[Dixielandjazz] Return of the dreaded "What is Jazz" thread

Edgerton, Paul A paul.edgerton at eds.com
Mon Aug 25 13:15:09 PDT 2003

Jim Beebe wrote:
"The St. Louis blues was written to be a popular song.  Most songs that are
used in jazz were written to be pupular songs. 
When a jazz musician plays them they become jazz. It's fairly
simple...nothing difficult about it at all."

Leaving aside for now the question of what is a "pupular" song, let's look
at the proposition that jazz is music played by jazz musicians. Say for the
moment that's true. Now then, is it jazz when a jazz musicians records a
film score? What about when he does a commercial soundtrack. How about when
a bunch of recognized jazz horn players overdub a rock and roll record?

At moments like this I recall a comment made by trombonist and educator Paul
Tanner at a roundtable discussion sponsored by the National Association of
Jazz Educators: "I can't tell you exactly what jazz is, but I'm perfectly
capable of finding something wrong with any definition you might propose."

Well okay, I'm working from memory here, and I have probably misrepresented
Mr. Tanner's actual words, but the idea is fitting. Jazz beauty is in the
mind of the beholder. I think it's safe to say that Jazz music is played by
jazz musicians, but it's not very helpful. Do any non-jazz musicians play

I guess jazz is a lot like smut: you'll recognize it when you see (hear) it.

If any of you want to fight (that is, argue) with me about this, I'll be
available at Sweet & Hot. At least I will be when I'm not harassing Dick
Broadie or Gordon of Northridge. And Jim, I'm not really picking on you --
but thanks for the convenient springboard.

Paul Edgerton
Who, come to think of it, might also be playing with the Fulton Street Jazz
Band between bouts.

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