Join 3,440 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Occupy Jazz!
December 2, 2011 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Trumpet player Nicholas Payton, aka @paynic on Twitter, recently posted a highly poetic essay (or highly essay-like poem) entitled On Why Jazz Isn't Cool Any More.

A provocative piece, especially for jazz musicians or jazz fans, there has been a great deal of response, both positive and negative. Among these responses is this essay by Ian Carey - How Not To Become A Bitter White Jazz Musician.
posted by motty (47 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
Trumpet
posted by Mblue at 6:05 PM on December 2, 2011


I like the Ian Carey essay.
posted by small_ruminant at 6:08 PM on December 2, 2011


I am not a fan of post-paragraph writing.
posted by ifandonlyif at 6:09 PM on December 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm listening to Andrew Hill's Black Fire just now. I feel pretty cool.
posted by Trurl at 6:25 PM on December 2, 2011


"Who thinks of what they’ll name the baby while they’re fucking?" is a fantastic line.
posted by maryr at 6:29 PM on December 2, 2011 [6 favorites]


Why Jazz Isn't Cool Any More: Jonathan Schwartz.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:34 PM on December 2, 2011


Metafilter: incoherent jazz Fight Club.
posted by jhc at 6:34 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Sometimes when I’m soloing, I don’t play shit.
I just move blocks of silence around.
The notes are an afterthought."

Brilliant.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 6:38 PM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ian Carey's piece is pretty much spot-on for the entire phenomenon of white-person whining.

He expresses the difficulty thusly:

"This is indeed a drag. Trust me, I get it. It’s a drag to spend your life learning to play a music, only to know there are people who think you’ll never be authentic because of who your parents are. "

...and the thing is, what I find amazing, is that so many privileged people experience some difficulty "because of who [their] parents are", some thing that marks them and sets them apart in some context that is entirely beyond their control, a function of their birth, something that causes people to treat them in a disadvantaged fashion, and it's the end of the world, the biggest injustice since forever.

Instead of having some awareness of how other people, unlike themselves, live and have lived in this world, and using that for a context which allows them to see this disadvantage as an opportunity to learn a little bit about what it's like for those who experience this sort of thing almost every day of their lives...no, instead, they whine and rage and agitate and insist that heaven and hell are moved to correct this intolerable injustice immediately. And, sadly, often they're listened to and things are changed for them. And it never occurs to them that here, too, they've been advantaged.

What Carey is writing about is what was inevitably going to be the reaction to Payton's piece on places like Facebook and elsewhere. White jazz musicians feel a little bit uncomfortable and defensive about race. Well, of course they do. Payton gets to the nitty-gritty uncomfortable reality and that's that the history of jazz is all about race—and, more to the point, which he doesn't state explicitly but is what Carey's dealing with, the modern idea that jazz is some merit-based, colorblind musical form is itself a lie created by the privileged (and the unprivileged who were co-opted) to allow them to create a colonized, whitened version of jazz. Just maintaining this colorblind fiction and separating jazz from its racial history is itself an institutionalization of racism.

Payton is pointing out that this whole idea of jazz above and beyond the individual local, and black, musical traditions that composed it is a colonization, it has everything to do with the marketing of black music to white Americans. The same, by the way, can be said about some other key American popular musical forms.

Here's a thought experiment. Imagine if there were some kind of homogenized and institutionalized style of music that was composed from distinct varieties of Native American musical rituals. For a white America that knew nothing about the distinct cultures, it sounded much alike and the natives who explored this territory as popular musical cooperated in homogenizing it such that the audience was given what it expected. It got big enough that record companies labeled it and marketed it. And non-natives began to play this musical style—a style they primarily knew from the popularized and homogenized versions, not organically from the cultural tradition. The audiences grew larger. The style and technique began to be highly intellectualized as an object of study. Then, as the size of the audiences became smaller as pop culture moved on, it became even more institutionalized by mostly affluent and privileged cultural gatekeepers. And so today the majority of musicians who learn and play this kind of music, and its audience, are non-natives who participate in this music entirely outside, usually entirely ignorant of, the context of its cultural roots and the history of its relationship and appropriation, and related changes made to it, by the dominant culture. And the style was a fiction all along, an artificial creole created for the non-native audience.

