(more thoughts on jazz nerds, nerdy jazz, and jazz history)
Stepping back, I side with Marsalis in affirming the value of playing music that revels in swinging, and in playing jazz standards with a whole-hearted embrace of their tradition. I also agree with Marsalis that jazz, however it sounds, ought to be played to connect with and move listeners (optimally, through a feeling of personal commitment, not through pandering manoeuvres).
by Chris Barton Los Angeles Times May 21, 2010 Have you, as a listener, been suffering under the influence of Jazz Nerds International? Jazz critic and blogger for the Ottawa Citizen Peter Hum wrote a terrific post Thursday on the latest installment in what’s become known as “the jazz wars,” a long-running culture clash pitting […]
Alex Rawls talks to Ellis and Jason Marsalis about An Open Letter to Thelonious, teaching and traditional jazz. “When you deal with language to describe music, you’ve got a problem,” Ellis says. “I remember talking to a guy who was a player, and he said, ‘I’m really into traditional jazz,’ and he started rhyming off Charlie Parker, Monk, and all these guys.”
Having the last name Marsalis amounts to having the distinction of being a Kennedy in American politics. There is a good deal of pressure that comes with being a Marsalis and a certain amount of preconceived biases and expectations. It comes with the territory being the son of Ellis and the younger brother of Branford, Wynton, and Delf. But Jason, the drummer in the family, seems to be handling it all in stride. I spoke with the young Marsalis from his home in New Orleans about being a Marsalis and his new album on Basin Street. It is a portrait of a Marsalis, unedited and in his own words.
n New Orleans music circles, if your last name is Marsalis (or, for that matter, Neville) you have a reputation to live up to.
In the wake of causing a minor firestorm in the online jazz community last month with a playful video decrying the influence of “jazz nerds,” drummer Jason Marsalis e-mailed me a clarification this morning that both expands on the definition, shares his inspiration for the video and offers further talking points that amount to a calling for a truce in the so-called Jazz Wars.
Now that he’s issued a truly interesting follow-up, I’ll take the bait and weigh in on Jason Marsalis’s recent rant against “Jazz Nerds International” — i.e., young musicians so obsessed with being cutting-edge and complex that they ignore the history of the music and, perhaps more important, the need to connect with an audience beyond their fellow JNI peers.
Jason comes off as the leader of some high school clique intent on enforcing the shallow behavioral norms of adolescence (woe to the kid who wears the wrong brand of sneakers).
And then I get a request to think about and comment on this YouTube video of Jason Marsalis (jazz drummer extraordinaire and proponent of traditional jazz values). Why would anyone bother to do this you ask?