May 6

The Music Village, Brussels

 

musicvillageThis wonderful jazz club has been very important in my jazz life and for countless other individual musicians and groups since it was first opened twenty years ago by the late and much missed Paul Huygens. l'esprit of 'The Music Village' has been continued by Paul's widow Lucie Saeys.

 

The current situation in this virus inflicted world is dire. I have spent a good deal of my life in and out of jazz clubs, in Europe, and worldwide. This is the chosen life style of a very significant percentage of jazz musicians. Our way of living has been put on hold. No longer the packed audience and the small bandstands. Our pleasure and theirs. Will we ever get out familiar way of life back again? At this juncture is very difficult to know. Our concerns in the face of large numbers of people dying from this foul pestilence might seem unimportant.

 

And this particular moment in time it is so. However, culture, high and low, is an important...

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May 5

Pre-Chewed - Easy To Swallow

 

Easy listening. What is its function? The first food given to babies following on from an exclusive diet of milk is normally some smooth and macerated mélangeSmooth Jazz that will slip down easily. Though one has to admit that these preparations do at least have the virtue of being nutritious. Easy listening - slips down easily - but in general lacks the nutritional element.

I do of course realize that music affects people in a myriad of different ways. For example if I am in a Chinese restaurant I wince when the background music is some Cladermanish plonking. In an Indian restaurant I like to hear classical ragas though Bollywood film music can be engaging. Many French supermarkets are a delight - not only because of their product range - but sound of good jazz emanates from the sound system.

I have recently been looking at a intensively promoted stage in the career of an individual who it is claimed embodies the - Future of Jazz. The music...

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May 5

Red Mitchell

Simple Isn't Easy

 

The late Red Mitchell composed and penned the lyrics for a song entitled 'Simple Isn't Easy" the title track of an album of the same name. 

 

Red was a man who knew a thing or to about jazz. For there exists in the mind of those aspiring - or those perhaps wanting to aspire - the delusion that Simple = Easy.

 

Take yourself off to the average 'Open Mike' just about anywhere in the world and I will guarantee your will find vocalists - both male an female - suffering from the delusion that 'Summertime' is an easy song to perform. Oh dear ! When in fact the opposite is the case. A song such as the much abused 'Summertime' requires real talent and experience to perform in a convincing manner.

 

I once wrote a piece about this beautiful melody being one of the most abused tunes in the jazz repertoire. A good friend of mine, a bass player with a real knowledge of jazz history, came up with notion that it might make a good theme for a performed...

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May 5

Charlie Parker

Osmosis - Or - Technique Is In The Genes

 

My good friend Joe Higham sent me the link to an interview with Charlie Parker that had been posted on YouTube. Most interesting because in general not having had much opportunity to listen to Bird in verbal exchanges rather than the musical variety. He comes across as being a highly intelligent and very articulate individual.

 

What really made me really sit up and listen was the assumption - on the part of the interviewer was that Bird had by some form of osmosis acquired an incredible technique without having to work at it. The assumption that some folk just have it their in their genes. Pick up the horn and out streams Donna Lee - no problem.

 

It was a fairly common assumption at that time that some musicians - usually non-white musicians- really did not have to spend time in the woodshed. Parker was quick to disillusion him mentioning deep study and fifteen hours a day practice sessions. But from the tone of the...

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May 5

Billie Holliday

Never Mind The Quality Feel The Hype

 

How often do we hear proclaimed loudly by the publicists, in newspapers, in magazines, on radio, on television " Behold the new Billie Holiday " or the linking of some rather average talent to artists - usually dead - who really were great.

 

It really is astonishing what hype can and does achieve. Constant repetition drives the message in. Large numbers of people consciously or unconsciously fall in to agreement. What a joy for the marketing men who I suspect really do not in general care less about the quality of the product just so long as the message sells tracks, album, ticket, and all the other money making adjuncts.

 

So what is wrong with making money ? The answer is there is nothing wrong with making money. But what is really disturbing is the presentation of, and the public acceptance of, the faux as opposed to the genuine.



Recently I was talking to a friend of mine who worked for Granada television during the...

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