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Annette John-Hall: New Name or No, Jazz is in Trouble (Renaming Jazz)
Philadelphia Inquirer ^ | Tue, Mar. 6, 2012 | Annette John-Hall

Posted on 03/08/2012 11:25:10 AM PST by nickcarraway

It's lunchtime in East Mount Airy, and pianist Orrin Evans is working on a killer salad complete with boiled eggs, nuts, and colorful produce - a garden bounty. Healthy eating keeps his blood pressure down, Evans says.

So I'm guessing I'm not helping much when I bring up Evans' life's work, the African American classical music he is passionate about - jazz.

See, these days, just uttering the word jazz is bound to get some people's pressure up. That's because Evans, 36, along with a small group of multiracial, multigenerational artists led by New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton, want to deep-six jazz - the name, not the art form - and resurrect it as Black American Music (BAM).

Why? Because "jazz died in 1959," blogged Payton last year. "Jazz was a limited idea. . . . Jazz is only cool if you don't actually play it for a living. Jazz musicians have accepted the idea that it's OK to be poor."

Ask any musician why they advocate BAM, and the reasons are as varied as a Sonny Rollins solo.

"The fact people find an acknowledgment of black music hard to swallow says a lot," says Ben Wolfe, a white bassist who is one of Evans' closest friends. "The music I play is black American music. It's something to celebrate.

"Why isn't that good news?"

The musicians pretty much agree that marketers have managed to hijack the name to define music that is anything but jazz.

Try Common, Mos Def, and Erykah Badu headlining at the Heineken Jazz Festival a few years ago.

"You've made it so I can't even get a gig at my own festival," Evans argues. "You've polluted my term, so why not drop the term?"

Generational divide

Jazz. BAM. In many ways, preference breaks along generational lines.

"I think there needs to be more discussion," says longtime Philly saxophonist and educator Tony Williams, 80. "I'm very comfortable with the name jazz, and I don't think changing the name is going to make a difference.

"I love Orrin, but I think he may be a little impetuous."

Evans says that when it comes to keeping the music alive, there's little time to waste.

He has always been proactive in engineering his own career. Whether it was teaching at Germantown Friends or playing free jam sessions at the local club, part of Evans' mission is getting his music to the masses. His Twitter and Facebook accounts serve as his personal publicists.

But despite all that he does to promote himself and his music, African American faces are still largely absent from his gigs. And that is Evans' greatest frustration.

"I love black people, and I want them to be exposed to the music," says Evans, the youngest son of opera singer Frances Gooding Evans and playwright Donald T. Evans. "But the music isn't marketing to us. In the last 20 years, I'd like to count the number of jazz musicians that have been on the cover of Ebony. Or Jet. Or Essence, if they're supposed to be reference points to what is hip."

Renaming jazz BAM would draw the desired audience, he says. "If it's about us, we'll check it out."

That kind of rationale doesn't ring so true to saxophonist Lovett Hines, 68, the Clef Club's director of education. Sure, African Americans created the form, but jazz evolved to include many stellar white musicians who contributed mightily: Benny Goodman (who paved the way for Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson), Stan Getz, Bill Evans.

"If you leave them out, you're not telling the full picture," Hines says. "Integration allowed the music to develop."

As a lover of the music, I'll say one thing: Jazz, BAM, or whatever you want to call it, is dying a slow death. Whenever I hear about another jazz-studies program slashed or yet another jazz club shuttered, I wonder what will become of the priceless gift my parents gave me.

The renaissance should come from revival, not name change.

"Beethoven is not interchangeable with anything else," Hines says. "Charlie Parker shouldn't be, either."


TOPICS: Music/Entertainment
KEYWORDS: jazz; music
Duke Ellington didn't particularly like the name Jazz,he preferred just,"music."
1 posted on 03/08/2012 11:25:21 AM PST by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway
resurrect it as Black American Music (BAM).

Oh *puke*.

2 posted on 03/08/2012 11:29:21 AM PST by grobdriver
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To: nickcarraway
"Black American Music"? Sounds racist to me.
And the Rappers may have something to say about it.

3 posted on 03/08/2012 11:32:57 AM PST by BitWielder1 (Corporate Profits are better than Government Waste)
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To: nickcarraway

I heard gospel music, rags, jazz and MoTown, and loved ‘em, which installed and grew a strong respect and love for African American music.

Then I heard rap.


