Hardbopjazz

RIP Stanley Crouch

83 posts in this topic

17 hours ago, JSngry said:

Well, that was something!

His good thoughts, where they existed, were quite delightful.

Rest In....whatever it is that he would want to rest in.

My thoughts exactly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From Iverson's obit: 

" When he started assembling the repertory institution Jazz at Lincoln Center in 1987, Wynton Marsalis was advocating for the primacy of the Black aesthetic at a time when the white, Stan Kenton-to-Gary Burton lineage dominated major organizations like the Berklee College of Music and the International Association of Jazz Educators. The music of Kenton and Burton has tremendous value, but their vast institutional sway and undue influence in jazz education is part of this discussion. We needed less North Texas State (Kenton's first pedagogical initiative) and more Duke Ellington in the mix, and Marsalis almost single-handedly corrected our course – although Marsalis himself would give Crouch a lot of the credit."

 

Is this true? It reads like hyperbole

Share this post


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

From Iverson's obit: 

" When he started assembling the repertory institution Jazz at Lincoln Center in 1987, Wynton Marsalis was advocating for the primacy of the Black aesthetic at a time when the white, Stan Kenton-to-Gary Burton lineage dominated major organizations like the Berklee College of Music and the International Association of Jazz Educators. The music of Kenton and Burton has tremendous value, but their vast institutional sway and undue influence in jazz education is part of this discussion. We needed less North Texas State (Kenton's first pedagogical initiative) and more Duke Ellington in the mix, and Marsalis almost single-handedly corrected our course – although Marsalis himself would give Crouch a lot of the credit."

 

Is this true? It reads like hyperbole

I mean, it all depends on who you are and where you come from. My formal jazz education, such as it was, was anything but Kenton-centric. This was in the early 90's. My teacher — a good one, IMO — was always conscientious about placing the music in a sociopolitical context and foregrounding the Black men and women who made lasting aesthetic contributions.

I think the key word here is "institutional." As Everson points out early in his write-up, the living, breathing history of the music never really happened in institutions, at least not until the 70's.

Crouch was a complicated man who leaves a complicated legacy. And I agree: had he continued to pursue the same rhetorical strategies that brought him fame/infamy in his heyday in the era of social media, his legacy might be even more complicated.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Condolences to Crouch's loved ones.

I liked Iverson's obituary.

I guess the first thing I'd say re "speaking ill of the dead" is that Crouch was a provocateur and liked causing controversy... if there's an afterlife, he's probably a little disappointed everybody is being so nice to him right now. :)

When I first started listening to jazz in the late 90s, I was listening to fusion made by mostly white guys - and so the Murray/Crouch/Marsalis ideology was really frustrating to me.  I know that frustration existed in other corners of the jazz world - the avant-garde, European jazz, MBase, corners of US straightahead that the ideology downplayed in favor of Marsalis.

My antipathy softened a lot over time.  Maybe Crouch and Marsalis became less antagonistic over time, maybe they just became less relevant.  I dunno.  I also found I enjoyed some of Stanley's writing.  Once you got past the confrontational style you found he could be pretty nuanced.

The last thing I'll say is Stanley's bullshitting sometimes got the best of him.  I'm thinking of this interview:

 

Crouch: In that respect, I thought the worst offender was Cecil Taylor, whose whole style comes from European music – especially Messiaen – with a few dribs and drabs of Ellington, Monk, and Bud. I played Catalogue d’oiseaux for both Jimmy Lyons and Andrew Cyrille, and they were astonished. “What record is that? I’ve heard that many times!” Jimmy almost fainted. They didn’t know modern classical music, and had just taken Cecil’s word on his own originality.

The reason I really respect Braxton now (although I went through many years of being hostile to him) is that he has always been an honest guy! He stood by what he was doing without ever renouncing his deep commitment to European music.

I wish you had been there the night Cecil and I had it out at Bradley’s. We really went at it. I thought I won, but maybe he thinks he did. Anyway, I said it came down to one thing:  “All that stuff about Africa that you say – Africa this, Africa that – well, if you went and played in Africa, a new record would be set for someone emptying a hall! However big the concert hall was, you would clear it in five minutes!”

[laughter]

Iverson:  Look, I just have to say, in Cecil’s defense, that regardless of whatever Andrew Cyrille said, Cecil’s harmonic language is not that of any major European composer, including Oliver Messiaen. I know Messiaen’s language, and those of Bartok, Schoenberg, Webern, Stockhausen and others; I’ve looked at all those scores, played the notes, etc., and Cecil is different – I mean, apart from the obvious fact that he is improvising, and that his piano sonority is massive and distinctive, his actual pitches are different.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few folks on Facebook are not being nice to him. Matthew Shipp started things off.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Chuck, I’d genuinely be curious to hear more about your characterizations/memories of having talked at a little length with Crouch. Feel free to edit/filter your thoughts as much as you like and/or feel the need to. Despite my snarky comment earlier, I’m honestly NOT looking for any red meat at all. Just whatever comes to mind / that you think might be interesting.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I didn't realize Crouch outed Cecil Taylor.  That was a real asshole thing to do and I imagine he never apologized.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, reading through Shipp's FB posts now and I have a new perspective of appreciation for Shipp, Sam Rivers, John Farris, Cecil Taylor, Sunny Murray, Beaver Harris and some others. 

