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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

"Do you really like everything?"

Photo by B. Krist for GPTMC

"Do you really like everything?" - that was a question I got yesterday by a young jazz enthusiast on a Dutch jazz forum when we were discussing free and avant-garde jazz.

The answer is simple : I don't.

As a rough estimate, I even dislike 99.99% of the music that is being made, and that currently terrorizes our media (TV, radio, print, web, ...) and public places (pubs, hotels, airports, beaches, malls, elevators, ...).

The dislike is the result of :

- lack of originality
- pretence
- recycled concepts
- clichés
- mediocrity
- dull
- emotionlessness
- self-centered idolization
- bland
- mediocrity
- superficial
- nothing to tell
- lack of authenticity
- mediocrity
- sales as only objective
- ...

Need I go on?

And, truth be told, that is not only applicable to the tsunamis of rap, funk, hiphop, fusion, mainstream and pop garbage that is engulfing us, but also to lots of jazz, free jazz, modern jazz, avant-garde jazz.

Good quality music is not limited to one genre, and neither is bad music. You have excellent music in all of the genres I just mentioned, add to that classical music, world music, and all the other genres.

In each of these genres there are musicians I like - whether it's Mozart, Jimi Hendrix, Parisa (Fātemeh Vā'ezi), Portishead or Wadada Leo Smith. Because they are not only true to themselves, but they were/are able to create their own voice, and had/have a story to tell. Their musical story, one you've not heard before, one that makes you listen, because you have no choice.

So from the totality of the musical spectrum, going from established classical music to the most avant-garde endeavors, I can pick a few musicians in each genre. A few out of the thousands and thousands of musicians who try or who think they've succeeded.

Next to that, I admit that I have a strong interest in the music that fits in the tiny component of that spectrum that is squeezed between free bop and avant-garde jazz. There is still room on the right side of that spectrum. I am currently struggling with what I would call the "whisperer-scrapers", musicians such as Birgit Ulher, Axel Dörner, or the recent Mats Gustafsson & Cor Fuhler record. I appreciate their courage to go out there, where no man has gone before, but I'm not sure they can find anything there that I value in music. Yet I may be wrong. Time will tell.

So, within that tiny piece of the spectrum, I hope to be able to listen to and to review new releases. And that tiny spectrum is not so limited, if you see how many CDs are being released. You should see the stack of CDs here, next to me, that still wait to be listened to, some of which will be reviewed too, if they're lucky. I like this tiny band of the spectrum, because not only some musicians, but the genre itself offers what I like, and it hence increases the likelihood to find what I like : emotional authenticity, adventurous spirit, musical vision, ... and especially the possibility for a great listening experience : emotionally and intellectually.

I love music. I love good music.

© stef


jazzptt said...

who loves jazz,he knows what you said.Bravo...Stef,you must go ahead.