4 posted on 03/08/2012 11:36:47 AM PST by Da Coyote
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To: nickcarraway
jazz evolved to include many stellar white musicians who contributed mightily: Benny Goodman (who paved the way for Lionel Hampton and Teddy Wilson), Stan Getz, Bill Evans.

Not to mention Bix Biederbeke, Red Rodney, Art Pepper, Tal Farlow, Gene Krupa, Anita O'Day, Dave Brubeck, Les Paul, Charlie Haden, Stan Kenton, etc etc
5 posted on 03/08/2012 11:37:10 AM PST by GodBlessRonaldReagan (When is the Queen Haters reunion tour?)
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To: GodBlessRonaldReagan

Somehow I have a hard time considering Vince Guaraldi’s score for “A Charlie Brown Christmas” as “Black American Music.”


6 posted on 03/08/2012 11:39:21 AM PST by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
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To: nickcarraway

Rap and Hip-Hop have destroyed the Legacy of Black American Music.

It is left to White musicians (like myself) to share this beautiful heritage with Black Children.


7 posted on 03/08/2012 11:45:13 AM PST by left that other site
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To: GodBlessRonaldReagan

Oh man oh man will I shortly be in trouble.

A lot of really good white jazz players ... but ...

A handful only of white players have actually changed the language of jazz. You mention Bix, he was an early one. Bill Evans on piano. Maybe Paul Desmond. Probably Stan Getz. Scott LaFaro on bass. A number I’ve missed I’m sure.

It is undeniably a black music form at its roots. I will never, however, call it BAM. It will always be jazz to me.

And BTW, Benny Goodman got famous playing (black American) Fletcher Henderson’s charts. Benny paved the way for having a mixed race band when he hired Charlie Christian.


8 posted on 03/08/2012 11:57:54 AM PST by dmz
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To: dfwgator

Somehow I have a hard time considering Vince Guaraldi’s score for “A Charlie Brown Christmas” as “Black American Music.”

<><><><

LOL. I have a hard time calling it jazz.

Listen to some Monk with Coltrane at the 5 spot in NYC in the mid to late 50s, and then listen to Guaraldi. Doesn’t sound like they are playing the same ‘kind’ of music, does it?

White players playing jazz often make jazz pretty. You’ll never hear the spit gurgling in a white guy’s trumpet playing like you do when you listen to, say, Lee Morgan.

Oh God, please don’t let this conversation move into a discussion about the racial beginnings of blues music. I might get banned.


9 posted on 03/08/2012 12:04:33 PM PST by dmz
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To: dmz

Now Kenny G, THAT’S not Jazz.


10 posted on 03/08/2012 12:06:51 PM PST by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
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To: dmz
You’ll never hear the spit gurgling in a white guy’s trumpet playing like you do when you listen to, say, Lee Morgan.

But then I never heard a black piano player grunt while playing, like Keith Jarrett.

11 posted on 03/08/2012 12:08:14 PM PST by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
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To: dfwgator

Don’t even get me started. Kenny G is hardly even music from where I sit. One step removed from elevator music.

You’ll appreciate this if you’ve not seen it before ... in response to Kenny G laying his saxophobne on top of Louis Armstrong recordings ... Richard Thompson wrote a song called I agree with Pat Metheny.

Pat’s commentary:
http://www.jazzoasis.com/methenyonkennyg.htm

Richard Thompson’s song:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ucgZQGPZOpk

Pretty funny stuff.


12 posted on 03/08/2012 12:12:37 PM PST by dmz
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To: dfwgator

re: “Somehow I have a hard time considering Vince Guaraldi’s score for “A Charlie Brown Christmas” as “Black American Music.”

First of all, not all of the music in the score is “jazz”. Second, jazz is a very eclectic word and can mean many different styles/types of jazz. It all depends on how one defines “jazz”. If one is a racist and wants to exclude all other groups from participating in an art form, or wants to deny any contribution by those who are of a different race from the original “jazz” creators, then I guess “BAM” is the way to go.

What a bunch of crap. The contribution of African Americans to the American religious and pop music scene is well established - loved and celebrated by all Americans - it should not be dragged into this stupid, ridiculous “racial” identify politics - which is all this BAM term is meant to do.

Jazz is not popular with many young blacks - they are into “rap” and “hip hop”. Whitey did not force them into this style. If black jazz musicians cannot draw young blacks into being fans of jazz - whose fault is that? Changing the name may create a momentary interest, but not in the long run.

What is great about American pop music is that it includes everyone - it crosses all barriers - from spirituals, to ragtime, to jazz, to big band, to rock n’ roll, to soul, to rock, to metal, to country, to bluegrass, to crossover country, to Sinatra, to rhythm and blues, to Wilson Picket, etc. I get so sick of the way racial politics has to be vomited onto everything.


