Saturday, November 05, 2011

Bad music night: Jazz rock

There is much to say here, and  little time.  I suggested in last week's post that the 'freedom' and 'individuality' of free jazz was merely ornamental: a cadence around a standardised musical form.  It fools us into thinking we are free, rather than oppressed and alienated by the capitalist system.

This freedom was taken to its extremes in the late 1950s and 60s and beyond, leading to stuff like this, the Sun Ra Arkestra, which is really horrible, or the Soft Machine at the Proms, which is horrible in a different way. The Proms piece has all the hallmarks of 'free' improvisation around a standard form.  The standard form is little more than a modulation between two harmonic states.  The complex construction of 'All the things you are' has been lost altogether.  But that's as it should be.  Complex harmonisation and progression and sophisticated orchestration and arrangement takes time and genius.  An individual performer has no time, and he (or she) probably little genius, otherwise they would have been composers or arrangers instead of honking on a crappy saxophone.

People whose formative years were not in the late 1960s and early 1970s have no idea what it was like, and the horrors we had to sit through in the name of free jazz.  Hours and hours of it.  And the jumped up intellectual types who would rave about it and look at you like a piece of dirt of you merely hinted that it was awful.  Those times are long gone, at least I hope so.  As a final reminder, here are the wonderful Spinal Tap.

1 comment:

J said...

'All the things you are'

We agree at least on that, Ed-Ock., preferring say Bill Evans playing that to....the Sun Ra jass. That sort of complex musical-language has been ...purged,mainly (tho'...why? One could ..get Adornoian (not that I generally agree with Adorno, but his comments on pop-culture are interesting--tho' he hated pop-rock music he didn't care much for jazz either--(I think he was referring to Louis Armstrong speakeasy sort of thing)