Imagine if natives, especially the natives who are musicians and intensely interested in this music in its true culturally authentic nature, protested this colonized and marketed and artificial notion of a pan-native-musical tradition that is somehow also simultaneously colorblind and supposedly exists independently of native culture and tradition, and which is primarily taught at non-native schools and performed for non-native audiences.

All the non-natives who have invested both their cultural capital in listening and learning about this music, and all the non-natives who have invested their actual labor in learning and playing this music, will be very threatened by such protests. But their whole view of this music is, in a word, racist. The status quo that they want to protect is a colonialist racist institutionalization of the appropriation of another's culture.

The problem here is that this has gone on long enough, and is big enough, that this monster was built and has lived and is a thing. It exists. I partly disagree with Payton because, like in my analogy above, I think that this artificial, marketed notion of jazz has existed long enough and has been influential enough, that it's something in its own right. Payton is fooling himself when he claims that he doesn't play jazz. Unless he never played jazz, never really listened to jazz, then he can't be independent of it...even within the context of an authentic tradition which contributed to the Frankenstein's monster we're calling "jazz".

Because of this, I think that Payton is half-right. Jazz isn't dead, though it's arguably moribund. But it's still there, it's still alive and it's something in its own right. But musicians like him need to concentrate on the authentic traditions from which it was built. Let "jazz" do whatever it's going to do. Let the music schools teach what they are going to teach. If it needs to die, then it will eventually die from lack of attention as the young musicians follow the lead of Payton and those who are like-minded. Or it won't.

But what needs to happen is that "jazz" needs to no longer be culturally a hegemon to all the traditions that gave birth to it.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:08 PM on December 2, 2011 [7 favorites]


It's worth adding a bit about Payton's perspective. Twenty years ago he was one of the "Young Lions" generation, an unofficial term for a group of young musicians who played straightahead jazz, who showed incredible talent as soloists, and who were marketed heavily by their record companies (primarily Verve Records). These guys basically had the weight and future of the jazz world on their shoulders, according to the press. It wasn't entirely unwarranted: They were probably the most talented of their generation at the time, and they were coming up at a time when jazz needed resurgence.

They were also coming up on the tail of many, many heated discussions about what direction "jazz" should take. Should it include electronic instruments? Can it nod to rock? Must it swing? Etc. I believe MetaFilter refers to this as "beanplating," and in my experience these are not the sort of conversations that actual musicians indulge in. (For the most part. I'm doing my best to shorten this without inciting a Wynton derail.) But the press and the fans do, and that is weight that gets felt at the record-label level—a level that was playing an inordinate role in directing the Young Lions' careers at that time. They were good at playing a certain kind of music and they were expected to keep recording it, and recording it, and recording it.

It's not unfair to analogize them to Hollywood child stars. And while I wouldn't say that they fell apart like child stars often do, today they are mostly not living up to those admittedly unfair, ramped-up expectations. I don't think anybody's list of top jazz talents today would include anyone from the Young Lions roster.

This is a cool poem. I like Payton's writing here, and it has insight and truth. He's certainly in a position to be able to speak. But I definitely think that this poem coming from him—or any of his once-peers—is more interesting if you read it with a recollection of his early career.
posted by cribcage at 7:09 PM on December 2, 2011 [11 favorites]


I don’t let others define who I am.
I wish I could favorite someone else's comment that they haven't left yet.
posted by monkeymike at 7:10 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


I also came here to post: "Who thinks of what they’ll name the baby while they’re fucking?" as an amazingly evocative line about the creative aspects of art.

I disagree with him that art cannot be practiced. Of course it can. But I understand the frustration of trying to create something while the shackles of a generic label hang around you.