13 posted on 03/08/2012 12:15:03 PM PST by rusty schucklefurd
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To: rusty schucklefurd

We tend to label all music of a somewhat improvisational nature as “Jazz”...there are offshoots, of course, Free Jazz, Avant Garde, Bop, Post-Bop, Fusion, etc.


14 posted on 03/08/2012 12:17:05 PM PST by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
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To: dfwgator

Listen to more Monk.

Doesn’t grunt like Keith, hums his solos while playing them (but a little out of key).


15 posted on 03/08/2012 12:17:51 PM PST by dmz
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To: dmz

And let’s not forget the great all-honky Stan Kenton orchestra.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&feature=endscreen&v=7f3_pmJYNoo


16 posted on 03/08/2012 12:20:55 PM PST by 353FMG
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To: dfwgator

re: “We tend to label all music of a somewhat improvisational nature as “Jazz”...there are offshoots, of course, Free Jazz, Avant Garde, Bop, Post-Bop, Fusion, etc.”

Exactly right! There is room for all kinds of jazz forms - it doesn’t mean we will like all of them. I don’t like all styles of rhythm and blues guitarists, I don’t like all styles of rock, - everyone has their likes and dislikes.

I’m not saying that there aren’t any standards, but sometimes I get sick of the ones who want to define what “they” like as being the “true jazz” or “true R & B” or whatever. Some of them are just plain musical snobs.


17 posted on 03/08/2012 12:21:28 PM PST by rusty schucklefurd
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To: dmz

Another shame is most people know Wes Montgomery for the easy listening stuff he did right before his death, and not the classic trio stuff he did. Ditto for Nat King Cole, probably one of the greatest Jazz keyboardists ever, but most people only know him for the easy listening songs he sang.


18 posted on 03/08/2012 12:22:41 PM PST by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
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To: dmz

Or he tries to whisper yell to wake up his tenor saxophonist.


19 posted on 03/08/2012 12:25:39 PM PST by nickcarraway
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To: nickcarraway

Truth is, the finest jazz contributors were white, dating back to Bix. How about Desmond, Konitz, Kenton, Pepper, Shank, Sheldon, Ferguson, Mulligan, Baker, Evans, Charlop, Woods, Getz, Cohn, Brubeck, Hamilton, Vache, Daniels, Zoot, Pass, Martino, DiFrancesco.....and on and on. These guys took the art form way beyond its primitive beginnings.


20 posted on 03/08/2012 12:28:51 PM PST by Salvey
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To: BitWielder1
And the Rappers may have something to say about it.

Yes, but you couldn't post it or repeat it in public.

I wonder if they might want to rename the blues as the blacks? The blues are largely dieing along with jazz.

Heck, if it works on those we could campaign to rename rap as crap...truth in advertising.

21 posted on 03/08/2012 12:33:08 PM PST by norton
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To: nickcarraway
It's simply silly to suggest renaming a genre.

And as for Jazz being "in trouble": Jazz has secured its place, just as the other genre have secured theirs (Gregorian chant, polyphony, classical, folk, blues, jazz, popular vocal, country, rock). The sublime compositions of Jazz, primarly from the 1930s to the 1960s, are established for the ages in the same way that the compositions of the prominent classical composers from the 1700s to the early part of the 20th century are. Future generations will continue to find inspiration in Duke and Miles and Mingus and Blakey and Coltrane and Parker and Evans (Bill & Gil) and the Jones brothers and Hancock and multitudinous others. It's been cast in stone for the ages already.
22 posted on 03/08/2012 12:42:37 PM PST by jobim (.)
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Comment #23 Removed by Moderator

Comment #24 Removed by Moderator

To: nickcarraway

My favorite jazz guy is Frank Zappa, it ain’t black music.


25 posted on 03/08/2012 12:49:36 PM PST by discostu (I did it 35 minutes ago)
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To: Salvey

Truth is, the finest jazz contributors were white, dating back to Bix. How about Desmond, Konitz, Kenton, Pepper, Shank, Sheldon, Ferguson, Mulligan, Baker, Evans, Charlop, Woods, Getz, Cohn, Brubeck, Hamilton, Vache, Daniels, Zoot, Pass, Martino, DiFrancesco.....and on and on. These guys took the art form way beyond its primitive beginnings.

<><><><

Wow. Really? The finest? All white guys?

