Fake Jazz and Fake A** People

Published August 9, 2012 by Sandee

A jazz trio played in the garden where I work.  They were the real deal, not one of those easy listening, ersatz jazz groups you hear in elevators and hospital waiting rooms.  I’m not a jazz fan but the few pieces I like are hard core and abstract.  I went home and tried out some jazz on Pandora.  I inserted a Theolonius Monk station right above my Obituary death metal station.  I listened for a few minutes before inserting a John Coltrane station right underneath that.  I listened to that for a bit.  Nah.

I felt like a pretentious bourgeois wannabe listening to it.  Ironic since this music started out as edgy and was created by oppressed black people.  I relate to death metal more than I do to jazz.  I get the feeling that some people listen to it because they think it’s what sophisticated, intellectual, or middle-class people of a certain age are supposed to listen to.  I know there are genuine enthusiasts but I wonder about the rest.  I appreciate the great jazz artists, but these days I think a lot of people attach it to the complacency of the “good life,” while it used to be associated with the avant-garde and artists or people who were on the edge.  I don’t want to get into politics so I won’t elaborate on what I think is wrong with the concept of the “good life.”   People can create a cocoon for a moment in time but there’s always some threat hovering over it.

As a black person, dirty road house blues music does it for me.  It’s the music I relate to.  These people remind me that the good life is a fucking illusion.  It reminds me of my forefathers in the strain and toil of the cotton fields.  I appreciate the beauty in every group.  I just love the pathos of being black and I appreciate being part of the African Diaspora.  So my rejection of jazz for the most part has nothing to do with me denying part of my heritage or whatever.

Life is life and sometimes while life is being life you still have to do shit you don’t want to do, like dishes, laundry, vacuuming.  There are job decisions I have to make.  And at my age it’s scary, but I don’t have any choice.  As soon as I finish reading the proof copy of my book I have to get on with this task.  This is why I’m moving slowly as I alluded to in previous posts.  I’m afraid of what’s on the other side.  And oy gevalt — I have oral surgery issues!  Though I have insurance it still means more pain and more money.  It’s overwhelming.  So, to aid me in my day to day tasks when it gets rancid, I listen to my death metal station on Pandora as I wash dishes, throwing them from the sink to the dish rack, angrily.  The music makes me feel like I’m not alone in my existential mire.  I’m not always like this, but, hmmm….  I wonder.  Maybe I’m just angry because the people who run the good life won’t let me in.  Eh?

49 comments on “Fake Jazz and Fake A** People

  • I don’t have anything again Theolonius Monk or John Coltrane’s music. They were good at what they did and changed the shape of the Jazz world. But they don’t do anything for me either.

    Give me some Sidney Bechet or Fats Waller or King Oliver. Give me Bix Beiderbecke, or Count Basie or Duke Ellington.

    Now, if you want to kill me, give me elevator Jazz. More deadly than kryptonite

  • I’ve never been a huge jazz fan either, aside from the early ragtime stuff, like Scott Joplin rags. I’d rather listen to Robert Cray or Robert Johnson, good blues shit.

    I know how you feel, Sandee–sometimes I think, “Why did everyone get invited to the party but me?? WTF??”

  • Sandee, I know what you mean. Some jazz just sounds like noise and I know that it did mean something and takes talent. I do get that. But I do like Billie Holiday, maybe Miles Davis every once in a blue moon. I’m not familiar with some of the others you’ve mentioned so I obviously don’t fit into that crowd you refer to.

    Good luck with all this stuff you got going on and turn that metal up, woman. You’ll feel better then.

  • Never been jazzy either…I’m into rock, neo soul and more neo soul…enjoyed this post. Was thinking about you earlier today…this week has been so busy I haven’t had a moment to even breathe and reach out to anyone.

    How’s the book coming along? Hugs

    • You’re so sweet BB! Hugs right back atcha! I appreciate you asking about the book. I’m almost finished reading the proof copy. I want to be on the other side. I have so many misgivings about it all. I just want to be so involved in other aspects of my life that I don’t even think about the book anymore after it’s done.

      I hope all is well with you. I actually thought about you while watching the Olympic runners, since I know you’re a runner. I’m not an Olympic person but I do enjoy watching runners. They’re amazing specimens and I’m totally jealous of them!

  • Dear Sandee,
    I Love that you love music.
    I do, too.
    I’ve really gotten away from tv, and gotten much more into music and books.
    And, I really think it makes me a more creative and happy girl.
    Slam those dishes girl.
    I like that image.
    Love, Lis

  • I was the kid who liked The Fifth Dimension while everyone else was having Beatlemania… no genre, just like what I like. And most of the time, I go with the lyrics I think I hear instead of the ones that were written. I provide hours of hilarity for my family. The good news is this: our present is changing all the time, so you should be up to a part you like soon! xoxoM

  • hang in there…
    Try electro swing the next time you are doing dishes and need to shake it

    life can suck some times.. you are not alone!

  • Try Ornette Coleman or Don Cherry (Nenah Cherry’s dad). Or Charles Mingus. They’re much more experimental than even Monk. They’re also pretty hardcore (for jazz). I’m a Monk girl myself–there’s something about the minor chords that just does it for me.

    Blues? Just gimme some Robert Johnson. Maybe throw in a little John Lee Hooker and Little Willie John.

    And I’m with everybody else about “elevator jazz.” When the killed my favorite classic rock station out here, they replaced it with a station filled with smooth jazz. Twenty-five years later, I still won’t listen to it.

  • Great piece. I’ve never understood the idea of listening to music to sound sophisticated. Now, I do believe in listening to something a few times BECAUSE everybody says its good and you want to “get it” (there’s been a couple times where that’s actually worked for me, and Monk is one of those examples).

    I went to college with a dude who had a nearly encyclopedic knowledge of jazz. One day, another guy made a trenchant comment: “You know, I think Rajiv likes TALKING about jazz a whole lot more than he does listening to it.”

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