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Re: When did Jazz die?

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  • Robert Greenwood
    Howard wrote: Frank Johnson in his book Australian Jazz Explosion rather pithily identifies two types of fool: Those who think something old is always good,
    Message 1 of 30 , Mar 19, 2007
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      Howard wrote:
      "Frank Johnson in his book Australian Jazz Explosion rather pithily
      identifies two types of fool: Those who think something old is always
      good,
      and those who think something new is better. One of our problems is
      that
      since the 1940s so much of the jazz audience has consisted of one or
      other
      of these types! It has made it very difficult to sell innovative work
      which
      seeks to develop the jazz idiom rather than render it obsolete."

      Too true!

      "Jazz `died' when its avant-garde decided that they didn't want to
      play for
      dancers any more. By so doing they flung away at least 80% of their
      economic
      base and ensured that jazz would become a niche market."

      Something similar may be said about the well-intentioned project
      known as Preservation Hall. Sadly, this laudable attempt to provide
      some employment for those musicians still playing the older styles of
      New Orleans music meant (among many other more positive things)
      removing those musicians from their accustomed audiences, for whom
      they provided a music to dance and socialise to, and placing them in
      front of serried rows of tourists and admirers. Kid Thomas Valentine
      is said once to have remarked about the punters at Pres Hall: "They
      just sit there an' stare at yer!" The inescapable paradox may well be
      that the older styles died out precisely because of an attempt to
      preserve them, but no doubt it's much more complicated than that.
      Robert Greenwood.
    • Tony Standish
      Robert Greenwood s remarks about Preservation Hall are astute. However. The great bluesmen were somewhat diminished when they were discovered by either or
      Message 2 of 30 , Mar 19, 2007
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        Robert Greenwood's remarks about Preservation Hall are astute.
        However.
        The great bluesmen were somewhat diminished when they were "discovered" by
        either or the college crowd in the U.S. or the Trad mob in Europe. But it
        was still a mind-blowing experience to hear Muddy Waters at the Roundhouse
        with Cyril Davies on harp, or Hooker in Manchester, or Rosetta Tharpe
        soaring witht the Barber band, or Speckled Red playing his beautiful blues
        at 100 Oxford Street, or Little Brother complaining about playing "Vicksburg
        Blues" and then giving you goose bumps by playing it. Loads of other
        examples are available - Memphis Slim, Champion Jack, Otis Spann, the Ward
        Singers, Sonny and Brownie.
        The guys just played more or less what they always played, but took the
        desires of the new audiences into consideration..
        Same thing in New Orleans. The Kid Thomas band played exactly the same style
        at Larry Borenstein's Studio (later sadly renamed Preservation Hall) as they
        did for dancing at the Moulin Rouge, over the river, for a traditional,
        local, white crowd, who came to dance, to have a beer, and spend just an
        ordinary night out. The style of the band did not change; the repertoire
        did.
        I seem to remember Gene Williams had a vivid musical moment 'way back when
        he heard the Ory band playing pop tunes and waltzes in the same style that
        they used for "Muskrat Ramble" and "Tiger Rag".
        All of whuch leads us to when did jazz die.
        Well, it died when we who chanced upon it, decided that what we liked about
        it had disappeared. I've got a mate who discoverd jazz when he heard Gerry
        Mulligana & Chet, others I know love "hot dance" recorded between 1920 and
        1930; I even realise that there are people out there who think jazz was born
        at Minton's and who don't like Louis Armstrong.
        Me? Well, Howards remarks about dancing were also pretty astute. If you
        don't want to dance, don't bother. There is no higher plane than leaping
        around, out of control, to a good Dixie band in full flight.
        That bloody Frank Johnson!
        He, tooo, was a very astute man. An ordinary trumpet player who lead one of
        the great Australia jazz bands, and they nearly always played for dancing!.
        And he was dead right about the Fools!
        Tony Standish



        .----- Original Message -----
        From: "Robert Greenwood" <robertgreenwood_54uk@...>
        To: <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com>
        Sent: Monday, March 19, 2007 9:56 PM
        Subject: [RedHotJazz] Re: When did Jazz die?


