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  1. #26

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    Another interesting point. This is about the time that black musicians started making a concerted effort to reject “jazz” as a label for both artistic and social reasons.**

    I don’t know enough about him, but it seems not to have occurred to Tristano that he might have done the same.

    ** in large part, this is what Black Music (the book in question) is chronicling.

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  3. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim
    Have you ever read the book?
    Read the book, and you can find out for yourself
    I decided to order it. You made me even more curious after having heard about the book recently and finding out that is has become unavailable in the Internet Archive.

    Interviews with Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, Randy Weston, Ornette Coleman, Philly Joe Jones, Don Byas, Ron Carter, Johnny Griffin, Charles Tolliver, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Erroll Garner, Leon Thomas, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae -- that sounds very interesting. (The interviews with Dexter and Monk have obviously only been published in the latest edition).

    I am very much interested in listening to "oral history" or its written record a lot -- especially in this time with its "meta-way" of looking at things where rather a literature scholar (aka expert) is interviewed about a new book who will then speculate about the author's intentions instead of simply interviewing the author himself.

    I will tell you if I share your impression of the book after having read it.

    Art Taylor has some interesting things to tell himself -- just revisiting an interview after six years.


  4. #28

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    In any case the Tristano school did not breed racists.

    There is that section in "Conversation's on the Improvisor's Art" where Lee Konitz speaks very critically about the Jewish environment he grew up in regarding how people of color where looked down on, he talks about African-Americans working in his parents laundry IIRC.*

    Or there is this (just for the record, this is from 2015, George Floyd was murdered in 2020):



    *) Talking about Jews in the context of racism against blacks we -- and possibly me as a German in particular -- must of course not fall into the trap of viewing "the Jews" as an unified entity.
    I am fully aware that many Jews played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement.
    And I am aware that true anti-semitism is wide-spread among African-Americans with people like Louis Farrakhan as the tip of the iceberg.
    (I say "me as a German in particular" not only because of the Shoa, but also because public opinion -- or "manufactured consent" to put it the Chomsky way -- has become more and more unidimensionally Israel-friendly culminating after 23/10/7. Almost no one over here is aware that there exists a very broad spectrum ranging from ultra-Zionists with Nazi views -- I cannot put it in another way -- to ulta-orthodox like Neturei Karta who refuse to ever put a foot on the holy grounds of the Middle East and in between those extremes many critical intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Aaron Maté, Illan Pappe, Moshe Zimmermann, Philip Weiss, Max Blumenthal, then NGOs like Jewish Voice For Peace, Breaking The Silence, B'Tselem etc. etc.)

  5. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bop Head
    In any case the Tristano school did not breed racists.
    I don’t think this was ever in question.

  6. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    Here is a section of Shim Eunmi's Lennie Tristano: His life in music (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2007, pp108-9), in which Tristano's remark is discussed.

    Tristano thought that the free jazz movement stemmed from racial politics, which legitimized black musicians’ ownership of the music. This point is illustrated by Cecil Taylor, who made an issue of ethnicity, stressing that African American heritage was essential to jazz. In a 1961 interview, he explicitly drew a color line: “[T]he greatness in jazz occurs because it includes all the mores and folkways of Negroes during the last 50 years. No, don’t tell me that living in the same kind of environment is enough. You don’t have the same kind of cultural difficulties as I do.” Taylor mentioned Zoot Sims and Tristano as examples, relegating their music to a mere simulation of jazz: “I admire someone like Zoot Sims, because he accepts himself. He is unique. He tries to come to grips with everything, musically, not socially. But even Zoot, and Lennie Tristano, only simulate the feeling of the American Negro. . . . Jazz is a Negro feeling. It is African, but changed to a new environment. It begins in the Negro community, and it is the only place for Negro hero worship.” Other African American jazz musicians, notably Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie, also considered Tristano an imitator of black music, as discussed in the epilogue.

