Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
JSngry

Makaya McCraven Isn’t Interested in Saving Jazz

30 posts in this topic

I'll take Great Jazz Musicians With The First Name Ryan for $100. Alex.

IT'S THE DAILY DOUBLE!!!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

McCraven works for me. Enjoyed all his International Anthem releases so far and looking forward to hearing the new one soon.

Edited by mjazzg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

yes, but who does Number 2 Work For? 

 

actually, I thought at first you were saying that he's an employee of yours. 

but the problem is - just another guy who talks a good game, but whose music just ain't happening. It's classic - all the videos on his site are full of talk. They are afraid to let the music stand on its own. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

on the other hand there are musical moments on this; just nothing unusual, but competent (smooth jazz by any other name):

 

 

Edited by AllenLowe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Before I go off on this short-form rant, I wanted to say that I'm not directing this to anyone in particular--least of all Allen (whom I have the privilege of knowing in a non-internet way and whose thoughtfulness and profound understanding of the music I've never called into question).

I just got a copy of Universal Beings, and I enjoy it quite a bit. I also question why we're again seeing jazz criticism pushing a macro narrative--e.g., "X Isn't Interested in Saving Jazz," "X Gives Jazz A New Groove," "X Pulls Jazz Back from the Brink,"--when there is absolutely none to be found. The basic answer is sort of self-evident--i.e., to sell records--but the "deeper" why has something to do with this music's enduring, paradoxically self-destructive preoccupation with death, survival, messiah figures, and continuity. To put it another way, we live in a post-Coltrane world that has a perverse desire to invent Coltrane over and over and over again. 

Anyone who is playing music now can tell you that the micro narrative of jazz remains fluid and very vibrant. The 21st century critical and historical theory on this music is a fucking mess. 

What this does is impose unrealistic expectations on both every young working musician with a story to tell and every seasoned listener who wakes to a Groundhog Day of jazz attempting to relive its past value. Somewhere in the middle of that is the sad truth that we reward both youth and imminent death with little real regard, either economically or philosophically, for the long period in-between. 

I've often wondered why the tremendous volume of really happening music I hear out in the world never gets discussed on here, and I think it's because the infrastructure that we've built to share experiences--jazz criticism being a big part of that--is in the midst of a kind of protracted existential crisis. We're roughly 50 years removed from the first recordings of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the SME, ICP, and the Blue Notes, the final recordings of Coltrane, the initial stages of fusion, and the beginnings of the Last Poets. What has happened in this music since 1968? The answer is everything and nothing, and the tools we've long used to evaluate the music probably stopped working half a century ago. 

So while I can't blame any of the older guard cats who are often saying this like "Coltrane did X back in the 60's" or "X is all marketing hype," that's also very much besides the point. The working reality of this music has survived decades of meaning everything and nothing, and so I feel now more than ever that jazz as an embodied system of rules and hierarchies has no real value. 

Speaking more to Makaya's record--I wouldn't turn my nose up at this music completely before listening to the Chicago Side of Universal Beings. The band is legit--Tomeka Reid and Junius Paul (two of Roscoe's people, lest it go unsaid) and Shabaka Hutchings (who has worked with both board great Alexander Hawkins and personal hero Louis Moholo-Moholo). The Madlib-cum-Eremite vibe of this project is maybe most fully realized on those tracks. Makaya does some stuff with the production--looped, atonal hocketing, some bizarre spatialization stuff with the panning, blending of what sound like live spontaneous sections with these very syncretic, chopped up sound environments--that I honestly don't think I've heard done in quite this way.

I haven't heard much discussion of Shabaka's playing on here, but his surreal, tenorized version of Busta Rhymes's cadence is one of the few legitimately new sounding things I think I've heard on record in a while. It's like Gary Windo's hyper altissimo thing in that the conceit is so straightforward that you wonder why no one else really did it that way before. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, ep1str0phy said:

Before I go off on this short-form rant, I wanted to say that I'm not directing this to anyone in particular--least of all Allen (whom I have the privilege of knowing in a non-internet way and whose thoughtfulness and profound understanding of the music I've never called into question).

