[Dixielandjazz] Listening to Dead Musicians

Stephen Barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sun Feb 1 10:16:03 PST 2004

Bill Haesler and John Petters, and I'm sure others are amazed that I
rarely listen to Oliver et al.

Likewise, I am equally amazed that they do not listen to Bird, Monk,
Trane Cecil Taylor, Charlie Haden, Joe Lovano, Keith Jarrett. Rock,
Country & Western, Ravi Shankar and all of the modern forms of music.

Just a slice of life on how and what people hear. We are all unique, no?
We are all parts of the total musical sum and equally valuable to it. If
it works for you, do it.

I will never play stylistically as well as Johnny Dodds, Omer Simeon,
Sidney Bechet, Edmond Hall, Artie Shaw, Benny Goodman, Bob Wilber, Kenny
Davern Eddie Daniels, Pee Wee Russell, Tony Scott, Buddy DeFranco,
Charlie Hull, Charlie Hooks and hunderds of others. So what? I've heard
them all and do not desire to copy them. No need to keep torturing
myself about it.  I can no longer learn as much from them as I will from
listening to the latest releases from Kenny Davern, Joe Lovano, Josha
Redman, who are alive and/or Reginald Kell, Richard Stoltzman and Sigurd
Racher, who are dead, but I haven't heard them extensively yet.

I found my clarinet voice 50 plus years ago. No need to keep searching.
Is the dead guy music great? Of course it is but I have neither the
time, nor the inclination to spend it, listening over and over to the
dead guys. Too many gigs to play, too many horses to train, Too many
horse events to compete in, to much pasture to cut. etc., etc., etc. I
lead an active life. Always have. From playing jazz 4 nights a week
while earning my BA, MA and PhD in subjects not related to music, though
I minored in it, to a 30 year walk about, not playing at all, to my
present 160 gigs a year for the past 10 years.

Point being, there is only so much listening one can do, before one like
me, gets overwhelmed by minutia and starts seeing trees instead of the
forest. So I chose to hear what I have not heard before whenever
possible, or to drag a musical point from my memory and research that.

Not being totally focused on music, I try and lead a balanced life. Not
too different from Artie Shaw. I do not posses his musical talent, but I
do posses his inquisitiveness.

Speaking about musical points, last night I remembered the Condon
reissue set by Mosaic. So I played some of it back and forth to my gig.
Lo and behold, there is an up tempo song, with a round robin 4 bar tag
ending. Bob Wilber, teenage clarinetist at the time, takes the first
tag, attempts more than he can handle resulting in squeaks and squawks.
The following 5 tags are perfect, then Wilber takes the final tag as an
extra, and attempts a less difficult one. It is perfect.

Mosaic, bless their heart, leaves it all there, as did the original LP I
guess. Doesn't distract at all from the record as I (and probably Pat
Ladd) hear it. Yes, there is something to be said for squeaks.
originality and reaching for the stars. I will learn more from that,
then from constantly rehearing the dead guys. If you have either the
original, or the reissue, give it a listen. Not telling you the title
because you might want to listen to all of the songs that a young Wilber
is on with Condon.

Steve Barbone

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