Buddy Seigal Is Dead
Illustration by Bob AulJAZZ-Z-Z-Z-Z
Finally, someone with the balls to speak the truth about the sad state of modern jazz (Buddy Seigal's "Creepy, Squirming Larvae," April 27) I knew jazz was dying an ignoble death when I watched Josh Redman play an untitled composition at San Diego's Street Scene and ask audience members to suggest a title. After the show, a yuppie dingbat approached and handed him a slip of paper with the suggestion "Champagne Cherries." The Starbucks crowd that claims to love jazz views it as little more than a sophisto soundtrack for its active, Southern California lifestyle. Sit any of these people down in front of some real jazz by Coltrane, Miles or Bird, and they'd probably run screaming for Kenny G. The best thing that could happen is for the trend to die—like trends always do—and then maybe there will be room for some real art again.
WHO'S DON HECKMAN?
Seigal's article had some remarks that I agree with, but his overall tone was indicative of why there is a minimum amount of jazz of any genre in Orange County (except for Steamers in north OC). People like me have to go to Los Angeles (Jazz Bakery) or San Diego (Dizzy's) to find good jazz music. Of course, most of Orange County is populated by people who are more comfortable with rock and country (like Mr. Seigal) because it is simple, juvenile, undemanding music that they were forced to like when they were younger. I think the Weekly needs a new writer specializing in jazz of all genres to provide a guiding light, like Don Heckman at the Los Angeles Times. For a free newspaper like the OC Weekly, I guess this won't be possible.
Buddy Seigal says jazz CDs "sit there on a shelf, collecting dust." I am a jazz educator in a Third World country, Dominican Republic. If these jazz CDs just sit there, I would greatly appreciate your help and ask our friend Mr. Seigal to somehow find in his heart to ship them to me. Here, a good jazz recording is hard to find and cost is twice as much as in the States. My mailing address is: Jose J. Pena, 7801 NW 37th St., Code No. epsi-6075, Miami, FL 33166. My phone is 809-854-6737. I would even paid for shipping.
Yours truly and greatfull jazz friend,
Jose J. Pena
Jazz is stagnant? It may be the one music genre that has the ability to evolve and endure due to the structure of the music and the wide range of musicians it involves. While other music genres tend to fizzle and be replaced, jazz has the ability to grow and evolve like no other music. Country is evolving? Into what? Where's disco? Radio stations play more classic rock than any other genre. Joey Ramone was doing in the 1970s what the grunge scene is doing today. That's evolution?
You have the right to enjoy whatever genre of music you choose, but it's amazing that you choose to trash whatever it is you are not enjoying that day. With music critics like you, no wonder the industry is so lost in its direction. You don't have to love all the music that is out there, but it would be nice if you were a little better informed.
Seigal's article barely touches the surface of what jazz is today. I've just recently been exposing myself to a whole new world of music, and I would say, based on his classifications, it would fit into his four-sentence Acid Jazz category. Call it whatever you want—Nu-Jazz, Brokenbeat Jazz, Downtempo—Seigal wrote it off as second-rate, which it just is not. I agree that most of what the mainstream dipshit contingent buys at Tower Records is just plain lame. However, dig a little deeper and you will find that jazz music is being reinvented with a class, style and quality that have the power to trigger your imagination. One album comes to mind to prove my point: Cinematic Orchestra's Motion. Just listen to the modern influences. I will leave Seigal to his ever-evolving rock, country and blues.
I'm a jazz-radio programmer in Phoenix, and I loved Seigal's article on the death of jazz. Very funny and truthful in so many ways. I love jazz for its improvisational quality and the instruments used to make the music, but I got a real kick out of the humor and jazz definitions in the article. Good job.
Mr. Seigal claims that "jazz . . . hasn't had a revolutionary figure in decades." But how can it produce one in a musical climate that assumes nothing can ever be as good as it was? Does someone need to come out with that combination of irreverence and talent before we can get on with the business of developing jazz as an art form? If it were to happen, are we sure we could see it for what it is? Are we open to the possibility of it ever happening again?
I'm certainly not trying to knock the great musicians who have made the jazz tradition what it is today. I'm just saying leave some room in the pantheon or risk missing out on some incredible music 'cause the last chapter of the jazz story has yet to be written.
"Jazz stinks"? "It is stagnant"? It's "dead"? You have come to "disdain jazz"? It bothers you that "every yuppie shitbag in America suddenly finds it fashionable to proclaim himself a jazz fan"? Of course I loved your piece, and I agree wholeheartedly with you, but I'm shocked that you, Buddy Seigal, wrote it. When I said something similar in "Do I Smell Like Grandma?" Dec. 15, 2000, some six months ago, you became incensed, calling my tame assertion ("jazz is boring") "absurd," "unwarranted," "very, very white," and "culturally retarded." You assumed I must be some lily-white fucknut whose comments stem from ignorance, instead of thinking that I—like you—might be someone knowledgeable about jazz; someone who has noticed the way jazz itself has grown soulless, pasteurized and very, very white; that everyone is so busy lining up to kiss jazz's inflated ass (so as not to appear "very white" or perhaps "culturally retarded") that they forget to stop and think about whether they're even enjoying what they're listening to. Back then, I wrote you that jazz would survive my criticism. Apparently, I was wrong.
Alison M. Rosen
two desks over
Seigal states that jazz sounds the same as it did 10 years ago, but obviously he hasn't heard the sonic genius exemplified by such bands as Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Royal Crown Revue, and the OC Fair's own Pinky and the Pinks. How many songs out of Nashville have the guts to chronicle the racial and social tension of a significant event in LA's history like Cherry Poppin' Daddies' "Zoot Suit Riot"? The lyrics scream louder than any hip-hop punk rocker could ever hope—"Zoot Suit Riot!/Throw back a bottle of beer./ Zoot Suit Riot!/Run a comb through your coal-black hair." Powerful stuff. Like it or not, the last decade is chock-full of jazz talent equivalent to Chuck Mangione, Maynard Ferguson and other giants of the 1970s. Contrary to what Mr. Smarty Pants believes, there HAS been movement in jazz probably similar to the movement of migratory sea sponges. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Buddy Blew!
BUDDY'S ROOTS SHOWING
I have finally decided to admit to myself and the world at large that I hate retro roots-rock motherfuckers. Why? It has become a status symbol, a prop, a perceived statement of advanced greasiness and musical legitimacy. This, of course, is not the fault of the music itself, but it explains the sour taste that blooms in my mouth each time some greased-back boy cruises past me in his Plymouth, sporting an I'm-gonna-smoke-a-cigarette grin as he plays a Chris Gaffney CD just loud enough so he can believe people might ooh and aah to themselves, "That man has some bitchen tattoos!"
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