Went to a university jazz recital last night, and there were quite a few 21st century phenomena. First, midway through the show, there was a power failure and the room plunged into darkness. Fortunately, only the keyboardist was electrified, and he sucked anyway, so the rest of the band kept cranking.
Since next to nobody in Los Angeles smokes anymore, nobody in the crowd had a lighter, but slowly, the stage was bathed in more and more eerie blue light issuing from the audience.
Everybody in LA has a cell phone. It was very cool.
So that was a first, and surely not a last.
I'm not much of a jazz fan, but I've come to appreciate the greats, if not the form itself, over the years. Black jazz critic Stanley Crouch got fired a few years back for saying that these new white kids just don't swing---you know, the thing that makes you tap your foot and sway to the beat. Instead, though they're highly technical and accomplished, the end result is poo-poo.
These freshly scrubbed yuppoids with no cultural connection to the music were attempting to recreate the genius improvisations of mind and soul, of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, from painstakingly transcribed sheet music! I mean, that defeats the whole purpose of the thing.
The face of 21st Century Jazz.
Well, I think you see where I'm going with this, if you recognize the folks in the photo from Galaxy Quest, aliens who built their entire reality by reassembling an old Earth TV show. Think of it the next time you hear some music that sounds perfect to the ear and brain, but has a hole in the middle where its heart (and your heart) ought to be.
It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing, said The Duke (that's Ellington, for those who came in late), and that's all me and the estimable Mr. Crouch are saying.