[Dixielandjazz] CHICAGO

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Wed Mar 19 14:22:05 PST 2003

Tom Loeb wrote: (polite snip)

"True, the formal musical comedy arrangements are not OKOM, but loads of

Broadway tunes (and many tin pan alley tunes) over the years have
into jazz classics. The gritty attitude of the movie & the irreverent
treatment of the material is a delightful departure from the sappy
ice cream & angel food cake musicals of the past. To me, this revives
great attitude of OKOM from the jazz era."

Aha. Maybe Tom is onto something. Hey, all you old farts out there, what
was it that attracted you to OKOM in the first place? (At say, age 12 to
14) The music? Maybe not 100%, or even 50%.

"The great attitude of OKOM from the jazz era" At least for me, that was
it. This was music the bootleggers liked, "Joe Sullivan was Al Capone's
favorite pianist". That's how he was introduced at Ryan's in NYC in the
50s. And "Jazz" meant F***. Everybody back then knew that. Jazz
musicians were sexy people. They propositioned all the girls etc., etc.
How many jazz musos does it take to screw in a light bulb? None, but
they will screw everything else.

We all knew jazz was born illegitimate, in the whorehouses and honky
tonks of a wicked New Orleans red light district. And that it was the
favorite music of reprobates. Yes, Jazz musicians were and are still an
irreverent bunch of ego maniacs, who delight in all sorts of libertine
sexual practices, ribald stories and jokes, all the while smoking or
snorting dope and/or ingesting enormous quantities of alcohol in the
company of fallen women.

How could any red blooded young man in 1945 or 50, not be attracted to
that scene?  Yeah, now we say it was the music, because in our old age
we've forgotten what is was to be a rebel. To fall in love every night,
and to hang out with "weird" and "liberated" jazz musicians.

Perhaps there is a cultural difference between American Jazz musicians
and their fans, or jazz musos in other countries. Certainly the non
Americans (and some fans) seem to have a different viewpoint. They may
well have been attracted by the music and not the environment so a Movie
like "Chicago" seems to have no meaning. If it is the music alone that
must attract, then perhaps that's why OKOM, or jazz in general has so
few fans.

But IMO, Tom Loeb has it right. This is a gritty attitude movie that
goes for the visceral feel of the jazz age, not the music. And maybe
that's why it attracts a mass audience, and not the hip music lovers.
Indeed, it may even win an Academy Award for Best Picture in a few days
because the mass audience likes it.

And maybe Tom's view can also be instructive to OKOM bands out there.
Put some of that gritty, visceral feel into you music. You too may draw
a crowd all of a sudden. Yeah, get some of that 1945 attitude. I don't
know about anyone else, but my parents were absolutely horrified when I
told them about 1945 or so that I wanted to be a jazz musician. Yeah,
they also knew that "Jazz musicians, drink, smoked funny cigarettes,
were mostly negroes and chased women."

Yeah, so what's wrong with that? ;-)

Steve Barbone

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