Jazz and Pop, Youth and Middle Age like Young

By Francis Davis | Go to book overview

?Ornette

Jazz fans are frequently at odds not just with one another (you say Marsalis, I say Masada) but with themselves. After crowding themselves out of their apartments with albums and CDs, they'll claim that jazz, as a largely improvised art form, defies technological representation. I don't say they're wrong, just that they talk as if theirs were the only music whose nuances depend on being there in the flesh. If this were so, what need would there now be for live performances of Beethoven or Mozart, especially given the superiority of the best home sound-systems to the acoustics in modern concert halls? If recordings matter very little in jazz, they matter even less in cabaret and what Will Friedwald calls "adult" pop—genres in which an icon like Julie Wilson or a has-been like Vic Damone goes on drawing audiences year after year without benefit of a new release.

The relationship of recordings to live performances is more complementary than acknowledged by the typical jazz fan, who dismisses the former as a necessary evil. It's often also far more problematical. Most of us, for example, have heard Charlie Parker and Lester Young only on records; without this audible evidence of their genius, would we be inclined to assume their legends were exaggerated, like Buddy Bolden's? On the other hand, I for one sometimes resent mediocre live jazz because it's keeping me from my Parker records. We haul our collections with us into a concert or a club, and when we go home and pop a disc into the changer, our idealized memories of how the performer in question sounded in concert also receive a spin.

-134-

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Jazz and Pop, Youth and Middle Age like Young
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Also by Francis Davis *
  • Title Page *
  • Contents vii
  • Advertisements for Myself xi
  • Part One - Voices *
  • Swin G and Sensibility 3
  • The Great Hoagy 19
  • Not Singing Too Much 27
  • Billie Holiday, Cover Artist 39
  • Betty Carter, for Example 49
  • Part Two - Change of the Century *
  • Bud's Bubble 57
  • The Sound of One Finger Snapping 66
  • Aftershocks 77
  • Taken: the True Story of an Alien Abduction - (A Conversation with Sun Ra) 83
  • Rashaan, Rashaan 94
  • Inward 99
  • A to Z 106
  • Charlie Haden, Bass 116
  • ornette 134
  • The 1970s, Religious and Circus 141
  • Like Young 156
  • In His Father's House 169
  • Leaving behind a Trail 176
  • Some Recordings 186
  • On Stage and Screen 200
  • Part Three - Here and There *
  • Tourist Point of View 219
  • Time Difference 223
  • Part Four - Undercover *
  • Man Lost. Songs Found 235
  • Country vs. Western 242
  • Elvis Presley's Double Consciousness 246
  • Beached 256
  • Everybody's Composer 263
  • The Best Years of Our Lives 281
  • Infamous 297
  • Victim Kitsch 304
  • The Moral of the Story from the Guy Who Knows 316
  • Index 339
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