Friday, July 06, 2007

post-modern jazz guitar (preamble)

I’m out of town (always a little strange to be traveling without being weighed down by a guitar and amp) so I’ll be offblog for a few days. When I return, I plan to write on the subject of ‘post-modern jazz (guitar)’, so…

a couple of questions for y’all

What is, or what is constructed by the label, post-modern jazz?
It’s not at all a straightforward thing to use the ‘post-modern’ moniker in place of other labels (‘classicism’, ‘expressionism’, ‘orientalism’, etc.). The (informal? tenuous? hostile?) relationship between (cultural) modernism and (social) modernity finds no correlating expression between post-modernism and post-modernity. How can the post-modern stand for an aesthetic or sensibility? it is, after all, a condition, not a era or a milieu.
Of course, none of that stops us from trying.

Is, or do you find, post-modern jazz to be a positive development?
I’m curious about your reaction to post-modern jazz (whatever that is, and if such a thing exists): positive, negative, indifferent?


peter breslin said...

Hey- Interesting topic. I was kind of hard on post-modern jazz in a recent blog post, and maybe I should have avoided the term "post-modern" altogether. I meant to be hard on pastiche, collage, homage, mixture of styles, but not universally so. Just hard on imitative and derivative so-called jazz that sounds to me like it has the surfaces "correct" but misses the spiritual and aesthetic point. My local public radio affords many opportunities to hear this sort of thing...Jane Monheit, for example. To my ear so much of this "jazz" is absolutely horrifying, with endless aesthetic mistakes piled all in a jumble, one after the other. The total cluelessness and obvious lack of understanding is apparent in every moment...from the arrangements to the choices in solo statements to the vocal phrasing and sense of the song. It's an experience for me of laughing, then wincing, then actually exclaiming "oh my god! you can't possibly be doing what I'm hearing!"

I ask again: Is there any music worse than bad jazz?

On the other hand, one could argue that all "jazz" is post-modern, using found materials, drawing from the street as much as the academy, appropriating influence wildly...perhaps even improvisation itself is a thoroughly post-modern conception.

So how's that for confusing the issue?


the improvising guitarist said...

I ask again: Is there any music worse than bad jazz?

You know, having thought about this a bit, I’d have to say bad reggae is worse (I should know, I played some awful reggae when I was a kid).

S, tig