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Is Jazz History?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [DB]' started by gerry grable, Aug 14, 2012.

  1. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    Interesting article I scanned years ago. I think it was in the New York Post:meh:

    Attached Files:

  2. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    A million people are going to quote this, but I get to be first :) "Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny" -Frank Zappa
  3. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    When I read the title of the thread I thought "damned right it's history!" How you gonna play jazz if you don't know about Congo Square and Pops and Jo Jones and Blanton and Monk and Bird and Coltrane?
  4. isolated

    isolated Zenji Supporting Member

    Dec 7, 2004
    Bronx, NY
    That's a by-line you don't see too much anymore....
  5. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    This is an interesting point, in that Jazz by definition, builds on the history of the music - so, if you don't, then it is just improvised music? :eyebrow:
  6. Who says that the current jazz performers don't? Just because their music doesn't sound like Bird or Jabbo Smith or whoever. Every serious musician that i know takes the history very seriously, they just don't want to play in a repertory band. i know old-timers like to gripe about how things have changed, they did it when Bird hit and Trane too, probably even when Buddy Bolden was on the scene. Most people play the music that moves them and,for this reason, jazz will never "die".
  7. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I've seen articles like this from the 1950s and 60s, even in jazz rags like Downbeat. Only slightly better than "Is Jazz Dead" and our own debacle "Why isn't jazz that popular?" A dumb conversation, that usually ends up with people threatening each other's children. Yet, people keep playing and listening to jazz. There's not a prime time reality game show about it and I don't want there to be.

    Writing about music is like dancing about architecture. While that guy at the NY Post was writing that article, cats were falling into Smalls and Fat Cats and private lofts all around the 5 boroughs playing their asses off, just as "they" have been for almost 100 years all over the world. Intellectualize away, up the block someone is blowing and they don't give a **** about this conversation.
  8. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I think Jeff was agreeing with your sentiment and saying that Jazz today is informed by history - i.e. that performers build on what the greats did in the past.

    The best Jazz educators I know, encourage all their students to listen to the history of Jazz and understand what those guys were doing.
  9. cnltb


    May 28, 2005
    Jazz has a history.
    And a Present.
    And a future.
    Jazz is and jazz will be.
  10. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Jazz is living history! :p
  11. Jeff Bonny

    Jeff Bonny Supporting Member

    Nov 20, 2000
    Vancouver, BC
    Thank you Bruce, that's exactly what I meant.
  12. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I have to say that I can't read the scan of that article on my screen, so I'm drawing some assumptions from the bits that I can read and from all past loops through discussions like this. I don't mean to be the first to poke a sharp stick through the cage and start the debate. I don't like the debate.

    I love my record collection and I spend a lot of time listening through the decades. Whenever my playing starts feeling like misguided wanking, I usually go to someone like Sweets Edison and reground myself in the roots. So, yes, we have a rich history to draw from, but...yeah, that other thing, I got nothing more to say about.
  13. Maybe the old scool jazz is dead, but modern jazz and jazz pop is rising!

    In The Netherland we have jazzpop stealing the top 40 sometimes. Caro Emerald for example, is a Dutch singer in the jazzpop style, who is about to go international.

    And I have always found Marcus Miller to be jazz too.
  14. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA

    Helped a friend move on Sunday and he bought beer and pizza afterward. There was a band there doing old-time standards with guitar, vocals, banjo, tuba and a snare drum. They've had that gig for 3-4 years and the place is packed every week. I haven't maintained a regular gig for that long ever. Nor have any local rock/pop groups I know. Tell those guys or their fans that their music no longer exists.

