- Thursday, January 26, 2012
- by Jonathan Martin
Jazz by any other name would swing as hard, and sound as cool.
Exclusion was the downfall of Jazz's popularity in the first place. The idea that either you "get it", or you don't; and so called "artists" throwing their intellectual superiority in the faces of their audiences led to the depopularization of Jazz as an art form in the late 1950's and early 1960's.
The beatniks still liked it because they were mostly gluttons for punishment anyway. Jazz became an anti-culture that at once mourned its lack of popular acceptance and flipped-off the audience that gave it their attention.
Whether you call it Jazz, Swing, Bebop, Hard Bop, Cool, Fusion, Jazz-Rock, Post Bop, Smooth, Hip Bop, or BAM, it's still the modifier in music that it always was.
And, Jazz is now a possession of the international community. Jazz is a World Music. It doesn't belong exclusively to any race, or class, of people. Saying so is like implying that only Greek people should be allowed to use Algebra, or that only Chinese people should be allowed to write on paper.
Jazz as an art form should come down on the side of diversity, and inclusion. It is the many parts of Jazz that make it wonderful. It is the beautiful journey it has taken from its beginning to the present; that will continue to grow itself and change the world.
I'm happy that I can say Louis Armstrong and Clifford Brown are two of my main role models.
Two of the Greatest American Men
Louis Armstrong overcame the worst kind of fear, uncertainty, and adversity in a way that the rest of us can scarcely imagine. He was a black orphan, homeless and helpless. But, he took his opportunities when they came and made the best life he could for himself. He made a life all of us could envy.
Clifford Brown grew up in a loving home with two parents and brothers and sisters that loved him. He had every advantage a middle class family in America could give him. A good education, a firm sense of morality, and the time to practice and nurture his extraordinary talents. Brown set an example of temperance and discipline in the face of a culture that encouraged drug and alcohol abuse, and much worse defects of the human character.
We Owe A Lot to the Entire Jazz Heritage
I love Jazz, and I admire and respect those who can play it well. We owe a lot to Duke Ellington who gave us all of his marvelous compositions. And the same to Dexter Gordon who showed us what a dark sound a tenor sax could have and how gorgeous it was.
We also owe a lot to the memory of Antonio Carlos Jobim who gave us "The Girl from Ipanema", the hardest easy song to play ever.
And to Stéphane Grapelli and Django Reinhardt for giving us French Salon Jazz.
Also, the team of Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo who gave us Afro-Cuban Jazz.
And, we simply can't deny the influence of Michael and Randy Brecker, Tom Harrell, Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker and a host of others.
All I'm trying to say is that Jazz wouldn't be what it is without all of those influences pushing and pulling it in all new directions at once.
It's Still Great Music to Me
So, whatever you decide to call your music, I hope you don't mind if I keep listening to it, and being inspired by it. Would that be ok with you?
So, what should it be? Tell us your thoughts in the comments ...
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