Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Oh, no: MnMo on jazz, again

In the May 2008 issue of Minnesota Monthly, editor Andrew Putz noted that jazz is "too damn hard. Hard to understand. Hard to appreciate. Hard to love."

In the August 2009 issue, which is cooling on some of our coffee tables as I write this, senior writer Tim Gihring includes the Kelly Rossum Quartet Farewell Weekend (August 28-29 at the Dakota) in his list of "your best bets for August."

Then he goes on to write that "the mohawked Rossum is an irreverent, take-no-prisoners presence in the sometimes stuffy modern-jazz scene."

Is there something in the water at the 600 U.S. Trust Building? I have the highest respect for Gihring--he's a writer worth reading and he cares deeply about the arts in Minnesota.

But "sometimes stuffy modern-jazz scene"?

Does that include Fat Kid Wednesdays, the Ellen Lease/Pat Moriarty Quintet, Monk in Motian, Atlantis, Snowblind, Framework, Frankhouse, Happy Apple, Buckley, the NOWnet, the Merlins, BroncoVision, the utterly unpredictable events scheduled at the Rogue Buddha, Homewood, Art of This Gallery, Maude, and...and... I can't list everyone so let's move on.

One might think that MnMo doesn't like jazz. For sure Minnesota Public Radio, with which the magazine has had a long relationship, doesn't like it. This is the station that cancelled its one and only jazz program in January of this year, tossing host Maryann Sullivan out of the tree (she landed safely at KBEM).

In May, Putz was actually recommending that people go see jazz—at Orchestra Hall. And Gihring was giving the thumbs-up to Rossum. But why the caveats?

And how often do MnMo staff check out our local jazz scene?

(Image: http://www.ezdiyelectricity.com/images/icons/question-mark1a.jpg)


  1. "Jazz is suffering today, but not in the way you might think. Contrary to the warnings of some professional (and amateur) pessimists, jazz in the 90's is alive and well. It is thriving, creative, inspired, provocative, and original. What jazz suffers from today is not artistic stagnation but popular mystification. Jazz, in other words, has a rotton public image-an image which was epitomized in a comment an aquantance made to me just the other day:

    "Jazz is cool and all, but it's not really my type of thing, I mean, I respect it, but I can't really get into it. I like music that makes me feel something. Jazz isn't really about that. With jazz, you gotta think all the time. Jazz is all complicated and weird. It's for those special types of people who like talking about stuff and figuring things out. Jazz is way too deep for me."

    This exact same view has been voiced innumerable times in countless different ways by jazz skeptics the world over. All jazz musicians are aware of it. Some ignore it. Others deny it. Some take great offence at it. Some have heard it expressed so often that they even begin to believe it themselves. But regardless of what specific forms this idea takes or what varying reactions it engenders, its central premise remains constant and abundantly clear: Jazz is an intellectual music.

    According to popular notion, jazz is something which you research and study, inspect and dissect, scrutinize and analyze. Jazz twists your brain like an algebraic equation, but leaves your body lifeless and limp. In the eyes of the general public, jazz appears as an elite art form, reserved for a select group of sophisticated (and rather eccentric) intelligentsia who rendezvous in secret, underground haunts (or accessable ivory towers) to play obsolete records, debate absurd theories, smoke pipes, and read liner notes. Most people assume that the appreciation of jazz is a long, arduous, and painfully serious cerebral undertaking. Jazz might be good for you, but it just isn't any fun.

    This image is simple, powerful, and dangerously appealing. But it is also egregiously false."
    --Joshua Redman

    From the liner notes of one of my favorite albums--read the rest here:



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