Wednesday, November 11, 2009

AACM Book, Part 3

I just finished up reading "A Power Stronger Than Itself," and picked out a few more passages to copy out and comment on through the rest of the read.

P. 216

“Part of the job of a musician is that of a messenger. If you ain’t ready to be a messenger, forget it. You need to get a job in the post office or somewhere. If you ain’t ready to travel, pack up your family, or pack up yourself and hit the road, you’re in the wrong business. Because that’s what music is about. It’s about spreading knowledge and education, and re=education. It’s about spreading. You have got to travel with it to spread the word. Like all the people in the past that have had to travel to spread the music.” -Lester Bowie

I am always looking for advice on the business of music, and the behind the scenes ideas of what needs to get done, and how to do it. Ken Vandermark's documentary "Musician" is a good insight into this world, as well as this quote from the Art Ensemble trumpeter.

P. 229

“…If you wanted a gig you wanted to be on somebody’s record, and you weren’t invited, all you had to do was go to the BYG studio with your horn. The guy would say, Oh, you have your horn, Come and play on this piece.” -Wadada Leo Smith

Since my vinyl kick, I have been trying collect a lot of the BYG Actuel records, which have been re-released over recent years, thanks in part to Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore. This label recorded avant garde music in France from 1969-1971, and this quote makes me think about the atmosphere going on in the session at the time.

P. 363

“I seek new sounds

because new sounds

seek me

Why, Please tell me

Music I limit myself

To a saxophone or clarinet!

All the rhythm of All

The universe is flowing

Through me – Through all

Things, why must I become

“a master” –of anything

when all sound all movement

springs from the same


-Joseph Jarman

Jarman's poem on the idea of multi-instrumentalism, a school sort of "founded" in a way by the Duke Ellington musicians and later on in a figure like Eric Dolpy, or Yusef Lateef. Come of the AACM guys, like Anthony Braxton, or the Art Ensemble played every family of woodwinds, on top of hundreds of different percussion instruments, and more!

P. 442

“Thus, one can imagine the puzzlement of AACM experimentalists when a new breed of New York-based journalists, critics, and musicians advanced the claim that hose who had been creating the new music, had “no respect for tradition.” Curiously, this discourse is hardly to be found in other musical genres. Jimi Hendrix was not critiqued on his ability to sound like Little Richard, nor was Reba McIntyre challenged on her ability to sing like Patsy Cline. On the other hand, these musics did not, until recently, witness the kind of radical challenge to traditional modes of musical aesthetics that jazz did. When transgressive musics eventually came along in other fields – punk, techno, grunge, trash - those critical communities did not, for the most part, critique these musics on the grounds that they did not sound like the Beatles, or insist that they cover a Hall and Oates tune as part of their legitimation strategy. This is to say nothing of contemporary pan-European art music, where present-day composers are not judged on their ability to incorporate the sounds of Vivaldi into their work, though they are free to do so if they wish."

This is George Lewis talking about the idea of how backwards the neo-classical jazz movement seems, in comparison to all the other genre. He makes a good point, no other music makes you imitate the past verbatim, like jazz music does. In rock music today, no one is forced to know Buddy Holly tunes, in 21st century contemporary classical music, no one is forced to compose in the style of why in jazz are we all forced to play a limited amount of material(standards) in a limited way (bebop), when no other genre does that?!

p. 447

“Well, you often hear people nowadays talking about the tradition, tradition, tradition. But they have tunnel vision in this tradition. Because tradition in African American music is as wide as all outdoors… Music is much bigger than bebop changes. I don’t feel like being trapped in those halls of harmony.” -Julius Hemphill

Julius Hemphill, famous for his recording on Arista, "Dogon A.D." and being part of the World Saxophone Quartet, he echoes some of the sentiments of George Lewis. Music, call it jazz, call it contemporary improvisation, call it free, or avant, whatever music does not have to be limited to verbatim copying of musicians' licks/riffs from 60 years ago. Music is much more open than that!

Thus ends my AACM commentary, I may be doing a post soon on Treatise, a Cardew piece that I completed today, and I will write about my overall feeling after listening to it straight through, comments that people hearing it will say, and then what I have learned, and what I might have done differently. Also I will type up some of the interpretation rules I came up with or general tendencies of realizing the piece, as well as how many instruments were involved in the end! Until Next Time!

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