Truth is, maybe 2 or 3 of the guys you mention above have had a lasting impact on the language of jazz. Our lists overlap a bit in that regard.

But to have a list of the finest jazz contributors and not even mention Monk, Diz, Bird, Satchmo, Cannonball, the Trane, Kenny Burrell, Ellington, Basie ... should I go on?


26 posted on 03/08/2012 1:01:25 PM PST by dmz
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To: dfwgator

Wes in his orginal organ trio, and Nat in his trio. Just great music.


27 posted on 03/08/2012 1:03:46 PM PST by dmz
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To: dmz

The original Pat Metheny Group was what got me into Jazz as a teenager....their “White Album” from 1977, is still the finest true blend of rock and jazz. Pat and Lyle were just amazing in how they could take their influences, Ornette Coleman and Bill Evans, and combine them into a more accessible rock-like sound, with Mark Egan’s Jaco-like bass playing. I never get tired of playing that album.


28 posted on 03/08/2012 1:12:20 PM PST by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
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To: Phantom Phixer

When I listen to Benny Goodman’s earliest recordings of solos (say, 1926-32), I notice his style is really all his own. He doesn’t sound like Bechet, Dodds, Noone, or any black clarinetist I know of. And he seems to stand out from the styles of other then-contemporary white clarinetists like Russell and Teschemacher. It always seems like Goodman is rather short-shrifted in the ‘history of jazz’ discussions, with the whole emphasis always diverted to his eventual band using some Henderson arrangements.


29 posted on 03/08/2012 1:18:01 PM PST by greene66
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To: Phantom Phixer; dfwgator

Your discussion of the technologies is kind of lost on me. The music is not the same as the instruments on which it is played, or recorded.

This is smoky bar discussion (oh, no smoking in bars anymore), and I’m sure I’d enjoy this discussion with you and dfwgator.

I won’t even pretend that I’mn not seriously opinionated on this topic, and would argue passionately. My opinions are not fly by night, I studied jazz guitar/jazz perfornmance for better than a decade with a private teacher (as an adult while working full time in a non musical job). But I listen pretty good as well.

Of course, I put those studies to great use, now playing the telecaster and mandolin in a twangy rock n roll outfit.


30 posted on 03/08/2012 1:20:36 PM PST by dmz
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To: dmz

Jazz is the “baseball” of music....it’s the one form of music people can talk about and argue over for hours on end.


31 posted on 03/08/2012 1:22:01 PM PST by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
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To: nickcarraway

Let’s call it Black American Music.....Developed in White America. Makes as much sense.


32 posted on 03/08/2012 1:23:46 PM PST by blueunicorn6 ("A crack shot and a good dancer")
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To: dfwgator

Saw Pat perform that record while a junior in college touring with Lyle. Put his acoustic up a stand so he could rake those harmonics without dropping his electric.

Mind blowing concert experience.

Still gets regular play in my world as well.

And of course, anyone who suggests that Jim Hall is the world’s greatest jazz guitar player clearly has his head on straight. I might not say best ever, but I drove to NYC from Baltimore a number of years ago in advance of a blizzard to hang with Mr. Hall at the Blue Note.


33 posted on 03/08/2012 1:27:43 PM PST by dmz
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To: nickcarraway
Okay, call it BAM. Then next year or the year after, people will be arguing about whether the acronym "BAM" really and fully reflects the African-Americanness of the music or whether we should be calling it "Black American Music" every time.

Curiously, there were attempts to rename "jazz" virtually from the beginning. Some wanted to call Duke Ellington's music "African-American classical music." A contest in the 20s or 30s yielded "rhapsodoon," "peppa," "exilera," "Paradisa," and "glideola."

34 posted on 03/08/2012 1:34:53 PM PST by x
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To: dmz

Pat’s also a big Wes guy as well. But what makes the PMG so special is Pat and Lyle...I’ve got Pat’s records he did with Brad Mehldau, he’s a great piano player and all, but he ain’t Lyle. Pat and Lyle are the Lennon and McCartney of instrumental music. And I wish Pat would stop with the trio and Orchestion stuff and get back to making records with Lyle.


35 posted on 03/08/2012 1:37:38 PM PST by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
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To: dfwgator
Jazz is the “baseball” of music....it’s the one form of music people can talk about and argue over for hours on end.

Thank you, Ken Burns ...

I like to think of baseball as the jazz of sports, and jazz as the national parks of music ...

