Friday, October 23, 2009

Jazz Is Totally Up Itself

I’ve been compelled to write a post with this title as a consequence of my previous post in which I slandered another perfectly respectable music genre. However, such is my new-found cantankerousness and intolerance that I find myself able to fulfil this task as well.

I am going to present my argument solely in terms of Trumpet Playing and Anal Retention. Have a listen to the first part of Louis Armstrong’s West End Blues:

Over and over I tried to play that intro on my trumpet, then the tune, slow and melancholic (here’s a later, brassier version, which is also good) yet it flickers with the humanity that Armstrong could rarely keep to himself. Unfortunately I can find no clip of the only track to which I’ve ever attempted to do a striptease: Armstrong’s early recording of Tin Roof Blues (Tiger Rag and it would have all been over in a flash....) Satchmo kept himself ticking with a bit of marijuana and the help of Swiss Kriss, a laxative of which he was such a fan that he once recommended it to Britain’s Royal Family, and I admire him as a man who kept his embouchure clenched and his bowels open.

Now, there were other trumpeters with nice styles (and some modern players of other jazz instruments that I like). But somewhere it goes wrong, it all becomes a bit, well, Jazz Club. And I reckon the cause is Mr Miles Davis. He’s probably a genius, enough people have told me that he is, so I’m probably a philistine, I’m probably missing out. But for me the most accurate word I’ve ever heard applied to him is “costive” – I just want to shake him.... shake him and shout “Wake up, you dozy bastard!! Wake up and go to the lavatory!!!!”.

Fortunately, however, all is not lost. Musicians from other genres have been inspired by jazz and incorporated it into their shtick. Here are my favourite Russians, Markscheider Kunst, whose trumpeter I reckon listened to more Louis than Miles; have a listen to the intro in the 1st one, before the band gets into its lovely Latino-Leningrad stride, then look at the 2nd one if you wanna see them in a proper video. Now, this is obviously just my personal preference, but to me that’s Nice!


Gaw said...

Constantly innovating and breaking new ground. I never thought I'd read something on the importance of bowel movements in jazz. I'm sure it's an angle that hasn't been probed before.

You've forgotten one of the giants, however, John Colontrain. He never had any problems building up a head of steam, on stage or in the lav.

The Jules said...

Heh. Kunst.


Gorilla Bananas said...

The late Roy Castle looked as if he was straining on the toilet when playing the trumpet. I'd sooner fart into that instrument than blow into it.

Lulu LaBonne said...

Crikey - methinks that Mr Inkspot will be taking issue with you here Gadj.

I'm with you all the way though, I need something to dance to and I loved those videos

Ana said...

Ah! A man of his word! Killing myself laughing, as usual...

I once played with Dizzy Gillespie -- but I was too stupid and young to realize how cool that was -- I mean, I had only ever seen him on The Muppet Show.

Markscheider Kunst? It's going to take me hours to process that paragraph alone. I had a professor in college named Art Kunst -- I would have loved to have met his parents.

I like cantankerous and intolerant Gadj!

Alice Scradcza said...

Trumpet technology owes much to the skill of early metal workers and welders. No brazing - no Louis Armstrong; it's that simple.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Gaw, thanks again, consider it probed! Then there was also Armstong's long-time pianist Earl Heinie.

The Jules, "Fnarr, fnarr", as you rightly say, "fnarr" - the word "Kunst" is funny in any context!

Bananas, Roy was a man of many talents but he'd have to train his rectal sphincter for a long time to get anything more interesting that a low E flat.

Lools, is Inky a big Miles Davis fan? (I think I've already annoyed him enough by insulting mathematicians). That band derseves to be huge.

Ana, you once played with Dizzy Gillespie?? What did you play? (Or did you play with Dizzy Gillespie, e.g. as children - no, that can't be it...) Art Kunst, I like it: either his parents were very ironic or very ignorant.

Alice lovely Alice, trumpet technology does indeed owe everything to what you just said. Tell us though, who first perfected the welding of reliable valves?

geraldgee said...

Dont miss out Valaida Snow.

No Good Boyo said...

My name is No Good Boyo and I am a Jazz Fan.

Mainly bepop and West Coast. I are mostly liking Sonny Rollins and Roland Kirk.

There is evidence that I once wore a goatee and hung out at various North London venues with secondary-school teachers (see Chapter 1 of "Is Shane MacGowan Still Alive?" by Tim "Any Major Dude With Half A Heart" Bradford).

Worst of all, I was chatted up by two Sikh sisters wearing stockings at a party in Brentford, and largely ignored them in order to make the case for Harry Connick Jr with a Bud Powell purist who hated rock so much that he slept with his head outside the catflap in order to avoid listening to the Stones.

I'll get me pea-jacket.

Madame DeFarge said...

I am not entirely au fait with jazz beat combos. But now that I know they are in touch with their inner bowel movements, what I can say? Presuambly Dave Brubeck wanted to take five to ease one out.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Gerald Gee - any relation to Cecil Gee? You seem to have impeccible dress sense... - Valaida Snow, absolutely, what an astonishing and tragic story she had.

Boyo, Sonny Rollins and Roland Kirk, eh? I had a phase where I was deeply impressed by the likes of Thelonious Monk and Charlie Mingus, but then I discovered women. And I'm afraid there is no case for Harry Connick Jr except a 7' long wooden one with handles on the sides.

