Responding to Jason Marsalis

This is in response to a you tube video circulating where another Marsalis (Jason) pretends to have answers for all.

Responding to Jason Marsalis

It is astounding to me that this conflict still rages between old and new trends in jazz. Anybody who cares a wit about culture knows that the only way forward in life is with change. Some change may be lasting and some not, but the dust bin of history is littered with individuals like Jason who fulminate against modernism, only to find that they won the battle but lost the war. Remember Louis Armstrong putting down Dizzy Gillespie? Does Marsalis accept that as fact, 70 years later?

It’s actually funny- he reminds me of a redneck bluegrass musician saying there should be no electric guitar in country music. My Dad would be 95 if he were alive today, and he couldn’t begin to understand my music being a Gershwin man, but he had ears enough to say, “I know you’re doing something worthwhile, even if I can’t understand it.”

But to be more specific, since most of these “nerds” are probably my friends…If he is talking about the people I THINK he’s talking about, Vijay, Potter, Ethan, Steve Coleman, etc., I am quite sure they are outselling him on Soundscan. He says one must “play for the people”, but who are the “people” he is talking about? There are a lot of folks who like this new music. Most of these “nerds” can play the hell out of a standard and stand up to the jazz gentry on every level. I’m not even sure that matters, but it’s worth noting. The swing feel is becoming like the “Mozart” of jazz music- it’s classic, it’s great, but it ain’t the end all. I respect those who specialize in it. A question, though- is it wrong to engage one’s mind and heart in something new? If so, let’s call the following people nerds, since in their time countless Luddites accused them of ruining things for “the people”: Galileo, Newton, Picasso, Rothko, Charlie Parker, Coltrane, Walt Whitman, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Ornette Coleman. Progress is a mind set. Curiosity breeds invention, and invention is life.

Some new music sounds “nerdy” to me too. Almost everyone has their “nerd” barometer. Odd times can get boring as 4/4 can. Too many notes can be a drag, and too few can be too! But I would NEVER claim to have THE answer for anyone other than myself. Only self-righteous, fist-waving revisionists do that. Music “for the people?’ That’s called pop music. Jazz is largely for intellectuals and has been since bebop. Do I really have to point that out to HIM?

Let the doors always be open to all courageous souls who dare to take “the road less travelled”.

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