Sunday, September 24, 2006

Bluff Corner

There's a moment when you've just met someone and you talk about the stuff you like, the stuff that makes you tick, the stuff that makes you go all wow. Gary Giddens in Weather Bird captures that moment (Introduction and Acknowledgements, p xvi).
... Ray Charles made an album called Genius + Soul = Jazz, and I thought if Ray is jazz then that's the place to look, especially after I met a girl who said she liked jazz and when I said "me too," quizzed me, humming a tune and challenging me to name it. I could think of only two jazz titles, "One O'Clock Jump" and "Take Five," neither of which I had ever heard, but I crumpled my brow and scratched my chin, and said, "Um, it sounds a little bit like 'Take Five,' a little, maybe." She said, "You really do know jazz." Thank you, Lord.
In the last essay, "How Come Jazz Isn't Dead", Giddens tells of Lester Bowie posing as a Jism magazine critic to ask "Isn't jazz, as we know it, dead yet?" and then, after a trumpet solo mockingly responding, "Well that all depends on what you know". Giddens concludes that Jazz is not dead but ailing "because even the most adventurous young musicians are weighed down by the massive accomplishments of the past" (How Come Jazz Isn't Dead, in Weather Bird p 601) and because of the Supreme Court ruling of 2003, on copyright extension to almost perpetuity, stopping small labels publishing classic recordings that major labels have lost all interest in.

Jazz isn't dead. It's there and always will be. And all music of the last century is jazz or at least jazz-influenced. And, as everyone knows (well, as Artie Fishel told me), jazz was born in Eastern European stetls.

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