And he's right. Jazz is dead. It belongs to a space in time. Perhaps someday someone can create something new, out of the ashes, which is similar in some ways to Jazz, but Jazz as we understand it died in 1959. Somebody right now could be crafting a sound better than "My Favorite things" or "Sketches of Spain" but we'll most likely never know. Because Jazz is dead.

But Post-Modern New Orleans Music can keep kicking, and breath with vitality. And maybe break through with something fresh.

It hurts, but this news needs to be heard.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:11 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


One of my writeups about jazz ever is on Everything2. Get it while the site's still around.
posted by mkb at 7:30 PM on December 2, 2011 [2 favorites]


what I find amazing, is that so many privileged people experience some difficulty "because of who [their] parents are"...and it's the end of the world, the biggest injustice since forever...Instead of having some awareness of how other people, unlike themselves, live and have lived in this world...no, instead, they whine and rage and agitate and insist that heaven and hell are moved to correct this intolerable injustice immediately...it never occurs to them that here, too, they've been advantaged.


I think you may be overstating your case somewhat. Who are you talking about here?
posted by Hoopo at 7:41 PM on December 2, 2011


I like Medeski Martin & Wood, but I am not cool.
posted by mrhappy at 7:51 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


what I find amazing, is that so many privileged people experience some difficulty "because of who [their] parents are"...and it's the end of the world, the biggest injustice since forever...Instead of having some awareness of how other people, unlike themselves, live and have lived in this world...no, instead, they whine and rage and agitate and insist that heaven and hell are moved to correct this intolerable injustice immediately...it never occurs to them that here, too, they've been advantaged.

OWS critisism is now every thread.
posted by Winnemac at 7:52 PM on December 2, 2011 [3 favorites]


Somewhere there are a bunch of beatniks snapping their appaluse following a live reading of this essay.
posted by vorpal bunny at 7:59 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


Substitute "jazz" and some proper names and this could be the first several pages of any issue of Maximum Rock'n'Roll.
posted by zoinks at 8:04 PM on December 2, 2011 [1 favorite]


He's right. Check out the "Jazz" section of the iTunes store. It's pretty grim stuff. It's like an alternate universe where Branford Marsalis defined an entire genre of music.
posted by jeffehobbs at 8:09 PM on December 2, 2011


Seriously, I do think the piece is food for thought yet may be participating in what it is decrying...? I don't know this guy, so will take cribcage's advice and get some context.
I see shows and listen to records that would presumably be called "jazz" of some sort, but I guess I don't feel this existential dread about it because I'm a dilettante and I don't play music right. I enjoy the hell out of the music but don't beanplate it enough? or too much? I do think the issues of race and authenticity are real and do matter, but if you're feeling it you're feeling it, no? Both as a player and a listener? Eh, I'll keep reading. And listening.
posted by zoinks at 8:29 PM on December 2, 2011


All music has some kind of moniker slapped on it, one that's often not exactly correct in some sense or another. And Payton is not by a long shot the first jazz musician to register displeasure with the term "jazz". But, at the end of the day, people are still 99 and 9/10 % more likely to call his music "jazz" than they are to call it "post-modern New Orleans music". I mean, really, that one just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?

I think he makes some good points here and there, but, man, jazz is the word, y'know? It ain't going away, and people are most definitely not gonna start calling it "post modern [insert name of musician's city of residence or original source of musical inspiration here] music".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:05 PM on December 2, 2011


Not to mention that the term "post modern" is essentially meaningless. Payton is somewhat embarrassingly late to the party on that worn-out term.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:27 PM on December 2, 2011


It's been a very long week for me, and I will have enough energy to say more about this tomorrow. But as a jazz musician – an amateurish one with little skill, one of those who Payton says "don't actually play it for a living," and a white person to boot – let me say a few things about how I feel reading this.

