[Dixielandjazz] Jazz Insularity

Morton Weintraub mortw at ix.netcom.com
Sun Feb 9 10:35:49 PST 2003



-----Original Message-----
From: dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com
[mailto:dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com] On Behalf Of
JimDBB at aol.com
Sent: Saturday, February 08, 2003 10:42 PM
To: dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Jazz Insularity 


In a message dated 2/8/03 7:48:34 PM Central Standard Time,
zenith at ans.com.au writes:

As an expat Scotsman living in Sydney with my Kiwi (New Zealand) wife
since 1968 I do genuinely believe that Australia does sit somewhere in
the middle (lifestyle, instincts, attitude and opinions) between UK and
American thinkers.  Having a bet each way with five passports between us
(here we go) [polite snipe] it has been my experience in discussion with
your "average man in the American street" (excluding those who travel
overseas) that they have somewhat insular thinking.  I presume this is
caused by the educational system and background.  :~)  

Basic surprises include; is Australia in Europe? (perhaps mistaking it
for Austria) and having never heard of New Zealand, where is it?  (In
New Orleans, some years ago, we visited a tower overlooking the water
that included all the flags of the countries in the world and New
Zealand did not even exist, however, we left a note advising them).
What makes this more alarming/amusing for me is that I am attempting to
gain membership to the 100 CLUB, which is based in America, with 87
countries visited and 13 to go, where this club includes Tasmania (an
island that is part of Australia) as another country!  Should I still
attempt to join? 

Please correct me if I am wrong but I think the above thinking also (in
some cases) extends to jazz music.  I am always careful to say that we
play American music (especially when trying to gain gigs in USA) as that
is where jazz was born, but again, never to have heard of Cleo Lane or
husband Johnny Dankworth or the three B's - Barber, Ball, Bilk for
Listmates in their sixties is another genuine surprise for me.
Canadians seem to be more like New Zealander's including their similar
dollar values.  

Tom (hoping not to start any trouble) Wood

I won't sign on completely to either view. Certainly, xenophobia is not
an exclusively American sickness. I grant you, we have had our moments. 

But insularity, as a national trait, I don't think it fits. In the world
of OKOM the name that comes to mind first is Django Reinhardt. Come to
think, I can't make a second

name, but its early on Sunday. 

             Tom, I do a fair amount of sail boat (never say yacht)
racing. Think of it this way. Jazz is to America as racing boats is to
Kiwis. It's in the DNA.

   aw...come on, Tom.  Start some trouble...I'm up for it.

   Your post is quite thoughtful and I have thought about it.  You are
quite right that we americans are guilty of an annoying insularity.
However, I don't think that we are 'guilty' of anything as such. Beyond
a general dumbing down in our society there always has been an
indifference to thngs beyond this country.  This, I believe stems from a
traditional or historic desire to stay out of Europe's perennial
problems and wars  This general feeling now, of course, includes much of
the rest of the world.  We always seemed to be going to war to save
somebody's ass in Europe and now, everywhere else.  I think that many of
us tend to think of Australia and New Zealand as 'Europe' even though
these countries are a long way from Europe. 

I think that some of our insular mentality stems from our ancestors who
came here.  Many of them desired to cut ties and contact with their
homelands.  They went out of their way to adapt to new ways, new
language and to shut out the old world.

When you add all of this up there has always been a general non-interest
in the affairs of much of the rest of the world.  Stir into this each
individuals focus on his/her families on going trevails and they simply
don't want to hear about problems elsewhere...even though this is in our
news constantly.  

As far as jazz, most of the leading exponents in the various styles have
been in this country and so no desire to look further.  Also a
contributring factor in the low interest in non-american jazz groups has
been the unavailability of foreign recordings.  You really have to go
out of your way to find them here.  Another factor is american and
european musicians unions.  The American musicians union effectively
kept foreign musicians out of this  country for years.  Those who were
able to tour here were usually well received.  I Know that the British
and other countries Trad groups would find a ready audience here.

Sept. 11 was a big wake up call here akin to Pearl Harbor.  We have been
confronted with the revelation that there are 8 million undocumented
illegal aliens here.  Our gov't doesn't know who they are, where they
are nor what they are doing.  This has been very alarming and all in all
I think that we will end up with an even greater insularity.  Our
borders have been porous and any bomb throwing arab can get in here
easily...no problem.  We have suffered through one attack after another
and done nothing about it. A growing sentiment now is to kick every
illegal out of here and close our doors and borders. A lot of people are
alarmed and pissed.  We very much want to move forward in the middle
east and clean out that whole rats nest...once and for all.

One more factor, Tom is that it is hard for most Americans to travel
abroad.  Besides not having the money or time for it many do not have
the taste for it.  Those that were abroad in the military have no desire
to travel.  I was stationed In Japan for a year and I have no desire to
go there again or anywhere in the far east. I would like to go to Europe
but I can't.  New Zealand and Australia is a long expensive plane trip
that few people care to undertake.

So, Tom, all of this to acknowledge your concern at our insularity and
to try and explain it.  Hopefully, the internet serves to break through
some of it.  Thanks for a thoughtful post.

Jim Beebe

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