I think Aaron makes a really good point. No matter how skilled a musician one may be, it's easier to
look back than to move things forward. I look at jazz musicians like Charlie Parker, Mingus, Max
Roach/Clifford Brown/Sonny Rollins, Roland Kirk, and the young Miles Davis -- guys operating in
various parts of the same time-horizon when many of the young guys' trad jazz bands and recordings
were happening -- and I see a whole different level of creativity. It's akin to the difference
between being a great conductor of Brahms circa 1915 or being Igor Stravinsky or Arnold Schoenberg.
Once again, this isn't to say that the Dixieland "revivalists" didn't make pleasing, fun music
(which stood in stark, enjoyable contrast to some of the harsh-sounding and hard to follow "modern
jazz"), or that they weren't good players (in fact the best often exhibited better chops and tighter
rhythm than the more drug-addled modern jazz heroes). It is saying, in agreement with Aaron, that
their importance to jazz and moving jazz forward shouldn't be overstated. Alas, what we have today
in jazz is a two-pronged "revival" -- some younger guys "reviving" the hard-bop that never went out
of style and others "reviving" various elements of "free-form" that never caught on. I can't think
of anyone doing anything particularly original ala Parker, Mingus, Davis or Kirk, but there may well
be nowhere new to go with jazz. The recent Grammy winners have been examples of superb musicianship
in the service of well-travelled musical avenues.
-- Tom Fine
----- Original Message -----
From: "Aaron Levinson" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Saturday, May 23, 2015 12:13 PM
Subject: Re: [ARSCLIST] Apology if that was unnecessarily heated
> I for one am very curious to see the hard statistical evidence that SF trad bands had "significant
> black audiences". What does that mean? Half the audience or 3% ? I am pleased that these older
> cats like Bunk or Wellman found a new career playing music that they loved long after the initial
> period that produced the first flowering. But the plain fact is that no significant artistic
> innovation that I am aware of was produced by the movement and it remained largely atavistic from
> what I can tell.
> In the 1950's, during the height of the trad revival Charles Mingus was releasing such classic
> albums as The Clown, Ah-Um and a host of other groundbreaking recordings. He embraced both New
> Orleans and Ellington among many others but also stood at the vanguard of forging a new
> vocabulary. He was in no way dismissive of older jazz forms but he did not "recreate" anything in
> the process. Jazz (at it's best) has always been a field that respected its own past but
> concomitantly had both feet planted quite squarely in it's own zeitgeist.
> Mingus borrowed freely from these earlier innovators like Armstrong and Duke (who he adored) but
> he did so in service of making an evolutionary leap. A leap that encompassed all of jazz up to
> that point and yet was entirely contemporaneous. Listen to "Fables of Faubus" as substantive proof
> of my assertions. Much of his ensemble work incorporated the controlled mayhem of New Orleans
> group improvisation but it cannot be mistaken by anyone as anything but integrating these ideas
> into a totally idiosyncratic and vital context and not in the service of "recreating" a bygone
> age. In both message and sound it was entirely immersed in the present day.
> I am perfectly happy to agree that (overwhelmingly) white people sat back on a sunny day and
> enjoyed a recreation of a bygone age on a Sunday afternoon in 1956. But to suggest that they were
> creating something new considering the extraordinary and genuinely innovative work being done by
> people like Mingus and the Jazz Workshop at the same moment in time seems to me hubristic at best.
> One man's opinion,
> Sent from my iPhone
>> On May 23, 2015, at 9:47 AM, Dave Radlauer <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> Tom --
>> Thanks for your note.
>> << The young guys driving the revival were second generation white guys
>> playing dixieland, with little or no personal connection to the original
>> musicians. >>
>> Again, not supported by facts. There were just as many interactions
>> between the Frisco guys and Black musicians from New Orleans -- if not
>> more. Watters, Helm and those guys sought out black musicians & music
>> (given the segregation in America at the times), and visited New Orleans.
>> And the best bands had significant black audiences -- at least in the East
>> The whole tradition of Sunday afternoon sessions came from the Watters'
>> Hambone Kelly's club: Sunday pm was for special guests and jammers like:
>> James P Johnson, Danny Barker, Mutt Carey (and even Eddie Condon!). This
>> tradition led to most of the Jazz Societies, and eventually Festivals
>> around the country.
>> Many New Orleans/Black guys came west to LA and SF. And interacted with,
>> hired, or jammed with the younger revivalists:
>> A partial list of New Orleans or 'original' black musicians active and
>> engaged with the young West Coast white guys included:
>> Bunk Johnson - spent a year in SF 1942-43 and played with the white guys &
>> rump YBJB (& roomed with Burt Bales)
>> Kid Ory - Club in SF hired all kinds of musicians
>> Amos White - popular trumpeter at Bill Erickson's Pier 23 jam
>> Pops Foster - jammed and played with young dixielanders
>> Wellman Braud - I heard him play with a revival band in the 1980s
>> Earl Hines - performed, broadcast, hired young white guys
>> Darnell Howard - close relations with many Frisco jazz guys
>> Frank Big Boy Goudie - played almost exclusively with 'dixielanders'
>> 1957-63 - Born near and played NOLA golden age
>> Clem Raymond - few facts but played and recorded with Oxtot
>> Sister Lottie Peavy
>> And several old NYer/Chicagoans were also active here into the 1950s and
>> 60s: Muggsy, Marty Marsala, Joe Sullivan, Joe Darensbourg. But I can tell
>> you that the impact of early jazz and swing on those guys was just as
>> profound an experience as it had been for the Chicagoans.
>> There were gradations of 'revival.' Nor was it simply
>> Dave Radlauer
>> hm# 510-848-8323
>> cell# 510-717-5240