My first reaction is that this has been said many, many times, and maybe that's why it makes sense. Payton wants his approach to be transcendent of a limiting category, and to a great degree it is. But contextually I want to point out that whatever jazz is – if that matters – the people labelled "jazz musicians" have been taking this approach to playing music for almost a century. To Duke Ellington famously made it a point to repeat many times that the highest compliment one could give a musician is to say that she or he is "beyond category," and to eschew whatever "jazz" is simply to pursue music for its own sake. And as is so often the case, what Duke said, Louis did. This was very much the trajectory of Louis Armstrong's career; in 1930, as one of the most successful recording artists in the world, Louis Armstrong didn't waste a moment building museums or monuments to "New Orleans Jazz Music" or anything like that, or celebrating the old styles; he immediately began playing pop music that appealed to all audiences, white, black, New Orleans, Chicago, Tin Pan Alley tunes and show tunes and fun little ditties that everybody wanted to sing along to. He was not limited by his upbringing; he transcended it. He was not aiming to celebrate a static folk art; he was aiming to embrace all musics and create something new from them.

Now, without inciting an unfortunate derail like the one cribcage refers to, for many people who care about these styles of music referred to as "jazz," it will be instantly tedious when I invoke the names of Duke and Louis as paragons of the music. But that's also part of my point. This attitude of aiming beyond really has been in the spirit of the music from the very beginning; it carried it through several generations, each of which reinvented it themselves. This was Pharaoh Sanders' spirit as much as it was Duke Ellington's.

My second reaction, however, is to say that there's sort of attitude here that I don't agree with, of a spirit that comes naturally to jazz musicians but that I think can be taken too far. It's the "fuck the past" spirit, the radical eschewing of roots and beginnings and traditions. I guess I'm all for keeping minds opened, and I understand how unfortunate it can be when there's a status quo which stands only behind stolid tradition. So it's good to keep the music progressive. But – none of that changes the fact that, as Faulkner – one of the first and still one of the only white men who could write powerfully about race – put it so eloquently: “The past isn't dead. It's not even past!”

Without getting too involved, it's my conviction that we Americans believe far too firmly in some kind of historical dialectic – that is, that there's some grand historical movement, and that it's important to be up to date. We praise things by saying they're "groundbreaking" or "influential" or "revolutionary" or "unprecedented;" the list goes on and on. Really, it is quite extraordinary when one considers just how many of the positive things we say about music (and art in general) have to do with historical significance. The problem with that, I think, is that it causes us this sort of despairing ennui about authenticity and historical place. People who like music in the style it was played even ten years ago have a good deal of anxiety about actually playing music that way, since those styles are past – styles from barely a decade ago!

When I was in college, I once heard a transcendent performance of the early polyphony of Palestrina. It made me feel things – deep things – that I'd never felt before and have never felt since. Now: is Palestrina's polyphony really dead? Sure, it's almost half a millennium old; but is it dead? What could have died in it? Is the historical context really the heart of the thing we enjoy in music?

I don't think so, anyway. And the interesting thing about jazz is that it proves me right. The talk above about white musicians and what we do and do not go through put me in mind of Bix Beiderbeck. He was ostracized from an upper middle class white family, cast out completely because he chose this music; and yet within jazz he always felt a great deference to the people among whom it had originated, to the point where he never really led a group of his own or insisted on the opportunity to have the space and backing he really deserved as a soloist. The point is – where did jazz originate for Bix? What was its context? It wasn't New Orleans or Back O' Town or whatever; it was records. Bix heard about this music sitting in his room, listening to these records of a new and astounding music unlike anything he'd ever heard before; and when he heard that music, he knew he had to play it, and to be among others who played it. Bix Beiderbeck didn't embrace jazz in order to be closer to black people out of some liberal guilt, or to play at slumming it, or to rebel against his parents – it wasn't for historical reasons that he threw himself into improvisational playing. Bix Beiderbeck embraced jazz because he saw that the music itself is ennobling. And this was true of all the other great musicians, too.

