Daily Archives: October 5, 2009

THAT DREAM COMES TRUE!

The most lasting art produces an immediate visceral delight, nearly overpowering. 

I could go on at length about why this version of IF DREAMS COME TRUE, recorded live at the 2009 Jazz at Chautauqua, is so intellectually satisfying: the conversational inventiveness of the players, the spirited, inventive soloing, the splendid pulse of the rhythm section, the unique sound of each player . . . but I have to leave my analytical self behind when this music begins.  I can’t watch this clip without jogging up and down, back and forth in my chair, in pure pleasure.

Blessings on Jon-Erik Kellso, Scott Robinson, Ehud Asherie, Andy Brown, and Arnie Kinsella.  May their porridge always be nicely flavored; may their pillows be fluffy but not too fluffy; may they always have reason to smile as they do here — because they spread joy generously.  How they rock!

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THE “INNOVATION” MIRAGE

A centennial YouTube tribute to Ben Webster by “JazzVideoGuy” is a commendable idea — but its accompanying prose reads:

“Ben is without question one of the music’s immortals.  He did not originate a style or spearhead a period of radical change; but his magnetic tenor saxophone playing moved listeners as deeply as the work of any other artist on his or any other instrument.”

Intriguing that jazz listeners should have to rationalize, even apologize for what some perceive as a weakness.  Must we continue to champion “originality” and “innovation” as prime virtues? 

Frankly, having someone “spearhead a period of radical change” sounds dangerous, unfriendly.  I have to wonder what the jazz chroniclers thought was so wrong with any period of jazz that “radical change” was needed to rescue it from its artistic limitations.  One hears Roy Eldridge or Johnny Hodges in 1944.  Had their styles so calcified as to need all this spearheading?  I think not.  But the historians present it as if they were detritus waiting idly to be swept aside by the radical whiskbrooms of The New Thing.   

This, I suspect, comes from our advertising-driven desire for the New, our impatience with anything that looks Old.  Milk spoils; art doesn’t.

And to the championing of “originality”: let us propose that the “originals” of jazz were (I will pick five): Louis, Duke, Bird, Monk, Coltrane.  None of them, for a moment, pretended that they had come from nowhere, that they had created themselves.  Behind them stood Joe Oliver, James P. Johnson, Will Marion Cook, Lester Young, Benny Goodman, Benny Carter, Teddy Wilson, Johnny Hodges, Coleman Hawkins . . . and so on.  The musicians know that they are all branches on a growing tree; the historians who wish to set one School against another, to make good press, to sell CDs, create artificial distinctions.

WHITLEY BAY 2010 IS COMING!

It’s never too early to look at plane fares, to see how many euro you might have saved from the last trip — or to start a jazz piggy bank.  The 2010 Whitley Bay International Jazz Festival is on its way . . . !

It will begin with pianist / trombonist / singer Keith Nichols’s tribute to the Great British Dance Bands — a concert at the Sage Gateshead, a wonderful 1,800 seat hall — on Thursday evening, July 8.

Then the festival begins!  From Friday afternoon to Sunday night, July 9-11, the musical cornucopia (at the Village Newcastle, a comfortable hotel) will be overflowing.  I’ll let Mike Durham, trumpeter, occasional singer, arranger, collector of brass instruments — and Festival Director, tell you himself:

“The Festival’s title is “From New Orleans to the World – the Jazz Diaspora”.  Bands invited include the West End Jazz Band from Chicago, La Retaguardia Jazz Band from Santiago de Chile, The Late Hour Boys from Melbourne, Jeff Barnhart of Mystic, Connecticut, and the New Orleans Rascals from Osaka.  The European contingent includes the Red Hot Reedwarmers, Bent Persson, Frans Sjöström, the Bohém Ragtime Orchestra (Hungary), Papa Morel’s Hot Seven (France), South Side Serenaders (Switzerland), the Hot Antic Jazz Band (France), Chalumeau Serenaders (UK/Germany with Matthias Seuffert), Keith Nichols’ Blue Devils (10-piece orch), Martin Litton’s Red Hot Peppers (you won’t hear a more faithful recreation of 1926 Jelly), Spats Langham, New Century Ragtime Orchestra and Norman Field’s Novelty Recording Orchestra!”