~Re: "Bird", the Movie~
All the controversy over the movie "BIRD" has neglected to
focus on what I feel is the worst impact of the movie: a lie
is now legal and, worse yet, the truth has been made illegal!!
I refer to the erasure of the original artists that played
with Charlie Parker; specifically, the tracks with Lennie
Tristano and Kenny Clarke are unavailable legally in their
and true original form!
Regardless of who is at fault, it is clear that never before
in jazz has a movie caused the actual erasure of important
Nor did this movie. You are correct, of course, that the
Parker-Tristano-Clarke tracks should be available, but no master tapes or
any other archive was "erased."
You don't do your cause justice when the hyperbole you use leads you to
state untruths. It allows people to dismiss you as a crank.
As far as the public is concerned, that music is erased; it is unavailable
currently in any legal form. The people who have legal control of that
music at this time are just sitting on it. There have been no plans made
mention of any possibility of *ever* releasing that music.
It is, therefore, erased from
the public awareness. There is little mention of that
music anywhere, or of the deep association between Lennie and Bird.
scheduled to do a gig in Boston, but Bird died before it could happen!
Bird had, according to Lennie, even talked to him about starting a
record company together and recording together! That would
have been truly amazing and would have really changed the
course of jazz! But you probably think
that is hyperbole too, or perhaps you think Lennie was lying.
By the way, although there may be other copies of that music elsewhere, how do you really know what the producers of the Bird movie did with the tapes?
Are they storing them?
If so, where and for how long? How careful are they? It is not
as simplistic as "they didn't erase the tapes". There is more
to this scene, as I have said...
The fact that these contemporaneous innovators are being 'separated' takes on
even more ominous overtones when one realizes that Tristano
was a great artist who never compromised his art; never sold
out. He was one of jazz's greatest and many people have motive
to suppress that.
Please name the principals in this outrageous conspiracy. Thanks.
Wilhelm Reich once said something to the effect that
that "people don't have to be taking their orders from a central
location to be part of a conspiracy; they just are like that!". Whether
it is your kneejerk hostile reactions to my postings,
exclusion from books and the press, or the
consistent exclusion of anyone associated and/or truly
influenced by him from gigs and the
media, the fact remains.
As Joe Germuska wrote to me recently about the Zen posting
of mine about Lennie,
"I do agree with you that LT is far more
important that the press suggests! He is one of the
great innovators of jazz!"
To be more specific in regards to the "conspiracy", the reasons, as I see them, include:
The people controlling the scene [see The New Payola] don't want the money going to anyone but the artists they control; at the same time, there is the myth that Tristano's music, and the music of those influenced by him, doesn't sell, that people don't dig it. Contradictory and ironic, to be sure.
People who don't want someone who is so great and different out there, especially when a large part of the scene is coalescing around a mythology now that excludes LT. For example, about 8 years ago, Wynton spoke at the H.S. for Music and Art in NYC. When the subject came up about LT, he said something like, "Don't listen to it, it's too advanced". A left handed complement, to be sure, but the message was, "don't listen to it"! Would he have said that about Stravinsky, Ives, anyone else? Cecil, maybe?
- For the most part, they don't want anyone to dig LT because they've been putting him down for so long that, if it starts to come out on any mass scale how great he was, people will ask them, "Where were you and why didn't you write about how great he was?". In short, they think they are protecting their jobs.
It is understandable, from a human point of view, how a group who has been denied so much, would tend to try and jealously guard their ownership of such a wonderful scene; but, realistically, would it be fair if, for example, if people said that, in order to be a psychoanalyst, you had to be a Viennese Jew, like Freud? And sure, Wynton is going to include Gerry Mulligan at Lincoln Center, but primarily as a composer. I'm talking about jazz improvising. I'm not trying to heat up the racial scene, [like Peter Watrous might have by calling Joe Lovano "The Great White Hope" in that dumb article in the recent New York Times] I'm trying to cool it out.
I donno, "someone", what's your beef? I have noticed that the happier someone is with their own art, the happier they are about someone else being great.
- People have gotten more uptight in some ways, since WWII and many don't want something that is not nostalgia, i.e. fusion [really nostalgia in the sense that it is the mixing and sort of diluting of previous styles] and repertory [you already know what to expect]. It can be emotionally challenging to listen in the moment and not know what is going to happen. Tristano described this in a masterful analysis in an interview with John S. Wilson in DownBeat Magazine in the October 6, 1950 Issue that was reprinted in October 1994.
I wish to add one more thing about the Bird movie. It is something that Wilhelm Reich wrote in the 1930's after seeing a movie about Beethoven that apparently was as bad as the Bird movie:
"And yet people smirk at everything, even at Beethoven's fate. They are titillated by the misery of great men. They honor them after they have died in misery so that they themselves can continue their own paltry lives, so that they can transform the humiliation of great individuals into profit. Down with this filth."
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