What they created isn't dead; and it never will be. We move on, and we play what we want. We can choose to play like they did, if it pleases us. There's nothing wrong with that at all. Even in doing so, we're creating something new.
posted by koeselitz at 9:29 PM on December 2, 2011 [14 favorites]


Payton is pointing out that this whole idea of jazz above and beyond the individual local, and black, musical traditions that composed it is a colonization, it has everything to do with the marketing of black music to white Americans. The same, by the way, can be said about some other key American popular musical forms.

As a simple matter of music history it's just false to suggest that jazz is some kind of pure, unmixed expression of black American cultural developments that is later coopted by white people. There isn't a single significant strain of popular culture in the US that isn't racially mixed to its core. The mixture is certainly predominantly black in the case of jazz--but myths of cultural and racial purity are deadening to genuine cultural dialogue and creativity no matter which 'side' they're privileging.
posted by yoink at 9:44 PM on December 2, 2011 [4 favorites]


Unable to form coherent responses at this hour of the morning, and haven't had a chance to explore the other links. But upon initial read: The hard truth of this hurts me in my soul.
posted by Saxon Kane at 11:07 PM on December 2, 2011


Jazz ain't dead. It's just resting.
posted by Camofrog at 11:12 PM on December 2, 2011


It's worth adding a bit about Payton's perspective. Twenty years ago he was one of the "Young Lions" generation, an unofficial term for a group of young musicians who played straightahead jazz, who showed incredible talent as soloists, and who were marketed heavily by their record companies (primarily Verve Records). These guys basically had the weight and future of the jazz world on their shoulders, according to the press. It wasn't entirely unwarranted: They were probably the most talented of their generation at the time, and they were coming up at a time when jazz needed resurgence.

I think it's worth emphasizing this point. It took me a while to realize it but there was a really conservative movement in jazz around that time which encompassed not only musical style but a whole approach to learning how to play and developing a career. Reading payton's post I can't help but find some of my own journey through and out of that movement.

^^^^^
I also found myself reading his pot like they were chuck norris jokes.
posted by ianhattwick at 1:12 AM on December 3, 2011


Jazz is a marketing ploy sounds about right to me. I like to improvise stuff on the piano. I'm not really good at it, but yeah, its just something I do. Never would have occurred to me to label it "jazz" until a famous jazz musician stole one of my riffs (which I had never played in public, so I dunno how he managed that). Jazz is what I'd call it if I was forced to label it something for marketing purposes I guess.
posted by sfenders at 3:37 AM on December 3, 2011


Think jazz is dead? I have two words for you: Chuck Mangione
posted by Renoroc at 4:31 AM on December 3, 2011


I don't know how to break this to you, but "Feels So Good" is An Aged Cheddar from 1978.
posted by Wolof at 4:51 AM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not to mention that the term "post modern" is essentially meaningless.

I think you mean the term postmodern is essentially meaningless. Modern jazz refers, typically, to the music of bop and its successors, including free jazz. Calling himself post modern jazz is no odder or worn out than the creators of a hard bop/soul fusion calling themselves "post bop."

It tends to be the sort of thing people call themselves when they don't yet have a name for what they do, but it's not like what preceded it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 5:09 AM on December 3, 2011


There's a response to the reaction up: An Open Letter To My Dissenters On Why Jazz Isn’t Cool Anymore . . . .

posted by zamboni at 5:23 AM on December 3, 2011


I'm also unsure as to why someone who is unwilling to bear the historical weight and freight on a term like "jazz" has a new album out called "Bitches".
posted by Wolof at 5:51 AM on December 3, 2011


...and the thing is, what I find amazing, is that so many privileged people experience some difficulty "because of who [their] parents are", some thing that marks them and sets them apart in some context that is entirely beyond their control, a function of their birth, something that causes people to treat them in a disadvantaged fashion, and it's the end of the world, the biggest injustice since forever.

Carey's piece, quoted at a bit more length, actually reads: And ends with the exhortation to

...take a cue from that Bill Evans guy you’re always mentioning and win them over by being a nice and respectful person and playing your ass off.