    In this context, Tristano’s criticism of the 1960s free jazz must be understood as a reaction to a dismissive attitude toward white musicians. In 1962 he stated: “No white man could ever get away with the things a Negro does today. So many people are exploiting the negative popularity of the Negro. It’s wrong, you know. A Negro may think jazz makes a man out of him, but nobody has a corner on music. Let’s be logical. There are Negroes and/or slaves all over the world, but nothing like jazz ever happened anywhere but here in this country.” [Bill Coss, “Lennie Tristano Speaks Out,” Down Beat, December 6, 1962]

    In fact, he was provoked to such a degree that he declared: “There is nothing African about jazz. Jewish cantors and gypsys sound more like it than anything from Africa. You should realize that nowhere did it happen but here. ... So you get to the point where you must realize this is an environmental thing. True, most of the great originators have been Negro. But that’s because of environment.” He continued: “If Charlie Parker had been born in China, he would have been a great musician, I’m sure; but he wouldn’t have invented bop. The good beat is in all folk music. The funky note is held by gypsys and so many others. It’s about time people realized jazz is an American thing, only possible here, and that a persecuted minority should realize it does no good to affect another minority prejudice.”

    Tristano reiterated his position in 1964 when asked whether African Americans had any advantage, and whether there were different approaches between black and white musicians: “No! They have no innate ability in that respect, just because of the color of their skins. And as for the other, it’s been disproved hundreds of times. Roy Eldridge took the Downbeat [sic] blindfold test on that a few years ago and missed about 99% of his guesses on which color the musicians were.” Then in 1973 he explicitly expressed his frustration over what he felt as discrimination against white musicians: “During the forties and the early fifties, they didn’t talk about the fact that they thought genetically white people couldn’t play jazz, but they believed it. Now of course everybody talks about it, and in a very hostile, and what I would call a racist way. See, I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that’s genetic.”
    Great post, and throws much needed light on this discussion. So, as to the quote (in the OP) in question, is this then the true source of it? :

    "A Negro may think jazz makes a man out of him, but nobody has a corner on music. "

    This is far less racially loaded than the way it was paraphrased!

    Anyway, it's was a fascinating time for music as well as for cultural politics, and as has been mentioned, all very complicated and nuanced. Imagine a debate about all this between Lennie and say, Cecil Taylor in 1961. You couldn't take sides, both points of view are sound, provided you view things carefully through each lens. Although I do feel Tristano is wrong to assert that Jazz is an "American" invention in the sense that all Americans invented the style, because you just can't argue that it wasn't heavily an African American thing. Yeah, I know all about the non African influences, but that doesn't account for what made Louis Armstrong, well, Louis fuckin' Armstrong!


    However, Lennie obviously came from a marginalised background himself and couldn't help but identify with this emerging music culture that offered transcendence to the down-trodden. Which is probably why he was offended and felt a lack of graciousness from his fellow black musicians, who in turn felt in no position to offer grace to any one outside of their own kind. Which is understandable.

    But of course Lennie being a near blind son of Italian immigrants would have no doubt felt the sting of racism growing up, after all, let's not forget that Italian immigrants were seen as no better than blacks, and even worse by some:

    1891 New Orleans lynchings - Wikipedia

    So yeah, its complicated...

  7. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bop Head
    I decided to order it. You made me even more curious after having heard about the book recently and finding out that is has become unavailable in the Internet Archive.

    Interviews with Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, Randy Weston, Ornette Coleman, Philly Joe Jones, Don Byas, Ron Carter, Johnny Griffin, Charles Tolliver, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Erroll Garner, Leon Thomas, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae -- that sounds very interesting. (The interviews with Dexter and Monk have obviously only been published in the latest edition).

    I am very much interested in listening to "oral history" or its written record a lot -- especially in this time with its "meta-way" of looking at things where rather a literature scholar (aka expert) is interviewed about a new book who will then speculate about the author's intentions instead of simply interviewing the author himself.

    I will tell you if I share your impression of the book after having read it.

    Art Taylor has some interesting things to tell himself -- just revisiting an interview after six years.

    Miles hated the way he played.
    And I don't want to discuss the book with you or anyone else.

  8. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bop Head
    I decided to order it. You made me even more curious after having heard about the book recently and finding out that is has become unavailable in the Internet Archive.

    Interviews with Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, Randy Weston, Ornette Coleman, Philly Joe Jones, Don Byas, Ron Carter, Johnny Griffin, Charles Tolliver, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Erroll Garner, Leon Thomas, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae -- that sounds very interesting. (The interviews with Dexter and Monk have obviously only been published in the latest edition).

