[Dixielandjazz] Metal & Jazz - Something in common?

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Mon Dec 27 12:08:12 PST 2004

LARRY'S Signs at sign.guy at charter.net wrote: (polite snip)

> As the old joke goes they use a lot of the same notes.
> Today it's still hard for the non guitar band to make it because people just
> don't know how to listen to actual music played on real instruments by
> actual musicians.

It helps to put a guitar in your band. Barbone Street finds that young
audiences are mesmerized by an amplified guitar that makes all of the chord
changes as well as improvises with both single string and chordal expertise.
The young guitaristas in the audience are ALWAYS blown away by our jazz
guitarist, Sonny Troy, as are the other young listeners. I don't see the
problem as the "listeners" fault. I see it as the "bands" faults. Mantra:
"If you play good music, where the kids are, they will listen."

> One thread that lasted for a long time was the "rudeness
> of audiences".   They may not be being rude but simply don't know how to
> listen to  music.  In the guitar club scene if you want to talk to someone
> you have to do it at the top of your lungs so normal moving around and
> talking would be OK.  People who actually know how to listen are annoyed by
> them.  I have been to the Symphony, opera and other concerts where people
> talked during the performance.  They just don't know how to act.

I agree, but think we now live in a world where just about everyone is "me"
oriented. So the rules of engagement have changed. So too then must bands
change in order to engage the audience. Audience behavior is a fait
accompli, and so I think we must get over it, get used to it, and learn how
to work with it. 

Here are Ray Charles' autobiographical comments on both the "noise" issue
and "jazz vs. classical" music issue. Made after a reference to his first
"jazz" album some 40+ years ago.

"I like to use the differences between golf and baseball as an illustration.
The golfer is like a classical musician. He's got this elegant stick in his
hand, and he wants - he demands - that everyone be quiet so he can
concentrate. The fans must not whisper and the birds must not sing. He's
addressing the ball, and nothing can disturb him."

"The jazz player is like a batter at home plate. Some motherf---er is going
to throw a ball at him at 100 miles an hour. It might come in straight, it
might curve, it might break inside or break outside. Everybody's screaming
at him - the catcher, the fans, the coaches - and this poor slob has got to
decide in a split second whether to swing at the ball or let it go by. Now
if that don't take concentration, what does?"

"Classical music is already written. It's a matter of interpretation. But
with jazz - oh yes - with jazz you got to compose as you go. And you're
supposed to be following the chord changes along the way."

> You know I think my short description,  . . .sums it up it much better than
> the reviewer
> (below) who said something about whales in a multi paragraph, intellectually
> nonsensical form.  Then again I'm not being paid by the word.  I'll bet even
> the musicians who composed and played the reviewed CD wonder what planet he
> is on and are rolling on the floor.

Perhaps we might zero in on the following paragraph of the CD review. Then,
listen to the album, the songs and the LYRICS to get a fresh look at how the
album/songs evolved and what they say, or don't say. I have listened to it
and IMO the muso/composers are probably quite happy with the reviewer's take
and the fact that he is treating it as a valued musical/artistic work. (It
also helps if one is familiar with what "Moby Dick" says, or doesn't say.)

------- snip from the review of the CD "Leviathan".----
"Let's get the concept out of the way quickly. "Leviathan" is a song cycle
based on Herman Melville's "Moby-Dick." The band's drummer, Brann Dailor,
was reading the novel last year and came across the early passage that calls
the whale "the salt-sea Mastodon"; after that, the rest of the book seemed
like a metaphor for a small crew of manic, undershowered rock musicians on
tour. (The whale is the audience, if you like, or maybe the elusive quantity
of hard-rock apotheosis.) The directly Melville-related lyrics on
"Leviathan" appear early. The line "There's magic in the water that attracts
all men" roars over a crooked riff in "I Am Ahab." Others apply by
extension: "Island" invokes the old metal themes of Norse gods and volcanic
eruptions, and the lyrics of "Hearts Alive" are generally about watery
------ end snip ----

There is MUCH in the jazz world that follows the above pathway. Much of the
music is/ was written with a "story line" behind it. Some, simple double
entendre and others with much deeper messages. Most of the audiences, and
especially the jazz oblivious, have no idea what the particular message is.

Steve Barbone

PS. Perhaps more importantly, what about the reviewer's contention that Jazz
and Metal have much in common, as do the musicians who seriously perform in
either genre?


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