[Dixielandjazz] Re: THE ARTISTIC GRIMACE

Patrick Cooke patcooke at cox.net
Thu Jul 22 08:49:25 PDT 2004

>these moves are consciously forced out to distract the audience from the
fact that the player doesn't have the slightest conception of how to play a
respectable melodic improvisation.<

Well put.  I was about to express the same thought.   I think a smile, or
even an occasional laugh goes a lot farther.
     Pat Cooke

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dan Augustine" <ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu>
To: "DJML" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Thursday, July 22, 2004 10:17 AM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Re: THE ARTISTIC GRIMACE

> DJML and others--
>      Nah, this idea is OK, but short-sighted.  It's not only the
> 'grimace', but additionally other body-contortions intended to
> suggest acute abdominal distress, or great artistic parturition (one
> or the other).  They're missing the boat by concentrating only on the
> face.
>      For just one example, just in dixieland, off the top of my head i
> immediately thought of one physical move: the knee-jerk, which has
> been perfected by at least two splendid players:
>      1) the clarinet player with the Buck Creek Jazz Band, John
> Skillman, who uses it in combination with some wonderful melodic
> improvisational figures;
>      2) the trombone player with Denver's Queen City Jazz Band, Mark
> Janicki, who (presumably to be able to force out the requisite tricky
> articulations) also exhibits a slightly different knee-jerk.
>      Both moves appear to be involuntary, a reaction concomitant to
> and coeval with the improvisitory figure played.  In less artistic
> hands these moves are consciously forced out to distract the audience
> from the fact that the player doesn't have the slightest conception
> of how to play a respectable melodic improvisation.  (Much like
> Ambrose Bierce's reflection that handkerchiefs are chiefly used at
> funerals to conceal the lack of tears.)  These guys think that by
> "selling the move" they sell the solo, and too often, unfortunately,
> for some inexperienced audiences, they're right.  The audience might
> respond to a grimace, or a knee-jerk, or a squat, as if that move
> were the physical analog of great playing.
>      This, of course, does not exhaust the players or the moves.
> Trumpet players have their own set of moves (the 'squat' while
> hitting a loud or high note, for example).  Drummers of the Louis
> Bellson school of showmanship like to hit everything in sight, and
> look _underneath_ the cymbals while doing so, combined with an
> expectantly surprised expression; they hope to cover up the fact that
> they can't play as well as Bellson with similar or even greatly
> exaggerated moves.
>      Charlie Callas the comedian used to be a drummer, but he made the
> rest of the band laugh so much that in self-defense they took away
> his drums and put him in front of the band, but that didn't work
> either, as he would still break up the band by making hand-motions
> behind his back (like trying to wave away a particularly noxious
> flatulence).  When playing a drum solo, he used to hit the cymbal,
> then pick up the edge of it and look underneath, saying, "My laundry
> ready yet?"
>      I could go on, but you get the idea.
>      Dan
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >Date: Thu, 22 Jul 2004 10:23:39 -0400
> >From: Stephen Barbone <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>
> >Subject: [Dixielandjazz] THE ARTISTIC GRIMACE
> >
> >List mates:
> >
> >I think the Rocker's stole the artistic grimace from us jazzers. And we
> >stole it from the classical artists. In any event, if you are playing
> >jazz, you should either have that "grimace", or a spaced out blank face
> >stare. How many of us remember the Pee Wee Russell grimace? I copied it
> >for a while and then added Lionel Hampton's "Eh" grunt with every breath
> >plus a slight pelvic move. Very effective with the ladies when I was
> >under 30.
> >
> >Then Jimmy Hendrix and Elvis stole it from me, garnering fame, fortune,
> >fans and all my women. ;-) VBG
> >
> >Say, how about a National "banjo-face" contest and/or "washboard face"
> >contest. Winner to be announced at Sacramento Jubilee in 2005? First
> >prize, an off season trip to Pismo Beach and all the clams you can dig.
> >;-) VBG
> >
> >Cheers,
> >Steve Barbone
> >
> >PS. Personally, I always thought Sir Thomas Crapper was responsible for
> >the artistic grimace. (all you ex-fighter pilots out there know what I'm
> >talking about, having been taught to use it to avert G-force blackout)
> >
> >July 22, 2004 By RANDY KENNEDY - NY Times
> >
> >He Can Play Guitar, but Can He Grimace?
> ><snipped>
> -- 
> **--------------------------------------------------------------------**
> **  Dan Augustine     Austin, Texas     ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu  **
> ** "Education, n. That which discloses to the wise and disguises from **
> **  from the foolish their lack of understanding." -- Ambrose Bierce  **
> **--------------------------------------------------------------------**
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