        > Howard wrote:
        > "Frank Johnson in his book Australian Jazz Explosion rather pithily
        > identifies two types of fool: Those who think something old is always
        > good,
        > and those who think something new is better. One of our problems is
        > that
        > since the 1940s so much of the jazz audience has consisted of one or
        > other
        > of these types! It has made it very difficult to sell innovative work
        > which
        > seeks to develop the jazz idiom rather than render it obsolete."
        >
        > Too true!
        >
        > "Jazz `died' when its avant-garde decided that they didn't want to
        > play for
        > dancers any more. By so doing they flung away at least 80% of their
        > economic
        > base and ensured that jazz would become a niche market."
        >
        > Something similar may be said about the well-intentioned project
        > known as Preservation Hall. Sadly, this laudable attempt to provide
        > some employment for those musicians still playing the older styles of
        > New Orleans music meant (among many other more positive things)
        > removing those musicians from their accustomed audiences, for whom
        > they provided a music to dance and socialise to, and placing them in
        > front of serried rows of tourists and admirers. Kid Thomas Valentine
        > is said once to have remarked about the punters at Pres Hall: "They
        > just sit there an' stare at yer!" The inescapable paradox may well be
        > that the older styles died out precisely because of an attempt to
        > preserve them, but no doubt it's much more complicated than that.
        > Robert Greenwood.
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        >
        > Yahoo! Groups Links
        >
        >
        >
        >
      • Robert Greenwood
        I think rather that Preservation Hall was more a symptom than a cause of the older styles dying out. It opened once the older venues started to close down and
        Message 3 of 30 , Mar 19, 2007
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          I think rather that Preservation Hall was more a symptom than a cause
          of the older styles dying out. It opened once the older venues
          started to close down and once live music for dancing began to be
          replaced by dancing and socialising to recorded music. I suspect,
          however, that the people who danced to Billie & Dede at Luthjens, or
          who danced to Kid Thomas's band at Speck's Moulin Rouge or the
          Westwego Fireman's Hall did not start in their droves to attend
          sessions at Preservation Hall. The Hall seems to have opened to
          fulfil the need of visiting and expatriate European musicians to hear
          New Orleans musicians playing live, and to provide an alternative for
          tourists to the brasher sounds of Bourbon Street. The opening of the
          Hall also brought New Orleans music to the belated attention of
          record labels such as Atlantic and Riverside. Its main functions seem
          to have been educational; didactic rather than functional. Deprived
          of its main function (to supply music for dancing), the older style
          of New Orleans music inevitably died out.
          I too treasure memories of hearing some of the older musicians in
          London, including Little Brother Montgomery. He played at 100 Oxford
          Street and closed the evening with a version of Rock Around the Clock
          (just to make the purist hackles rise). I heard Kid Thomas Valentine
          one night in 1976 playing with Mike Casimir's New Iberia Stompers at
          the Southampton Arms, a pub opposite Mornington Crescent underground
          station. The selection of tunes was predictable (Tiger Rag & The
          Saints, among others) and, while it was great to hear him, I'm sure I
          was not alone in hoping he would play a waltz or a country & western
          tune as he would have done at Speck's Moulin Rouge or the Westwego
          Fireman's Hall…
          Robert Greenwood
        • PDQBlues@aol.com
          Although I have little to add to this tremendously interesting discussions on such an abstract concept of when did Jazz die, I did wish to thank those who
          Message 4 of 30 , Mar 19, 2007
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            Although I have little to add to this tremendously interesting discussions on
            such an abstract concept of "when did Jazz die," I did wish to thank those
            who have added their opinions to the discussion.

            I now forget who wrote something to the effect that Jazz died when some well
            meaning people decided to preserve it. There may be no more accurate and
            highly astute observation that I have heard in a very long time. I do agree to
            a point with Robert Greenwood that "Preservation Hall was more a symptom than
            a cause of the older styles dying out," and there is much to be said about
            attempting to "freeze and preserve" feelings. And the thing to say is that you
            cannot successfully accomplish maintaining a feeling in a healthy manner any
            more than you can capture the wind. To put the music under a looking glass or
            bell jar is to job it of feeling, which ultimately will kill it.

            Like all art forms, Jazz requires feelings and evokes feelings. And it is
            those feelings that makes the music live and alive. But like any life form,
            even art must evolve, progress, change with the human elements or parish from
            the face of the earth. And like languages, the words and phrasings of Jazz
            will change even if the basic structure is maintain. Why is Latin a dead
            language even if it's still taught in school? It's dead because it is being
            artificially preserved. It can no longer change, evolve or reflect the feelings
            of its people. And that is so true about any music, including Jazz. Like
            the wind, that very attempt to hold onto it and somehow the preserve the exact
            feelings it can evoke will lead to its death.

            I am a tremendous fan of the pre-1934 Jazz music, and have been 'religiously'
            listening to the recoding for over 35 years now. And I am also a big fan of
            many of the newer bands that play in the styles of the older Jazz, for which
            I believe I recognized several of the artists' names here on this list who
            have made such recording for labels like Stomp Off. Bands, such as the
            Barrelhouse Jazzband, South Frisco Jazz Band, Peruna Jazzmen, Kustbandet and many of
            the Keith Nichols groups, to name but a few. The ones of these newer bands
            that I enjoy best are the ones that, although they play in an older style, they
            make no absolute attempt to play note by note the music that has been
            preserved on the recordings. That is, they allow their own emotions to be felt
            within that music, for which keeps the music alive.

