Music for Paul

“Speaking of music resonating with your soul, I
think I need to do some serious soul-searching or need serious help
because for the past few months, very few songs, across many genres
have excited me much. I mean, I assume if I heard you playing upright
bass live, I would be experiencing the equivalent of 100s of
simultaneous orgasms, but that’s a different matter. For some reason, I
seem to have especially fallen out of touch with jazz music in general.
I think if my mind were to change or my mood or the chemicals in my
brain, I would like jazz again, or all music for that matter, but right
now I’m very emotionally disconnected.

“Got any ideas on how to reconnect Dr. McStrings?”

Yes.  I prescribe that you listen to my CD and email me in the morning.

I’ve fallen out of touch with jazz, too, to tell you the truth,
Pablito.  When I hear it on the radio stations that are so proud
of themselves for playing it … it often bores me.  I think to
myself with a certain degree of sarcasm, “Oh boy.  Another 12-bar
blues.  Oh great.  Three 12-bar blueses in a row.
Yeah.  ‘My Funny Valentine’ again.”

It’s slightly less intense than the feeling I get when I go to a jam
session.  “Whoopee.  A thirty five minute version of
Cherokee.  Gee, I hope fifteen more sax players walk in and whip
out their horns.”

Of course, I didn’t think that way ten years ago when I was trying to
learn that stuff.  I guess it was still in front of me like a rock
face I’d have to scale.  There was a resurgence of jazz during
those years, though, often attributed to Wynton Marsalis and his
crew.  They brought attention and an audience back to jazz with
their combination of ‘tude, bad-assedness and authentic musical

But currently, to regurgitate my usual rant, jazz in its current
incarnation is an empty husk of what it was in its halcyon days.
Actually, I think it’s turning around now.  The spirit of jazz is
one of improvisation (by definition pretty much) and exploration but
you can go out during the week and find a group of hungry musicians —
young and old — sitting in a restaurant who have been instructed to
play unobtrusive, quiet jazz and provide ambience.  Watch their
eyes glaze over as they play standard after standard on
autopilot.  It’s like they’re (we’re) stuck in a time loop.

Sure there were longish phases of jazz as dance music and jazz as
cerebral hipness and jazz as drug-addled revolution but it grew and
transformed about every decade and a half, it seems.  Now, there
are a lot of artists fusing things together
(finally/again/still).  They’re making moody improvisational music
with atmosphere and heart. They’re morphing with hip-hop, 70’s fusion,
salsa, rock and whatever else is in the air.  So I can’t complain
too much except for the fact that I want to be out there doing my thing
too while being happy to do it.

Aaaaaaaand at the same there’s a bevy of young, white crooners that
bother me to no end.  I’m not saying they aren’t talented but for
goodness sake.  It’s kind of disgusting.  Still, everything
has its place.  I guess if you’re an older, established couple
going out on the town to appear sophisticated in public you may not
want to go see Terence Blanchard’s post-modern, melodic-minor,
reharmonized grooves and hear him rag on Pres. Bush between
tunes.  You might want to settle down to the non-threatening,
clean-cut, musically vanilla’d faces of Michael Bublet, Peter Cincotti,
Diana Krall, Jane Monheit, Norah Jones and so on.  Or maybe even
the young prodigies that seem to be hitting the scene more and more
these days.  Young, talented and so impressionable that a good
producer can make them into a clone of whichever jazz musician their
record company employers happen to have master recordings of.
Yes, I ended that sentence with a preposition.  Cut me some slack

Just like academia, the point seems to be to take these young
musicians, pick apart what they’re attempting to do, and remold them in
some grand tradition.  It probably breaks as many as it makes.

Oh.  What the heck was my point?  My point is that it would
be so nice to hear something … not necessarily new.  Not
different, necessarily.  From the heart.  It would be so
amazing to hear music from the heart, no matter what genre it is.
I think that’s why I’ve had an ear for modern rock recently.
Dark, moody, with often impenetrable lyrics. Crunchy guitars, fat bass
and catchy melodies.

Hey, is that a tangent ahead?  I just reminded myself of
something.  I purchased some music via iTunes last night and was
listening to it today.  Made me laugh because Tim B. commented a
few times on my CD collection (he and Michelle were kind enough to
watch over about three moving boxes worth of my CD collection for a few
years).  It’s such a hodge podge of stuff.  Like, he was
looking through them and saw Earl Klugh next to Tool.  Earl Klugh
& Tool.  Wow.

I was listening to my purchased tunes today at work and laughed out
loud at the transition between The Stylistics and Rage Against the
Machine.  From:

Tell me what’s wrong with you now , tell me why I

Never seem to make you happy though heaven knows I try

What does it take to please you? Tell me just how

I can satisfy you woman, you’re drivin’ me wild

Break up to make up, that’s all we do

First you love me then you hate me

That’s a game for fools

Break up to make up that’s all we do

First you love me then you hate me

That’s a game for fools


With this mic device

I spit nonfiction

Who got tha power

This be my question

Tha mass of the few

In this torn nation?

Tha priest tha book or tha congregation?

Tha politricks who rob and hold down your zone?

Or those who give tha thieves tha key to their homes?

Tha pig who’s free to murder one Shucklak

Or those survivors who make a move and murder one back

That’ll give you whiplash, lemme tell ya.  But you know.
There’s always something out there that you can relate to.  I’m
becoming a strong believer in the combination of words and music as
opposed to being a purity-of-instrumental-music bonehead.  The
other night at the gig I played there were some spoken word
artists.  Playing underneath them was … it was money, especially
when the singer laid down some pad beneath them.  Man.

Then again, there’s always silence.


Add Yours
  1. linkfelix2

    Nice response!

    I was shocked when you mentioned Peter Cincotti! Is that guy really big now or something? My friend Eiki went to school with that guy at some Manhattan private rich kid school and I remember Eiki showing me the guy’s CD. It was definitely white jazz crooner music, but it might have been ok, I don’t remember.

    The thing that is frustrating is that I have alllll of this classic jazz from my dad both on my computer and in CD form but I’m reluctant to get rid of it even though at the moment it’s not that inspiring. I remember when I used to really LISTEN to the solos and lines they were playing and really enjoy it but now I think it might just be that I was impressed by it and since it fit the chords, it made me feel great. “Wow, maybe I’ll play like that someday. Wow that’s a really cool harmony.” I don’t think/feel that anymore. Though Lee Morgan’s Sidewinder is pretty funky still. So is the album Cornbread by Freddie Hubbard.

    Another question I have is…. why aren’t there funk bands anymore?!?! Funk is really good and it seems there were relatively very few funk bands back in the day. Am I just missing a whole bunch of artists? I want more fat, deep, stacato, rhythmically complex bass lines with a drum beat that is driving to hell!!

  2. linkfelix2

    Have you heard much Sun Ra? We have TONS at the radio station both on vinyl and CD. He’s a weird guy. I think he believed aliens had brought him to the planet or that he had been abducted by aliens or that he was an alien? I forget.

    In any case, he made some pretty strange jazz with interestingly arranged big bands. I haven’t given him much of chance but I give him A+ for uniqueness.

    I kind of wish Jaco Pastorius had recorded more solo pieces for electric bass. There’s a few solo bass pieces he did that were just so beautiful and complex. Portrait of Tracy is one of them. Opus Pocus (with the steel drums, highhat only, and squeeky soprano sax, and lulling bassline) was also cool. Too bad he went crazy and got the crap beat out of him in a nightclub somewhere. That sucks.

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