Monday, April 10, 2006

What if it actually ISN'T jazz? That's ok.

I've been listening to Cassandra Wilson's new cd Thunderbird, which I think is as big of a change in sound for her, as Blue Light Till Dawn was about a decade ago. Lots of programming, loops, electronics, etc. It's a bold record, and a very good one. Cassandra sounds the same as always, the setting is what's new, and it's what made Blue Light Till Dawn and New Moon Daughter so fresh in the mid 90's.

Now I'm not here to argue the merits of whether this is a jazz cd or not. I don't have the time or interest in such arcane issues of musicology. In the broadest of terms, let me say, it certainly is jazz informed, but I think it's just as, if not more informed by the blues, folk, and other contemporary music. Which brings me to think, do those people in these other genres, get upset if you say, "you know Cassandra's new record is really more of a pop record than a blues album?" What I'm trying to say, is that in jazz, we have this paradigm that we work under that says if you say that something a jazz musician does "isn't jazz" it's somehow taken as an insult to the artist and the music. Why is that? I don't think Cassandra's new record is a jazz album, but I don't mean that in a negative way at all!

So why is it that jazz has this "ownership" issue and other music genres don't? I'd say it has something to do with the typical "jazz snob" attitude of there being two kinds of music 1) Jazz and 2) the bad kind. To put something outside the "jazz" world to a person of this mindset, and suddenly it's taken the music down a notch. It's suddenly not as important because of the value we have instilled in the word "jazz". The music is the same, but somehow the label gives it value. So I ask, is there anything wrong with labeling something such as this "not" jazz?

4 Comments:

Blogger euskir said...

Well, for me Cassandra's record is jazz, bad jazz and a not too good record.
I really love her, and I don't think: "hey, why she doesn't go back to the past, let's say "Blue skies". Her best experiments were with Steve Coleman and Five Elements.
But, I know, she has the talent, she'll find the way back, to the future...mmm, future doesn't really exist, what's it's really there it's the past, even this post...

7:03 PM  
Blogger Joe M said...

Well, that's a valid view. Kind of like when Pat Metheny talked about Kenny G, and said, yeah it is jazz, absolutely horrible, dreadful jazz! I'm not sure Cassandra's record is that bad. I think music should be judged against its intent, not always the intent of what the listener would like or expected it to sound like.

7:39 PM  
Blogger euskir said...

Perhaps the main problem is that I really love Cassandra's music, her work and effort to stand up, to give us something creative and interesting, that's why this record was a total disappointment for me. Not a bad record for a general standad, but with Cassandra involved, I'll be waiting for the next one.
Kenny G? I'ts not in my dictionary :)
Only Kenny Garret :) is.

8:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is not typical Jazz music but she is great cd

12:14 PM  

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