            Again, I thank all of you for such a wonderfully intelligent conversation
            that got me to respond.

            Paul



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          • Robert Greenwood
            Why is Latin a dead ... is being ... I know this is veering dangerously close to being off-topic, but Latin is not a dead language. Without some understanding
            Message 5 of 30 , Mar 20, 2007
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              Why is Latin a dead
              > language even if it's still taught in school? It's dead because it
              is being
              > artificially preserved.

              I know this is veering dangerously close to being off-topic, but Latin
              is not a dead language. Without some understanding of Latin, you
              (probably) have a limited understanding of your own language. Does
              anyone fancy extending the metaphor to the benefits that come from a
              knowledge of earlier jazz forms?

              Robert Greenwood
              (who, sadly, was never taught Latin at school)
            • Tony Standish
              Despite having the dubious distinction of once being the only one in my class to pass the Latin exam (51 out of 100!), all that remained were random bits such
              Message 6 of 30 , Mar 20, 2007
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                Despite having the dubious distinction of once being the only one in my
                class to pass the Latin exam (51 out of 100!), all that remained were random
                bits such as "Brittania insula est" and the ability to read a union banner
                in Canada many years later that read "Nil illegitemae carborundum". Still, I
                suppose I got something out of years of studying Latin, because despite my
                success with the Dead Language, I failed most other subjects. My Big Pass in
                Latin at age fourteen just coincided with my discovery of jazz. Not just the
                stuff we listened to on the radio ("March of the Bobcats", "Well get it",
                "Song of India", "Hey ba ba re bop", "Golden Wedding") but Bunk's "One Sweet
                Letter From You" which, played on a local radio programme one Saturday
                afternoon, just exploded in my brain and set me on a course that has lasted
                over half a century.
                Tony Standish
                (Failed altar boy)
                But I agree with Robert - we're getting a bit off-topic, here!
                Anyone out there got any material on Guy Kelly?
                ----- Original Message -----
                From: "Robert Greenwood" <robertgreenwood_54uk@...>
                To: <RedHotJazz@yahoogroups.com>
                Sent: Tuesday, March 20, 2007 9:48 PM
                Subject: [RedHotJazz] Re: When did Jazz die?


                > Why is Latin a dead
                >> language even if it's still taught in school? It's dead because it
                > is being
                >> artificially preserved.
                >
                > I know this is veering dangerously close to being off-topic, but Latin
                > is not a dead language. Without some understanding of Latin, you
                > (probably) have a limited understanding of your own language. Does
                > anyone fancy extending the metaphor to the benefits that come from a
                > knowledge of earlier jazz forms?
                >
                > Robert Greenwood
                > (who, sadly, was never taught Latin at school)
                >
                >
                >
                >
                >
                > Yahoo! Groups Links
                >
                >
                >
                >
              • Robert Greenwood
                As well as making sure that my daughter heard plenty of jazz in her infant years (she even heard Ken Colyer in, or, at least, from, the womb while attending,
                Message 7 of 30 , Mar 20, 2007
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                  As well as making sure that my daughter heard plenty of jazz in her
                  infant years (she even heard Ken Colyer in, or, at least, from, the
                  womb while attending, in utero, a 100 Club gig four months before she
                  was born)(her mother thought she was too young to go to a jazz club
                  on her own, so she went with her) I made sure that she studied Latin
                  at her grammar school. She's a second year law student now so it has
                  come in useful. But on to Guy Kelly, about whose life very little is
                  known, only to stray off-topic again. In the late 1940s Albert
                  McCarthy edited two editions of the PL Yearbook of Jazz (one of them
                  might have been called the PL Jazzbook). PL stood for Poetry London,
                  a journal edited by a Sri Lankan called Tambimuttu. One contributor
                  was the poet Nicholas Moore who once published a book called All the
                  Little Jersey Cows: Poems by Guy Kelly. Several years ago I wrote to
                  Moore asking about this, and he replied saying that he had adopted
                  the name Guy Kelly for this one book since it was published by a
                  publisher other than PL, to whom he was then under contract. As the
                  only poet in the UK then interested in jazz (this was several years
                  before Larkin & Amis) he used Kelly's name as a clue to the real
                  identity of the author of the collection. The PL books contained much
                  worthwhile material including an early essay on the blues by Max
                  Jones and pieces by Frederick Ramsey and Langston Hughes. All of
                  which tells us nothing about Guy Kelly…
                  Robert Greenwood.
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