I just got a copy of Universal Beings, and I enjoy it quite a bit. I also question why we're again seeing jazz criticism pushing a macro narrative--e.g., "X Isn't Interested in Saving Jazz," "X Gives Jazz A New Groove," "X Pulls Jazz Back from the Brink,"--when there is absolutely none to be found. The basic answer is sort of self-evident--i.e., to sell records--but the "deeper" why has something to do with this music's enduring, paradoxically self-destructive preoccupation with death, survival, messiah figures, and continuity. To put it another way, we live in a post-Coltrane world that has a perverse desire to invent Coltrane over and over and over again. 

Anyone who is playing music now can tell you that the micro narrative of jazz remains fluid and very vibrant. The 21st century critical and historical theory on this music is a fucking mess. 

What this does is impose unrealistic expectations on both every young working musician with a story to tell and every seasoned listener who wakes to a Groundhog Day of jazz attempting to relive its past value. Somewhere in the middle of that is the sad truth that we reward both youth and imminent death with little real regard, either economically or philosophically, for the long period in-between. 

I've often wondered why the tremendous volume of really happening music I hear out in the world never gets discussed on here, and I think it's because the infrastructure that we've built to share experiences--jazz criticism being a big part of that--is in the midst of a kind of protracted existential crisis. We're roughly 50 years removed from the first recordings of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the SME, ICP, and the Blue Notes, the final recordings of Coltrane, the initial stages of fusion, and the beginnings of the Last Poets. What has happened in this music since 1968? The answer is everything and nothing, and the tools we've long used to evaluate the music probably stopped working half a century ago. 

So while I can't blame any of the older guard cats who are often saying this like "Coltrane did X back in the 60's" or "X is all marketing hype," that's also very much besides the point. The working reality of this music has survived decades of meaning everything and nothing, and so I feel now more than ever that jazz as an embodied system of rules and hierarchies has no real value. 

Speaking more to Makaya's record--I wouldn't turn my nose up at this music completely before listening to the Chicago Side of Universal Beings. The band is legit--Tomeka Reid and Junius Paul (two of Roscoe's people, lest it go unsaid) and Shabaka Hutchings (who has worked with both board great Alexander Hawkins and personal hero Louis Moholo-Moholo). The Madlib-cum-Eremite vibe of this project is maybe most fully realized on those tracks. Makaya does some stuff with the production--looped, atonal hocketing, some bizarre spatialization stuff with the panning, blending of what sound like live spontaneous sections with these very syncretic, chopped up sound environments--that I honestly don't think I've heard done in quite this way.

I haven't heard much discussion of Shabaka's playing on here, but his surreal, tenorized version of Busta Rhymes's cadence is one of the few legitimately new sounding things I think I've heard on record in a while. It's like Gary Windo's hyper altissimo thing in that the conceit is so straightforward that you wonder why no one else really did it that way before. 

thumbs-up-medium-dark-skin-tone.png

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Shabaka Hutchings is for real IMHO.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, ep1str0phy.  I think this idea is especially on-the-mark:

12 hours ago, ep1str0phy said:

I also question why we're again seeing jazz criticism pushing a macro narrative--e.g., "X Isn't Interested in Saving Jazz," "X Gives Jazz A New Groove," "X Pulls Jazz Back from the Brink,"--when there is absolutely none to be found. The basic answer is sort of self-evident--i.e., to sell records--but the "deeper" why has something to do with this music's enduring, paradoxically self-destructive preoccupation with death, survival, messiah figures, and continuity. To put it another way, we live in a post-Coltrane world that has a perverse desire to invent Coltrane over and over and over again. 

Don't you think that these "perverse desires" you're describing just reflect our larger societal desires for stability and comprehensibility -- and the most natural way for people to find that is to look backwards, to the way "things used to be"?  Especially in a time when formerly stable-seeming things seem to be falling apart all around us.

