10/08/09 By Brenton Plourde
The Cosby Sweater Effect
Most reviewers use the “glass of wine” approach when reviewing a CD or writing an article when all that is needed sometimes is the “cheap beer” way.
This way of reviewing albums has been going on for years. People outside of the jazz journalism idiom agree with the statement above and if asked, people inside the jazz journalism idiom would agree as well.
Jazz journalists like to take something as simple as “Mehldau’s piano playing is superb” and make it into “The way Mehldau’s notes are interwoven, the way he weaves is almost like he is channeling Evans 30 years after Evan’s death.” Don’t make love to the article or review – just present it.
The music is interwoven. Okay, something can be interwoven – if you were writing a review or article about basket weaving. Music journalists sometimes like to use words and sentences that make them sound better than the public who read their work. Not that there is anything wrong to it, but with the shift in who reads the articles written, sometimes the straight forward approach is all that is needed.
Somewhere on this website is a picture of this very writer. When people find out that this writer is a jazz music journalist, they scratch their heads and reply “I never would have guessed that.” Truth is, while the younger generation is not taking over jazz journalism like other music journalism, it is starting to see a rise in younger people just not taking an interest in jazz itself, by taking piano lessons and exploring Evans, Powell, Garner but people taking an interest in the “spoken word” aspect of it as well. Today’s generation are buying the magazines and are following Hentoff and Chinen every month. Next time you are in line at your local bookstore neutrally observe the magazines being bought along side younger generation favorites like Rolling Stone and Cosmopolitan. It is not so much the people wearing the “Cosby sweaters” as it is people wearing the Radiohead t-shirts.
Walls in college dorms and at home are being covered by posters of Davis, Coltrane and Monk. Not because they look cool in their action poses or sitting poses and not because an older brother or sister said “Listen to Kind of Blue one day and you will understand” but because they are getting into the music. They are reading not only the magazines but these forums as well. Debates have started, in the schools and in the social settings, over Hentoff and his “old school” approach and Chinen’s “Leader of the New School” way of writing and presenting.
Is the internet the way to get jazz out there? People say jazz is dying – not true. People say jazz is not dying; it is the people who play the jazz who are dying – again another myth busted. In today’s world where magazine and newspapers are slowly making way to online publication, the magazine form of jazz journalism is still alive. The younger generation knows how to read. It may b jzz but it iz gud*
*That cheap beer just tasted gud.
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