    I am very much interested in listening to "oral history" or its written record a lot -- especially in this time with its "meta-way" of looking at things where rather a literature scholar (aka expert) is interviewed about a new book who will then speculate about the author's intentions instead of simply interviewing the author himself.
    It's actually one of my favorite books on jazz. The conversations are unvarnished.


    Art Taylor asks his friends, who just happen to be jazz greats, the same general set of questions. One of the questions is along the lines of, "what does the word jazz mean to you?" and the responses are often that "jazz" doesn't mean very much.


    There are some uncomfortable things in there, that's for sure. America is a complex place.

  9. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by supersoul
    It's actually one of my favorite books on jazz. The conversations are unvarnished.


    Art Taylor asks his friends, who just happen to be jazz greats, the same general set of questions. One of the questions is along the lines of, "what does the word jazz mean to you?" and the responses are often that "jazz" doesn't mean very much.


    There are some uncomfortable things in there, that's for sure. America is a complex place.
    My copy will arrive in two to three weeks.

  10. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by pamosmusic
    “I think a man should be rather careful with his words, especially when he’s criticizing the giver of a gift, you dig? A marvelous gift.”
    That's the salient point for me.

    Incidentally Iverson suggests Tristano's emphasis on "pure improvisation" was not necessarily an emphasis shared by the jazz community in general at that time. He obviously had his own idea of what jazz should be.

    So, the point is well made.

  11. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    That's the salient point for me.

    Incidentally Iverson suggests Tristano's emphasis on "pure improvisation" was not necessarily an emphasis shared by the jazz community in general at that time. He obviously had his own idea of what jazz should be.

    So, the point is well made.
    Yeah and I’d be interested to hear Tristano’s thoughts about jazz as a label, more generally. Because whether or not jazz is a product of the American black community, assimilated into American culture more broadly; or an American art form that just took root in the black community earlier, depends largely upon how you define jazz.

    Thats a whole can of worms, but I do find it interesting that at the time he was railing against black musicians gatekeeping jazz (early-mid 1960s apparently), a lot of those same black jazz musicians were rejecting the label, at least in part because of what they perceived as gatekeeping by mostly white institutions.

    So I’d be really interested to hear what Tristano thought of the word itself and why he was so attached to it when guys like Coltrane and the free crowd were going with labels like “The New Thing” that tried to put some distance between their music and the perceived confines of the genre.

  12. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bop Head
    I decided to order it. You made me even more curious after having heard about the book recently and finding out that is has become unavailable in the Internet Archive.

    Interviews with Dexter Gordon, Miles Davis, Randy Weston, Ornette Coleman, Philly Joe Jones, Don Byas, Ron Carter, Johnny Griffin, Charles Tolliver, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Erroll Garner, Leon Thomas, Max Roach, Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae -- that sounds very interesting. (The interviews with Dexter and Monk have obviously only been published in the latest edition).

    I am very much interested in listening to "oral history" or its written record a lot -- especially in this time with its "meta-way" of looking at things where rather a literature scholar (aka expert) is interviewed about a new book who will then speculate about the author's intentions instead of simply interviewing the author himself.

    I will tell you if I share your impression of the book after having read it.

    Art Taylor has some interesting things to tell himself -- just revisiting an interview after six years.

    Art comes across as a humble, fairly relaxed guy who either played with or rubbed shoulders with pretty much all the greats. Quite likeable, with that soothing baritone voice I could listen to all day (had his own radio show?). Imagine my surprise when towards the end he reveals some quite unexpected (for me) views regarding how he thought integration (or "de-segregation" as he prefers) made his life far worse! Goes on to admit being racist as though there's nothing wrong with it - from both sides, provided it doesn't entail "white supremacy".

    Come to think of it, this sentiment is echoed by Miles and several others, but I had no idea that all black musicians shared what I thought to be a rather extreme view. This had to frustrate white musicians who probably had no issue with the whole race thing, but were constantly made aware of it. I'm sure Bill Evans felt the cold shoulder of it. I guess you had to be there to understand the vibe of the times, but it seems a shame that musicians of any race couldn't transcend all this racist B.S. Taylor also admits he needed to re-appraise his views about Louis Armstrong. Too bad he never seemed to re-appraise his feelings towards integration.