Madame, it's interesting you should mention Brubeck as of all modern jazzmen he's done the most to investigate the jazz-bowel-movement thesis: take his Unsquare Dance, trying playing that after 3 days of eating only eggs and cheeseburgers.

No Good Boyo said...

Guilty as charged. I'm going through rehab by listening exclusively to northern Goth Rock of the early 80s.

Gyppo Byard said...

Two words: Uncle Jaki

Pearl said...

What, no Cat Anderson?

Now there was a man who had to keep it clenched.


Gadjo Dilo said...

Boyo, I hadn't realised before what fun being "cantankerous and intolerant" could be - I think I might drag it out a bit longer!! (Northern Goth Rock, though, is kind of kill-or-Cure).

Gyppo, good heavens, he's good isn't he. I bet you were glad to have him at the old Joanna at Grandma Byard's annual Christmas knees-up.

Pearl, ah, I've just had a look at Mr Anderson with Ellington's orchestra - if only I could have got those high notes my career would have taken a very different course.

Everybody, I remember now how much I used to love jazz, yes, even modern jazz - but preferably seeing the performers rather than just listening. I now feel inclined to post some sort of homage, but I fear THAT would be totally up itself.

Beverly Hamilton Wenham said...

I almost hesitate to even jump in here. I think the bowel metaphor may have sent you in the wrong direction. I think what you may have been looking for is wanking. Masterbation. It often seems like jazz musicians are playing to hear the sound of their own horn and how clever they are with it.

I can't agree with you on my man Louis. He invented modern jazz. Maybe try: Potato Head Blues or Cornet Chop Suey. Look on You Tube. If you don't like him, you don't, but you have to give him credit for creating a completely original art form.

As far as Miles. You only need Kinda Blue. The whole album. After that he got into all the modern jazz that leaves me cold. Plus if it helps, he was kind of a dick in person. And worse he sold out to rock and roll. The mortal sin of jazz!

Now why is there no mention of Dizzy? The father of Be Bop, The mad genius of Afro-Cuban Jazz! I dare you to listen to Manteca Live at Newport and not end up swing'in round the couch. Heaven, Daddy-o heaven! That's my Cat.

What is Jazz? Simple African rhythms and European harmonies.
But it doesn't matter. Ask any jazz musician and he will tell you jazz is dead. You missed it. Now, doesn't that make even cooler. You can't be a part of it. It's just for those wankers.

No Good Boyo said...

I've just realized that here in this very thread I came up with something in life I regret - talking jazz bollox with a git instead of pleasuring, and being pleasured by, Sikh ladies. Not twins, but close.

So there you are Gyppo.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

That's Rahsaan Roland Kirk to you, Boyo. But for hot sax, Gato Barbieri's yer man. I knew you had musical talents when I saw the photo of you with the mushrooms.

There's a metro station in Brussels called KUNST WET. Double fnarrr.

Kevin Musgrove said...

That's the problem with the youth of today. Gadjo mentions Louis Armstrong's bowel movements and nobody mentions W.C. Handy.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Beverley you seem to have got me wrong: I loved and adored Louis, and still do - like I said, I tried to play as he did. And it seems that (later) Miles Davis leaves you cold too, so no argument there. Wasn't it Loius himself who said "if you need to ask what jazz is then you'll never know" and "there are only two types of music: good music and bad music". "Masturbation" is spelt with a "u", by the way ;-)

Boyo, it must surely be possible to combine the two: are there no Sikh jazz bands (with Sikh groupies)? Singh Singh Prison Blues would have to be their signiture song.

Daphne, nice, I'd never heard of Gato Barbieri before. True, if I'd slipped in a few magic mushrroms into that pile I ate then I might be a jazz legend by now! (Kunst Wet - what were they thinking).

Kevin, indeed, and wasn't there a jazz singer called Loo Rolls? (that's Lou Rawls - Ed.)

inkspot said...

Gadjo, you might be on to something, Miles was a notorious heroin user at various times and So What, form Kind of Blue, I've seen described as the best depiction of a heroin high that is available to those of us who don't want to try first-hand. And heroin is of course costive. That said, you are being provocative, and you know it. Try 7 steps to Heaven for something different.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Inky, I was being provocative, it's true, and, like I say, Davis is probably a genius - I didn't know herion was costive though, poor sod - and I haven't got the intelligence to see it. I hope my love of Satchmo at least shines through this.

Beverly Hamilton Wenham said...

Dearest Gadjo,
I'm sorry, but I cannot spell a word correctly that makes me giggle.
I am afraid that I must have insulted you unintentionally. I listened to the samples of music you liked and thought they were great. You have very good taste and obviously know what you are talking about. Honestly, I think the poo talk threw me.
It is sad about those heroin years. What was that saying? If you wanna be Bird, ya gotta do Bird. Even for another horn player Chet Baker.
Glad those days are for the most part over. I hope.

Gadjo Dilo said...

Beverley, don't worry, I didn't think that you were being insulting, I was just concerned that you'd misunderstood my opinion of Armstrong, who means a lot to me. Chet Baker certainly sounded like a man on hard drugs, and I can't say I enjoyed the sound very much, but that's just me. Bird, nice. And if you wanna be Count Basie you gotta be able to count :-)

Gadjo Dilo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.