When people rebuff my attempts to share my love of jazz-pop-rock group Chicago with them, I understand their qualms. Really, I do. Few bands went from being quite so inventive to quite so predictable in the long, tough slog between 1968 and 1984. (The political parallels alone are terrifyingly relevant: many of the exact same people who were in SDS went on to become Yuppies by the midpoint of the Reagan years, but I digress.) So, I understand when people tell me why they don't like Chicago. I might disagree, but I do understand. These are good folk ...read more
"Sacred cows make the tastiest cheeseburgers" -- after Abbie Hoffman (1936-1989) I have always said of popular culture, that like a McDonald's cheeseburger, it is to be consumed but never considered. Much of music is nothing more than a reflection of popular culture and certainly falls beneath that grand proclamation. A good deal of hip hop and all of dubstep, electro house, post-hardcore and what passes for R&B today will not be remembered, much less heard regularly, in fifty years. While popular culture may become classic" culture, it does not do so wholesale. ...read more
"Years ago it would have seemed an impossible dream to get to record with this musical magus, but here we are... and what a thrill!" class="f-right s-img">--Charlie Kohlhase, From liner notes to Eventuality: The Charlie Kohlhase Quintet Plays the Music of Roswell Rudd (Nada, 2001)I see him suddenly as if in a dream. His eyes are somewhat cynical, questioning and beautiful. Wrinkles of laughter pucker up at the edges, and he reminds me of my father. His smile disappears as the mouthpiece of his gleaming trombone meets his lips. Then, all I can see is ... read more
[Editor's note: Revised and expanded here, this piece originated as an oral essay for an installment of the Cosmoetica Omniversica internet radio series on the arts and sciences. The series was hosted by Dan Schneider and Art Durkee.] More or less officially unveiled with the first New York appearance of the Ornette Coleman Quartet at the Five Spot Café in the fall of 1959, free jazz (or new black music, space music, new thing, anti-jazz or abstract jazz as it would variously be labeled), gave new dimension to the perennial where's the melody?" complaint against jazz.read more
The hair of the bow gently caresses the string, catching an A" high on the upper register. Then, in a series of sweeping glissandos, it descends the diatonic scale in a minor mode. I am caught in its downdraft like a bird on a rapidly cooling thermal, falling... falling through air thick with saddening notes. The violin is never alone. It is pursued and coaxed ever onward by the dense clusters of notes played by the bracs of Olah Norbert, the second violin of Ruszo Istvan, the glorious moaning of Szegfu Karoly's cello and the low, weeping counter-melody of Csikos ...read more
It was cool in Bombay that July in 1985, or was it 1986? Somehow the year does not seem to matter quite as much as it did when the phenomenon first occurred. The other details, of course, I remember clear as day. Association PC were tearing it up on stage at the fabled arena of the historic (for India at that time) Jazz Yatra an international jazz festival hosted by Jazz India since 1978. The Max Mueller Bhavan was responsible in no small measure for bringing the large ensemble down to Bombay and I recall a distinct thrill when listening ...read more
A measure of just how underrated a musician he was in his lifetime is reflected in the fact that even three days after he passed on most of the major publications had not even reported his death, much less celebrated his life in the glowing terms that he so richly deserved. Perhaps this was because oddly enough he may have spent a lifetime mostly in the quietude of musical intellectualism rather than in its practice. That is, after all how most may ultimately remember George Russell, born June 23, 1923--died July 27, 2009. He did author the most important work ...read more
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