- John Kruth. Bright Moments: The Life and Legacy of Rahsaan Roland Kirk. New York: Welcome Rain Publishers, 2000. x, 404 pp.
- Gene Santoro. Myself When I am Real: The Life and Music of Charles Mingus. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Writing About Jazz
After all these years, I find myself unable to avoid an unhappy conclusion: jazz criticism is a bad idea, poorly executed.
Having opened with a sweeping generalization, it immediately becomes necessary to hedge somewhat. I do not think matters are really appreciably worse than when I entered the jazz world.
not a birch-twig for the castigation of offenders. — Arthur Symons
The role of the critic in jazz is the same as in the other arts: to serve as a bridge between artist and audience.
By J. R. Taylor
Jazz writers are a bunch of kids who don’t know anything about the music; also, they are a bunch of old men who haven’t liked anything new since Bird died. They live to put musicians down; this explains why they let record companies bribe them (sometimes outright, sometimes through paying them to do liner notes) never to write anything negative about anybody.Continue Reading
In his most recent column (“A State of Mind,” DB, Aug. 22), Michael Zwerin delivered a sermon on jazz critics and criticism, concluding that critics are “parasites” with the sole function of explaining “the difference between noise and music to people who are indifferent in front.”
In one of the remarks most frequently attributed to him, Charlie Parker said, “Music is your own experience, your thought, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn.”
This sounds like the most unexceptionable of statements, particularly when one considers the combination of genius and torment that lent authority to the speaker.