Saturday, June 29, 2013
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
|Jazz on a Summer's Day|
Sunday, June 16, 2013
|photo by Reza Hakimi|
Lloyd Miller is no typical fan boy. If there’s one thing to know about him, it’s that he doesn’t like mainstream music, likely most of the stuff on your iPod. Groupie he is not, calling most of today’s new hits “jumpy ugly obnoxious rock junk that has permeated the whole world like leprosy destroying everyone’s musical tastes and minds.” You could write him off as an aging music snob, but then you’d be missing out on one of the edgiest pioneers in building the musical bridge between East and West.
Segah – Lloyd Miller
If there’s a more important thing to know about Lloyd Miller, it’s his love of Persian music. Born in 1938 to a ballet dancer and a professional clarinetist, he began learning piano at the age of three. By his early teens, he taught himself banjo, clarinet and cornet. There is scarcely a single instrument today that he hasn’t mastered or at least experimented. In 1957 his father, now a professor at the University of Southern California, was invited to Iran in order to oversee the creation of University of Tehran’s business school. Nineteen-year-old Lloyd, already a staple in the American jazz scene, came along, mostly so that his parents could keep him away from a drug culture that permeated into many music circles. Miller himself looked at the trip as a spiritual quest, searching for a new musical language that he found partially in traditional jazz and the more modern Bop, but still felt incomplete.
Friday, June 14, 2013
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
Monday, June 3, 2013
|Vank Cathedral in Iran [photo by Reza Hakiminejad]|
Two weeks ago I began a ten-week series (that now I might extend it to 12!) exploring jazz that reflects a part of Iran, both as an actual place on the map and as a pure creation of art. This is Iran according to American and European jazz musicians of the 20th century. In the third installment, I look at the "ironies" shared between a culture and a musical form.
From the Shahs of Sunset to the Mullahs of Qom, Iran stands a Catch-22 waddling to find its way between Bravo and Basij, Marxist and Muslim, youth and establishment, sincerity and tar’ruf. Sound confusing? Welcome to Irani irony, a culture where expectations are implied but never stated, perhaps the only one where you’ll find yourself politely chastised. To navigate in it is an improvisational act of its own, an interplay where actions depend on relational anticipation. This is the game of Persian life.
. Iranic by Jimmy Giuffre .
The emergence of free-form jazz in the 1950s, pioneered amongst others by composer and multi-instrumentalist Jimmy Giuffre, was no less a paradox than the musical form's emergence itself, challenging the limitations of established bebop, hard bop and modal, breaking down standards that characterized traditional jazz. Where bebop treated musicians as interpreters, free jazz placed them at the forefront as the tune's dominant voice. Framework from jazz charts gave way to improvisation. Professionals, in their experimentation came off to the naked ear as amateurish, as if they were students doing their best to sound good. Not so confident to play constantly and seamlessly, they pause, wait, look at each other, and think deeply for what they should play for the next chorus.