I remember reading an interview with the composer Lou Harrison, and he made these same sorts of criticisms that you make about jazz about classical music -- and then he expanded those ideas into critiques of Western thought in general.  So I guess we can take your macro view of jazz to MUCH greater macro view.  The social forces that you're describing in jazz are the same as those affecting our entire world.  It's happening all around us. Old theories aren't really working all that well any more -- but people can't resist their attraction without having something else to replace them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, ep1str0phy said:

Before I go off on this short-form rant, I wanted to say that I'm not directing this to anyone in particular--least of all Allen (whom I have the privilege of knowing in a non-internet way and whose thoughtfulness and profound understanding of the music I've never called into question).

I just got a copy of Universal Beings, and I enjoy it quite a bit. I also question why we're again seeing jazz criticism pushing a macro narrative--e.g., "X Isn't Interested in Saving Jazz," "X Gives Jazz A New Groove," "X Pulls Jazz Back from the Brink,"--when there is absolutely none to be found. The basic answer is sort of self-evident--i.e., to sell records--but the "deeper" why has something to do with this music's enduring, paradoxically self-destructive preoccupation with death, survival, messiah figures, and continuity. To put it another way, we live in a post-Coltrane world that has a perverse desire to invent Coltrane over and over and over again. 

Anyone who is playing music now can tell you that the micro narrative of jazz remains fluid and very vibrant. The 21st century critical and historical theory on this music is a fucking mess. 

What this does is impose unrealistic expectations on both every young working musician with a story to tell and every seasoned listener who wakes to a Groundhog Day of jazz attempting to relive its past value. Somewhere in the middle of that is the sad truth that we reward both youth and imminent death with little real regard, either economically or philosophically, for the long period in-between. 

I've often wondered why the tremendous volume of really happening music I hear out in the world never gets discussed on here, and I think it's because the infrastructure that we've built to share experiences--jazz criticism being a big part of that--is in the midst of a kind of protracted existential crisis. We're roughly 50 years removed from the first recordings of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the SME, ICP, and the Blue Notes, the final recordings of Coltrane, the initial stages of fusion, and the beginnings of the Last Poets. What has happened in this music since 1968? The answer is everything and nothing, and the tools we've long used to evaluate the music probably stopped working half a century ago. 

So while I can't blame any of the older guard cats who are often saying this like "Coltrane did X back in the 60's" or "X is all marketing hype," that's also very much besides the point. The working reality of this music has survived decades of meaning everything and nothing, and so I feel now more than ever that jazz as an embodied system of rules and hierarchies has no real value. 

Speaking more to Makaya's record--I wouldn't turn my nose up at this music completely before listening to the Chicago Side of Universal Beings. The band is legit--Tomeka Reid and Junius Paul (two of Roscoe's people, lest it go unsaid) and Shabaka Hutchings (who has worked with both board great Alexander Hawkins and personal hero Louis Moholo-Moholo). The Madlib-cum-Eremite vibe of this project is maybe most fully realized on those tracks. Makaya does some stuff with the production--looped, atonal hocketing, some bizarre spatialization stuff with the panning, blending of what sound like live spontaneous sections with these very syncretic, chopped up sound environments--that I honestly don't think I've heard done in quite this way.

I haven't heard much discussion of Shabaka's playing on here, but his surreal, tenorized version of Busta Rhymes's cadence is one of the few legitimately new sounding things I think I've heard on record in a while. It's like Gary Windo's hyper altissimo thing in that the conceit is so straightforward that you wonder why no one else really did it that way before. 

I never take offense at anything you say; I'm just glad you say what you say (these days I'm feeling a little critically tongue-tied) - the thing is that McCraven himself seems to buy into the "I must save jazz from itself" hype, as does Glasper. Those videos on his site about the music and about the band are full of socio-babble, I guess I would call it, and it is socio-babble that is not really borne out by the music. But I will check out the Chicago side, as I am interested - and I note, btw, that McCraven is clearly a superb drummer, it's just that the music in the clip I posted tends to be warmed-over ________(I will let someone else fill in the blank). And let me add that I never let myself get distracted by "save the jazz" movements, which are silly and pointless and usually speak, ironically or not, to the lack of historic consciousness of whomever is leading them. There are many questions to be asked about why we do what we do, but very few people (other than yourself) seem to be asking them.

