heh. it's taken me well over a week to get around to opening up my new books at all - i'm not even talking about the composition notes/tri-axium writings here, those are quite daunting enough for me to have put them off until the end of the current braxtothon phase, as reported previously - so it was only yesterday that i actually made a start on radano, and discovered that he begins his first chapter thus:
for a stretch of time in the mid-1970s, composer-saxophonist anthony braxton stood at the center of a controversy that laid bare the inadequacies of conventional jazz criticism. demonstrating inimitable improvising skills, while simultaneously transgressing traditional aesthetic and social boundaries, braxton challenged critics to come to terms with a creative world that called into question accepted definitions of jazz and the jazz musician.
- hmm, very interesting - tell me more:
their failure to meet that challenge led to a period of confusion, contradiction and myth-making as writers praised braxton's undeniably original jazz work while obfuscating the meaning of his rarefied artistic concepts. the curious, ironic tension between accolade and mocking condescension exposed the limitations of traditonal jazz categories, categories that could not make sense of an artist who responded to the new aesthetic licenses of the postmodern epoch.
right, so - in other words, someone was onto all this bullshit some time before i got here and started making a (very localised) fuss about it. this, after all, is precisely the sort of patronising nonsense i've observed amongst the british critical fraternity, no need to mention any names since - if the truth be known - plenty of them are equally culpable.
don't get me wrong, i am not whining that someone beat me to it. no, on the contrary, it's a relief to realise others are fully aware of the problem. in that case, the next question is: does no-one else think it noteworthy that the cat was out of the bag fifteen years ago (if not before), yet none of the critics did a damn thing about it? admittedly radano's book will not have been widely read outside the u.s. (or even within it, dare i say), but still - did these guys not have any idea that people were onto them?
one needn't be surprised: the capacity for human self-deception is practically infinite, and besides, having an influential voice seems (all too often) to mean not having to listen to anyone else's. (*)
* * *
there'll be more to say on this, i'm sure. i hope also that it will lead to a bit of dialogue... this is precisely the kind of issue i'm interested in discussing here (it goes without saying that i am still happy to discuss the music! but i'll say it anyway, hint hint). as i read on, i will keep readers posted about my reading and subsequent musings... braxtothon continues shortly, and i will also be running the first of a probable short series, examining archetypes in the solo composition books.
incidentally, back on sacred cows again - it occurs to me that as well as surprising myself with my conclusions about the '76 quartets, i shall also have deviated from the "gospel according to lock", just in case any readers thought i was guilty of unquestioning approval of that particular writer ;-)
* yeah, yeah, i'm a fine one to talk... etc.