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01/21/2010

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DJA

Hi Nate,

I did think Chris Kelsey's description of John Hollenbeck's music as "formally conventional" was perplexing. I responded in the comments to his post:

http://chriskelsey.com/blog/?p=4331

Other than that, I actually don't have much to say about Graham Collier's original post. I mean, if someone who went through the sweat and toil of making a record -- especially a self-released large-esnemble record, with all that that entails -- told me they didn't think their album deserved to be on every year-end Top 10 list there is, I would not believe them. Artists should be proud of their work. There is so much great music out there, and most of it goes regrettably unrecognized, often for reasons that have nothing to do with the music itself. Obviously this is intensely frustrating.

To bring up another example: I think Django Bates put out one of the best large-ensemble records of the past decade -- Spring Is Here (Shall We Dance) -- a couple of years ago, and as near as I can tell it went almost completely unnoticed by anyone. I'm a huge Django Bates fan, and I didn't even find out about it until over a year after it was released. But it is really astonishingly good, and deserves a much wider audience than it got.

I do think it's lamentable that independent jazz artists paying out-of-pocket to manufacture 1000 copies of their self-released or small-label CDs (1000 = the standard run) are also pretty much required to mail out 25% of those CDs as promos in order to have any hope of getting any reviews or airplay to speak of. It would be nice if more jazz critics and radio programmers were open to receiving digital promos in lieu of physical product, but for most, that's not the case. (See: http://tr.im/LNsc)

Hopefully, eventually, that will change. This is one area where the technology could be a great equalizer, if only more jazz critics didn't regard getting a physical copy of the CD as part of their compensation. I mean, I sympathize -- often it's their only compensation. But it's still a huge financial burden on the artist to have to mail out 250 physical CDs.

Vikram Devasthali

Mr. Collier's disdain for music that "exploit[s] 'our caretaking instincts'" might be more compelling if he explained why such exploitation is necessarily objectionable. He shies away from this final judgement, though, explaining that he does not wish "to follow Matthew Shipp's methods of slating his fellow jazz musicians". But at least Mr. Shipp's straightforward denunciations--many of which I heartily disagree with--are authentic. By contrast, Mr. Collier's frequent use of other peoples' words to bolster his claim that the music of Mr. Argue, Ms. Schneider, Mr. Brookmeyer, etc. lacks originality is richly ironic, and does little to explain why everyone else should value originality as highly as he does.

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