(and I will add that in terms of jazz being an "embodied system of rules and hierarchies" I also find it interesting and somewhat ironic that much of the current gathering of free players has started to turn themselves into something of a cult in which they have replaced, to my mind and ears, one system of rules and hierarchies with another)

Edited by AllenLowe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
29 minutes ago, HutchFan said:

 Old theories aren't really working all that well any more -- but people can't resist their attraction without having something else to replace them.

"People" have yet to accept that new "theories" will lead to new outcomes. The quest for new theories that produce the old outcomes is pretty silly (and a root cause of collective insanity), but hell, the planet is overpopulated and becoming more so, so maybe this is how it fights back, by making people crazy and inducing them to embark on a path towards further self-destruction.

New outcomes, ok? Embrace them unless/until they become uembraceable. When that happens, you got a choice to make.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
39 minutes ago, AllenLowe said:

I never take offense at anything you say; I'm just glad you say what you say (these days I'm feeling a little critically tongue-tied) - the thing is that McCraven himself seems to buy into the "I must save jazz from itself" hype, as does Glasper. Those videos on his site about the music and about the band are full of socio-babble, I guess I would call it, and it is socio-babble that is not really borne out by the music. But I will check out the Chicago side, as I am interested - and I note, btw, that McCraven is clearly a superb drummer, it's just that the music in the clip I posted tends to be warmed-over ________(I will let someone else fill in the blank). And let me add that I never let myself get distracted by "save the jazz" movements, which are silly and pointless and usually speak, ironically or not, to the lack of historic consciousness of whomever is leading them. There are many questions to be asked about why we do what we do, but very few people (other than yourself) seem to be asking them.

(and I will add that in terms of jazz being an "embodied system of rules and hierarchies" I also find it interesting and somewhat ironic that much of the current gathering of free players has started to turn themselves into something of a cult in which they have replaced, to my mind and ears, one system of rules and hierarchies with another)

Are you sure it’s not multiple cults?

some are not allowed in some cults, I think.

some take themselves way too serious and are seemingly afraid to wail.

I cannot express myself as well as our friend above but I’ve believed the same thing for a couple of decades and moreso now than ever. The biggest resistance I have against younger names I don’t know is my own close-mindedness. I’ve don’t have the time for all new releases that look promising as there are too many that are more than that. I’ve recently been so captivated by Joe McPhee and part of me feels he must be repeating and not re-inventing as he’s almost 78 years old. All of which is a lie of course. I went through the same thing with Fred Anderson when he was in his 70’s and McPhee is arguably (by me, I think) an even greater musician than the late, great Fred Anderson. Is it still chasing monsters or uber heroes? I hope I’m way past that. I listen to some who I might never see as they are in Slovenia or Northern Italy or Great Britain and may never be anything more than vital creative forces in the moment on the bandstand in Kraków or Lisbon and luckily we get a chance to buy records (CD’s for me), so when “Sweet Oranges” shows up on the record label’s site and I order it and then I flip out when I hear it and I hear another middle aged saxophonist I never heard before and then I look to see if there’s anyone else out there listening...???!!! I end up just loving it. 

I mean Joe McPhee on Clifford Thornton’s valve trombone and then that tenor and we got that guy I Don’t Know wailing on baritone and then tenor and we got some sort of plugged in synth - and then this older guy Makoto Sako on drums - and btw it’s Daunik Lazro on tenor & baritone and where is his thread???

and you know those who havn’t heard think it must be free jazz stuff like the 60’s as they were around 30-50 years ago as they are old and they are not creating anything new. As our learned friend and travelling musician mentioned, nothing & everythjng is different. 

I’m been more astounded by live shows and records that I’ve seen & heard over the past 10 years than ever before. I saw a couple of sets recently that were among the best 5 or 10 shows I’ve EVER experienced. My guess is a week from Tuesday I’ll be floored by the 2 different bands at two different venues - and one is playing Christmas music and I despise Christmas music.

 

blood and guts, baby

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

you and me both; one of the things that distinguishes those '60s ESPs is exactly that, blood and guts. I don't hear it much these days, but then I am far from the epicenter. Actually thinking of trying to do a session to re-capture that feeling (have JD Allen ready to do it), though I just did one with Darius Jones and James Brandon Lewis that comes close.

