Monday, June 02, 2008

Steve Beeho sent me this great Steve Albini quote on jazz -- don't let the fact that it's utter bunk interfere with your enjoyment of it! -- that he found somewhere on the web and which parallels my analogy between improv and anarchism:

"Jazz serves a cultural function in the music scene. It is a signifier for musical 'adulthood'. To embrace jazz is to don a kind of graduation cap, signifying a broadening of tastes outside 'mere' rock music. This ostentatious display of 'sophistication' is an insult, and I find the graduation cappers transparent and tedious. Certainly there must be interesting music one could call 'jazz'. There must be. I've never heard it, but I grant that it is out there somewhere.

"Jazz has a non-musical parallel: Christiania, the 'free' zone in Copenhagen. In Christiania, like in jazz, there is no law. People are left to their own inventions to create and act as they see fit. In Jazz, the musicians are allowed to improvise over and beside structural elements that may themselves be extemporaneous. Sounds good, doesn't it? Freedom — sounds good.

"The reality is much bleaker. Christiania is a squalid, trashy string of alleys with rag-and-bone men selling drugs, tie-dye and wretched food. Granted Total Freedom, and this is what they've chosen to do with it, sell hash and lentil soup? Jazz is similar. The results are so far beneath the conception that there is no English word for the disappointment one feels when forced to confront it. Granted Total Freedom, you've chosen to play II V I and blow a goddamn trill on the saxophone? Only by willfully ignoring its failings can one pretend to appreciate it as an idiom and don the cap".

Reminded me of Stubbs interviewing Big Black in '87 and the name "Jimi Hendrix" coming up and Albini being utterly scornful of "all that addle daddle shit". I've never forgotten that expression--"addle daddle"--which I guess shows that it's better to be idiotically wrong but with style than to be conscientiously correct without it.