[Dixielandjazz] Kids, Young Folks etc. musical taste

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet@earthlink.net
Wed, 07 Aug 2002 01:16:13 -0400

It is not only musical tastes that change according to age groups.
Everything changes from generation to generation. And so we old folks
disliking and perhaps fearing the unfamiliar territory rant and rave,
but to no avail.

Look at the differences in education. My mother's generation was
educated by rote to remember, places, wars dates of events etc. She was
a walking encyclopedia of things like what year the Hundred Year War
started. When Michaelangelo was born, what years he painted the Sistine
Chapel etc., etc., etc.

Not me. She marveled at how different my education was from hers. She
used to kid me that my 7 years of University study (including an LLD)
did me no good because I had to come to her to finish the NY Times
Crossword puzzles which had all the kinds of trivia she knew.

Now my kids are educated very differently from me. They can't even
multiply in their heads. But I memorized up to 15 times 15 and will
remember it until the onset of Alzheimer's. Does that make me smart?
NAH. Does it worry me? NAH, they have computers to do that now. But they
learn far more important stuff, like how to be computer mavens or how to
explore the Universe. They bail me out regularly when MAC gets screwy,
and they taught me how to send PLAIN TEXT. Does that make them smarter.
Damn right., in the context of what they need to survive in the 21st

Same with music. We talk about swing. To some that means Fletcher
Henderson, or Glenn Miller. To others that means Count Basie. I opt for
Basie, who by 1970 was quite "modern" in his approach to the genre.
Basically because I saw him at least 20 times, and spoke with him on
several of those occasions developing a small bond to his music. So I
prefer it to all other swing.

When I hear Marsalis, I don't pine for the days of Glenn Miller, or
Benny Goodman. I can dig what his band is doing. The question is not
does he sound like Goodman or Shaw, but does the band swing. From what
I've heard, when playing a swing type number, his band is not that
different from the later Basie bands whose soloists were very "modern".
And when playing "New Orleans" jazz, I hear it as an updated version and
don't pine for Armand J. Piron. And when they play "modern", I listen
for what they contribute, not for Dizzy Gillespie's big band of the 50s.
This is the 21st century and jazz might be better off if we looked ahead
once in a while. The Lincoln Center Orchestra is a versatile band,
bringing all types of jazz to all types of people. How can that be bad?
Focus on the forest, not the trees.

And of course, Marsalis' target audience is the young and/or regular
folks. (I freely admit I copied our approach from him) He could care
less what we old fart know it all aficionados think. He probably views
us as a lost cause, out of the loop, not where it's at. And for what he
is trying to accomplish, he is right.

Etc. Bitching about changed tastes is a waste of time. The next
generation will do the same thing about everything they like, and wonder
how their kids could ruin it. So chill out, don't be so sure we are such
a great generation. After all, look at the messed up world we're leaving
our kids.

Steve Barbone

PS. But one thing I say for sure, you have to know the blues to play
swing well. Charlie Hooks is 100% percent right about that. And sadly,
many many musos just can't play the blues. You got to have soul and too
many of us not only don't have it, we don't even know what it means.