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robertogreco : blues   19

Why Miles Davis's "Kind of Blue" Is So Beloved | JSTOR Daily
"A music scholar suggests that Miles Davis combined the blues with the musical avant garde in a manner reflecting the integrationist spirit of the era."

"Legendary jazz trumpeter Miles Davis recorded the second and final session of his seminal album Kind of Blue on April 22nd, 1959. It remains the best-selling jazz album of all time. Its unforgettable solos by Davis, tenor saxophonist John Coltrane, alto saxophonist Cannonball Adderley, and pianist Bill Evans create an ethereal atmosphere; the album continues to be one of the most beloved records in jazz.

Kind of Blue popularized a new approach to improvisation. Rather than basing its five tunes on a rigid framework of changing chords, as was conventional for post-bop music, Davis and Evans wrote pieces with a more limited set of scales in different modes. “Modes” maintain the basic intervals of an underlying major or minor scale, but move the tonic (first note) to one of its other notes, creating different moods or coloration. As this detailed video on modal jazz by Polyphonic explains, this creates a more open network of harmonic relationships. Davis and Evans’s “cooler” approach shifts the musical emphasis from “harmonic rhythm” of post-bop jazz, toward the melodic inventiveness of individual players.

The modal approach to jazz became so popular it changed the way jazz was taught and analyzed. This has justified the significance of the album for many players and aficionados. Music scholar Samuel Barrett argues, however, that this narrative oversimplifies both the way Kind of Blue was composed and performed, and its true cultural impact.

Barrett stresses instead the way this new approach made the blues more accessible to its potential audience, as is hinted in the titles “All Blues” and “Blue in Green.” Contemporary audiences sometimes forget that musical culture and the recording industry were highly segregated between music aimed at whites and African-Americans (so-called “race records”). By the late 1950s, with the rise of R&B and rock-and-roll, younger white audiences were becoming more receptive to new modes of the blues.

Modal jazz emphasized melodies created through scales, just as the blues had always done, albeit with a more limited set of tools—typically the pentatonic scale. Many of the scales Davis chooses, despite being more abstract in their total conception, still employ many of the flatted thirds and sevenths characteristic of the blues. The slower tempos and cooler attitudes of the songs in Kind of Blue had already been proven to attract older white audiences throughout the “cool jazz” fad earlier in the decade.

Barrett argues that Davis thus authoritatively married the blues to the freer forms of the musical avant garde in a manner reflecting the integrationist spirit of the racial politics of the era. White pianist Bill Evans’s prominent role in writing and performing the work is only the most explicit sign of this fact.

It often surprises jazz fans how virulently Davis turned against this style by the later 1960s in favor of more esoteric rock and funk-influenced “fusion.” Barrett notes that by that point, owing to political compromises in the civil rights movement and the backlash of structural white supremacy, younger African Americans had departed the politics of integration toward black empowerment. Indeed, achieving integration remains a problem across much of twenty-first-century America. This doesn’t mean we can’t still love Kind of Blue. But its fetishization as the finest specimen of jazz ever may reveal something about how the genre’s popular appeal has become restricted more to academic and art appreciation over time."
milesdavis  jazz  blues  integration  2019  kindofblue  ericschewe  avantgarde  cannonballadderley  samuelbarrett 
april 2019 by robertogreco
R.L. Burnside: See My Jumper Hanging On the Line (1978) - YouTube
"R.L. Burnside at home in Independence, Mississippi, shot by Alan Lomax, Worth Long, and John Bishop in August, 1978. For more information about the American Patchwork filmwork, Alan Lomax, and his collections, visit [02.11.07]"
rlburnside  music  blues  1978  songs  classideas 
february 2018 by robertogreco
blank on blank
"Interviewer: I think certain people think of your music as essentially as “angry music.” As raging against, perhaps, the establishment principles.

Jimi Hendrix: Oh, it’s not raging against it. If it was up to me, there’d be no such thing as the establishment, you know. It’s the blues. That’s all I’m singing about. Today’s blues."

[See also: ]
jimihendrix  blues  music  rage  establishment 
may 2015 by robertogreco
BB King Calls This One Of His Best Performances - YouTube
"This entire film is a must-see. Get it at This is one of the best music documentaries ever made - Live at Sing Sing Prison. Producer Harry Wiland and I filmed inside the joint. Scenes include a concert and other behind the scenes stories. This scene presents the amazing Voices of East Harlem. Other scenes involve BB King and Joan Baez, Jimmy Walker and the Voices of East Harlem and other performers."
bbking  music  blues  singsingprison  1972 
may 2015 by robertogreco
Cornel West: “He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency” -
"TF: So that’s my first question, it’s a lot of ground to cover but how do you feel things have worked out since then, both with the economy and with this president? That was a huge turning point, that moment in 2008, and my own feeling is that we didn’t turn.

CW: No, the thing is he posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency, a national security presidency. The torturers go free. The Wall Street executives go free. The war crimes in the Middle East, especially now in Gaza, the war criminals go free. And yet, you know, he acted as if he was both a progressive and as if he was concerned about the issues of serious injustice and inequality and it turned out that he’s just another neoliberal centrist with a smile and with a nice rhetorical flair. And that’s a very sad moment in the history of the nation because we are—we’re an empire in decline. Our culture is in increasing decay. Our school systems are in deep trouble. Our political system is dysfunctional. Our leaders are more and more bought off with legalized bribery and normalized corruption in Congress and too much of our civil life. You would think that we needed somebody—a Lincoln-like figure who could revive some democratic spirit and democratic possibility.

