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Rabshakeh

Baraka / Kofsky on AACM

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Slightly random query (based on a recent conversation with a friend about Baraka on Brotzmann), but does anyone know of any views expressed regarding the AACM and other similar groups/movements in Avant Garde jazz that followed the "New Thing" by major critical proponents of the original movement like Baraka or Kofsky? If so, I'd grateful if you'd point me to them. 

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I don't but I'm now intrigued by Baraka on Brotzmann.  Can you point me to that?

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I'm not sure of the source, but I recall that Baraka didn't rate Die Like A Dog at all. 

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Why would he?

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28 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Why would he?

What do you mean? I love those records.

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But you are not Amiri  Baraka.

At least i don't think so?

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, JSngry said:

But you are not Amiri  Baraka.

At least i don't think so?

No. You're right. I am not Amiri Baraka.

If I was, I would probably know my views on the AACM.

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I see Brotzmann gets a mention in Baraka’s book ‘Digging’ - ‘Peter Brotzmann Nipples and Joe McPhee Nation Time’.

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3 hours ago, Quasimado said:

I see Brotzmann gets a mention in Baraka’s book ‘Digging’ - ‘Peter Brotzmann Nipples and Joe McPhee Nation Time’.

 

That’s probably it. He doesn’t like Joe McPhee either, for some equally nebulous reason about his music not having “soul” or something.

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Posted (edited)

I’m listening to Brotzmann & McPhee right now and I’ve *never* heard any other saxophonists with more “soul” than either one of them. Peter with Joe as a foil is a mighty combination. Just as Peter with William & Hamid is a very unique blend of gut wrenching beauty. When Kondo was added Die Like a Dog was among the greatest quartets in the history of this music.
 

But I’m not Baraka nor would have I ever wanted to be anyone but myself.

Edited by Steve Reynolds

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Baraka's musical commentary should always be considered within the context of his socio-political constructs. Always.

The latter is also heard on the album with Murray & McCall, which is altogether a recommended album if it's not yet been heard.

With this in mind, why would Baraka be tuned into Brotzmann? Brotzmann - at an immediate level - has zero to do with any of that.

Oh, Kofsky...from reliable accounts, pretty much went mental and stayed mental. Even listening to the transcript (as opposed to just reading it) of his Trane interview, he sounded like a really intense idealogue. Great book he wrote, seminal, in fact. But as far as him being a really insightful musical commentator (by which I mean being able to hear music outside of its political implications)....nah. Not even.

Baraka is more nuanced in his understandings, if not always in his expressions. But agan, his speaks from and with a very specific predisposition about what music "is" to him. He speaks very eloquently and insightfully about that, but...Brotzmann? Nah. McPhee maybe surprises me, but to be honest, it took me a while to get into McPhee myself, wasn't until I heard Tenor that I really heard him.

All these guys, not just Baraka & Kofsky - but all these "commentators" have agendas of one sort or another. Nothing insidious about that, hell, why would you take the trouble to write all that shit if you didn't have a point to make? But just...know what they are and read them accordingly.

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Posted (edited)

I think you've hit upon the background to the query.  

Regardless of their faults, Baraka and Kofsky were fairly instrumental in forming the (friendly, supporters') narrative regarding the "freedom music" of the 60s "New Thing". Their views on what was and wasn't happening or important still shape how people talk about the scene even now.

I think that there's a fairly well rehearsed critical viewpoint that their coverage was responsible for a certain image of free jazz which places greater emphasis on radical self expression in comparison to radical composition.

There are already some threads on this forum which have covered the question of whether Baraka's and Kofsky's views had an impact on the careers of those musicians  that did not conform to this narrative, such as Bill Dixon, who was definitely in the radical composition camp. I'm not 100% sure on this, given that Baraka and Kaufsky were both pretty sweet on Sun Ra who presumably falls into that camp too.

But what I have never seen is how Baraka in particular responded to the rise of Anthony Braxton, Roscoe Mitchell, Leo Smith, Leroy Jenkins and the rest. Those are artists who certainly don't fit the fire music mould, and are steeped in compositional ideas and strategies.

This seems strange given that both critics were presumably still at the height of their prestige at the point that the AACM artists were making a splash in the early 70s in NY.  

Edited by Rabshakeh

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Baraka and Spellman did not give Dixon much space as he did not adhere to their conception of aesthetic/political radicalism. Of course he was radical on both counts, but at the same time impossible to pigeonhole. Sangrey pretty much nails it, though -- they picked musicians that fit into their agendas. Most critics do. 

It also took me a while to get into McPhee and Brötzmann but when I did...

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52 minutes ago, Rabshakeh said:

This seems strange given that both critics were presumably still at the height of their prestige at the point that the AACM artists were making a splash in the early 70s in NY.  

Perhaps not as much as you might think...the new music brought with it new critical advocates, not the least of whom was Michael Cuscuna.

Kofsky, imo, peaked with Black Nationalism & The Revolution In Music, and, seriously, went mental (so it has been said), as in went off the rails and never came back. Chris Albertson posted here about some of the interactions he had with him, and they were just...sad. We all know the type - people whose radicalism finds a window in history, but as history evolves and they don't, it becomes evident that they have issues beyond what their radicalism were equipped to handle. And those are some very sad cases. Highstrung people who come unwound and can't get rewound.

