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JSngry

Makaya McCraven Isn’t Interested in Saving Jazz

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Albert Cirera: tenor & soprano saxophones

Hernani Faustino: bass

Gabriel Ferrandini: drums

Agusti Fernandez: piano

Before the Silence

recorded 5/9/2015 at something called the Voll Damm Festival - Jazz Cava de Vic

NoBusiness Records 

I guess this is some sort of free jazz - not sure where this beast of a saxophone player comes from. The drummer is just one of those have his own way to play guys who plays a groove even when he’s not. 

 

 

Edited by Steve Reynolds

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2 hours ago, JSngry said:

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.

Yes--that's absolutely it. And to go one step further, I'm not certain that these are questions that are keeping working musicians awake at night so much as they are considerations that have too long consumed jazz as a social process. "Jazz is dead" diagnoses/post-mortems/prognostications are their own industry--that is a narrative made of convenience, and one that feeds few mouths and silences multitudes of others.

The thing you say about virtuosity is true, and if there's a fundamental problem to be solved in this post-whatever/whomever milieu, it's that marrying a panoptic consciousness of, as you say, a "clear macro-understanding" to lucid technical accomplishment is very, very hard. I think back to some conversations on here years ago about Coltrane vs. Ayler--i.e., two individuals arriving at a similar aesthetic conclusion having confronted two very different maths. The unspoken but (I think) deeply felt reality of Coltrane is that he was able to do the paradoxical work of mathing his way into spiritual consciousness, and he had the tools and drive to solve another step beyond--he just ran out of time and we're left with the aspirational challenge of imagining what the next thing would be. The Ayler route, by contrast, is an easier solve--it's just more elusive--one of those "you have it or you don't"-type things, and the Coltranes of the world can't go that direction because their minds and bodies just don't work that way.

This is all one long-winded way of saying that I think the challenge of solving is itself more interesting to me than arriving at the big, heroic solution that may very well never come. (Or said solution may, like Ayler, come by semi-accident/artistic exigency--who knows. You can program a Max patch that sounds, by accident, like a full Morton Feldman String Quartet or improvise a piano trio that sounds more-or-less like Nancarrow. I've heard some liberal treatments of Cage's Branches that sound suspiciously similar to early Art Ensemble. All this may speak more to my limited knowledge as a listener than any reality--again, who knows.) 

I read guys like Braxton or Roscoe proceeding from this notion, and a deep inquiry into their respective methods and realities--if you were really able to read into all that music and do the theory homework and research--would yield the impression that yes, a lot of the method involves dead-ends, incomplete reads, and even some fumbling around in the dark. Is this not as or more worthwhile than "saving the music"? 

This is a big reason why I support this Makaya album--especially in theory. The Teo Macero-ness of editing a live improvisation into something new is, well, not new at all, but the basic premise of rearranging the mechanics of free improvisation post-hoc is a methodology that, I think, too few improvisers are willing to explore for fear of corrupting the process. You know that whole thing about how Barre Phillips originally recorded Journal Violone as something that was to be electronically manipulated after the fact? This is a reversal of that--it's taking physical practice and limiting its parameters because to do would mean confronting inconvenient macro-realities. I mean, Universal Beings isn't itself very different in principle than some of the Blue Series recordings from several years ago, Madlib's more esoteric jazz stuff (Slave Riot being the best example), or even Terry Riley's Music for the Gift. There is a superficiality to Makaya's music that masks, as we say, the underlying math--but the math there is real and in its own way confrontational. This isn't "way ahead" stuff--it's about addressing the world "as it is." 

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3 minutes ago, ep1str0phy said:

Yes--that's absolutely it. And to go one step further, I'm not certain that these are questions that are keeping working musicians awake at night...

  1. Thank you for getting it. I got a little wound up/rant-y there, but I speak from the gutbrain as much as possible (and yes, some days, hell, some seconds are better than others).
  2. In my experience, the only thing that really keeps some/many/most working musicians awake at night is some combination of coke/trying to get laid/waiting to get paid. Or practicing, with the end of then being better able to do that.
  3. Therein, stasis! :g

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39 minutes ago, ep1str0phy said:

The thing you say about virtuosity is true, and if there's a fundamental problem to be solved in this post-whatever/whomever milieu, it's that marrying a panoptic consciousness of, as you say, a "clear macro-understanding" to lucid technical accomplishment is very, very hard.

Indeed, and/yet we live in a time of literal and metaphorical "participation trophies", which is indeed a wonderful way to get people started, but a lousy place to let them stop.

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On 11/18/2018 at 9:19 PM, ep1str0phy said:

Universal Beings isn't itself very different in principle than some of the Blue Series recordings from several years ago, Madlib's more esoteric jazz stuff (Slave Riot being the best example), or even Terry Riley's Music for the Gift. There is a superficiality to Makaya's music that masks, as we say, the underlying math--but the math there is real and in its own way confrontational. This isn't "way ahead" stuff--it's about addressing the world "as it is." 

👍

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