[Dixielandjazz] CHICAGO - Wiggins' reply to Steve

Nancy Giffin nancyink at ulink.net
Wed Mar 19 14:39:27 PST 2003

From: TCASHWIGG at aol.com
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2003 16:41:51 EST
To: nancyink at ulink.net
Subject: Re: The movie, "Chicago" and Steve's DJML post

You can post it to the DJML and tell them all I said hello.

Hi Nancy:

I think Steve Barbone hits it right on the head in his article.

I am of the opinion and have been for may years that the European and Also
Far Eastern approach to American Jazz is and has primarily been academic in
nature, and they rarely if ever really swing, because they generally do not
have that inner feeling and affinity with the music.  They tend to be
imitators at best and a lot of it is pretty awful stuff and definitely hard
on the ears to listen to, much less try to get inside of and enjoy.

So as not to upset some who disagree with my opinion, I would add that of
course there are always exceptions to this and there are some excellent
players who have crossed over, but they are in the minority at least in my
exposure to them.  I would venture that they also spent countless hours
beyond the call of duty to master our musical styles and it probably did not
come easy to any of them.

Their general interpretation of the Blues is even Worse, They have a very
difficult time because of the heavy reliance upon the Lyrics, and since they
don't know or understand the different dialects and slang terms of American
English, it gets pretty silly listening to many European Blues artists.  I
always take great fun in quoting the French regarding Jazz, "The Jazz
Audiences, They Love to be Bored."

However in all fairness I would assume that in their own language they have
some excellent Blues Music which flows more fluently with the dialects of
their languages, much the same as their Ballads and Love songs.

It would take a very, very talented musician and lyric writer to translate
the gut feelings and message of traditional American Blues into say German,
or Dutch.

That is not to say that we do not have many bands right here in the States
that have the same problem, they simply NEVER capture the essence of the
music and or the feelings necessary to motivate an audience and bring up
that extra something from the musicians in their bands.  Therefore we have
many, many mediocre bands of reasonably excellent academically trained and
rehearsed players individually who just never seem to get it on in a live
performance.  They play nice correct notes but the music just sits there
kind of Blah.

To quote from someone else [Jim Galloway, in his "Individuality" article for
Wholenote Mag.], "They have no Fire in the Belly." And many times, no
entertainment ability to sell their music to an audience, hence they tend to
fall into the boring category of mostly academic musical clinicians,
generally enjoyed primarily by others of a like nature and academic minded
folks who hang around these types of musicians.

I like my music somewhere in the middle, Not Trailer Trash Blues and
Country, but Blues played by some folks who have lived some of it and can
relate to the music a bit and play like they have actually been hungry once
or twice in their lives, really know the meaning of being down and out.

Most folks who have never had hard times simply do not have that Fire in the
Belly ability to turn it into soul wrenching music that makes others who
have been there relate to the songs.

Many times the Academic clinicians who venture into playing that kind of
music seem to end up sounding like pop bubble gum musical renditions of
serious yet simple music which can be so complex in it's interpretation more
from the delivery of a convincing player or singer.

Of course many non-American listeners and players would no doubt disagree
with me altogether, because they think they play the American Jazz and Blues
as well as any American player, but that simply is not true in most cases,
because they are listening and interpreting the music to sound good and most
comfortable to their own style of playing and listening.  And there
definitely are differences between the Native American composers and players
than those of players from other cultures, whose culture almost always comes
leaking through their interpretations, which of course are certainly not
always bad either.

I have particularly heard this argument made by British Musicians who
control the Musicians Unions there, they believe that ALL British musicians
are comparable with American Musicians and therefore the American Star
musician and or Singer should employ only British Musicians to tour in their
country to back them in live performances, which often turns out to be

If you don't believe me then I urge you to take a cruise on almost any
cruise ship and listen to the dismal bands they program for the passengers,
they are primarily selected and programed by a British Entertainment
company, who is under the impression that all people who cruise want to see
Bullshit amateur High School musical presentations ("Las VEGAS STYLE"
Reviews)  One often wonders if they have actually ever attended a real Las
Vegas Review.


Tom Wiggins

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