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Madison jazz scene status report...

Who's making noise in and around Madison? What's new in the business of making music around town? Review shows and CDs here. Please keep all hype in Hype Exchange.

Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby jman111 » Mon Apr 25, 2011 4:40 pm

wallrock wrote:...after a particularly rousing show...

Willy St Fair, by any chance?
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Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby Dipper » Mon Apr 25, 2011 4:44 pm

You wanna know the real reason jazz venues fail? The jazz heads just don't drink enough. They'll order a gin and tonic which they'll nurse all night, and then complain there were too many ice cubes. Now with the blues, of course, the customers are tossing back so many drinks that they lose count. Blues has always been the international heartbeat of all music, while jazz is the music people choose when they want something in the background while they eat (ever hear of a Blues Brunch?). Jazz once upon a time was the music of liberation, but now its the bloodless noodlings of an unending parade of masturbatory soloists, all striving for the ultimate compliment of "isn't that clever?"

Louis Jordan gave up on strict jazz because he wanted to "play for the people."John Lennon said it was the music at the end of his life that he still couldn't stand. Even jazz critics like Gary Giddings have given up on it, with nothing to look forward to except more tortured renderings of "A Few of My Favorite Things." Jazz is the abstract expressionism of the music world, but like that art movement, it has certainly run its course.

Oh, of course, I know that it's all good, but I'll never get over local jazzheads' befuddlement over why their chosen genre is just not as popular as it once was. Kinda like the math whiz who wonders why more people haven't signed up for calculus class. The subtleties of jazz are lost on most of us, and will always dictate a tiny following.
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Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby jman111 » Mon Apr 25, 2011 4:52 pm

Dipper wrote: Now with the blues, of course, the customers are tossing back so many drinks that they lose count.

Guilty, as charged.
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Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby eriedasch » Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:13 pm

Dipper wrote:The jazz heads just don't drink enough. They'll order a gin and tonic which they'll nurse all night, and then complain there were too many ice cubes.

I think those were very close to Shannon Sweeney's exact words when he started booking jazz/funk/jam crossover bands into the King Club when he realized booking only jazz bands was not cutting it financially.
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Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby wallrock » Mon Apr 25, 2011 5:15 pm

jman111 wrote:
wallrock wrote:...after a particularly rousing show...

Willy St Fair, by any chance?

I actually was referring to the BAM Fest show a few years back, but I did catch most of Wayne's set after the Jimmys last year.
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Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby ilikebeans » Mon Apr 25, 2011 6:07 pm

Dipper wrote:The jazz heads just don't drink enough. They'll order a gin and tonic which they'll nurse all night, and then complain there were too many ice cubes.

That was also one of the reasons I kept hearing through the grapevine when the Concourse shut down their stage.

supaunknown wrote:When was the last time a 5+piece jazz combo had a regular gig anywhere in Madison?

The Tony Castañeda Latin Jazz Band is usually 5-6 people at the Cardinal every Sunday. However, it helps in their case that they're essentially a dance band. The New Breed jazz jam is about the same size and recently found a new home at the Cardinal every Tuesday, but had moved around several times before that.

Certainly no clubs are booking big bands (say, 10 pieces or more) regularly, and haven't for decades. Occasionally you can catch the Madison Jazz Orchestra at the Brink or Harmony, but it's not a weekly thing.

Dipper wrote:Jazz is the abstract expressionism of the music world, but like that art movement, it has certainly run its course.

That depends, I think, on how broadly you cast the definition of "jazz," and in what part of the country.

Around here, the rare touring band that embraces jazz history and yet extends it in a meaningful way (e.g., Medeski, Martin, and Wood) tends to do well. Then again, they also have one foot in the jam band world, which I'm sure will make more than a few readers groan. But hey, wasn't jazz the original jam/improv music? Perhaps that's why some refer to both as "masturbatory," and perhaps often they are.

Of course, the cities of New York and New Orleans still have vibrant jazz scenes, and not just as dinner music. I just don't see that kind of per-capita interest around here to keep a jazz club afloat.
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Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby ColumbiaCounty » Mon Apr 25, 2011 8:17 pm

Nate535 wrote:
jman111 wrote:
supaunknown wrote: ...but when was the last time you heard of a blues artist pushing any musical boundaries?

Two things:
1- Have you heard anything from Wayne Baker Brooks (Lonnie Brooks' son)?
2- Does a musical genre have to push boundaries to be worthwhile, in your opinion?


I can't think of a single blues-ish guitar player in Madison who is doing anything even remotely creative. The Madison blues scene is all about copying traditional Chicago blues now apparently which I agree is both tired and boring. It shouldn't be surprising considering the sparse talent in this genre here in Madison.


I'll give a shout out for a creative Madison guitar player...
Andy Ewen is great. I think he has all the things I really dig about blues (or any good music for that matter). Andy is creative, a little scary sometimes and he's done his homework in regards to knowing the older players and styles. He's also not afraid to think outside of the box...He's been involved with some pretty wide ranging projects over the years. Andy is mighty.
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Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby hellogoodbye » Mon Apr 25, 2011 8:45 pm

Hey I'm just glad that people are talking about jazz at all. Yea I know it isn't for everyone but those that like it do go out and patronize the places that have it.

