[Dixielandjazz] Lincoln Center Blues?

Rob McCallum rakmccallum at hotmail.com
Wed Oct 27 15:07:41 PDT 2004

Hi all,

Art Blakey was once quoted as saying, "Our music has nothing to do with 
Africa."  I don't know the context of that quote, as Art Blakey did have an 
interest in west African drumming that influenced some of the things he did. 
  I suspect that he was reacting to some of the musicians and academics who 
were trying to overemphasize the "African roots" of jazz at the time.  
Anyone know?

As far as the concert in question, I have been to concerts in which the 
leader feels the need to explain, often at length, the background of every 
piece played.  I find it to be irritating and the audience seems bored (some 
radio djs are guilty of that as well--they play a tune and yap for ten 
minutes giving the entire history of the musician etc.--info which most jazz 
fans probably already know and lay listeners don't care anything about).  A 
concert is not a lecture and people attend concerts for a different reason 
than a lecture.  Certainly a jazz history lecture with a band doing 
demonstrations has its place and would attract people that want to see that. 
  But if I'm going to a concert, I want to hear music.  Any explaining 
should be done in the program for those interested.

I think that, as jazz enthusiasts, we often want to "convert" people to our 
way of thinking by bombarding listeners with historical data about the music 
because we find it interesting.  But, though we may be interested in details 
of the career of so-and-so, or how jazz came up the Mississippi etc. etc.,  
I'd bet that 95% of lay listeners just don't care.  They do, however, 
respond to the music itself and by lecturing in between numbers, bands break 
the flow and energy they have built up.  The music should speak for itself.

All for now,
Rob McCallum

>From: TCASHWIGG at aol.com
>To: dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com
>Subject: Re: [Dixielandjazz] Lincoln Center Blues?
>Date: Wed, 27 Oct 2004 13:14:07 EDT
>Hi Folks:
>Unfortunately it seems like my post of last week about their being more
>tuxedos in the audience than on the stage has already begun:
>In my opinion this is exactly what has happened to most of Jazz around the
>world, when the academics and the critics and ethnomusicologist get in 
>of presentation and promotion of Jazz & Blues.   Always attempting to make
>good simple enjoyable music into a higher level of Elitist ART for their 
>social clubs.
>This sounds like a classic case of it right here in Ben Ratliff's review.
>Somebody is trying to make more out of the music than what it is "BLUES."
>Why the Hell can't they just play it and leave it alone, It ain't Broke, it
>is simple music for general unwashed or greatly musically educated 
>and loved all over the world in it's simple earthy form.
>They would have served the purpose much better in my opinion if they had 
>called Taj Mahal and told him to Play the Blues.  Taj is a musical Genius 
>his own right and having worked with him over the past twenty years I know 
>could and would have turned that audience upside down if they had just left
>him alone and let him do it his way.
>His genius showed through in Ratliff;s review anyway, since apparently he 
>the only artist that knew what he was doing with the instrumentation they
>chose to present with him.
>While the Blues no doubt has some roots in Africa, it was Black American
>slaves and their decedents that developed it with the English language as 
>heard it and understood it with very limited education.  They were able to 
>their innermost feelings into the music itself no matter what the lyrics
>were, (which sometimes did not even make sense) whether it was a cry out 
>for help,
>a cry of loneliness, or a shout of joy and jubilation these early Black
>Americans created a music that put this country on the World Culture Map 
>with a
>music that is uniquely American.
>I am afraid that the elitist are again trying to make much aDo about it and
>dress it up for the Tuxedo crowd to come out and see and be seen, with not 
>intent or interest to actually listen to or like the music.  Hence they 
>attempt to distort the music to sound like they think the audience wants it 
>sound "More Sophisticated" and worthy of $100.00 a seat donations to be 
>with alternative dissonant noise, rather than real music that will move 
>if they but loosen the girdles and bow ties and take off the high heels, 
>their hair down and have a good time.
>Just book B.B. King in there or Taj Mahal, Keb Mo, Buddy Guy, KoKo Taylor,
>Etta James, Bobby Blue Bland, Bobby Rush, etc. and let em play the Blues, 
>ain't broke, don't fix it and it will sell out too, a lot faster than 
>trying to
>create a new African Blues sound.
>If you give those folks enough money to experiment they will soon try to 
>us listening to Blues ont he Sitar, and Kojo, and all sorts of strange
>sounding Eastern instruments which cannot be tuned to western scales for 
>the most
>part.  That ain't the Blues and it Ain't Jazz either and hopefully never 
>Tom Wiggins
>Dixielandjazz mailing list
>Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com

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