(Emphasis in the original)
posted by low_frequency_feline at 5:56 AM on December 3, 2011


I got some jazz for you right here.
posted by Wolof at 6:09 AM on December 3, 2011


Bunny Ultramod writes: I think you mean the term postmodern is essentially meaningless."

Yeah, Bunny, excuse me for insering the crucial space between "post" and "modern". But that was my own typing error. Payton actually left off that all-important space (unlike, no doubt, the blocks of space he moves around when soloing, with notes only an afterthought?) when he wrote:

I play Postmodern New Orleans music.

And note the capital P.

Like i said, essentially meaningless, and late for the train.

(Trane?)
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:18 AM on December 3, 2011


I play Postmodern New Orleans music.

And note the capital P.

Like i said, essentially meaningless, and late for the train.

(Trane?)


Perhaps he realizes this, given that in his followup, he finishes with

I am Nicholas Payton and I play Black American Music.

Also, this reminds me of In Memoriam John Coltrane, by Michael Stillman

Listen to the coal
rolling, rolling through the cold
steady rain, wheel on
wheel, listen to the
turning of the wheels this night
black as coal dust, steel
on steel, listen to
these cars carry coal, listen
to the coal train roll.

posted by bardophile at 7:47 AM on December 3, 2011


1959 is coincidentally also the year that rock and roll died. It's just that rock is more of an artform that incorporates death, early death, as a fundamental quality, and so it zombifies easier.

Also jazz is called Hip Hop now.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:43 AM on December 3, 2011


Potomac Avenue: "Also jazz is called Hip Hop now."

Would you mind unpacking that a bit? I'm torn between several new interpretations.
posted by mkb at 9:45 AM on December 3, 2011


I'm being flowery, since they are different genres. BUT I just think Hip Hop is most like Jazz of any other art form, specifically turntablism, freestyling, and the funk beat, which I think even James Brown would acknowledge comes from jazz more than R&B or rock.

Jazz is dance music that became thoughtful, and the same thing is happening to rap. Also I'm listening to Kool Keith right now and he's so much like Sun Ra it's ridiculous.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:52 AM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some of this reminds me of the discussions I had with the the other 2/3 of a jazz trio I played with six nights a week, six hours a night, at a club in Nagoya, Japan. They didn't like white people and didn't think I could play jazz worth shit. They thought white people invented genocide. I could go on.

It happens that I was a big-headed 25-year old idiot who couldn't play jazz worth shit. Thirty years later, I am getting the hang of it, but race hasn't been an issue in my thinking or my playing since that intense time. Almost all the great innovators in jazz have been black, sure. But acknowledging that is like acknowledging that birds sing. OK. Let's move on.

And jazz can sound like a bunch of noodling around. So I try not to play like that. It's a challenge, but you know what? Since the Sixties every art form has been a challenge. The barriers have been knocked down; now it's a matter of finding your own voice. I like that game!
posted by kozad at 11:08 AM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


While there were some linguistic gems in that piece, I get so sick of all of the '[insert genre of your choice] is dead' shit.

Payton wants to somehow say that we shouldn't have labeled jazz, shouldn't have made it 'a thing,' shouldn't have cornered it, but then he wants to say it's dead, himself sort of assuming that jazz is such and such a thing, a singular thing. And that just isn't true.

What are we even talking about here? Jazz didn't die in 1959. That's just ridiculous. What about Bitches Brew? And Fela Kuti? And I, Claudia? And Alas No Axis? And eXtended animation? And Human Feel? And Zorn and Tim Berne and Formanek and Maria Schneider and Christian McBride and Sun Ra and on and on. Oh, these aren't jazz musicians. These are folks who play music that came from jazz but is called something else. Postmodern this or that. But you think it was wrong to box jazz in like that, to market it as 'jazz,' to force into a corner. I see. You don't want to name the baby while you're fucking, but isn't that exactly what you're doing? If you don't want to name that baby while you're fucking, why are you declaring to us that you play Postmodern New Orleans music instead of playing music?

