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Artist Profiles

Buell Neidlinger: From Taylor to Zappa to the Carpenters

By Published: December 16, 2003
And so now, let’s talk about the merchandising [of jazz]; let’s talk about a guy like Roy Ayers, who was a marvelous vibraphonist and jazz musician. I walked by a record store the other day, and I saw some very strange pictures of him dressed up in Zulu uniforms with all kinds of crazy-lookin’ bitches dancing around him, and so I went in there and wanted to hear what it sounded like. The guy put it on, and I mean shit, man, I could send a vibraphone and a couple of mallets to you through the mail today and you could play that good by this afternoon! You know, that’s what I call destruction, and it’s very sad to me. And another thing that I noticed is that, [although] I’m not into the mainstream of jazz anymore, and I don’t know who’s who, I sometimes listen to the local jazz station here, and it’s a playlist world. I know all about playlists because you know, I was involved in that big time in LA. There was one building in LA, Western Sound, where I would go there in the morning and record with the Beach Boys and in the afternoon go into another room and record with Neil Diamond, and that night go into the third room there and record with Elvis Costello. I’d hear all these records out there on the radio within a week, unless it was Earth, Wind and Fire, then it would be three days (laughing)! So, you can get product out if you want to, there’s no question about it, but what I’m talking about is that I’m not hearing anything new coming out on these jazz stations because it’s a playlist world. And that’s disgusting.

AAJ: Yeah, they actually tried to do that at the college station I worked at, but I left before I had to sell out. This is even college radio, and they do that there too.

BN: But that’s for Neil Diamond and Earth Wind and Fire; that’s how that business works. But to apply it to creative music, that’s a big mistake. Because then what you’re gonna hear is based on the taste of a programmer...

AAJ: ...Who is basing his tastes on the money that the record label may be sending him.

BN: That’s right, and so I don’t know who’s going to rescue us from that. Then when we come to the general tone of Jazz journalism as epitomized by Joseph Woodard of Jazz Times, hey, that ain’t very good either. I’m a little bit worried. I thought after 9/11... you know, at K2B2, we’re always getting tapes from people, and they’ve become less and less interesting over the years, so I thought that maybe 9/11 would produce the emotional conditions that would bring out the next Ornette Coleman or the next Albert Ayler or whatever, but we didn’t get anything strikingly emotional sent to us for consideration. As a matter of fact, it was more like... minimalism. That’s what it’s seemingly coming to with the younger jazz artists. Kind of a minimalist approach – repetition, tones which aren’t expressive, really dead. I’m 67 and I hope I can live long enough for the next Bird, Trane, or the next Albert Ayler. I can’t wait. If anybody out there is playing along those lines, please send us the tapes right away. We want to release their album.

Visit Buell Neidlinger on the web at .

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