Monday, February 25, 2008

Improvised Posting

Even though we have no Nice Net posting going on this week, I'd still like to add a musical element. The following video is an improvisational jam from a German band called Can. They were part of the Krautrock music scene in Germany that began in the late 60s and early 70s.

Also, I was quite interested to read Adorno's take on jazz and improvisation and felt that he had some pretty valid points. I was surprised to find myself in semi-agreement with him, as his distaste for jazz was already known to me. When he says that improvisation is "the more or less feeble rehashing of basic formulas," (Jarrett 76) I have to admit that based on the jazz to which he was exposed, there may be an element of truth there. I really wish that he bothered to become familiar with jazz beyond 1938, for I would have liked to hear his take on the late 60s free/avant-garde jazz movements. Adorno's claim (or is it Jarrett's take on Adorno's claim?) that "Improvisation within the realm of mass culture is impossible. Hegemony- hierarchies of power- simply won't allow the flexibility that jazz claims it has" (Jarrett 77) makes sense when one considers that the alleged "death" of jazz occured sometime in the middle of the aforemntioned free/avant-garde era of the late 60s. Coltrane and a host of others were bringing improv to extremes and it seems like the entire jazz world collapsed on itself. Why? Hegemony was not going to allow jazz to grow in that direction as it had been for the previous 60 years. Mass culture began to reject jazz and its status (sales) took a hit. I suppose the fusion era of the 70s is the exception, but its not like that hybrid genre went much beyond 1980.

Anyways, I am just free thinking here. I'm sure my limited knowledge of jazz history is distorting some of my views. I suspect that if I read the full Adorno essay on popular music I would have some different insights. I actually think that the hit that jazz took coming out of the 60s and 70s is a good thing. It has forced much of non-traditional jazz back underground and has given it potential to become a threat or countercultural movement some time in the future. Hip-Hop has seemed to fail in that regard. There's no hope for rock or country. Radical metal bands are too often stuck in nationalist and nihilist tendencies. And if punk isn't going to actually be punk, then why not put the responsibility of subversive music creation into the hands of envelope-pushing jazz musicians that exist off the corporate grid and build community networks in order to provide an outlet for their art?

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