[Dixielandjazz] Re: Audience etiquette

Charles Suhor csuhor at zebra.net
Mon Dec 20 09:46:38 PST 2004

On Dec 19, 2004, at 3:54 PM, Steve barbone wrote:
> IMO, the solemn treatment for Dixieland is what just about killed it.
> Basically because (IMO again) for the most part, the artsy silent 
> audience
> has absolutely no idea of what they are listening to.
> This is a simple form of jazz. Meant to, IMO, be played in Speakeasies,
> Bars, Whorehouses, at Parties and Picnics etc. And to be enjoyed by 
> regular
> folks who are also having a raucous good time.
> In effect, the musicians are not, like the avant garde ones, "making a
> statement," if you know what I mean.

I find myself agreeing and disagreeing with parts of what we're saying 
on this strand (probably a good sign). The origin of jazz was for sure 
in social settings where the good times rolled, and it's great to play 
and hear it in those environments today. But good jazz in all styles 
bears deep, serious  listening. Haven't we all returned to our favorite 
recordings over and over again, often in solitude, concentrating 
powerfully on the music? Haven't we at many a dance stood near the band 
or at restaurants or noisy bars gone to a table near the band so the 
nuances of the music can be heard?

I'm aware that there are some "artsy" folks who go to the symphony or a 
Wynton Marsalis concert because it's an in thing to do, but that's also 
true of many tourists who don't care a damn about OKOM but make the 
mandatory trip to Preservation Hall because it's a good brag back at 
the water cooler when they return to Palookaville. So what? As Huck 
Finn says, it don't do no harm. And heck, they get some exposure to the 
music, and their money is as good as that of true blue fans.

As for "making a statement," I believe that all musicians are talking, 
expressing through their music and I have no qualms about saying that 
Jelly Roll, Pee Wee Russell, Monk, Coltrane, etc., and all of us are 
making statements, some more listenable than others. There's a tendency 
for some players and critics get tediously analytical about it, moreso 
with modern jazz than OKOM, but if a musician's playing moves me the 
intellectual talk doesn't get in the way. And good talk and analysis 
can really helpful. I for one have benefited greatly by reading all 
kinds of comments on jazz, from musicians' interviews and 
autobiographies to Kmen to Stearns to Schuller to Berliner to  you-all 
on the DJML.

Bottom line, I think we can celebrate truly responsive audiences, from 
the noisy ones at social events to the quiet ones in concert halls; 
tolerate, up to a point, audiences that talk a bit too loud in "mixed" 
social/concert settings like restaurants and certain jazz clubs; and 
appreciate the fact that there's an ongoing serious conversation about 
jazz among musicians, critics, musicologists, researchers, and others. 
Sometimes the talk gets pretentious and wrongheaded, but if we kick off 
our shoes, that be part of the fun.

Charlie Suhor

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