[acid-jazz] more for mark turner and friends

From: Steve (scatanzaro4_at_cox.net)
Date: 2004-08-23 01:13:45

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    OK, Mark aka Rocky R., I've been thinking about the points your raised a
    few weeks back, and I feel I've got a response.
    Seems to me that, to summarize/paraphrase your argument,
    1. "Yes, capitalism has given the musician many cool and affordable
    tools, but is the music any better than what Ornette Coleman did on a
    plastic sax? No."
    2. "Many musicians, like Willie Bo, Arthur Crudup, etc., died penniless.
    This is due to exploitation viz. the capitalist system."
    3. "Look at mainstream radio and its overall whackness. this is another
    sign of how capitalism has hurt, not helped, music."
    Here are my responses, point by point.
    First, a disclaimer. Most of my leftist friends have to get beyond the
    idea that a capitalist is someone who is a) rich, b) greedy, c) trying
    to get rich through exploitation, d) etc.I am a musician first and
    foremost, and a jazz musician. And, I've never made much money (although
    I have friends who've made plenty.) But, nobody I know, no matter what
    their political views, goes into jazz to make money. Or, if they do,
    they get rinsed out right around the time they hip u to the the rules
    for spelling the "alt" chord.
    You do jazz for the love. And the question is, what's the best way to
    follow the love, keep advancing the music, and at the same time, keep
    your refrigerator full of bottled water, boones farm, and prego
    spaghetti sauce.
    1. I could never really "prove" capitalism makes "the music"
    better, but I believe it makes the musician better. I talk from personal
    experience on this one; I went to music school for many years, got a ba,
    mm, and almost got a dma, BUT! i learned more about music from a year of
    actually playing in the competitive "pro" world than I did from 8 or
    however many years of school. being around pro musicians, i.e., cats who
    make their land rover payment from their ax, well, this has a way of
    instantly making you a better musician!

    I think it generally goes for everyone else involved in music as well,
    producers, graphic artists, engineers, dj's etc., become better at what
    they do the moment they decide to make their living from it. Because so
    many people want to be in music, the demand is always much less than the
    supply. Only "the best" can make money doing it. (I'm not talking here
    about the pop diva who may be ridiculously overpaid.) There are only so
    many gigs for a tenor saxophonist, or a drummer, or an engineer, and the
    best ones, the ones who consistently deliver, get paid. The rest either
    aspire and practice or give up. (For more proof, look no further than
    your sports page. the moment the Americans started sending pros to play
    in the Olympics, and foreign countries started sending their best
    players to the NBA, the rest of the world got REALLY GOOD in basketball,

    I think a good illustration of this comes from Miles Davis' career.
    First, he went to Juilliard and quit, because he sensed "the pros" aka
    bird and the like, were where it was really happening. Second, he
    realized that imitating dizzy gillespie was not going to allow him to
    make a name for himself, so he developed his own sound and approach.
    third, he constantly developed his music to keep up with the times. his
    music changed in every decade. sometimes twice in a decade. fourth, he
    fought a personal war to keep jazz out of the hands of those who would
    make it "museum music" (aka government subsidized but with no real
    cultural impact.) he constantly surrounded himself with the newest and
    the best, whether they were new jazzers like tony williams and herbie
    hancock, or pop/funk cats like sly stone and prince.

    And, consider this. Miles made a lot of money AND a lot of great music.
    and HE had no use for ornette coleman, don cherry, and the like,
    ESPECIALLY when ornette tried to play trumpet, without, in Miles words,
    knowing how to play it. from miles' perspective, musicians like coleman
    were pushed by white critics who wanted jazz to die. I don't know about
    that, but I'll bet the critics he's speaking of were neo-marxists who
    didn't think jazz should "lower" itself to considerations such as, "do
    people outside of manhattan or san francisco actually like it and might
    they buy it?"

    So, while you might think that "capitalist music" is something like "in
    the zone" or "justified" I'd hold up as a better example "miles ahead"
    or "kind of blue" or "sketches of spain".. (where miles famously
    remarked, on hearing that Rodrigo didn't care for it, "well, we'll see
    how he likes those fat royalty checks he'll be getting.")
    2. Now, as to Willie Bo. I just have a question for all the dj's.
    don't you realize spinning records at clubs makes you a tool part of the
    big business capitalist conspiracy against musicians? no, really!!! (but
    hey, I'm a capitalist, so I ain't mad atcha.)

    DJ's, especially the dj as star attraction, has probably done more harm
    to the musician's pocketbook than any reagan/clinton/naras/bush policy.
    When I first started my band, we had to take some pretty whack gigs. At
    our first gig, a promoter had us playing in a club that had a patio
    outside and a dance floor inside (Hollywood natives will know which club
    I speak of.) The dj, a guy who's music you can find on the endcap at
    Tower, was the main attraction, and was on the inside at the same time
    the band played on the outside. The band got paid nothing, and the dj
    got about $1200 bucks.

    Now, of course, hate to tell ya dj's, but a good band, especially a 10
    piece band, is usually a lot more fun to watch than a dj. So, everyone
    in the club was checking the band, and the dancefloor was empty. The
    promoters liked the band and invited us back. For the next show, they
    paid the dj $1500. They were so excited they could "pay us" this time, a
    whole $200! I said, hey, we have a ten piece band and parking alone is
    $10 each!!! Thanks for the luv! To make sure the band didn't pull from
    the dj this time, they told the club not to serve drinks outside while
    the band was playing to force people to go inside!!!

    What madness is it that a promoter can hire one guy/girl to come spin
    records and get hundreds to pay a cover to, er, uh, see it? Reminds me
    of seeing Oakenfold at Coachella, and underneath the giant laser show
    and massive soundscapes, the wind was blowing the needle off his
    records. The point is I know a lot of musicians (who backslap me across
    the face every time I spout my political views) who nevertheless view
    the dj, or the dj/mc combo, or the mc/dat combo, as contributing to the
    ruination of live music.

    So, dear dj, when u start complaining about how whack the music business
    is, and what a ripoff it is, consider this; how many gigs have you taken
    from musicians who, if there was no dj to play, the promoter would have
    had to bring in live music to get the people in?

    I'm speaking tongue in cheek, here, of course, because dj's do a lot for
    musicians, by promoting their tracks, etc. But, my overall point is in
    capitalism, there are always going to be those who make it and those who
    don't. There is still room for live bands, if they're good, smart and
    etc. I think of james collins from fertile ground as an example. I bet
    his overhead is a lot higher than whoever the new turntable/electribe
    whiz of the moment is, but he stays true to the music, makes good moves,
    and keeps everyone playing and paid. that, pure and simple, is
    capitalism. got a problem with that?

    3. mainstream radio. Well, I'm too tired of typing. and I don't
    have a good answer for that one, yet.. I'm out!!!