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The Mort Report

Why Do I Write These Articles?

By Published: June 30, 2012
OK. Let's revisit what I've just said. What the fuck is Mort trying to tell us? (Not trying, told ya.) All right, for those of you that at this point don't get it listen up! For those of you that do—you're excused. Do something useful, like ordering one of my albums and like that—but come back for the big ending! OK, now, you're the teacher. You know how to play your axe. You've been out there—done the club scene, the rehearsal bands (no $$) for that. You've even been on the road. You have the $300 limit credit card with the $5,000 annual fee. You've been married two or three years. You look at her; she doesn't know it but you see the lines of worry, of being tired of trying to budget the unsteady cash flow that you bring in from the occasional recording date, the two-week engagement at the big club in town—yeah, man, but you're known (among your peers) as a working cat; yeah, the kid needs clothes...oh, I didn't mention the kid. Well guess what! Yep, maybe this time it will be a boy.

OK, enough already (it's hard to write with tears in my eyes). You take out your BA/BM/BS (whatever). The local two-year college has an opening in the music department teaching jazz history and performance; you apply; you get the gig; life is good; you now have a credit card with a $5,000 limit and annual fee of $300; the new apartment is great; and all is well. So there you ha—I almost forgot, it was another girl.

Forget the fellow above, I used him metaphorically. This goes on in public and private schools nationwide. Let me digress for a moment. Two years ago I didn't know how to turn a computer on. Now that I'm involved in cyber-type things—e.g. this article, emails, etc.

I have navigated around the web looking at jazz sites I accidentally hit a porno site—damn, whatever happened to plain ol' sex? (I seem to keep on accidentally hitting that darn site, must be a glitch in my Mac). At any rate, these jazz sites all have writers espousing how great things are in the world of jazz and no, jazz is not on its death bed (see my article hThe State of Jazz, Coltrane Clones and the Noose of Technology) and how there are jazz festivals all over the world (there are too, I've seen one advertised in freakin' Borneo. Some of these writers who are mostly retired doctors, lawyers, Indian chiefs who were originally into Pink Floyd, Journey, Rush, Gentle Giant—ya know, things a bit hipper then Axel Rose or Johnny Rotten (although I think emo might be where it's at; been digging Jimmy Eat World lately, the dude has something in common with Bach ya know? Sam, not J.S).

Anyway, some of these cats (the jazz writers) travel all over going to one after another festival and or jazz venue, and writing about some wonderkind or some giant of jazz that they heard in Botswana or the Ukraine. So I now go to YouTube and listen to some of these cats. Man! Some of these people make Peter Brotzmann
Peter Brotzmann
Peter Brotzmann
sound like Stephen Collins Foster. Point is, change is inevitable, and what it was it was. But please don't call what's happening in the music business $$ today jazz. These so-called critics (most of them) never paid their rent from monies made playing music. Like I've said in other places, I can take you to clubs in L.A. and show you Grammy Award winners playing for $70-$80 a night, and glad that they can keep their chops up—and the clubs are closing up one after another. Yo, dudes (writer types); most of you haven't the faintest idea of what's happening out there. Don't worry I haven't forgotten about our perspiring young cat, bright-eyed and bushytailed, starting his first day at Jazz U.

Yeah, I'm forgetting about the young cat! To go any further with him would only belabor the issue. So, as a musician that was born during the halcyon years of the music (jazz and swing), grew up during the huge musical paradigm shift—enter Bird & Bop (the missing link being Prez)—completely understanding what was going on—loving it (words can't explain the emotions that were evoked that still exist to this day), and even then knowing (if only instinctually) that the never-ending hard work that it would entail, and never end until either you did, or you quit playing, would govern and/or dictate your life's journey... well, to try to impart this to someone who hasn't committed themselves to any discipline so demanding gives me pause in what I'm trying to disseminate to the musical weekend warrior (that was almost a life sentence!).

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