Thursday, June 2, 2011

When the Blues Make Me Angry

Something happened the other day that made me really angry but I just haven't had the chance to write about it.

A couple of weeks ago I was spinning at a certain live music venue (which will remain nameless). I was booked to spin after a performance by this jazz trio w/vocalist. It was a fairly busy night due to the fact that there was a pretty large birthday party in the crowd and the people at this party requested hip-hop. I started my set with some oldschool r&b and mixed in some oldschool hip-hop. The people at the birthday party were feeling it, everything was great when the singer of the trio came up to me and told me that she needed to go back on. I was fine with it, but since I had to leave within the next hr to head to another gig, I just asked if it was alright if I played a few more songs. This singer is really cool and nice so we agreed that I would spin for another 10-15mins. What I didn't realize was that it was actually an angry customer that had asked her to start singing again. This customer was an older man well into his 60s who was with a bunch of friends around his age. A lot of people in the crowd were into the music I was playing. Suddenly this angry customer came up to me and told me that what I was playing was just "noise" and if I would be so kind to stop playing so that he could listen to some "real music".

The first thing that came to mind was Thelonious Monk. Random? Not really because the Jazz that we know today, the Jazz that we honor and celebrate at lincoln center, carnegie hall, tanglewood and just about every other "refined" concert hall was once described as "noise". In fact it was even stated that this "noise" was "not music" and these types of statements were even published in some of the most “prominent” and “respected” music publications of that time. Not to mention the fact that Thelonious Monk, Charlie Paker, and numerous other pioneers of jazz were scrutinized then ridiculed and completely ostracized by the same institutions that are celebrating and venerating their legacy today.

It’s almost as if we (meaning people) never learn. You don’t have to like hip-hop, you don’t have to understand it, you don’t have to buy it, believe in it, in fact you are completely and totally entitled to hate it. BUT, in my opinion, only a total and complete douche bag would ever compare hip-hop to Jazz (of all genres) and claim that hip-hop is just “noise” and not “real music“. If you believe that Juilliard and Lincoln Center are the only types of institutions that can validate the integrity of “real music” than I honestly believe that you have no business expressing your opinions on music at all.