|Tom Hull's Village Voice Review Drafts|
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Jazz: A World Map
by Tom Hull
In the limited imagination of American consumers world music and jazz have one thing in common: they are exotic. World music can only be defined negatively: it is music that strikes us as foreign. Perhaps it has words in a language few if any of us understand. Or maybe it is wordless, but built around a rhythm or harmonic sense that we don't readily grasp. World music is exotic in the sense of out of place. But increasingly we live in a world with a jumbled up sense of place. As people move around we find there music being made here, and ours being made there, and reflections of each in the other. Jazz has at least two dimensions, and is exotic in both. As a noun it refers to a definite, almost canonical tradition, starting in miscegnated New Orleans and flowing outward, through the great cities of America and out to the farflung ports of the globe. As a verb jazz is an impulse to play music in a certain way: to jazz it up. Usually this is music which is created in a social context where musicians are free to improvise on what they hear each other playing. The jazz verb is what launched the jazz tradition, but there are no obvious limits to what kinds of music can be jazzed up, and improvised music springs readily out of other musical traditions. Indeed, the impulse to jazz seems to be an intrinsic desire among musicians everywhere -- especially given the model that jazz the noun has provided to the whole world. In the rest of this article, what I want to do is to sketch out, very roughly, the interactions of jazz and world music. In particular, I want to look at the globalization of jazz and what we might call the jazzification of world music. This could be a ridiculously huge subject, but we can rein it in a bit by only considering musicians consciously working in reference to the jazz tradition, and by sticking to the conventionally limited definition of world music as ethnographic folk and pop, but not classical or rock or hip-hop or (perhaps the most globalized music in the world today) electronica. Jazz is active on all those borders as well, and the same dynamics apply there too. ------------------------------------------------------------------------ The problem with the blues/swing dogma; discontinuities in jazzified blues, e.g. Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman Bob Wills: jazzified country; Harry Choates: jazzified cajun Eddie Lang/Django Reinhardt, Joe Venuti/Stephane Grappelli: the push-pull dynamic Swing Tanzen Verboten: evil jazz and merely bad jazz Ellington from jungle music to "Ad Lib on Nippon" something about Afro-American emigres in Europe (Bechet, Byas, Powell, Gordon, Webster, maybe George Russell) Ahmed Abdul-Malik: Jazz Sahara (1958) Art Blakey: The African Beat (1962) John Coltrane: Ole, Africa/Brass, Afro Blue Stan Getz: Jazz Samba, Billy Highstreet Samba Dizzy Gillespie: "Manteca", "A Night in Tunisia" Lars Gullin/Arne Domnerus Yusef Lateef Max Roach Sonny Rollins: "St. Thomas" George Russell Randy Weston Toshiko Akiyoshi Art Ensemble of Chicago Gato Barbieri Kenny Barron Peter Brotzmann Don Cherry Andrew Cyrille Pierre Dorge Donald Rafael Garrett/Zusaan Kali Fasteau Jan Garbarek Egberto Gismonti Dusko Goykovich Abdullah Ibrahim Hugh Masekela Chris McGregor/Johnny Dyani/Louis Moholo/Dudu Pukwana/Mongezi Feza John McLaughlin David Murray Buell Neidlinger Oregon Don Pullen Tomasz Stanko Yosuke Yamashita John Zorn/Dave Douglas/Masada Rabih Abou-Khalil Billy Bang: Vietnam Jean-Paul Bourelly: Trance Atlantic Anthony Brown/Jon Jang/Fred Houn Bill Cole Kahil El'Zabar Marc Ribot Gonzalo Rubalcaba/Hector Ruiz David Sanchez Gilad Atzmon Mihaly Borbelly Abdoulaye N'Diaye Cecil Brooks, Skatalites, Mystic Revelation of Rastafari, Light of Saba Hamid Drake Andy Hamilton West Nkosi Trilok Gurtu Okay Temiz Nguyen Le Clifford Thornton "Rough Guide to South African Jazz" Fela Anikulapo Kuti tango klezmer nominal jazz bands in Africa: TPOK Jazz, Shirati Jazz With few exceptions, world music has fallen on deaf ears in the U.S. (at least in terms of popular markets). On the other hand, world music does penetrate certain niche markets, including jazz. Jazz listeners are more likely to listen to world; jazz musicians are more likely to listen to world. As the world market for jazz musicians spreads internationally (it seems to be centered in Europe at the moment), U.S. jazz musicians are drawn abroad just to work. The effect of this is that jazz musicians more and more form a global network, and that network attracts more jazz musicians, from all around the world. Those musicians bring their own backgrounds, expanding the circle of contacts and referents that new jazz is built on. These dynamics have been accelerating over the decades, and over the last ten (or so) years we're seeing an explosion of transworld jazz.
Letter about piece to Bob:
Here are some quick notes on a possible jazz/world survey/map piece. After the first three or so paragraphs, which set out the basic dynamics, would come a string of paragraphs, each on an artist or genre or concept. The end (very roughly and incompletely sketched below) would then try to tie up and speculate on the future. The middle section is elastic -- it can be as long or as short as you have space to accommodate. The artist names just come from scanning my files, and are basically in the order found (or thought of). They need to be sorted into a more cogent list, and also prioritized. E.g., Don Cherry is a high priority. Each of these paragraphs should have a point, rather than just being a laundry list of names and records (not that they won't blur into that). It would also be possible to blow up a few of these paragraphs into sideboxes of maybe 200-400 words; e.g.: Dudu Pukwana et al. David Murray Kali Fasteau et al. (Bill Cole, Cooper-Moore) Anthony Brown would probably be #4 on that list, but I'm not sure I either have enough or understand it well enough to knock out something real fast. Those three are good examples of what might be called the push, pull, and kibbitz dynamics (Cherry was the patron saint of jazz/world kibbitzers; on the other hand I don't have a lot of good examples of music he produced). A fourth dynamic has to do with imagined ethnic roots -- a lot of afroamerican examples, of which Randy Weston is probably the best, although John Zorn is another. I didn't go through my latin lists; obviously there's more there, and a few paragraphs are mandatory. I left out major figure who dabbled, especially in latin (Mingus), or who just sounded foreign (Kirk). Left out most of the Europeans, especially one who are (a) straight jazz, (b) third stream, (c) influenced by Cardew, Stockhausen, Berio, et al.; that mostly leaves folk-influenced musicians, mostly balkans and scandinavians. Same for Japan: almost all of them are in tradition. Some of this should be generalized in the middle paragraphs. Have to think more about African. I'm not sure how much is improvised there -- I suspect a lot, but that it's still tethered to its popular roots, like '30s swing; i.e., it really never went through the bebop straightjacket which separated the music from the masses. Maybe you have some ideas on that. My African list (blue is what I have; black is shit I've heard about, seen recommended, etc.) is: http://www.tomhull.com/ocston/nm/shop/african.html The end should have one more thing about electronica, since the same jazz dynamics are even more pronounced there -- the big difference being the media. Can't work any more on this right now: have to go shopping now, and fix dinner for tonight.