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Jazz Snobs

April 28, 2011

The season premiere was heavy on exposition but the table they’re setting looks pretty tasty. One semi-expository moment that I got a kick out of was Delmond’s scene with the pretentious intellectual Jazz snobs at the party in Noo Yawk.

In tones dripping with condescension, Delmond was praised for “transcending” New Orleans Jazz; especially that “Dixieland” shit. Delmond was irked and sounded like his daddy, Albert. It was the first time I’ve ever liked Delmond who has always stuck me as a cold fish.

The guys at the party were pompous Stanley Crouch wannabes. I’ve met their ilk (another swell word I’m trying to revive) and never cared for them. I used to be a music snob but let it go when I realized it was not only pompous but a sign of creeping, or maybe even galloping, old fartism.

The jazz snobs also served as a sort of Greek chorus of the doubts we heard about New Orleans in 2006. Can it come back? Should it and in what form? We’re back but also different in many ways. On the good side, there has been a revival of interest in such local customs as second lines and the Mardi Gras Indians to name but a few. People who wouldn’t have dreamed  of going to see the Indians on Super Sunday are flocking like birds to the feathered costume set or something like that.

I also appreciated Delmond’s protective attitude towards criticism of our city. It’s okay for us to say “this fucking city” when we’re exasperated with things that are *too* naturally N’awlins  BUT let someone else kick us in the proverbial bollocks and we band together like the characters at the end of Freaks: Not one of us. Not really but it’s a pretty nifty image…

-Adrastos

11 Comments
  1. Dexter Johnson permalink
    April 28, 2011 5:02 pm

    What a great post. Sanctimonious critics and “experts” like those New York elitists only serve to de-popularize our music even more.
    Anyway, I want to call attention to the 21st anniversary of the passing of my favorite tenor saxophone player of all time. “Long Tall” Dexter Gordon. Monday marked the anniversary of his death. My, how that man could play that Selmer Mark VI. Mr. Gordon passed away in Philadelphia.

  2. doctorj2u permalink
    April 28, 2011 6:58 pm

    What a great post! Personally I thought that was the best thing in the first episode. (Well that and the little boy with the trumpet.) I have spent the first five years of my post-K life fighting for my city on the internet. I don’t think it helped the city one iota, because people had their minds made up depending on their political beliefs alone. Isn’t it a sad state of affairs when American tragedies are only worthy of help depending on who is in power at the time? I fought because I thought it was important for these speakers (writers, politicians. bloggers) to hear from the people that lived it. It was important for them to hear from people that were eye witnesses. I finally got to the point Delmond reached. We all know New Orleans has its problems, but we also know what wonderful virtues it has too. These people that comment on the city without knowing anything about it but the stereotypes get my blood boiling. The difference, of course, was Delmond was pretty much blind to the virtues of New Orleans until the city was almost lost to this world. I see a new warrior for New Orleans beginning in Delmond. He is beginning to understand that the good things in this life need to be fought for. He is a New Orleanian after all, even if it took him the long way round to realize it.

  3. April 28, 2011 9:36 pm

    I was intrigued by that scene too. Let’s look at utility. How relevant is modern jazz really? I would think Preservation Hall and “gypsy jazz” often seen along Frenchmen has more value than stuffy New York modern jazz because it emotes. It makes people feel something. Most modern Jazz is more along the lines of classical music at this point. It’s like watercolor landscapes or still lifes, art for art’s sake. People don’t move to it. Even traditional Jazz has more value than modern because it isn’t trying to be something more grandiose. After Bebop, what else was there?

    The minstrelsy reference, that was rough. It cut a little deeper.

  4. doctorj2u permalink
    April 29, 2011 7:34 pm

    How relevant is modern jazz? I had to laught at that one. When I went to Paris some years ago, we had a van driver talking about the jazz clubs. He reminded of the beat age. It was all cerebral. I thought to myself “Man, You don’t have a clue! Real jazz is a spontaneous creation of the street, bubbling up from the earth. It is of the heart, not the mind. You don’t have a clue about what jazz really is about.” Of course, I said nothing, as a southern lady is want to do. Heaven knows, we don’t want to ruffle any feathers! Then Katrina happened and changed my world. If I had heard that today, I would have slapped his snotty nose sideways. LOL!

  5. doctorj2u permalink
    April 29, 2011 9:29 pm

  6. April 30, 2011 10:48 am

    @Varg: This is why I mentioned that word “minstrel” in my season-opener post. Didn’t think it would be whipped out as soon as Ep 1.

    @doctorj2u: To me, real jazz is genius, which comes from both the heart and the mind. The mind is not divorced from the right brain; it’s also nothing to sneeze at. I do some of my best analytical thought to, for instance, the Dixieland Ramblers and Dr. Michael White.

  7. April 30, 2011 10:41 pm

    This idea of New York Jazz leaves out the reality of Latin Jazz. Which the NY Jazz snobs almost always do, unless they are really cooler than that, and there are those who are.

    Love, C.

  8. olprofessor permalink
    May 1, 2011 10:17 am

    Adrastosno, Varg and Doctor, Excellent posts! I’ve been thinking about that exchange all week. Nothing new here unfortunately. New York provincalism arrogantly assuming it is the last word, as it does in so many things. They (Gillespie, Monk, etc) said the same things about Louie 50 years ago. Called him a “Tom” and dismissed his music as blackface dixieland. They heeped abuse on him for accepting the honor of Zulu King in 1949.

    Be-bop is the sterile genre. Who shows up for it in any numbers anywhere except New York? Rebirth and Shorty pack the house anywhere they play. The NOLA sound is alive and well.

  9. May 1, 2011 3:51 pm

    Sometimes when I’m arguing about the show with people who aren’t from New Orleans, I feel like Delmond.

  10. doctorj2u permalink
    May 1, 2011 7:58 pm

    Maitri,
    Of course the cerebral is needed and important, but without the joy of the heart, it means nothing. New Orleans is all about the heart.

  11. adrastosno permalink
    May 2, 2011 12:14 pm

    I like what they’ve done with Delmond’s character. They’ve made him more sympathetic but in a plausible way ie defending his city and wanting to help his father.

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