  13. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet

    but it seems a shame that musicians of any race couldn't transcend all this racist B.S. Taylor also admits he needed to re-appraise his views about Louis Armstrong. Too bad he never seemed to re-appraise his feelings towards integration.
    It is racist to wish to bond with people that look like oneself? To wish to employee (and thus help make money) with people that look like oneself? My understanding is that many people that are proud to be part of their-race, feel too much integration is being dismissive of their own race\people. Isn't still common today that the concept of color-blindness is inherently racist?

    Now I'm a half-breed so I admit I don't know what it is like to be proud to be part of a racial group. But I do wonder if for those that are, if integration is a more fulfilling way of living then self-segregation: i.e. hanging out mainly with one's "kind".

  14. #38

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    Great artists usually aren't good critics. The same personality traits that drove them to develop an individual voice also means that they can have a very idiosyncratic taste.

    Cecil Taylor was definitely a genius, one that came up during the height of the Civil Rights movement. Even if his views on jazz and race could be a little essentialist, I do think he had some very good points. And he calmed down a bit in his later years. Certainly he had no problem playing with white musicians. And in the very brief interactions I had with him, he was very kind and gracious -- although it was immediately apparent to me that his mind just operated on a completely different wavelength than the rest of us joes.

    Tristano was also a genius. If he sometimes said racially insensitive things, it wasn't coming from a place of malice, more like obliviousness. He was certainly very sensitive to his own complicated place in the racial sociology of jazz: a blind son of Italian immigrants, one of the few white people who could hang with Bird and Company from the very beginning, whose music was dismissed by many critics and fans as too intellectual, unemotional, unswinging. But he was not nearly as sensitive to the very different (and let's face it, much worse) complexities his black colleagues faced.

    Tristano was a fantastic player. So was Marsh, Konitz, Mosca, Crothers, and a bunch of other people associated with that school. Especially now that Mark Turner is one of the main influences for young jazz players, their influence and place in history is secure.

    My issues with Tristano are almost identical to Iverson's. I love drums, I think it's one of the things that make jazz uniquely great. It's why I've just never been able to get into Kapustin's orchestral music: it sort of sounds like modern jazz big band music, but the drum parts are just so simple and square.

    And Tristano just did not care about drums. He has almost all his drummers playing a very straightforward ride cymbal beat at a steady tempo, and never interacts with them or lets them cut loose. Lee Konitz was much better about it. He could do a duet album with Elvin Jones, something I could never imagine Tristano doing. And I think Tristano's dislike of Monk is very much related. Now this problem is certainly not unique to Tristano. There was a whole generation of white players who came up in the late 50's who basically sound like Lester Young if he had never gotten laid. Tristano/Marsh/Konitz were certainly the best of that bunch.

    Your relationship to drums says a lot about you as a jazz musician, and your ability to attract great drummers to play with you says a lot about how the community views you as a whole. It's true for guitarists as well. Wes could get Jimmy Cobb, Grant Green could get Blakey and Coltrane's entire rhythm section, Benson could get Jack DeJohnette and Al Foster, etc.

  15. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasein
    ...... There was a whole generation of white players who came up in the late 50's who basically sound like Lester Young if he had never gotten laid. ..........
    That is funny.

  16. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasein
    [...] And Tristano just did not care about drums. He has almost all his drummers playing a very straightforward ride cymbal beat at a steady tempo, and never interacts with them or lets them cut loose. Lee Konitz was much better about it. He could do a duet album with Elvin Jones, something I could never imagine Tristano doing. [...]
    https://www.jazzhistorydatabase.com/...640-20-700.mp4

  17. #41

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    Thanks for sharing the Connie Crothers video. She was an amazing person and musician.

  18. #42

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    Remember this from 2010?


  19. #43

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  20. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by pamosmusic
    For what it’s worth — this says that Tristano’s dismissal of black musicians must be seen as a reaction to the black musician’s dismissal of white musicians.

    No suggestion that the black musicians dismissal of white musicians might be a reaction to white musicians dismissal of them.

    Im not sure we really need to get into an argument about who was more dismissed by whom in 1960s America.

