On 05/04/2013, David Lewis wrote:

> For the time being, Ken Burns' Jazz is rather solidly entrenched as a
> tool in jazz studies courses curricula as "there is simply nothing
> better about the subject." And for ten years, it basically silenced
> most other prospective film projects that might have dealt with jazz
> topics. Some got through, including a docu about free jazz called
> "Inside Out and in the Open" which was made as a reponse to Burns'
> rejection of that style as irrelevant. It appeared in 2008; I don't
> think it has been very widely seen.
> I once attended, in high school, a demonstration by singer Kathy Wade
> in which she said that "the blues led to jazz and jazz is America's
> classical music." It was a program designed to reach kids and this
> phrase was repeated several times like a mantra, despite the fact that
> it doesn't exactly roll off the tongue and is anti-historical. It is
> pretty easy to document how separate blues and jazz are in terms of
> development and where they connect, and how the blues as understood by
> jazz players really isn't the same music as what Charlie Patton
> played. This idea was being advanced, though, in 1978 as I saw it.
> Kathy is a lovely lady and a fine singer, but I would like to know
> where this comes from and why it is important to promote it.
It might be compared to 18th century music. The term "classical music"
had not been coined then. Composers such as Bach or Mozart or Beethoven
(when young) were expected to be as good at improvisation as
composition. But I don't know if there was much collective improvisation
then - maybe by Gypsy and Turkish bands.

And there was plenty of dance music being composed and arranged.

> Naturally, the problem with jazz being "America's classical music" is
> that America has classical music already. Roll over Aaron Copland;
> tell John Knowles Paine the news. I have issues with any agenda that
> works on disenfranchising or discrediting some other kind of music.
> From that stems the notion that you only ever want to listen to the
> best, as listening to discredited music is like investing in a
> delisted stock; it might seem attractive, but really isn't a good
> idea. However, music is not like that: if you enjoy Erroll Garner,
> what would keep you from enjoying the side of Carmen Cavallero that is
> close to that sound?
> I do have a partial answer: there seems to be at work a conservative
> black agenda behind a lot of this, one that not many folks of my shade
> are even familiar with. Nick Payton elsewhere on his blog states that
> he does not support President Obama and is glad that he is relatively
> powerless, as it just shows that the old white power structure is
> still in control. And this does echo some of the attitudes that I have
> heard from other friends of mine who are conservative
> African-Americans. I believe that their perspective matters, but I
> don't think it should be regarded as the only one that is regarded
> with any validity on these topics; it's too limiting. They may hate
> ODJB and Paul Whiteman, but I recently joined a Paul Whiteman facebook
> page that is far more active that I ever expected one would be; it's
> almost too much, and I may drop it. What to do with all of the
> 'discredited' people, listening to 'discredited music'? I don't know,
> but one thing for certain is that they will remain silent.

Don Cox
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