Saturday, January 27, 2018

Why is jazz so underrated?


A few years ago I had a brush with mortality while travelling. When I felt well enough in hospital to listen to music, the first album I chose from my iPod was Onirica by veteran be-bop pianist René Urtreger, who is seen above. That compulsive choice of music in Perpignan Hospital reflects my very high regard for jazz. On his 1956 Columbia spoken word LP "What Is Jazz?" Leonard Bernstein championed jazz and argued against critics who preached that jazz is loud, has low-class origins, and is therefore not art. Despite this jazz is still a grossly underrated art form. Which is wrong. Because as the African American poet Yusef Komunyakaa explains: "Jazz has space, and space equals freedom. A place where the wheels of imagination can turn and a certain kind of meditation can take place".

Header photo from The Blue Moment's nice appreciation of René Urtreger at 80. Any copyrighted material is included as "fair use" for critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Also on Facebook and Twitter.

5 comments:

Pliable said...

On Facebook Jayaprakash Satyamurthy comments:

'Jazz feels very natural to me, from a country whose 'classical' traditions enshrine improvisation (although there ends the resemblance; although of course jazz and Indian classical fusions have been especially fruitful)'.

And here is a relevant link - http://www.overgrownpath.com/2015/07/what-classical-music-can-learn-from.html

Pliable said...

On Facebook Jayaprakash Satyamurthy comments:

'Jazz feels very natural to me, from a country whose 'classical' traditions enshrine improvisation (although there ends the resemblance; although of course jazz and Indian classical fusions have been especially fruitful)'.

And here is a relevant link - http://www.instituteofcomposing.org/journal/issue-5/what-classical-music-can-learn-from-john-coltrane/

kenpat said...

Very true header. My listening I'd probably about 99% classical and jazz, I find that friends will tolerate the classical and even occasionally ask what a piece is, they are immediately hostile to any form of jazz I play.
It's almost a knee jerk reaction, not helped by the problem of it almost never getting any mainstream media coverage so it's depths and contributions to musical life are ignored.

Graeme said...

My problem is that after about 1970 or so jazz changed. From being based around folksong, blues, the so-called American songbook and oriorigi compositions by jazz musicians, it became a largely formless, free-wheeling music heavily dependent on the unacknowledged influences of Debussy and modal music. The emotional appeal of Louis, Bechet, Jelly, Bird, Hawk, Count, Duke, Pres suddenly vanished. What is now promoted as jazz is just a superstructure

Pliable said...

In a tweet Adam Knott answers my question 'Why is jazz so underrated' with the reply 'Because shit music has better marketing'.