36 posted on 03/08/2012 1:39:34 PM PST by x
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To: dmz

Nope -it is an AMERICAN art form. There were certainly black roots to it, but it the practitioners were of both European and African descent during it’s hay-day.


37 posted on 03/08/2012 1:54:36 PM PST by fremont_steve
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To: fremont_steve

Nope -it is an AMERICAN art form. There were certainly black roots to it, but it the practitioners were of both European and African descent during it’s hay-day.

<><><><>

I would recommend reading a bit more jazz history.

Early Jazz by Gunther Schuller would be a great start.

Of course I don’t what era you consider to be jazz’s heyday.


38 posted on 03/08/2012 2:17:31 PM PST by dmz
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To: dmz

“Jazz Music emerged as as a recognizable musical form around the turn of the 20the century. The roots of jazz, however, extend backward over several centuries. Jazz music represents the “synthesis of many cultural influences...that was achieved through the institution of slavery.” Jazz music combines elements of African music with elements of Western European music.”

This from http://library.thinkquest.org/18602/history/beginnings/beginningstart.html

Your post is short so I’m not sure quite what you are implying I missed here? From another web-site “As a musical language of communication, jazz is the first indigenous American style to affect music in the rest of the World.”

I believe both of these statements back up the simple point I made, which was that Jazz evolved in the US from multiple cultural influences, including the Black American experience.

As for Jazz history - well I’m not a professional musician - having explicitly chosen to be an engineer instead of a Trumpet player. So the majority of my music education involved technicalities involved with playing classical music on the trumpet.

That being said - I listened to a fair amount of Jazz growing up in the 60s, and performed some of it while in school. I don’t claim to be an expert on music histor, just someone who enjoys the art form. From my own reading - and having listened to people like Al Hurt, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davis, Benny Goodman, Stan Kenton, Harry James, etc. So I do mix the big-bands in with Jazz as far as what I enjoyed.. and to answer the basic question, to me the 30’s-early 50’s would maybe be Jazz’s hay-day.


39 posted on 03/08/2012 2:42:06 PM PST by fremont_steve
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To: dmz

When I play that first ODJB record on my Victrola (it’s a pretty common disc) as I was doing again not too many weeks ago, I can’t help but think how mind-blowing and downright ‘startling’ it must have been to folks in 1917, hearing it for the first time. Like it must have been something ‘from Mars.’ Quite a jarring step from the earlier ragtime-type stuff from “Six Brown Brothers” and whatnot that preceded it. Maybe a few folks who lived in New Orleans or who traveled on riverboats, listening to King Oliver and Sidney Bechet might have already been a little acclimatized to such fare, but I suspect over 99% of the folks out in the country were quite jarred.


40 posted on 03/08/2012 2:46:09 PM PST by greene66
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To: nickcarraway

While we’re at it, let’s change the name of Basketball to Black American Ball.

The whole notion is ...weird.


41 posted on 03/08/2012 2:53:01 PM PST by PhiloBedo (You gotta roll with the punches and get with what's real.)
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To: PhiloBedo
While we’re at it, let’s change the name of Basketball to Black American Ball.

That would be odd, considering that the game was invented by a white Canadian.

42 posted on 03/08/2012 2:55:50 PM PST by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
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To: nickcarraway

Oh, no no noooooo

Jazz is alive and well.

Kenny G playing "Linus and Lucy." GOOD STUFF

*snicker*

43 posted on 03/08/2012 7:43:38 PM PST by martin_fierro (< |:)~)
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To: martin_fierro

I agree with Pat Metheny, Kenny’s talents are too teeny.

I wonder if Mr. Gorelick is related to Jamie Gorelick.


44 posted on 03/08/2012 7:45:49 PM PST by dfwgator (Don't wake up in a roadside ditch. Get rid of Romney.)
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To: fremont_steve

Not really trying to imply much of anything. I am just making a reading recommendation that may increase your understanding of how the music came to be. It’s a nice read.

As for my inquiry as to jazz’s heyday, it was just to pinpoint your frame of reference. The times I’m talking about were what led up to the 30s, when the music form was being “invented”, out of the dust of the blues, dixieland (not the revival), field hollers, and yes, western (white)harmony.


45 posted on 03/09/2012 4:50:56 AM PST by dmz
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To: fremont_steve

Thanks for the clarification - and I’ll possibly look up the book. I’m a little battered and blue from a recent flame war with someone who took my statements beyond what they were...and maybe I over-reacted here. If so - please accept my apologies!

Have a great day!


46 posted on 03/09/2012 7:15:06 AM PST by fremont_steve
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