And what did Peter Handke call it? "A moment of true feeling."

Edited by AllenLowe

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Feelings are better let loose of than re-captured.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
52 minutes ago, AllenLowe said:

you and me both; one of the things that distinguishes those '60s ESPs is exactly that, blood and guts. I don't hear it much these days, but then I am far from the epicenter. Actually thinking of trying to do a session to re-capture that feeling (have JD Allen ready to do it), though I just did one with Darius Jones and James Brandon Lewis that comes close.

And what did Peter Handke call it? "A moment of true feeling."

Darius has it. McPhee to my ears has it more than ever. Numerous others have it. Rodrigo Amado has a different version of it. Larry Ochs still has it. A few guys I never heard of until I heard some records have it. Some guy named Liudas Mockunas on tenor has it / can you bring him buy Cornelia Street from Romania or wherever instead of these post bop wannabes?? 

Some of these recent recordings are so expressive and almost burning hot. I’ve got some recent releases on No Business that have some sequences that have that 60’s free jazz Heat but the music is something different altogether. I’m not able to know why it’s the same but different or more modern - but my ears know it. Challenge all to listen to  Journey to Parazzar on Not Two with McPhee, John Edwards & Klaus Kugel. First portion of opening 28 minute track seem to be nothing more that extremely high level well improvised post-Coltrane improvising with alto saxophone, double bass & drums. By the end of that piece and especially after the second 20 minute piece, an awareness in my brain & heart had me understanding I was witnessing the height of what guys like McPhee & Edwards are capable of. True free jazz. Cliches seemingly don’t exist. New passages created and true Improvisation and ultimate tensions with various levels of release or non-release happen. Draining sometimes and throughly invigorating. To my 2018 ears, my ultimate music is this stuff.....

 

......and more that is like it and unlike it....

 

Edited by Steve Reynolds

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, HutchFan said:

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, ep1str0phy.  I think this idea is especially on-the-mark:

Don't you think that these "perverse desires" you're describing just reflect our larger societal desires for stability and comprehensibility -- and the most natural way for people to find that is to look backwards, to the way "things used to be"?  Especially in a time when formerly stable-seeming things seem to be falling apart all around us.

I remember reading an interview with the composer Lou Harrison, and he made these same sorts of criticisms that you make about jazz about classical music -- and then he expanded those ideas into critiques of Western thought in general.  So I guess we can take your macro view of jazz to MUCH greater macro view.  The social forces that you're describing in jazz are the same as those affecting our entire world.  It's happening all around us. Old theories aren't really working all that well any more -- but people can't resist their attraction without having something else to replace them.

Thanks to all for the very reasoned and even-tempered replies to the always incendiary topic of "jazz is dead vs. I could care less." In a way I feel like we've reached a juncture in the music when it's ok to have these conversations in a casual, low-stakes way, though I don't know if that says more about the failing health of genre economics than it does speak to, as I said, a growing meta-consciousness about jazz's lack of macro narrative.

In terms of the "perverse desires" thing--yes, I think it's absolutely the case that this music's now-intrinsic existential problems are tied into broader social trends regarding some kind of epigonal, maybe imagined sense of purpose and structure. Without getting explicitly political, we've been confronting these issues in world religion, political structure, and broader art worlds for well over a century at this point. It's only that jazz experienced it's big conservative/retrogressive movement in the 1980s, and now that that's said and done, we're left with the awful truth that nothing has really changed in any definitive sense (jazz education and certain monied institutions notwithstanding).

Nothing got "saved"--things just happened: good music, average music, and some of the third kind. In my conversations with veteran musicians, the substantive changes were largely economic--i.e., diminished professional opportunities for certain genres and practices at the onset of the young lions--and many of the parallel transformations in the economic structure of the jazz industry were induced by outside forces, many of them unpredictable. More has been done "to" jazz by the rise of the internet, the collapse of traditional label structures, digital media, and rampant inflation than absolutely anything Wynton Marsalis or even the broader category of jazz education might be responsible for. 