    And to Tristano’s specific point. If jazz is a product of the environment, it’s worth pointing out that America was either legally or de facto segregated in almost every corner at the time he was speaking ——— so black musicians might in fact have been products of an environment quite different than that of their white counterparts. And at that time, and in that place, that would have been a uniquely black experience, and one that a white musician wouldn’t have replicated regardless of their city of birth or status.
    I wonder how segregated the majority of white jazz musicians were off-the-books? (by off-the-book I mean outside of who could be in their bands, what clubs they could play in and other aspects of employment). E.g. did they go to black jazz clubs to see black jazz musicians play? Did they invite black musicians over for jam sessions?

    If not, then indeed the working, as well as non-working musician environments, were much different.

  21. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bop Head
    In any case the Tristano school did not breed racists.

    There is that section in "Conversation's on the Improvisor's Art" where Lee Konitz speaks very critically about the Jewish environment he grew up in regarding how people of color where looked down on, he talks about African-Americans working in his parents laundry IIRC.*

    Or there is this (just for the record, this is from 2015, George Floyd was murdered in 2020):



    *) Talking about Jews in the context of racism against blacks we -- and possibly me as a German in particular -- must of course not fall into the trap of viewing "the Jews" as an unified entity.
    I am fully aware that many Jews played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement.
    And I am aware that true anti-semitism is wide-spread among African-Americans with people like Louis Farrakhan as the tip of the iceberg.
    (I say "me as a German in particular" not only because of the Shoa, but also because public opinion -- or "manufactured consent" to put it the Chomsky way -- has become more and more unidimensionally Israel-friendly culminating after 23/10/7. Almost no one over here is aware that there exists a very broad spectrum ranging from ultra-Zionists with Nazi views -- I cannot put it in another way -- to ulta-orthodox like Neturei Karta who refuse to ever put a foot on the holy grounds of the Middle East and in between those extremes many critical intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Aaron Maté, Illan Pappe, Moshe Zimmermann, Philip Weiss, Max Blumenthal, then NGOs like Jewish Voice For Peace, Breaking The Silence, B'Tselem etc. etc.)
    No lives matter;



    All notes matter;


  22. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by jameslovestal
    I wonder how segregated the majority of white jazz musicians were off-the-books? (by off-the-book I mean outside of who could be in their bands, what clubs they could play in and other aspects of employment). E.g. did they go to black jazz clubs to see black jazz musicians play? Did they invite black musicians over for jam sessions?

    If not, then indeed the working, as well as non-working musician environments, were much different.

    So, white privilege in a nutshell. Any white guy could waltz right into Harlem and go into any club, you could not flip the scenario. Remember Miles Davis was beaten by the police outside the Birdland with his name on the marquee. Just for standing outside.

  23. #47

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    It ain't easy being a minority yo.

  24. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllanAllen
    So, white privilege in a nutshell. Any white guy could waltz right into Harlem and go into any club, you could not flip the scenario. Remember Miles Davis was beaten by the police outside the Birdland with his name on the marquee. Just for standing outside.
    Of course that is white privilege in a nutshell. But are you blaming the majority of white jazz musicians of the era for that? E.g. that white guy shouldn't waltz right into Harlem since a black guy could do the same?

  25. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by jameslovestal
    I wonder how segregated the majority of white jazz musicians were off-the-books? (by off-the-book I mean outside of who could be in their bands, what clubs they could play in and other aspects of employment). E.g. did they go to black jazz clubs to see black jazz musicians play? Did they invite black musicians over for jam sessions?

    If not, then indeed the working, as well as non-working musician environments, were much different.
    It is very interesting to listen to interviews with white musicians who were touring the South of the USA in the fourties and fifties with their mixed bands. Most were accepting the facts, e.g. their band members sleeping in hotels or privately "on the other side of the railway track", very few insisted in equal treatment and refused to play otherwise.

    Then, to stay in the Tristano camp, it is heart-breaking to hear Sheila Jordan tell her experiences regarding the daughter she had with Duke Jordan.

    Or listen to Joe Williams and Clark Terry talk about their experiences.


  26. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by jameslovestal
    Of course that is white privilege in a nutshell. But are you blaming the majority of white jazz musicians of the era for that? E.g. that white guy shouldn't waltz right into Harlem since a black guy could do the same?
    I'm not blaming the musicians for society, that's backwards, they were born into the same problematic society as everyone else.

    When you said "Did they invite black musicians over to jam." I thought you meant at their gigs, but now I don't think that's what you meant.