Bill Roberts gets my nod for a local guitarist that is doing something different and more than just rehashed blues. Although he can do rehashed blues very well. I'm sorry, but if you can't hear the history of modern guitar coming out of that guy's fingers than I'm not sure you ever will. He plays in all sorts of different groups and seems to make everyone sound better.

Side note: I don't think people realize how hard it is to play good blues. It ain't about technique at all. It is as real and complex as life itself and all wrapped up in a familiar form/sound. You can tell when someone has it going on in your head, toes, gut & butt!

This Joni Mitchell quote really speaks to the heart of the state of jazz, not just in madison, but our country as a whole: "I don't understand why Europeans and South Americans can take more sophistication. Why is it that Americans need to hear their happiness major and their tragedy minor, and as jazzy as they can handle is a seventh chord? Are they not experiencing complex emotions?"
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Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby dstol62 » Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:10 pm

In response to Dipper's patronizing generalizations about why jazz is unpopular, I think it's fair to say that this is due in part to our current need for instant gratification. Not so long ago, it was possible for a jazz group to hold an audience's attention for an entire set. These days, people are checking their cells by the middle of the second tune. If it's still considered rude to do this while out on a personal engagement, rest assured the same rules apply at a seated music performance. As to the assertion that jazz only belongs as background music for a brunch or doing laundry, that is an affirmation of Dipper's ignorance.
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Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby jman111 » Tue Apr 26, 2011 12:28 pm

dstol62 wrote:In response to Dipper's patronizing generalizations...These days, people are checking their cells by the middle of the second tune.

speaking of generalizations...
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Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby supaunknown » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:02 pm

dstol62 wrote:In response to Dipper's patronizing generalizations about why jazz is unpopular, I think it's fair to say that this is due in part to our current need for instant gratification. Not so long ago, it was possible for a jazz group to hold an audience's attention for an entire set. These days, people are checking their cells by the middle of the second tune. If it's still considered rude to do this while out on a personal engagement, rest assured the same rules apply at a seated music performance. As to the assertion that jazz only belongs as background music for a brunch or doing laundry, that is an affirmation of Dipper's ignorance.

A seated musical performance?
Dipper's post was dang funny.
I don't think other music genres audiences are immune from modern cell phone obsession. What can you do? It is what it is. Maybe they're texting their friends about the kick-ass band they're at.
Wanna keep their attention? Don't play that overly slow version of Dream A Little Dream Of Me where everybody in the band gets 3 solos each, including the drummer. By the time the head finally comes around most people are ready to take a One O'Clock Jump off the nearest bridge.
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Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby dstol62 » Tue Apr 26, 2011 1:19 pm

Wanna keep their attention? Don't play that overly slow version of Dream A Little Dream Of Me where everybody in the band gets 3 solos each, including the drummer. By the time the head finally comes around most people are ready to take a One O'Clock Jump off the nearest bridge.



There just aren't enough junkies in the audience these days to justify a ballad longer than 2 minutes...
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Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby acereraser » Tue Apr 26, 2011 4:53 pm

hellogoodbye wrote:This Joni Mitchell quote really speaks to the heart of the state of jazz, not just in madison, but our country as a whole: "I don't understand why Europeans and South Americans can take more sophistication. Why is it that Americans need to hear their happiness major and their tragedy minor, and as jazzy as they can handle is a seventh chord? Are they not experiencing complex emotions?"


A jazz/rock guitarist friend of mine didn't have a cause for the waning of jazz, but one of the main symptoms which greatly affected his livelihood was the diminishing ability of the greater American Public to enjoy an instrumental. This doesn't just stifle jazz; no one is attempting to write the next "Green Onions" or "Tequila" either.
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Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby ilikebeans » Tue Apr 26, 2011 5:40 pm

acereraser wrote:...diminishing ability of the greater American Public to enjoy an instrumental.

True-- notice American Idol isn't about group improv.

However, I'll stick my neck out here and say that the greater public isn't interested in vocal jazz either. Why? My theory: Very few people understand it.

Traditional jazz, especially in smaller combos, is based on forms and chords that aren't present in other genres. It can be a very complex art form, occasionally bordering on, yes, masturbatory. I hated it for years until I took a few classes and realized what was going on. It still took a couple of years after that before I enjoyed certain songs with very non-pop sections and chords that weren't obviously major-minor. There are classic tunes that I still don't care for (like any other genre).

Thing is, with school funding cut at every turn, what's the first thing to go? The arts. Unless their parents listen to it, most kids in this part of the country won't hear jazz until they catch a snippet of Take 5 in a car ad or something.
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Re: Madison jazz scene status report...

Postby Kenneth Burns » Tue Apr 26, 2011 5:52 pm

acereraser wrote:A jazz/rock guitarist friend of mine didn't have a cause for the waning of jazz, but one of the main symptoms which greatly affected his livelihood was the diminishing ability of the greater American Public to enjoy an instrumental. This doesn't just stifle jazz; no one is attempting to write the next "Green Onions" or "Tequila" either.


What was the last instrumental to have success on the pop chart? "Axel F"?
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