Edited by Dub Modal

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Chuck Nessa said:

A few folks on Facebook are not being nice to him. Matthew Shipp started things off.

Not much love lost, is there. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Guy Berger said:

Condolences to Crouch's loved ones.

I liked Iverson's obituary.

I guess the first thing I'd say re "speaking ill of the dead" is that Crouch was a provocateur and liked causing controversy... if there's an afterlife, he's probably a little disappointed everybody is being so nice to him right now. :)

When I first started listening to jazz in the late 90s, I was listening to fusion made by mostly white guys - and so the Murray/Crouch/Marsalis ideology was really frustrating to me.  I know that frustration existed in other corners of the jazz world - the avant-garde, European jazz, MBase, corners of US straightahead that the ideology downplayed in favor of Marsalis.

My antipathy softened a lot over time.  Maybe Crouch and Marsalis became less antagonistic over time, maybe they just became less relevant.  I dunno.  I also found I enjoyed some of Stanley's writing.  Once you got past the confrontational style you found he could be pretty nuanced.

The last thing I'll say is Stanley's bullshitting sometimes got the best of him.  I'm thinking of this interview:

 

 

 

this happened because Crouch knew next to nothing about music, technically speaking, but tried to bluff his way through. As for that account of what Lyons, etc supossedly said, I think Crouch was was flat out lying.

and this sure as hell doesn't sound like Cecil:

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Am I completely misremembering, or did Stanley Crouch show up here once for a brief flurry of jousting posts in a single thread (of which he was the topic, iirc) before departing?  Or did that happen at AAJ or JazzCorner instead?  

EDIT:  He showed up in a thread about him at JazzCorner, as I rediscovered perusing this Organissimo Crouch thread.  There's reference there to him making a couple of posts in the JC discussion.  

Edited by ghost of miles

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Guy Berger said:

I didn't realize Crouch outed Cecil Taylor.  That was a real asshole thing to do and I imagine he never apologized.

yeah. though much earlier, Ain't No Ambulances... gets deep into some very homophobic zones. Not easy to stomach.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Chuck Nessa said:

A few folks on Facebook are not being nice to him. Matthew Shipp started things off.

Well yeah, he definitely caused harm to people, not usually(?) directly or intentionally, but that shit definitely affected people's earning potential (note - potential).

So... hurt people are not predisposed to being kind, not should they be expected to be. When they are, hey, more power to them for rising above it all.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
23 minutes ago, clifford_thornton said:

yeah. though much earlier, Ain't No Ambulances... gets deep into some very homophobic zones. Not easy to stomach.

No doubt fueled by the same insecurity that fueled his reactionary-ness, bullying, and general belligerence. Trying to bluff his way thru 'cause he feared he couldn't make it otherwise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Well yeah, he definitely caused harm to people, not usually(?) directly or intentionally, but that shit definitely affected people's earning potential (note - potential).

So... hurt people are not predisposed to being kind, not should they be expected to be. When they are, hey, more power to them for rising above it all.

He came down on Phil Woods for some BS racial stuff, so his puppet , Wynton, thought he could get away with the same thing publicly, on a jazz cruise gig.

What he didn't know was the daughter of Chan and Phil was aboard the cruise, and she gave the puppet a piece of her mind.

Wynton was so embarrassed, he made a public apology to the people on the cruise. See "Cats of any Color" by Gene Lees for the full story.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
25 minutes ago, danasgoodstuff said:

No doubt fueled by the same insecurity that fueled his reactionary-ness, bullying, and general belligerence. Trying to bluff his way thru 'cause he feared he couldn't make it otherwise.

Or maybe that's just a fact of life for a certain subset of the culture/time/place that is only somewhat evolving

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
34 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Or maybe that's just a fact of life for a certain subset of the culture/time/place that is only somewhat evolving

 

Could be, and in that case I'd have to admit that you may have evolved a little further than I in this regard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The culture that Crouch was part of "then" would, without too much of a stretch, be seen as a parallel to some elements of "now"'s hip-hop. Or, for that matter, "other side of the tracks" redneck culture then and now. I'm sure there are equivalents across all cultures. Point just being, projecting "strength" involves a lot of thigs that are pretty distasteful today, because definitions of "strength" are evolving as populations change.

Survival of your culture fully equating to the need to breed is a reality that has only quite recently become a pretty obviously non-essential universal need, and the more "up against the wall" one is, the slower it becomes evident.

Crouch, though, he got out of that world, supposedly, but his mindset did not evolve, and most likely fueled his grudgefight with Cecil. He gets no excuse from me. Mary Lou Williams was at least subtle about it. But to single Crouch out for his homophobic attitude is, I think, taking a too easy shot at a too obvious target.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Didn't he play drums with David Murray?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From 1979.

