Wednesday, June 22, 2005

What do we do about jazz?

Much provocative debate about jazz over at Counago and Spaves, which of course has been taken up by Norm as defender of the faith.

To add my own little nod to the controversy, I always proclaimed I hated jazz until, well, I realised that a lot of what I liked was jazz. One of the trickiest problems is that jazz is such a broad category, and like any broad category/genre it includes the good, the bad, the ugly and the indefensible. And like anything with its aficionados there will be snobs: people who make the sentiments of this character seem low-key and appealing. Being pretentious never does a subject any good; it tends to foster irrational hatred.

For the record, I like:
Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone
Miles Davis, Bix Beiderbecke, John Coltrane, Charlie Mingus
Duke Ellington, Cab Calloway, Louis Jordan

And this is just a selection.

So, whether you like all or any of these, jazz is just too broad and encompasses too many types of music (from blues and gospel to soul, from folk and bluegrass to funk) to be dismissed on the basis of poor journalism, poncy scholarship, or over-hyped rubbish. There's always a lot of the latter about and it wouldn't do for us all to be alike. A friend of mine declared a complete aversion to jazz only for us to find her happily bopping away to the swinging guitar work of Django Reinhardt! She was almost mortified when we cautiously explained that this too was jazz!


Darren said...

Don't forget the wonderful Dinah Washington. ;-)

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Ah now you see I am less fond of those over-orchestrated works by the likes of Sarah Vaughan and Dinah Washington. Some individual songs I like, but many of the recordings are just a bit too much for me...

How wussy is that?

Darren said...

[muso hat on, and a cheesecloth shirt borrowed fromReidski]

Aah, but I'm talking about her early stuff in the mid forties. A comrade done a tape for me once and I was blown away by the brilliance of the bluesy/jazz style (technical term), and by all accounts she was a brilliant jazz pianist.

I love 'Mad About The Boy' as well, though. ;-)

David Duff said...

Apart from ".. people who make the sentiments of this character seem low-key and appealing" which I didn't understand, *I agree*.

(You see, there has to be a first time in every relationship.)

Reidski said...

Nah, fuckkkkitttt, jazz is pish!
But, hold on, I do like Miles, John, Billie, Robert, John Lee, Charlie and even Louis, so...I suppose it's the idea of jazz that makes some of us wince!
And what the fuck is that comment about cheesecloth shirts all about?
But it does remind me of some horrendous clothing faux pas - try the attempt to get in a disco when only 15 wearing older brother's velvet jacket (it worked, I got pissed and couldn't look at another drink for at least another day).

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

As indicated by my response to Dinah Washington, it's the over-blown big orchestration stuff that does my head in a bit. Earlier bluesy work, the more stripped down performances, those I like...

BTW been here since 8am, it's Open Day so won't get lunch, and a student is coming for an appointment till 5.30pm. I think I'm entitled to sneak a blog comment in at 9.30am.

John said...

It's not jazz I object to, it's improvisation. I mean, for god's sake, if musicians want to "call" to each other and make muso jokes and in-references, there are hotels where they can go for that sort of thing.

Jim said...

Cheesecloth Shirt reference..... classic hippy apparrel Reidski must be something to do with your taste! But Jazz is definitely cool.