Sunday, November 27, 2005

Ray Charles, how did you answer the question?

Ray Charles has an answer to what jazz is...he once released a jazz album entitled... Genius + Soul = Jazz


Blogger Lukas McKnight said...

I think the beauty of jazz is that it changes, and, therefore, is different in every context and for every person.

That's a pretty good definition, though!

6:41 PM  
Blogger Rod said...

I like Constantine's definition on the previous post with one exception, which I'll get to later. I am currently developing curriculum on the theme of "Understanding Black History Through Music" and inevitably I have had to spend some studying and reflecting on Jazz (you'd be proud J.T. because I bought a copy of kind "Kind of Blue").

Based on my still very incomplete research and reflection I would like to expound upon Charles' forumula:

Genius + Soul (or the composite of Blues & Gospel) + Improvisation = Jazz

I would like to finish by highlighting the variable of of "Genius". Oftentimes in this discussion of classical (i.e. the Western European model) versus non-classical (everybody else's way of doing things) we associate intelligence with the former model and the lack thereof with the latter. This presumption is undergirded with racism or the ideology of white superiority if you prefer. Jazz utilizes a different kind of intelligence than classical and as any accomplished improvisational artist will tell you (whether musicians or comedic actors), it requires tremendous practice to master the discipline of spontaneity.

I'm reminded of a time when white athletes were called smart and blacks were refered to only as athletic or talented (Does that still happen?) Everyone agrees that Beethoven and Mozart were geniuses, but when it comes to Davis and Coltrane we may not have the same consensus, based on the false dichotomy of "classical = thinking music" and "jazz = non-thinking" music. By assuming the first style is thinking, it naturally follows that the second would be the opposite.


8:19 AM  
Blogger Lukas McKnight said...

I think soul, true soul, incorporates improvisation into it. Soul is a feeling, and a feeling to move you; what comes out is jazz (if it's a genius; with me, it's just crap).

1:12 PM  
Blogger jazztheo said...


Have you read "Souled American: How Black Music Transformed White Culture"? It might be helpful for your project. I'll be interested to see what you produce.

I think your right on about the Genius thing. At first one might think that that Brother Ray is just being arrogant, but he is truly making a statement.

9:58 PM  

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