When I was 4, my Aunt Barbara gave me an inch high stack of used vinyl records that she purchased for a quarter from a flea market. Included in that stack was Dave Brubeck’s “Time Further Out”, recorded May/June 1961. When I put on the first track, “It’s a Raggy Waltz”, it struck a chord with the funny, adventurous side of my “old soul.” That’s all I knew; here’s what I DIDN’T know then:
I didn’t know that this record was over 10 years old.
I didn’t know that Mr. Brubeck was a leading force in the “Cool Jazz” era.
I didn’t know that he, along with Max Roach, was a master of odd time signatures.
I didn’t know that Dave Brubeck was White and Modoc.
I didn’t know ANY of that and didn’t care.
Here’s what I do know: we have to stop guilt-tripping young musicians into playing Jazz. They’re not going to find their place that way and ultimately, this is what freedom of choice is all about as an artist. If they have to ask too many questions and don’t have the innate desire to consume this music with love and burning passion, then there’s a good chance they weren’t meant to play it. If there is a contingency that wishes to label swinging as “old hat” and “outdated” – I can’t do anything about that, except to keep being pro-swing. “Anti-“ is going to get you nowhere – fast.
The only way to “preserve” the music is to keep playing it. History gets written down – we learn about it. We’ll never forget wars, inventions, catastrophes – largely because these events have been documented (with some accuracy) and re-told over the ages. For those of us that love swinging, we have to simply continue in that vein. If we allow ourselves to get discouraged because of who’s on what magazine covers, who’s on whose gigs, who’s in which venues – we become bogged down in the mire of bullshit that has absolutely nothing to do with being artistic: performance, creativity and the edification of others.
Let’s find our way back home.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012