Tagged: jazz

The Power of Illogic

Lost among the impassioned finger-pointing that has accompanied the opening of “The Da Vinci Code,” the blockbuster movie based on the blockbuster book, is an alarming trend gripping our society’s discourse (or lack thereof): the inclination to justify one’s position without offering reasonable justification. Organized religion has been pulling this trick with no small measure...

The Sure Thing Called Imitation

The movies that most Americans watch are like the music most Americans listen to, which are like the television shows most Americans prefer and the books most Americans purchase (but don’t have time to actually read). They’re all, in varying degrees, imitations of something that came before and had some measure of commercial success. The...

Why Entertainers Earn So Much Money

A friend who appears on a highly-rated situation comedy on television told me that every time he gets his weekly paycheck he feels as though he’s stolen something. He earns more in one week of inspired buffoonery than most people earn in a year, but even if his pay was half — or a quarter,...

Being Ready

Many of our friends toil in the arts. They’re singers, pianists, and painters, playwrights, actors and essayists. And they’re all enjoying varying degrees of “success,” depending on how one defines the term. Those who don’t compose songs or declaim verse for a living suspect that the trick, the moment of magic, is getting discovered. They imagine...

The Big Gamble

My friend is a lawyer. By almost any measure he would be considered smart — and successful, and admirable, and all the other stuff responsible members of society strive to be when they’re not plotting to fire traffic-clearing incendiary missiles into clogged freeways. He likes what he does, and he’s good at it. He’s become...

The Genius Trade-Off

Being a genius isn’t easy. According to both conventional wisdom and scholarly hagiography, geniuses tend to be socially maladjusted freaks terrorized by personal demons that normal people can’t understand. Many geniuses die young. They endure lives that aren’t happy. Darkness shrouds their light. On the other hand, they’re geniuses. Being a regular person, it seems,...

Age is a Number

Fairy tales can come true. It can happen to you… Tonight, my 81-year-old friend Linda Hopkins is doing what most octogenarians do on a Tuesday night: record a live album of blues and jazz. She will require a cane to navigate the short distance from nightclub floor to stage, and the persistent pains in her...

Vocalizing Versus Singing

Beautiful vocalizing is often mistaken for beautiful singing. Both sonic phenomena require the production of a ringing tone that exploits the peculiar vibration of the ligaments and muscles — the cords — at the back of the human mouth. Both require an acute sensitivity to intonation (being “in tune”). And both demand a steady flow...

The Mathematics of Jazz Radio Programming

Last week in this space, I posted an essay describing the disheartening difficulty in getting independent releases evaluated for jazz radio airplay. The crux of my complaint wasn’t that our nation’s jazz music programmers have bad ears, it was that they don’t use them enough. The main problem is that submissions to the hundreds of...

The Perspective of a Tiny Jazz Record Label

I run a tiny jazz record label called FreeHam Records, which recently released new albums by Zaxariades (“Mr. Z”) and Charmaine Clamor (“Searching for the Soul”). Hundreds of individuals like me dedicate much of their life (and most of their savings!) to jazz music, with no realistic expectation that it will ever earn a penny...