Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Kind of Weird

Before people get too worked up over this, they need to realize that our album is a copy, not a clone—an object designed to reaffirm what people already love about ‘Kind of Blue’ and to highlight what we could and couldn’t pull off…. That’s where the art is—getting people to think about the original by listening harder to the differences. [more…]
Been following the MOPDTK/Blue threads here and there on fb with some interest. Some random questions:
  1. When does musical criticism cross into personal attacks? Is the personal and the musical ever separable, in particular, in the context of improvisative practices?
  2. At what point does musical proficiency sanction an entry into the hallowed domain of reinvention? (or is that question just wrong? what is at stake?)
  3. If the piece is a conceptual prank (of sorts), then is not the kerfuffle a demonstration of its success?
  4. If the piece is a conceptual prank, who or what was the target?
  5. When are we comfortable discussing the intersections of class, economics (and race) and music? (and if we can’t do this in the context of a kind of appropriation, when can we do it?)
I’ll admit straight off the bat that I’ve never been particularly drawn to MOPDTK’s work (no fault of theirs, just never got around to it), but this did at least get me to listen. fwiw, some thoughts (my ¢2):
  1. There’s a self-consistent argument from those critical of this project that goes like this: by all means do your own music—be creative!—but if you were to copy an existing work, your chops should be up to the task. I’m not 100% convinced by this argument, though it’s hard not to agree that there are people with more aptitude for meticulous recreations. I think notions of ‘authenticity’ and ‘respect’ (to/for yourself, the tradition, cultural ancestors, etc.) play in both pro/con arguments, but that are largely left unexamined.
  2. Given the continuing struggle with notions of history, continuity and tradition that is so much a part of this music’s DNA, it occurs to me that it would be naïve of anyone to think that the album would not generate, at the very least, heated discussions.
  3. It seems to me that that the target could not have realistically been the Lincoln Center neoclassicists and their audience since, given the nature of the band and the label, this piece of cultural noise would just not be audible there. So, it seems to be reasonable that the target of the prank was those of us already on the left-field (those of us already defending or critiquing this work), but that raises a whole bunch of additional questions about purpose, and questions about how to assess the success of the prank.
Final thought: I find it near impossible to hear Kind of Blue with something other than naïve teenage ears (which is how I first encountered that record). So I feel unqualified to do a critical, microscopic assessment of MOPDTK’s work-as-copy. From hearing a short excerpt from MOPDTK’s album, however, all I can add was that I was surprised how well Jon Irabagon could reembody Adderley, and fascinated how Peter Evans apparently could not mimic Davis to the same degree.

1 comment:

the improvising guitarist said...

One thing that I took from all of this: I can now put a finger on what I love so much about Frisell’s performance of existing, familiar repertoire.