But Baraka/"Fire Music" was not built to last, fire never is and fire never does, not that kind of fire.

The "successor" to Baraka ideologically could have been, believe it or not, Stanley Crouch. But that didn't happen, for all kinds of reasons. Crouch ended up denying R&B, Baraka loved it, and Baraka got it right, imo. Crouch just....betrayed the whole thing in the name of...something. Funding, most likely.

But you want took at "influence", hey - Bob Thiee. Not only was he a big sponsor/advocate for the "Fire Music", moment in time, and he often had Baraka & Kofsky do liner notes. Kofsky was even, I think, on staff at Jazz & Pop magazine, a periodical that Theie ran, and one which was very, uh...."oriented" towards Thiele's artists and their general esthetic. Something happened to Thiele to where he just kinda backed out of all that, and at every level.

George Lewis writes in detail about the whole draft that the Mid-Westerners felt from the New Yorkers as they begin to move in.  That extended to coverage as well,, there were so many turf wars and general parochialism, sometimes even provincialism involved...the whole "you ain't done until New York says your done thing"...that exists still today, but, really who believes that bullshit anymore, you know, who are the sheriffs of New York that you're going to really give a damn about what they think, musicians or critics?. Not to say that there's still not some really high bars, but they don't live exclusively in New York any more. They did once, but....that shit's over.

Ultimately, though, Kofsky was essentially a One Hit Wonder, and Baraka's influence kinda had a shelf life that was already nearing expiration by the time the AACM really started making noise. Baraka still had a strong voice (and again, that record with Murray & McCall is exquisite), but as a "influence", nah,.

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50 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Perhaps not as much as you might think...the new music brought with it new critical advocates, not the least of whom was Michael Cuscuna.

Kofsky, imo, peaked with Black Nationalism & The Revolution In Music, and, seriously, went mental (so it has been said), as in went off the rails and never came back. Chris Albertson posted here about some of the interactions he had with him, and they were just...sad. We all know the type - people whose radicalism finds a window in history, but as history evolves and they don't, it becomes evident that they have issues beyond what their radicalism were equipped to handle. And those are some very sad cases. Highstrung people who come unwound and can't get rewound.

But Baraka/"Fire Music" was not built to last, fire never is and fire never does, not that kind of fire.

The "successor" to Baraka ideologically could have been, believe it or not, Stanley Crouch. But that didn't happen, for all kinds of reasons. Crouch ended up denying R&B, Baraka loved it, and Baraka got it right, imo. Crouch just....betrayed the whole thing in the name of...something. Funding, most likely.

But you want took at "influence", hey - Bob Thiee. Not only was he a big sponsor/advocate for the "Fire Music", moment in time, and he often had Baraka & Kofsky do liner notes. Kofsky was even, I think, on staff at Jazz & Pop magazine, a periodical that Theie ran, and one which was very, uh...."oriented" towards Thiele's artists and their general esthetic. Something happened to Thiele to where he just kinda backed out of all that, and at every level.

George Lewis writes in detail about the whole draft that the Mid-Westerners felt from the New Yorkers as they begin to move in.  That extended to coverage as well,, there were so many turf wars and general parochialism, sometimes even provincialism involved...the whole "you ain't done until New York says your done thing"...that exists still today, but, really who believes that bullshit anymore, you know, who are the sheriffs of New York that you're going to really give a damn about what they think, musicians or critics?. Not to say that there's still not some really high bars, but they don't live exclusively in New York any more. They did once, but....that shit's over.

Ultimately, though, Kofsky was essentially a One Hit Wonder, and Baraka's influence kinda had a shelf life that was already nearing expiration by the time the AACM really started making noise. Baraka still had a strong voice (and again, that record with Murray & McCall is exquisite), but as a "influence", nah,.

George Lewis: A Power Stronger Than Itself

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That's a great post. Answers my question and more. Thanks so much.

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Upon further ruminations about Dixon/Baraka...look at who's NOT a panelist at this pivotal event:

October_Revolution_in_Jazz_1964_poster.j

Jazz Composer's Guild:

greene_burton_jcg.jpg

and a few months later, there's this:

hqdefault.jpg

lots of things and face there that didn't fit with Baraka's muiscal worldview, to put it mildly...

Here's a thread about all of this, which concludes with Paul Bley's wry reminiscence about how it all went south (and does nothing to dissuade one of the notion that Baraka had no problem with "throwing in with the winner" on the commenrcial front):

How would this make Baraka better than Crouch? Well...Baraka was a better poet, for one. And Baraka doubled down on R&B for another. Probably some other ways too, like Crouch was transparently an unprincipled whore. Baraka had....nuance, and, I'm sure, some kind of a core that he never wholly abandoned (although perhaps he was not above leaving it in the crib to take a nap while he stepped out for some fun). But - hey, any time you see pimping of music going on that is not being done by the musician themself (and not always even then), put the smell test into motion immediately, if not sooner.  If you can get to sincerity (and sometimes you can), wonderful. But never - never - expect there to be a total absence of ego/political maneuvering/careerism/etc. If anything, be delighted if/when you can find what's there once you get past that.

It's no different than the rest of life, except, you know, you want to believe that it's all "spiritual" and shit...and the music will be (often enough). The business, though...

 

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