TF: That’s exactly what everyone was saying at the time.

CW: That’s right. That’s true. It was like, “We finally got somebody who can help us turn the corner.” And he posed as if he was a kind of Lincoln.

TF: Yeah. That’s what everyone was saying.

CW: And we ended up with a brown-faced Clinton. Another opportunist. Another neoliberal opportunist. It’s like, “Oh, no, don’t tell me that!” I tell you this, because I got hit hard years ago, but everywhere I go now, it’s “Brother West, I see what you were saying. Brother West, you were right. Your language was harsh and it was difficult to take, but you turned out to be absolutely right.” And, of course with Ferguson, you get it reconfirmed even among the people within his own circle now, you see. It’s a sad thing. It’s like you’re looking for John Coltrane and you get Kenny G in brown skin.

"TF: What on earth ails the man? Why can’t he fight the Republicans? Why does he need to seek a grand bargain?

CW: I think Obama, his modus operandi going all the way back to when he was head of the [Harvard] Law Review, first editor of the Law Review and didn’t have a piece in the Law Review. He was chosen because he always occupied the middle ground. He doesn’t realize that a great leader, a statesperson, doesn’t just occupy middle ground. They occupy higher ground or the moral ground or even sometimes the holy ground. But the middle ground is not the place to go if you’re going to show courage and vision. And I think that’s his modus operandi. He always moves to the middle ground. It turned out that historically, this was not a moment for a middle-ground politician. We needed a high-ground statesperson and it’s clear now he’s not the one.

And so what did he do? Every time you’re headed toward middle ground what do you do? You go straight to the establishment and reassure them that you’re not too radical, and try to convince them that you are very much one of them so you end up with a John Brennan, architect of torture [as CIA Director]. Torturers go free but they’re real patriots so we can let them go free. The rule of law doesn’t mean anything."

TF: One last thing, where are we going from here? What comes next?

CW: I think a post-Obama America is an America in post-traumatic depression. Because the levels of disillusionment are so deep. Thank God for the new wave of young and prophetic leadership, as with Rev. William Barber, Philip Agnew, and others. But look who’s around the presidential corner. Oh my God, here comes another neo-liberal opportunist par excellence. Hillary herself is coming around the corner. It’s much worse. And you say, “My God, we are an empire in decline.” A culture in decay with a political system that’s dysfunctional, youth who are yearning for something better but our system doesn’t provide them democratic venues, and so all we have are just voices in the wilderness and certain truth-tellers just trying to keep alive some memories of when we had some serious, serious movements and leaders.

TF: One last thought, I was talking to a friend recently and we were saying, if things go the way they look like they’re going to go and Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and then wins a second term, the next time there’ll be a chance for a liberal, progressive president is 2024.

CW: It’d be about over then, brother. I think at that point—Hillary Clinton is an extension of Obama’s Wall Street presidency, drone presidency, national surveillance, national security presidency. She’d be more hawkish than he is, and yet she’s got that strange smile that somehow titillates liberals and neo-liberals and scares Republicans. But at that point it’s even too hard to contemplate.

TF:I know, I always like to leave things on a pessimistic note. I’m sorry. It’s just my nature.

CW: It’s not pessimistic, brother, because this is the blues. We are blues people. The blues aren’t pessimistic. We’re prisoners of hope but we tell the truth and the truth is dark. That’s different."
cornelwest  barackobama  progressivism  liberalism  billclinton  hillaryclinton  us  thomasfrank  2008  2014  blues  hope  pessimism  optimism  alsharpton  democrats  neoliberalism  militaryindustrialcomplex  security  surveillance  drones  war  inequality  ferguson  class  race  statusquo  politics  policy 
august 2014 by robertogreco
Remembering Etta James, Stunning Singer : NPR
"[Jazz] was too disciplined and too confining," James said on Fresh Air. "I thought you had to be bourgeois to do that. I was a sloppy kid, wanted to be just wild. I think it took me maturing."
blues  jazz  music  2008  2012  ettajames 
january 2012 by robertogreco
Audiences experience 'Avatar' blues -
"James Cameron's completely immersive spectacle "Avatar" may have been a little too real for some fans who say they have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora. On the fan forum site "Avatar Forums," a topic thread entitled "Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible," has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie."
depression  virtualworlds  sadness  pandora  hollywood  culture  future  psychology  media  environment  film  avatar  blues  immersion  movies  3d  health 
january 2010 by robertogreco
Delta blues and Tuvan throat-singing: Paul Pena and Genghis Blues - Boing Boing
"captivated by sounds of Tuvan throat-singing...taught himself to throat-sing, met with & befriended Kongar-ol Ondar, forming the band Genghis Blues, which merged throat-singing with Delta blues in a marvellous and haunting way."
blues  music  genghisblues  paulpena  film  documentary  tuvanthroatsinging 
january 2008 by robertogreco
"audioblog started by James Morris in April of 2004. A year later it was hijacked by a number of additional writers, many of them divas. We update Monday through Friday, putting up all sorts of music and as much text as the occasion seems to call for. We
audio  mp3  music  blogs  blues  jazz  hiphop  punk  mp3blog  audioblog 
november 2007 by robertogreco
Blues Alley [Smithsonian Magazine]
"How Chicago became the blues capital of the world"
music  blues  history  chicago 
april 2007 by robertogreco
Muslim roots of the blues / The music of famous American blues singers reaches back through the South to the culture of West Africa
"Muslim roots of the blues The music of famous American blues singers reaches back through the South to the culture of West Africa"
culture  history  music  blues  religion  muslim  africa 
september 2006 by robertogreco

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