Saturday, June 19, 2010

I say...Pt. 2

So, Mr. Marsalis has clarified his point in an essay you can, and should, read here.
I have to say, that I agree with most of what he has to say. It's a shame that the rave that was uploaded was such a mis-representation. He really shouldn't have been at all surprised that a Marsalis raving about the state of Jazz today received so much attention.
As I mentioned in my original post, and Marsalis clarifies in this essay, the main issue is not odd-times, or whether the music is straight or swung, the main issue is about knowledge of a broad range of the history of music. Marsalis says:
"There’s information in Louis Armstrong, Benny Goodman, Louis Jordan, Chuck Berry, Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, Cecil Taylor, Jimi Hendrix, George Clinton, Art Ensemble of Chicago, Bob Marley, Stevie Wonder, Weather Report, Michael Jackson, Public Enemy, Genesis, Nirvana, Common, John Legend, just to name a few."
Personally, I agree with the notion of listening to music as diverse as this, so that you can be better informed in creating music.
Another interesting point here, though, is that I know musicians who are influenced by (comparatively) very few musicians, and make music that is just as strong, considered and powerful as anyone else.
Here we stumble into the debate, which many students seem to ask themselves, of "when do I just start to concentrate on developing my own thing?". This really a question without an answer, and one that borders on the irrelevant. You, simply, just do what you want to do, work on what you want to work on. If you're doing something you don't feel like doing, stop doing it. Back to the topic at hand though....
In his conclusion Marsalis makes two points. The first brings into the equation his personal bias. It has a place (he is a performing musician after all), but in as essay that seems to have been conceived to produce a kind of clearing-up-of-an-argument effect, it sticks out as unnecessary, and, similarly to the orginal video, political in motivation.
The second point he makes is that there needs to be an overhaul of the music education system. I'm sure it's more pronounced in the home of Jazz than here in Australia, and this is really a discussion for another time....
so long


  1. There is one small part of your blog that I would like to discuss. It is a topic I take great interest in. “You, simply, just do what you want to do, work on what you want to work on. If you're doing something you don't feel like doing, stop doing it.” I think it’s not quite that simple for everyone. You’re Marc Hannaford, you have a name, you’ve worked hard for that and can ride that. You’re independent and can do what you want because you’ve worked up to that. Maybe consider situation the “many students [that] seem to ask themselves” are in and what it actually means from their point of view. Me for example, I know (more or less) what I want to do and I think it could be really good. But to do it I may have to stick it out at uni to acquire the skills in order to do what I want to do, which may means working on the kinds of music that I don’t really take an interest in. Everyone keeps telling me to pay my dues and to be patient. Maybe consider that perhaps by doing the uni coarse I can get student support, and therefore work on music without having to work full time in a cafe, although it may be music that I don’t really agree with or like or take any interest in at all.

  2. Well that's interesting Jono.
    I don't think who I am (or who you might think I am) and what I may have done for me to be "Marc Hannaford" and achieve 'independence' and 'ride' it has very much to do with anything. I understand that when we're in Uni there are syllabus' to follow and criteria we are marked on, but surely the idea of 'acquiring skills in order to do what I want to do' is just as much a part of 'doing what you want to do' than being outside of that system, hustling gigs and supporting yourself by teaching or working some other non-musical job.
    All in all, this is difficult thing for me to empathise with, as I really like working on jazz as much as the materials I'm interested in that have less to do with the jazz tradition, and did so through uni.