You know, most people in '59 wouldn't have called Kind of Blue 'jazz' either. They would have called it cool bop or hard bop or some such thing. Just like people in 1804 wouldn't have called Beethoven 'classical' music. This is a hermeneutic problem in many respects.

He is right about one thing: jazz is no longer 'popular' music. It evolved into a type of high art. Now you go to school for it. You can major in it. It takes a lot of work to master and understand. But this is simply what happens when history happens to art. Schubert wasn't high art either back in the day, such a notion was nascent anyway. And one day Lady Gaga and pop music and the dominance of the mixolydian mode in contemporary radio hit music will be studied at university. It's already happening, even.

I get that labels - record and genre - haven't done music any favors. But it remains true that these are always an afterthought. The music still comes first. And you know, all music is at its core basically the same. The physics of overtones that determine harmony and the basic structures and ideas, especially between tonal musics of any genre, are basically the same. Bach (an improviser himself) and Coltrane are so much the same that the line between them, between jazz and baroque music, comes down to hair splitting details, and a lot of details that lie completely outside the music itself anyway. I get that people want to divide music up, to say here's this thing, and here's this other thing, and one came from the other, that Beethoven came from Haydn and hip hop came from Miles Davis and the Beatles and Led Zeppelin came from the blues and Britney Spears came from the Beatles. Or whatever. And it's sort of like that, but it's so much more chaotic than that picture paints it. It isn't really a lineage, not in any direct sense. Just like human evolution has had all sorts of dead ends, branches leading nowhere, inbreeding and false starts and just like human evolution only seems to make sense when you look back on it, so jazz and blues and postmodern whatever are not so clearly defined or linked or so easily labeled and judged.

Besides, the kids don't care anyway.
posted by Lutoslawski at 11:09 AM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]


Almost all the great innovators in jazz have been black, sure. But acknowledging that is like acknowledging that birds sing.

Really? What about Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli, Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Luiz Bonfa, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Joe Zawinul, Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny, Al Di Meola, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, John Zorn?
posted by epimorph at 12:16 PM on December 3, 2011 [1 favorite]



Really? What about Django Reinhardt, Stephane Grappelli, Dave Brubeck, Paul Desmond, Bill Evans, Gil Evans, Luiz Bonfa, Antonio Carlos Jobim, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Joe Zawinul, Jaco Pastorius, Pat Metheny, Al Di Meola, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, John Zorn?


And Stan Getz. And maybe Art Pepper. (And maybe not Paul Desmond, but that's just my personal bias.)

Yeah, but I think you've got less than 10% of the great jazz innovators listed there. There have been a century's worth of jazz musicians, and I could name 90 black jazzbos off the top of my head. Does it matter? I think so, but not so much that "white people can't play jazz."
posted by kozad at 1:12 PM on December 3, 2011


Lutoslawski: "Besides, the kids don't care anyway. "

Wow, on their website their drummer is straight checking his pits, isn't he?
posted by mkb at 5:27 PM on December 3, 2011


kozad: Are we talking about great innovators (i.e., people that pushed jazz into a significantly new direction), or just great musicians? If it's the latter, then I could easily triple that list? (Say, Benny Goodman, Gerry Mulligan, Jean-Luc Ponty, Joey DeFrancesco, Gary Burton, Dave Holland, Stanton Moore, Vinnie Colaiuta, etc.) If it's the former, then surely any list that includes 100 names has got to be greatly inflated.

I would agree with you that when it comes to jazz before about 1960, most (but far from all) of the great jazz musician (and innovators) were black. But, to my ears, that has been much less the case since then.

P.S. In retrospect, I also agree with you about Paul Desmond.
posted by epimorph at 5:35 PM on December 3, 2011


Linking to SaxontheWeb? Really? That is the biggest circle jerk of a site......
posted by ericdano at 2:05 AM on December 4, 2011


« Older "The best way I can describe our predicament to so...  |  Jim Valvano and 6th seeded Nor... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments