Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Almost, but not quite, I think

I had a conversation the other day with a saxophonist in the Public Garden. Well, in honesty, it was less of a conversation and more of a monologue on his part, but that's OK. He has a lot of opinions about music, which is well and good, except I'm of the mindset that when a topic is introduced with which you are unfamiliar, it's really just fine to admit your unfamiliarity and move on.

To wit: Bluegrass, while certainly influenced by jazz and blues, is not "just white people trying to play the blues"; there's a bunch of other stuff in there. In the words of Bill Monroe, bluegrass is "Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's Methodist and Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz, and it has a high lonesome sound. It's plain music that tells a good story. It's played from my heart to your heart, and it will touch you. Bluegrass is music that matters."

Also, yes, the musical Oliver! is based on a novel by Charles Dickens, but Dickens was long gone by the time of the musical. Oliver! premiered in London in 1960, was written by Lionel Bart, and had little to do with Rogers and Hammerstein and even less to do with Currier and Ives.

(As a side note, I just learned that Nathaniel Currier was born in Roxbury. That's pretty cool.)

I mean, the saxophonist might have been drawing some kind of parallel between Dickensian culture and modern theatre, but if he was, it got lost somewhere along the way.

He was also trying to explain jazz progressions to me, which is fine, but as deeply steeped in classical training as I am, I think I would need to start with My First Jazz Chart by Kenner.

No comments: