[Dixielandjazz] "Traditional" Healdsburg Jazz Festival (traditional Hard Bop, that is... ; -)

David Richoux tubaman at tubatoast.com
Tue Jun 5 11:02:15 PDT 2007

At Healdsburg Jazz Festival, the tradition is untraditional
David Rubien, Chronicle Staff Writer

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Sometimes conversations about jazz start to sound like the debate  
between evolutionists and creationists.

In the evolution corner, advocates point out that, duh, jazz has  
evolved at breathtaking speed from the ragtime and stride of the  
early 20th century to the post- post-whatever that exists today, and  
argue that without constantly transforming into the next new thing,  
jazz ceases to exist in a meaningful way.

In the creationism corner, advocates, using Ellington or Monk as  
stand-ins for the Lord, sayeth, "In the beginning there was the  
blues, and there was swing, and, verily, it was good." Anything that  
deviates from those two fundamentals is the work of pagans and  
heathens, not real jazz, easily dismissed.

This is an argument that the creationists won a long time ago. The  
top creationist, Wynton Marsalis, rules the roost, and the  
evolutionists have had to make accommodations.

The institutional focus of jazz since 1980 has been relentlessly on  
tradition, on exalting and studying -- the evolutionists would say,  
"copying" -- the masters. This year, during SFJazz's Spring Season,  
the subject was Thelonious Monk. In the recent past across the  
country we've seen cottage industries spring up around John Coltrane  
and Louis Armstrong.

That's all fine, as far as it goes. But if jazz is going to look  
backward, why not take a less predictable route? Why not consider  
some of the dozens of artists who may not be considered "the giants,"  
but who are brilliant players nonetheless, and who were engines of  
important movements in the music? And significantly enough, many of  
them are still alive and performing.

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Dave Richoux

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