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Sunday, March 23, 2014

All that Jazz

I was watching the Today show and they had a segment about being in your 40s. They were discussing Pamela Druckerman's op-ed piece in Sunday's New York Times called, "What You Learn in Your 40s." 

I liked the fact that she says, "It’s OK if you don’t like jazz." I had to laugh when I heard it because at the Gifford Lane Art Stroll this year, there was a booth set up for some sort of Jazz website or something like that. They were collecting emails for their newsletter. People would fill in a card and I suppose then receive massive emails after that.

The ladies ran up to me all excited and told me what they were up to. I said to them, "No offense, but I don't like Jazz. I don't get it and I don't like it." You would have thought I slapped them in the face, I guess maybe verbally I did. They both turned their backs on me as if I didn't exist and they walked away.

But I'm glad to see that Pamela Druckerman says it's ok to not like jazz. I don't.

For linking to this one story, just click on the time it was posted & just this story will open for sharing - only through social media. Not copying and pasting.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tom, what wrong with ya bro, you don't like improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopations, swung notes, bebop, fusion, rap, ragtime, blues, hey yo'all white folks sho is a mess, cut loose man & get with it.

March 24, 2014 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Liliana Dones said...

How could you say you don't like Jazz? That's like saying you don't like wine…wait you don't like that either. Ok, it's like saying you don't like food.

Seriously, you probably just don't like some types of Jazz (I am guessing fusion), and may not be aware just how much jazz figures in every popular music genre since the last 95 years. Pretty much every kind music popular in the United States was shaped by Jazz, so chances are, whatever kind of music you like, it was informed by jazz.

That music you hear in New Orleans funeral marches...jazz. Kansas City blues...jazz. Big Band swing...jazz. Jazz begat Bebop which begat Rock-and-Roll. Jazz also begat R&B, and funk.

Jazz has informed Broadway musicals since long before Dolly Levy ever even set foot in the Harmonia Gardens. And 20th Century opera got a nice shot of Jazz with Gershwin (Porgy and Bess).

Frank Sinatra became popular singing jazz standards, and every pop singer ever since who wants to be taken seriously, sooner or later cuts an album (or whatever they are called these days) of -- you guessed it-- jazz standards, from Rod Stewart to Sting to Lady Gaga who in 2012 cut a jazz version of her own pop song, You and I (and don't forget, before there was a Lady Gaga there was a Lady Day!).

Before there was Rock there was Jazz. Every single serious rock guitarist that ever existed, fro Clapton to Beck to Paige has worshipped at the altar of Muddy Waters, aka McKinley Morganfield- the father of Chicago Blues. And no one did more to blend jazz and rock than my man Miles. And speaking of Miles, there's this other guy name Quincy Jones. You probably know him as the producer of Michael Jackson's spectacular Thriller. Quincy's been busy as a musical genius since he was a teen. He's in his 80s now and was just inducted to the Rock and Roll hall of fame. He has worked with artists in pop, rock, hip-hop and R&B from Lesley Gore (its my party and I'll cry if I want to) to Celine Dion and Aaliyah, but before that her worked with Sarah Vaughn and Dinah Washington. He worked with Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles and Will Smith; but before that he also worked with Lionel Hampton, Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

He did the "We are the World" song that everyone got all misty-eyed about, which raised all the money for USA for Africa, but nothing is more extraordinary than the album he did with Miles Davis in 1991-- Live at Montreaux, featuring the exquisite Boplicity.

Nowadays there is just about every kind of jazz- there is pop jazz, Latin Jazz, Afro-Cuban Jazz, Reggae jazz and even punk jazz (and while Malcolm McLaren may have given us the Sex Pistols he also gave us Jazz is Paris and Paris is Jazz).

Before there were rap rhymes there was Vocalese - a jazz genre all its own dating back to Eddie Jefferson's sensational version of Coleman Hawkins saxophone in Body and Soul (which I am listening to right now).

Before therapy stylings of Kanye and JayZ and Alicia Keys there was Lambert, Hendricks and Ross (and to this day no one can do Twisted better than Ross-- another excellent example of vocalese that remains a stand out since she wrote and sang it back in 1952. Vocalese also blended with scat-singing -- and no one did it better than Ella Fitzgerald.

Well, song is over, and another one begins. This wasn't going to be that long, but, there I go, there I go, there I go…

March 26, 2014 11:02 PM  

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