Beethoven had always been something of a bête noir for me. Most of his themes seemed insipid, little more than arpeggiated triads and scales. And mind you, I have loved In C, Einstein on the Beach, and pretty much all of minimalism since the first hearing!
Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology, the latest edition of the seminal collection originally released forty years ago, has the most democratic profile of any of its antecedents, but there are still some questionable inclusions and omissions as well as some curious musical pronouncements in the set’s accompanying annotations, e.g. should Ornette Coleman be called a microtonalist?
The relationship between composer and performer has become increasingly symbiotic over the past three decades. Given that fact, it is curious why one of the largest organizations of musicians in the country would decide to pursue such a negative line of questioning with its membership.
Sometimes it seems like there are two competing strains of experimentalism in new music. In my mind they should be allied, since they both hang out around the same fringes, but more often than not they studiously ignore each other.
One of the names left out of my post last week was that of Sathima Bea Benjamin, who passed away on August 20, the same day as pianist Marian McPartland. Benjamin spent much of her time working as a political activist, in addition to serving as the manager and agent for her husband, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim. But she also remained active as a singer and recording artist herself, even though her own artistic accomplishments remained largely invisible.
We as a community have moved past the didactic “schools of thought” concept that shaped so much of the new music scene decades ago, but we haven’t splintered into an “every man/woman for themselves” concept either.
While the road of student life does end, it’s only as a runway does: as a necessary path to greater things above and beyond. After spending a great deal of time talking over this particular issue with participants in this summer’s Fresh Inc Festival, I want to share some thoughts on the most important things to keep in mind while transitioning out of student life.
Repetitive music often gets maligned as background noise, encouraging passive listening, but it can also encourage the listener to actually confront the musical materials they’re faced with.
Three of the American music community’s most influential luminaries–pianists Marian McPartland and Cedar Walton plus author Albert Murray–passed in the first three days of this week. They, along with pianist-producer-composer-singer George Duke, whom we lost on August 5, should be acknowledged.
All of us, not just those of us who are involved with music, waste so much time dwelling on the past as well as trying to predict what the future is, when in fact the only thing we can really affect is the present.