Jazz: Its Evolution and Essence

Jazz: Its Evolution and Essence

Jazz: Its Evolution and Essence

Jazz: Its Evolution and Essence

Excerpt

"As his taste becomes more refined, the admirer of Alfred de Musset abandons him for Verlaine. One who was brought up on Hugo dedicates himself completely to Mallarmé. — These intellectual changes generally occur in one direction rather than in the other, which is much less possible."

Who is it expressing himself in this way? Paul Valéry, who here gives a golden rule for one's own esthetic evolution, the only criterion of taste that is confirmed by common experience. In the field of music, this evolution reflects not only the refinement of taste, but also the awareness of certain objective realities that do not always appear at the outset. This serves to explain why certain opinions expressed in this book do not fit in with others in my earlier works. Moreover, the general point of view is no longer the same, since in 1944, particularly, I was still influenced by and participating in a school of criticism that this book, in large measure, takes exception to.

When I claim that having greatly liked some musicians whose shortcomings I recognize today gives me a special right to talk about their limitations, I am not being so paradoxical as I may seem. One has to have committed certain errors to be fully aware of their extent. Still, it is not always true that liking Teddy Wilson means that one has "gone beyond" Jelly Roll Morton. This is so only when the real qualities of the first appear as clearly as the shortcomings of the second. It is not unusual for an artist to be appreciated precisely for his least pure aspects. I don't think I have . . .

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