is all of this positive enthusiasm coming from?

Allen, I also do not understand why you muster up the energy to be repeatedly very negative about it. "The Epic" does not seem to be strong enough to warrant such attention. To me, it is like writing repeatedly in several different places online about how mayonnaise really irks the heck out of you. Really? Who can get so worked up about it? It's too neutral to become one's constant target, from what I can perceive.

What am I missing about "The Epic", and Kamasi Washington, that make people feel such strong emotion, both positive and negative?

 

 

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well, someone has to....think of it in political terms; if the mayor of South Portland Maine was saying racist and homophobic things you would think it reprehensible and would disagree with that mayor but you would not spend a lot of energy on it because it's effin' South Portland Maine and who's gonna know? But Donald Trump says those things, and you realize that he is a national figure getting national attention - so it demands intelligent, reasoned response. That's how I honestly feel about Kamasai versus, say, Artie Clitenmacher, the clarinetist from Saskatchewan who has put on priest's robes and started playing Christian Spiritualist Anthems based on Jesus' dialogs with Coltrane. Artie will remain obscure and needs no one to point out the error of his ways or the silliness of his ideas.

Edited by AllenLowe

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So if I understand what you just wrote Allen, you find Kamasi Washington and "The Epic" to be not just underwhelming compared to the praise and attention they have received. You find Kamasi Washington and "The Epic" to be offensively terrible, on the level of moral outrage that you would feel about an avowed racist?

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Doesn't this kind of thing happen fairly frequently in the arts though? A pop group or a new book creates a buzz among the chattering classes, garners mainstream acceptance and then somehow assumes a cultural significance greater than it's original intent or intrinsic artistic value. 

Chances are the album will quietly fade away after a while and jazz will continue to be as dead as it has been for years, surely?

     

Edited by rdavenport

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Fame is almost always something you receive when you are at your most undeserving.

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7 hours ago, rdavenport said:

Doesn't this kind of thing happen fairly frequently in the arts though? A pop group or a new book creates a buzz among the chattering classes, garners mainstream acceptance and then somehow assumes a cultural significance greater than it's original intent or intrinsic artistic value.      

You need to add "and then the self-consciously hip go out of their way to be unimpressed."

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38 minutes ago, A Lark Ascending said:

You need to add "and then the self-consciously hip go out of their way to be unimpressed."

Does it follow that if you're unimpressed, then you're self-conciously hip?

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1 hour ago, paul secor said:

Does it follow that if you're unimpressed, then you're self-conciously hip?

I don't think it follows. However, I have noticed on the online music boards which I read, including some other than this one, that certain members will seem to delight in negatively commenting on virtually any new release. as a seeming kneejerk reaction, a default response. Other members will offer a more detailed, thoughtful explanation of why they find some new releases lacking in merit, and why other new releases are more meritorious in their view.

Edited by Hot Ptah

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We all have things that we don't take to. I'm referring to the serially unimpressed, people who seem to define themselves by how hard they are to please. I think they like to think of it as 'discrimination' or 'fine taste'. 

Always reminds me of:

Frasier-WithNiles.jpg 

 

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Am I the only old white man who thinks it's not my job to tell young Black people what they should be playing or listening to? 

Edited by medjuck
left out question mark.

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19 hours ago, AllenLowe said:

well, someone has to....think of it in political terms; if the mayor of South Portland Maine was saying racist and homophobic things you would think it reprehensible and would disagree with that mayor but you would not spend a lot of energy on it because it's effin' South Portland Maine and who's gonna know? But Donald Trump says those things, and you realize that he is a national figure getting national attention - so it demands intelligent, reasoned response. That's how I honestly feel about Kamasai versus, say, Artie Clitenmacher, the clarinetist from Saskatchewan who has put on priest's robes and started playing Christian Spiritualist Anthems based on Jesus' dialogs with Coltrane. Artie will remain obscure and needs no one to point out the error of his ways or the silliness of his ideas.

Is this real, this SK clarinetist, or did you just make him up?  Where in Saskatchewan and is he connected to the shootings?

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4 hours ago, A Lark Ascending said:

You need to add "and then the self-consciously hip go out of their way to be unimpressed."

Well, yes.

I'm tempted to look for the album in HMV tomorrow.

I wonder if the sheer size of the piece (triple album no less) has contributed to people's impressed response, like the feeling you get when you see very large paintings in art galleries.

Edited by rdavenport

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1) Dana, sorry, I made up that name.

2) Joe, I don't think anyone is telling anyone what they should or shouldn't be listening to; we (or at least I) are just explaining why we don't like the music. What else should we do?

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Allen, I am still asking, do you find Kamasi Washington and "The Epic" more than just unworthy of the degree of attention that it is getting? Do you consider it to be a menace, which needs to be fought, and condemned in print as often as possible, as one would condemn an avowed racist? You used the Trump comparison in your earlier post here.

 

It would be possible if one did not like the music, to make no comment about it, or to say "I'll pass" once. But I have observed that you have written quite often here, and on Facebook, regarding your rather deep antipathy for Kamasi Washington and "The Epic." What makes him, and this album, so much worse than any number of other albums and artists who have come along in the past several years?

 

Edited by Hot Ptah

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And the beat goes on & on & on...

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3 hours ago, AllenLowe said:

1) Dana, sorry, I made up that name.

2) Joe, I don't think anyone is telling anyone what they should or shouldn't be listening to; we (or at least I) are just explaining why we don't like the music. What else should we do?

Well opera often gets great reviews and many of my friends love  opera but I don't like it .  But I also don't feel a need to tell them they're wrong.  

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20 minutes ago, medjuck said:

Well opera often gets great reviews and many of my friends love  opera but I don't like it .  But I also don't feel a need to tell them they're wrong.  

Yeah, but what would they say if you went an and on about some opera they thought wasn't all that?

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Hot Ptah, I find The Epic less offensive than I find some of the reaction to it, and so I feel the need to respond. More than one critic who should know better has held it up as a great and prophetic work. This requires, IMHO, a corrective response.

And my favorite opera performance is Alfalfa singing Barber of Seville.

Edited by AllenLowe

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1 hour ago, danasgoodstuff said:

Yeah, but what would they say if you went an and on about some opera they thought wasn't all that?

They'd say I didn't know anything about opera and I'd say who gives a fuck, I know what I like.

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8 hours ago, medjuck said:

Am I the only old white man who thinks it's not my job to tell young Black people what they should be playing or listening to? 

But...we know what It all means...right?

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Allen, what happened to allowing a younger artist a chance to develop? Maybe Kamasi Washington's next album willl be better. I don't understand your need to crush the guy in print at every opportunity. 

As far as I know, Kamasi did not arrange for the reviews and audience for his album. He has not given arrogant interviews designed to inflame people's passions like a Trump. So why the animosity? 

I read reviews daily that I strongly disagree with. Films, books, music, which I don't think much of, get positive reviews. It has never occurred to me that I must mount a one man campaign to "set the record straight" at every opportunity. No one is going to read or remember what we send out in pixels, in the infinite online data stream.

 

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I don't want to 'crush' him; I just want to counter what I believe is so much hype; I think it has to be done when there is so much on the other side; as I implied earlier, I see it as being just as important as politics. The failure to respond creates a false image of consensus. I feel like I need to go on record when I feel the majority opinion is unjust and unfair.

and truthfully, to Kamasai, as with Wynton, I am merely a flee on the butt of the great promotional machine.

Edited by AllenLowe

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