‘Cactus Ed’ – the man and his journals pt.2


Abbey , in a typically contrarian mood , on Jazz:

JAZZ : Music for sophisticated patriots. Night music. Midnight Music. Lonesome afternoon music. The blue sax. The squealing trumpet. The obedient drums. Amazing virtuosity exercised around a pill. Insipid. Tame. Deliberately dull. Ah, tedium! ( Who wants to live forever ? ) An idiot’s paradise . A tight narrow badly constricted kind of art. Can’t break the limits without self-contradiction, without ceasing to be jazz. A long long way from Leadbelly and Big Bill Broonzy. A long way down.
Jazz: The destruction of melody . The rigid meter. The elaboration and direction of deliberately banal tunes. Nightclub music. Cigarettes and boredom. The music of boredom, bored people. The urban ennui. Big-city music. American? The American Negro loose in the slums. Crafty , cunning, subtle, arid music. Cool and dry. No emotion , no passion, no blood and guts. The mechanical meter. ( Shuffle-dance) Industrial rhythm. Classicism, factory-style.
To hell with jazz!
So damned casual, urbane, smooth, sophisticated. Stylish. The casual relaxed performance. (“Look at me, I’m not scared. ” ) The casual aplause. The jazz cult : professors, monographs, addicts, puritans. The terrible fear of emotion, significance, direct statement. Music for aesthetes, purists and cold-bellied geometers.
‘ ( pp.156-157)

Edward Abbey – Confessions of a Barbarian ; Little Brown HB

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