Monday, 30 November 2009

Then He's a FOOL!

And to round off three little jazz posts.
This is an astounding piece of music, the uncensored version of 'Fables of Faubus' by Charlie Mingus from 1961. It's this kind of mock-sloppy, deeply political and conceptual music that would later be taken on by artists like Archie Shepp and Marion Brown as the radical wing of the 'New Thing' in the late 60s. I'd pay close attention to an absolutely incredible solo by Eric Dolphy on the alto saxophone, a searing example of his twisted, distorted and yet utterly faithful adaptation of Charlie Parker's musical language (and with a vicious 'When Johnny Comes Marching Home' quote for good measure).

It's a shame about jazz really, the way it fell apart into anachronistic heritage, bland 'fusion', desperate cheese, and the academy (where many of the conceptualists ended up). I spent my late teens listening to, practicing and performing jazz, quite promisingly in fact, before like most things I drifted away from it. It was always performances like this that attracted me to it though; rather than 'dinner jazz' or some sort of Kerouac-ian 'Magic Negro' vibe, what was so thrilling was the notion that here was a 'hardcore' musical form of unashamedly intellectual content, and this was never really inextricable from the politics of the scene.

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