To put things in a different, maybe more nebulous way--one of my all-time favorite records is Peter Brotzmann's Opened, But Hardly Touched (with the Harry Miller/Louis Moholo-Moholo rhythm team). I love me some Michael Mantler/No Answer, but in terms of translating the utter feeling of post-everything, "the party's over" nothingness that emerged in the wake of the mid-20th century into an improvised context, that record is it. It engages with a lot of sometimes contradictory jazz dogmas--the vestiges of swing music (via Brotzmann's expressive but lumbering saxophone and Moholo-Moholo's Sid Catlett on psychedelics drum sound), post-Mingus rhythmic mobility and bebop rhythm logics in the bass/drums, hard bop heaviness and rock/soul-inflected backbeats, elements of revolutionary folk motives ala Liberation Music Orchestra, the expected EFI/South African jazz inflections, and so on--in an almost passive way. I mean this as a complement in that that rhythm section is maybe my favorite ever, but that record has absolutely everything and nothing happening all at once. Whenever I'm in the very Western mindset of trying to figure out what happened to position me in the music world of 2018, I listen to that record and remember that some time before 1981, at least three musicians figured out that everything that was going to be said had been said and decided to play something new anyway.

In a very real way, this is maybe the best era in the history of jazz to play music. There's a Threadgill interview where he says something similar. I'm not saying that we have most or even more than a few of our great innovators left, and we're not getting regular features in Esquire on our wardrobes or watch ads or anything like that, but you can walk into almost any major city in the world right now and assemble an affordable band that is technically proficient, good to great at sight reading, literate in any number of major genres (jazz or otherwise), and not a bad hang. Not just in New York. 

The problem I see now is less in the doing or even the making and more in the impetus--the reasoning, the saying. Some of the best music being made right now either declines or refuses to address these issues. I think the most meaningful and resonant material being made in 2018 is at least attempting to confront the existential problems in question--and often failing, nobly, to arrive at some kind of resolution. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, ep1str0phy said:

... you can walk into almost any major city in the world right now and assemble an affordable band that is technically proficient, good to great at sight reading, literate in any number of major genres (jazz or otherwise), and not a bad hang.

Yeah, you can do that. But then what happens? You can get a music-y output by the last-ish gasp of pre-AI variational replicators.

And then what happens?

I want to confront music that can't be there any other way than by being there - and it needs to convince me that I need to be there with it. People, machines, any combination thereof, doesn't matter to me. An evening of competence is a big bore to me if that's all it is.

Hell, I can get damn near anything now without leaving my house. "Come listen to me because I'm highly competent" is hardly a relevant incentive to get my ass up and out. Especially with my knees.

So yeah, we all have new concepts of things like time and place, where "it" "is". Welcome to the digital paradigm, right? AI is analyzing every damn thing, creating algorithms, introducing variational logics, all this shit. Humans as we've known them can't expect to remain particularly relevant for all that much longer, defining ourselves as we have for so long by what we "do" (and this applies especially to musicians).

So humans, other than breeding and taking up space and draining resources, what are we going to do to justify our presence?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can’t experience live music as played by masters of true improvisation at home as performed in a small room up close & personal unless they come over.

Is John Edwards or Joe McPhee or Nate Wooley (or whatever brand of brilliance that touches those places in your heart & mind) coming over to your house?

and I’m still torqued my life circumstances will probably not allow me to see and experience the *grestest* bassist up close & personal - well the best for my 2018 ears who is for me, John Edwards. But there are others - his extreme approach & balls out ferocity does it for me. Maybe I need some Brandon Lopez in my life as he plays close by and he has some of all of that - methinks I need to be more open - but like Allen I’m not too much interested in big pronouncements - I want balls out playing and improvisation like life depends on the set being played. Some of my guys could care less about the record - all is about the gig - can they peak & bring it when they get their set in front of 10 or 20 or even 50 or maybe a hundred.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sure, the immediacy of a visceral thrill is always available, especially if you lead into it with the expectation of getting it.

But again - then what?

If it's true that "hope is not a strategy", then I'll go out on a limb and speculate that adrenaline is not a sustainable esthetic. A now that leads only back into another now is not evolution, it's a rut.

