Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Rose is a Rose

I've noticed before that the Wall Street Journal likes to put up a lot of reviews of jazz artists, though they seem sometimes to have an aversion to actually calling the music "jazz." The latest is a review of a new album by Linda May Han Oh titled "Walk Against Wind." Here is a piece from YouTube titled "Ebony":

That's actually rather interesting. The very syncopated "rondo" interspersed with improvisational episodes makes for a listenable structure. But I admit I do have a problem with jazz--I'm just not receptive to the mood space of it, which to me seems to always take us on the same journey, however interestingly inflected.

Both jazz and classical seem to have the same problems attracting a mass audience, if that is even a problem. But they approach it in different ways. Jazz doesn't have the deep institutional history that classical does, but it has a coolness factor that compensates for that. I haven't checked around, but do other media, like the Wall Street Journal, fudge that it is actually jazz they are reviewing? I notice that sometimes the only indication that we are talking about jazz is the final byline:
—Mr. Johnson writes about jazz for the Journal.
Not true in this particular instance, but in a number of other reviews. A lot of the time it seems the underlying assumption is that a lot of new music is about "blurring the lines" which seems to mean jazz with some added flavorings like flamenco or world music or, in this case, string quartet. I suppose that speaks to the extent to which jazz welcomes diversity.

Here is another clip of Linda Oh, titled "Lucid Lullaby:"

She is a very good musician, isn't she? But I'm still not a jazz fan. I wonder why?

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