Monday, September 20, 2010

Technical mastery versus sonic masturbation

or playing crap and calling it jazz

I don't mean to disparage but I just don't get free jazz, virtuosic or not.

When it comes to free jazz I'm kinda like the tea party, I feel like I've been bullshitted and now I am mad as hell and I ain't gonna take it no more. It may be that I simply don't understand free jazz. But here's the problem, nobody can explain it to me in a way that makes any sense to me and I have asked some fairly serious musicians about it.

I sometimes wonder what the free spirit that was Thelonious Monk would think of free jazz. Would he revel in its unobstructed freedoms? Or would he find it just to weird to stroll and dance to?

Now even with my limited understanding of the objectives of free jazz I could hear and understand the occasional flashes of technical mastery of a recent group of practitioners of this stuff. So the musical skill of the players of this form is not at question. How these musicians choose to deploy their gifts is my gripe.

Why must there be a reading of abstract poetry to go along with their abstract music. It makes me feel like I accidentally stumbled into some sort of seance while the head wizard is reading an incantation to turn nonbelievers into toads or something. And here's another clue for you, anybody who brings more than 3 horns to the gig automatically goes on the suspect list unless your last name is Kirk .

Now I enjoy musicians who don't mind taking a song outside to play with it. But when the tune starts out down the block and around the corner and never even comes past the house much less come inside I get a little frustrated. I don't understand how as the listener, I am supposed to participate in this endeavor.

I mean when a song is grooving in 4x4 time I can pat my foot and keep time on my beer bottle at the bar and feel like I am a part of the performance too. But what am I supposed to do when they play free jazz, run calculus problems in my head.

OK fine, maybe it ain't for me and I just shouldn't listen.

But maybe musicians shouldn't be running around collecting $20 cover charges to play it either. If its so artistically specific and esoteric that the heathens can't get to it maybe you should just stay home and play it in the basement so your artistic bona fides don't get questioned by those heathens. But I could be wrong.

Here is some music that I can get to and there seems to be plenty of room to find new material if you know where to look.

No comments:

Post a Comment