Sorry, some of these posts are French only

Why jazz? / Question from IRMA (centre d’Information et de Ressources pour les Musiques Actuelles)2010-04-01

Why jazz?

What a question! Unnecessary or essential? To be dismissed out of hand because you've really got something else to do, or to be dealt with at last because you feel the game is really worth the candle? Parisian nerd or real subject? First dilemma, predictable of course... A step further, because you inevitably want to play the game, you think of your own history, which you romanticize a little more for the occasion, then of the great History you've read and listened to (or vice versa), and you tell yourself that you still can't decide between chance and necessity. Second dilemma, as old as time itself... Then you really do look at your navel, and admit that you're as passionate about the question (which sounds an awful lot like "why am I here?") as you are eager to put it off until a (slightly) brighter tomorrow. Third dilemma, which at this stage isn't really a dilemma at all, because wearily we tell ourselves that this is just as well.

And maybe that's what jazz is all about: for the voluptuousness of the constant back-and-forth between the desire to know more in order to understand, and never to know too much in order to play; for the culture of doubt that is consubstantial with the obvious, which is gradually built up in the ineffable of the words we associate with it (and because it swings, by the way...) and the feelings we experience... and for the joy that all this balancing act brings, a joy of the in-between, somewhere between wonder and melancholy, certainly slightly disillusioned all the same, but which in the end we're delighted to see replace the more or less formatted ideals of happiness. If only because we can no longer think of greatness without decadence.

A twentieth-century aesthetic for a twenty-first-century ethic... isn't it so good to believe?

/ April 2010