wblv.wblu.fm at gmail.com
Thu Aug 3 00:15:47 EDT 2006
Please bear with me: I like to write. That thing about the docent was
fiction. It was to make a point. "It would be as if the docent said,"
and what followed was a day dream as metaphor for certain views of the
Part of vacation was in the French town of Collioure where Henri
Matisse and his friends spent 1905 developing a style of painting
which would become known as fauvism. I was there during the centennial
when the town arranged for all of the paintings done by Henri Matisse
and Andre Derain in that year to be brought back. There were paintings
from museums and private collections the world over. Matisse, to me,
had fewer classical painting chops than Derain, but, like Miles, he
had the concept. And that's what lived and inspired and changed the
Next was Barcelona. Seeing the changes the virtuoso young Picasso
underwent after he encountered Toulouse le Trek and the impressionists
(who followed on the heels of the fauvists) and what those changes led
to was clear.
Then bringing those lessons to the world of jazz today, and it is as
if the docent at the Picasso museum were saying…..
That was not directed at Jae. Nothing I'm saying is directed at Jae
personally. He's a wonderful cat and I wish him the best. It doesn't
matter who's saying it, I'm responding to the idea of putting down the
so called avant garde because it doesn't adhere to measurable
scientific principles of music. To me that is like saying Picasso
forgot where to put the nose on the face.
For what it's worth, Braxton's Chicago Jazz Festival set in 1980 or 81
with Leo Smith, Ray Anderson, Gerry Hemingway and a bassist beyond
recall, is the reason I'll never forget him. Amazing concert. The
heads were sloppy, but the solos were beyond anything I'd ever heard.
Raw energy. Swinging, marching, doing that accordion thing with the
time, like waves. In that era Braxton was cool. He had a large
international following when still playing that angular post-bop. That
same night on the same stage in Chicago saxophonist Bud Freeman, who'd
been living in London, played a homecoming concert with trumpeter Wild
Bill Davison. There it was: Bud representing his era of Chicago,
Braxton representing his, both playing jazz at the highest level.
The reason Ornette's name was brought up in relation to Braxton is
because without Ornette the floodgates of change wouldn't have opened
the way they did. Looking forward to programming Ornette's new release
this year – wish it would hurry up and come out.
Steve Lacy's tune "The Holy La" says it all. A 440 is fundamental, and
beautiful. However, because Johnny Dodds plays his vibrato under the
center of the tone, pulling his intonation toward not just a blue
note, but a blue "between the cracks" sound does not mean he lacks
fundamentals, which is the kind of criticism the New Orleans pioneers
would get from the classical music establishment and the ragtime
crowd. People said Jelly Roll didn't know how to play, he was "faking
it," because he forgot the part. Bullshit. He was doing something new.
Lester Bowie playing sounds, as opposed to changes, didn't make him
less a jazz player but more of one. There's an entire generation of
young trumpeters growing up thinking Bowie didn't know his instrument
and that's a revisionist shame.
So, Von or J Mac don't lack fundamentals because they play out of
tune. The point is entirely arguable, but the legacy of either of
those musicians silences the criticism – they had something to say
which is more important in music than merely saying it "correctly."
Jazz is about accent, not just accuracy. The institutionalization of
jazz fights this.
As for radio, everyone has their own way and I'd like to hear it.
Especially for localism, something squished out of radio by the
concentration of media ownership and the development of more reliable
Helsinki? You might see if the UMO Jazz Orchestra or Eero Koivistoinen
is playing anywhere.
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