    How much money is to be made, whether it shows up on the TV or Radio, how anyone happens to feel about it, etc is not a gauge of the legitimacy or existence of art. It's a question of mainstream attention and commerce.
  15. MrLenny1


    Jan 17, 2009
    I went to see a band several years ago named "Jazz Is Dead".
    They were playing instrumental versions of Grateful Dead tunes.
    Alphonso Johnson was on bass.
  16. Don't let anybody try to tell you to RELAX. You're right on.
  17. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    Relax is right! I really wish I could have found a clearer way to have posted this article. As it is, it's a scan of a scanned copy. I wish there were a way of bringing it (and a bio of Lee Leske) up on the New York Post archives. It's difficult to read, and several people (Troyk, for one) have piled on in indignant protest without having read the article. Sorry, there are no "dumb questions" and people do give a "****" about conversations, or else what are we doing on TB? Let's all log off and start wood-shedding :D
    I said that it was an interesting article, and I winced when I read the first reply from Bassist4Eris, the brilliant and hilarious Zappa quote: I knew people would zero in on "dead" rather than "history."
    I'm not going into a critique of the article, but I must emphasize that Leske does not say that jazz is dead although I'm certain that the provocative Is Jazz History? was a clever hook to draw attention to his article. He actually suggests that jazz has become a kind of classical music with historical dimensions and repertoire, not something that is dead or over as in "it's history." He also suggests that the days of the "giants" are over. There are great players, but the true innovators have come and gone, and from now on, jazz musicians are going to concentrate on building "vertically" on their shoulders.
  18. Actually, the concept of "giants" is something they created. I think that leads one to the "good jazz -bad jazz" syndrome. It's funny how there's all these giants in weird places and no one knows their there.
  19. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA

    Hmmm, looks like I may not be the only one commenting on things he didn't read carefully on this thread.

    I blew the article up and read it. I also found some other things written by Lee Jeske to see what his bag was. I still don't like it. I don't agree with his assertions that, for example Miles Davis was an "originator". Miles came along about the same number of decades after the true origins of jazz as it has been since he stopped playing. And before he came along, people were starting to publish articles just like this. I'll search and see if I can dig some up. But, it suggests that no one is coming along again to do something great, which is callous.

    I disagree that at the time of his writing Ornette Coleman was the only "giant" from the "history". Strictly sticking to his context, I think Ahmad Jamal should send his guy around to pay him a visit. That trio is doing amazing things and they are not the same amazing things that he recorded on Live at the Pershing, he's still creating and pushing and its still amazing. Just to name one example, if he wants a few others off the top of my head how about McCoy Tyner, Ron Carter, Jimmy Heath, etc, etc, etc.

    I don't agree that Dave Holland or Maria Schneider or Ingrid Jensen or Christian McBride or some Swedish guys who my friend has been listening to or ______________ are just building vertically on an historical art, unless we want to say that John Coltrane was too, because in a way they all were, but then what's the point of this article? There is a tradition and we do all build on it, but that doesn't mean that something or someone "great" or "giant" or "innovative" isn't coming along or already here. Frankly, I think this era vs the 70s, 80s or 90s is quite significant.

    Mostly, I just don't like it when people say things that are dismissive of someone's life's work whether they ever become a "giant" or not. People play jazz because they love playing jazz. Some people pour their heart and soul into it. Some people ruin their health and finances over it. People still go to shows, still buy music, still listen on radio or on-line. **** people get doctorate degrees in it. I'm not going to tell them that they are merely the musical equivalents of civil war re-enactors.

    Jazz hasn't been popular music since...the '20s? the 40s maybe? That periodically prompts people to lament the death or antiquity of it as an art form. Those people should go out and listen and/or stop writing different versions of this same article over and over. Remember when John Coltrane was pushing those limits for us all, the Beatles were selling out football stadiums and lunchboxes with their pictures on them. I'm guessing that Coltrane made an okay living, but he was "unsuccessful" through the lense of pop-commerce. That can't be the gauge.

    Is jazz historically significant? Yes.
    Is Jazz history? Can jazz be saved? Is jazz dead? Should jazz be combined with hip hop so that we can be more popular? Disappointing, exhausting and misguided questions.
  20. gerry grable

    gerry grable Supporting Member

    Nov 9, 2010
    No. . . He's not talking about the myriad of unknown and unsung giants, great musicians that exist in all corners of the world. He's talking about the original innovators, specifically, Miles Davis, Parker, Monk, Rollins, Coltrane and, by extension, the seminal giants like Bolden, Armstrong, and Bechet. And "they" didn't create them. They, the giants, simply evolved. Also, at the level of playing we are discussing, there is no "good jazz-bad jazz syndrome," whatever the heck that is :)

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