[JPL] Crisis! What Crisis?

jazzrockworld rick at jazzrockworld.com
Sat Aug 12 09:21:03 EDT 2006

"Irony can be pretty ironic sometimes" (William Shatner - Airplane II)

Just as I sent off that email saying I agree that the word Jazz is a dead
word, there's a commercial for Jazz Pepsi on TV. Wow!

Your point on the variety shows of the past is well taken. I wonder though,
how much of their programming was merely a reflection of the times? Jazz
used to be the most popular music in the country, schools used to have music
appreciation, local music stores were busy giving lessons, and all that gave
way to "I don't understand the music these kids listen to". 

I'm reminded of Lenny Bruce's routines about style, fashion, what is hip,
and the consequence of being "out of step". His act had a routine about how
to build a successful "girl singer" and the need for a gimmick - hair
underarms. (paraphrasing now) Yeah, but it can't just be hair because
anybody can do that, it's got to be different. I know, we'll cut it, trim
it, keep is low in the back. So, when people see it they'll say HEY that
chick has hair under her arms. Yeah, but it's different... She takes care of
herself!!! Well, that's disgusting, hair underarms, I've never heard of such
a thing. Why is that disgusting, is it against God? No. Is it hygiene,
certainly not - if it were, we'd have to shave the eyebrows, the head, the
shmushka, the whole bit. So what's the problem with it? It's out of style. 

Reeling it back in, I find myself repeating the words of my parents - I
don't understand the music these kids listen to. Honestly, I don't. I hear
it in the soundtracks of many movies and at major intersections waiting for
a red light to turn green. But all I really hear is BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. What
was the joke not long ago, a musician couldn't get a contract at Warner
unless he had a rap sheet? 

Styles change, I'm out of step. Jazz is out of step. Fusion (a form of Jazz)
is out of step. Society is in regression. John McLaughlin said in my article
that sometimes in order for humanity to take a step forward, it needs to
take a couple steps back, and right now, we're taking our steps back. The
proof of that comes from Hollywood - Batman, Fantastic Four, Spider Man,
Dumb & Dumber, and generally remakes of remakes - they're out of ideas. 

The hope is in the cycle of things. As Lenny Bruce also said, "Don't throw
out that tie - it might come back in style". Little did he know that tie
makers would suffer the same hardships as hat makers. 

I personally think that good music will always be good music. I'd probably
commit suicide if I ended up in a rest home that only played Rap and Hip

Do Rap and Hip Hop artists study at Berklee or Julliard? 


Rick Calic

-----Original Message-----
From: jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com
[mailto:jazzproglist-bounces at jazzweek.com] On Behalf Of Lazaro Vega
Sent: Saturday, August 12, 2006 12:00 AM
To: Jazz Programmers Mailing List
Subject: Re: [JPL] Crisis! What Crisis?


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Many perspectives. Tolerance is word in the house.

I'm sorry I haven't read your paper.

"Dr. Levin pointed out that only about one third of the population has the
ability to appreciate the abstract."

If you expose people to good music, art, literature and especially well
conceived stories crafted through moving images they will respond
enthusiastically. The appeal and power of music is universal, and all music
is abstract. That's like saying only a third of population understands or
even has dreams.

Maybe because the Perry Como, the Ed Sullivan, Andy Williams, Jackie Gleason
and Mike Douglas variety shows did a better job of conveying culture than
Enfotainment Tonight does now. That's where most people spend their time,
plugged in to the Matrix. Those cheesey shows and many others were vehicles
to further involvement. Much of today's entertainment packages are bundled
into hermetic orchestras of tested reaction. Jazz is antithetical to that.
At it's best it's spontaneous and unpredictable.  It's not hard to see that
the music doesn't fit with easy to grab marketing models, but that doesn't
mean they aren't out there.

Fusion's just a word. It can be a label, yet is more powerful when put
across as a concept consistent throughout the evolution of jazz.
Horace Silver and Herbie Nichols would be a good place for me to start in
front of a group of young musicians here at Blue Lake tp show them with
records how the fusion of West Indian music, Bud Powell and Bartok led here
or there. It's just easier for young people, even musicians, to hear what's
readily available.  Young jazz students don't want cross over, they want to
tap the main vein. And fusion's another way in.

Personally fusion is like nostalgia to me, though there are moments of
creative music making going on with electric instruments -- did you hear
Marcus Miller's "Frankenstein"? He went all in. Or Sanborn lately. Looking
forward to hearing him live this winter. (Not Edgar).


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