Give me a buzz, sure, but leave something in my intellect after that buzz wears off. I'm too old to keep cahsing buzzes that lead nowhere except back to the next buzz.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It’s more than a visceral thrill, I think

it stays with me - those 2 set nights with Malaby with BOTH Randy Peterson AND Billy Mintz at dual drumsets with the beast Michael Formanek leaning in and over on the double bass - with or without the mercurial Ben Gerstein on trombone - PLAYING intensely for 15 or 45 minutes at a shot relentlessly or sometimes not - sometimes achieving something beyond or not and I want to tell Tony what it reminded me of maybe afterward - and he gives me the hand - Let it be what it was / music in a small room going somewhere maybe only they might know where it went - doubtful it would work on record - although I still think maybe some of those sets must be presented by someone who knows how to release great sounding jazz records - but this music has no name.

beyond what I understand certainly but a few of those passages by these crazy Malaby ensembles - wow -

last one a month or two back was Tony with Ben Monder and the *great* Nasheet Waits - second set top 5 sets I’ve ever seen. I’m still feeling it. Uplifted my life. Uplifts my spirit still today. I question the reality of it's greatness sometimes as it’s somehow difficult music played in a small room - and usually the second set so it’s after 10:00 or 10:30 - that 55 or 60 minutes of music should be on Blue Note if there was one but there isn’t / maybe we hear it replicated as to how it sounded right there - doubt it but it really was what I experienced / certainly for me way past my former and yet still long gone heroes...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I mean, please don't take my statements to mean that proficiency is in any way a substitute for vision or identity--and that's precisely my point. The root resources for strong statements are if anything more widely available now than they were in jazz's (maybe partly misremembered) heyday. What I'm saying is that something in the intersection between hagiography, ennui, and the myriad economic and philosophical considerations discussed above has elided the fact that jazz has had a crisis of vision and identity since (at least) the 1960s--or, rather, a kind of crisis-state that is permanent and impossible to argue out of.

I'm poking at a beehive a bit with this, since I know there are people on this board far better equipped to tackle this topic than I, but the general dint of jazz musical practice post-1970 or so (and as might be affirmed by the discombobulated ethos of 21st century jazz critical theory) feels a lot like unresolved postmodernity--a plurality of voices that the broader community has struggled, time and time again, to shunt into installed hierarchies that no longer have any real relevance to either the players or the listeners. 

Post-Coltrane, what need have we for virtuosos?--and I'm not talking about great technicians per se, I'm asking why heroic virtuosity is still a standard by which we discuss this music when that archetype came, went, and blew his own iconology apart in a definitive, sadly final way. Remember that Kurt Rosenwinkel debacle where he called out people for (I'm paraphrasing) not practicing or working hard enough? Consider how almost every documentary on or involving Coltrane pauses right before late Coltrane and starts talking about metaphysics without addressing the implications of that music to Trane's own ethos of virtuosity. Like I said: not only are we placing unnecessary burden on our young musicians, but we're also stuck in a Groundhog Day of reliving jazz's great Jesus moment and trying to reclaim the last sure time that everything actually made sense. 

This is what I mean when I say that a lot of the most meaningful and resonant material being made right now issues from music that fails to resolve its own existential dilemma. None of this is to say "don't practice"--quite the opposite: stock up on Move Free in your 30s and get your 3+ hours in a day, please--but I would argue that transcendent meaning is a more "real" artistic consideration now than whatever it is that jazz is so preoccupied with every few months.

Steve, you mention John Edwards--my constant invocation of Louis (who works with John frequently) is related to this--his is an example of the kind of passion, intensity, and risk that has both visceral impact and undeniable purpose. Speaking of Louis--how many here have given a real listen to his duo album with Cecil Taylor (Remembrance)? We embrace passion before practiced ideologies, but I wonder how many players have been able to elicit that kind of performance alongside Cecil after the heady explosion of the 60s. The folks on here who are players will know this. Real improvisation vs. practiced improvisation are very different things. I'm sure Louis would attest that not everything that he plays lands to his satisfaction, but I would argue that everything that he plays on Remembrance, at least, is really and truly improvised. That's enough reason to get me to listen. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
31 minutes ago, ep1str0phy said:

Post-Coltrane, what need have we for virtuosos?--and I'm not talking about great technicians per se, I'm asking why heroic virtuosity is still a standard by which we discuss this music when that archetype came, went, and blew his own iconology apart in a definitive, sadly final way.

