Friday, May 26, 2006

In search of ...

... poems about jazz: Off Minor at Anecdotal Evidence. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.) A particularly good point:

Oddly, few poets seemed to have understood the significance of the discipline and intelligence it takes to create this music. Rather, they seize the notion of improvisation, romanticize it and turn jazz musicians into a species of idiot savant. There is little worthwhile improvisation without a disciplined and encyclopedic knowledge of the music, the instrument and the vast songbook of American (and other) music. The apparent telepathy we see and hear among jazz musicians as they perform is rooted in hard work and dedication, not “natural rhythm.”

Which may be why Rachmaninoff was such a fan of Art Tatum.

Maybe because, as a very small child, I heard (and can remember hearing) the King Cole Trio on the radio, I have always preferred my jazz cool.

1 comment:

  1. Late-Coltrane, free-jazz improv-lover here. I've played in several bands that focus on total improv in all styles, jazz included.

    I think the point is well-taken, though, as practice practice practice is really what makes all music work. You practice and play and practice till you get to the point where you don't have to think about it at all, it just flows. I disagree with the "idiot savant" comment though, as most of the good jazz poems I've read do make some acknowledgment of paying the dues. That's of course the hard work and disciplined practice that leads up to being able to improvise.

    I've written a few jazz poems, here and there. It seems unavoidable, if you love the music. Interesting thoughts, though.