November 22, 2006

Jazz and Poetry

On Sunday night I went to see the Dave Holland Quintet at Birmingham Conservatoire. I have been going to a number of jazz gigs recently – I saw Tony Kofi at the Fishguard Jazz Festival , Polar Bear were at the Warwick Art Centre, Ingrid Laubrock has been on the circuit too.

I have fairly ecclectic taste in jazz in that I enjoy many kinds of jazz from the extremely dissonant(Tony Kofi) to the occasionally dissonant(Dave Holland). Yet I tend not to love this sort of music because I find that on many levels it is cut off from an emotional base. (Then again I wouldn’t want the music to be emotionally obvious, which is why Tim Whitehead’s brand of jazz is not for me). I also tend to find some dissonant jazz rather predictable; the music builds and builds to a scramble of dissonant solos then fades back into a melody. (Is this to do with the production of jazz musicians via the academic learning?) The jazz that I really love is not emotionally obvious, not predictable nor is it lacking in dissonance or melody. This is why one of my favourite bands around at the moment is Polar Bear. (Ingrid Laubrock is in this vein too.)

I began thinking about these issues in relation to poetry and I wondered if jazz could be compared with poetry. On the far end of the spectrum, there is poetry that is detached from emotion rather like extremely dissonant jazz. This kind of poetry often challenges its own discourse: the nature of narrative, grammar and language itself just as some kinds of jazz challenge the notion of melody and the discovery of moods and feelings in music. This kind of art has an important place in the scheme of things, but the kind of art that uses melody and dissoance, sense and nonsense is always going to be more appealing to me as a feeling human being.

Listen to Polar Bear here:



Also see Ingrid Laubrock’s website and Acoustic Ladyland are good too. These are all member of the F-IRE Collective , which includes the Jonathan Bratoeff Quintet coming up at the art centre on Sun 26th.

- 2 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

  1. Martin Eyles

    My personal jazz recomendation at the moment is Charlie Hunter . You can download audio and watch video on his website. You might find it a bit too much in the formula of melody building to solos back to melody, but take a listen and then decide.

    30 Nov 2006, 19:55

  2. Hi Martin, thanks for this. I can’t get stuff to download from this link at the moment, but I’ll try again later. Looks interesting though. Sorry that I haven’t written back to you about your poems that you sent links to. I have been a bit busy over the last few weeks. I had to go to a funeral which was not so good and I am ironing out a few creases in my research, but I will write back something more detailed soon. Thanks again though.

    01 Dec 2006, 09:29

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