It's not the technique of virtuosity that is needed, it's the clear macro-understanding of why/why/how/etc. that is needed, now more than ever. Not just what can you do, and oh wow, you can do that, fuck that, that's baby talk, basically. But structure, shape, movement, weights/gravities/densities, all that material stuff, that is what is needed to really keep shit moving forward. And truth be told, too much shit ain't moving, it's whirling around inside itself, sometimes with a delightful freneticism, but damn, it's old-school Newtonian Physics, no matter how delightfully frenetic your spinning around the same place is at any given moment, inevitably it creates a rut from which there is no escape.

We're not living in a "Post-Coltrane" world, were lining in a Quantum World. Where did Cecil take us? To a quantum space. Where did late Trane take us, when it got there - a quantum place. Where did Tone Dialing take us? To a quantum place. Braxton, shit...born quantum, bonna die quantum (which is to say neither dead nor alive be, always there, always there, everywhere)Quantum was implicit from the first time African-American time (musically and otherwise) engaged with Euro-American time (same).  The whole notion of "swing" was a long, organically fulfilling transition towards a Quantum Reality.

And when it got there, as it inevitably would, people punked out, because, you know TOO much organic reality (and quantum simul-dimesionality is nothing if not organic reality), it overwhelms the programming that holds Newtonian socio-economic realities in place. You can only own things if you know where they are and where they are going to be at all times, and that includes people. People tend to do as they're told, and we are being told waaaaaay more often than not to jsut remain calm, disregard all this crazy talk, and above all else, stay where you are. Make it look all kinds of different if you get the urge, just keep it where it is.

And without virtuosity, manifest or soundly (again, in multiple senses (ditto))) aspirational (yeah, I used that word), who the hell is going to not do just exactly that? Coltrane didn't change the game, he discovered it. And not just Coltrane, any number of people, "jazz" and otherwise. Spend some time with Elliott Carter's string quartets and feel that realization that quantum is the new universal, popular resistance to the contrary. It's a reality that cannot be avoided, once seen,can't be unseen, all that shit.

Hell, BACH played a certain way is quantum as fuck. It's like any other reality - it's always there, it's never NOT there, it's just a question of where is the mass of cultural gravity pulling everything to - further in, or further away. And in closing (not of the door), consider this - to direct gravity away from an increasingly apparent reality takes a lot of muscle, eventually thuggish, brute force muscle. And that'll work, because most people just do as they're told, because there's comfort in numbers, until that point of no return is passed, and then, hey...too fucking bad then, too fucking bad. Like that man said, You Shouldn't-Nuf Bit Fish. But ya' did.

You know, I'll be honest, I'm just a novice at this, really. But like I said, once seen, can't be unseen. So...onward.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And really, "quantum" is just a word, and like all words, it's usefulness only extends as far as its understandabilty. When the understandability of the word is exhausted (truly exhausted, not just commonized into a meaninglessly commercially useful meaningless, like "jazz" or "classical" or "composed" or "improvised"), hey, time for a new word. But more importantly - time for a new understanding.

But being quantum, another way to look at it - the old cultural realities that created 20th Century outcomes are either going or gone, having (de)volved into "narratives". At root, any narrative is a story, and any story has to have a teller and an audience and a collective sense of disbelief (or at least suspension of belief) that allows for it being "true", then and now.

Well, yeah, then (and even then...). But now? The more investment in the narrative, the less resources are available to see if maybe things have changed, never mind what hasn't, what has? A narrative should empower evolution, not cripple it. Unless/until I feel safe doing otherwise, I'm engaging in a moratorium on all "narratives". Fuck 'em, they can't take a joke, much less stand to be exposed as being one themselves.

You know, we always blink first. Everything follows from that. But a blink is just a closing of the eyes and then an opening. How we go into that closing, that's the then. But how we come out on the other side of it...that's the now. And think about how many more nows there are, individually and collectively.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.