“Coltrane had a black following while most of the avant-garde didn’t because Elvin Jones had orchestrated the triplet blues beat into a sophisticated style that pivoted on the boody­-butt sway of black dance. In tandem, Col­trane and Jones created a saxophone and drum team that reached way back to the sax­ophone of the sanctified church shouting over the clicking of those sisters’ heels on the floor and the jingling, slapping pulsation of tambourines. The sound was lifted even higher by the antiphonal chants of the piano and bass played by McCoy Tyner and Jimmy Garrison, whose percussive phrasing helped extend Jones’s drumming into tonal areas. In fact, one could say that both Coltrane and Coleman were the most sophisticated of blues shouters. Yet Coltrane’s fascination with African music gave him an edge, for he was to discover in his own way the relationship between harmonic simplicity and rhythmic complexity held together by repeated figures played on the bass and piano. In fact, one could say that the actual time or the central pulsation was marked by the piano and bass while the complex variations were made by saxophone and drums.

“What made Coltrane’s conception so significant was that it coincided with the interest in African or African-related dance rhythms and percussion that has been re­vived at the end of each decade for the last 40 years. One saxophone player even told me that the first time he heard Coltrane, around 1961, he thought that a new kind of Latin jazz was being invented. I recall, too, that during those high school years the mambo and the cha-cha were gauntlets of elegance. Norman Whitfield’s writing at Motown for the Temptations and Marvin Gaye leaned on congas and bongos, and the dance power of the drums came to the fore, sometimes light­ly and elegantly, as in the bossa nova. The very nature of most black African music, which is layers of rhythm in timbral and me­lodic counterpoint, and the exploration of the blues were the sources of the dominant aes­thetic directions in jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock. For the jazz players those reinvestigations of roots called for the kinds of virtuosity developed by Elvin Jones and Tony Williams if another level of polyrhythm was to be achieved; James Brown’s big band, while alluding to Gillespie and Basie, evolved a style in which guitars became percussive to­nal instruments staggered against chanting bass lines, two drummers, and arrangements that were riffish, percussive, antiphonal; rock players began to investigate the electronic textures and contrapuntal possibilities of Point overdubbing.”

https://www.villagevoice.com/2019/09/03/black-music-bringing-atlantis-up-to-the-top/?fbclid=IwAR0BDrvQ1XB7hi_T2axPJ2u0coldlF42Sd185cHmgu1ahqxlr5qg28iCHhQ

Edited by Mark Stryker

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My two personal encounters with Crouch.

1) back in the mid-1980s, when I was at the Chicago Tribune, Stanley was a guest at a Lake Forest, Ill. writers colony, the Ragdale Foundation, working on his novel perhaps. We'd never met but one day he called me up at work to chat. In short order, no doubt knowing of my fondness for the AACM circle of musicians, he began to go off on Lester Bowie as a fraud -- this because among other things (and I think he'd written about this previously) when Lester played "Well You Needn't" he played, as many people did,  the simplified bridge that Miles popularized  rather than the more complex one that Monk wrote. I began to suspect that Stanley was telling me this with little or no prelude and in a great gush of enthusiasm because either he thought I might flat out agree with him that Lester was a fraud or that if I didn't contradict him, he could think that I agreed with him even if I didn't say so and then perhaps tell someone else that I did. So I told him right off that I thought Lester was a master musician, and added a few details. Stanley hung up the phone without another word, didn't even try to argue with me. And I wasn't being hostile about it.

2) Several years later, I was in NYC to hear the first concert of the Basie Band under Thad Jones' new leadership, after which I was supposed to interview Thad. The night turned into a long goofy odyssey that didn't end until maybe 6:30 a.m. (I may write about it sometime), and at one point our group (Thad, myself, a young Turkish student of Thad's, Tommy Flanagan, and his wife) headed over at Thad's urging to the Vanguard  to hear Kenny Burrell on his opening night. Kenny finishes his set, spots Thad and with a smile on his face heads  across the room to greet him. But halfway there, he's intercepted by Stanley, who leaps up from a table, wraps Kenny in a bear hug and proceeds to shower praise on him in a voice that is loud enough to be heard by much of the room, which may have been the point,  this while Kenny is looking at Thad with a rather sheepish "what the hell is going on here?" expression on his face.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As a non-American living across the pond, I find the comments on Facebook extremely interesting. Given Crouch's homophobic writings (which I haven't read and take at face value given multiple sources) and threats and acts of physical violence, it is interesting to see who are willing to forgive/forget and why--I'm not being ironic, I find it fascinating that aesthetic agreement seems to carry so much weight. As a writer, he was too baroque for my taste, but I guess it doesn't help that the first thing I read of his were all his liner notes for Wynton Marsalis in one go (for a thing I did on Wynton).

F

PS: As for Iverson's article, for what it's worth his comment about Berklee ignoring Ellington for Kenton has been firmly rebutted on FB (it's a public post, so it can be read without an account:https://www.facebook.com/darcyjamesargue/posts/10164381949335105).

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Does anyone have a link to the FB discussion on the Cecil point? I've been trying to locate it, but Google isn't helping. 

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

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.