All the Things… New York Jazz and More

Exploring New York City and Brooklyn jazz scene

I Discovered Jazz In America

with 3 comments

A beautiful quote by Jean-Paul Sartre from his article I Discovered Jazz in America from 1947, after listening to jazz musicians play at Nick’s pub, New York:
… they are  speaking to the best part of you, the toughest, the freest, the part that wants neither  melody nor refrain, but the deafening climax of the moment. Goes well with this blog here, I would say…

More from the article: Jazz is like bananas – it must be consumed on the spot. God knows there are recordings in France, and some sad imitators. But all they do is give us an excuse to shed a few tears in pleasant company. Like everyone else, I really discovered jazz in America.

Now the fun part: In France, the jazzmen are beautiful but stupid, in flowing shirts and silk ties. If you are too bored to listen, you can always watch and learn about elegance. At Nick’s bar, it is advisable not to look at them; they are as ugly as the musicians in a symphony orchestra. Bony faces, mustaches, business suits, no velvety looks, muscles bunching up under their sleeves. They play. You listen.  No one dreams. Chopin makes you dream, but not the jazz at Nick’s. It fascinates, you can’t get your mind off it. No consolation whatsoever. /../ No chance to take the hand of the girl beside you, to make her understand, with a wink, that the music reflects what’s in your heart.  It is dry, violent, pitiless.

Now I don’t know about the situation in France, but I’m also totally digging American jazz 😀 This is the real thing, after all!

Written by Ines

March 1, 2010 at 12:05 pm

3 Responses

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  1. eh ben salut a toi, Ines!
    1947, huh?
    you know, every time i listen to, say, Pat Metheny’s (solo guitar) quieter moments i think of- not the mississippi or the hudson; i think of the seine.
    … or keith jarrett’s amazing ‘sun bear’ recordings from a not so distant 1970’s japan.
    the irony is that europe, via arguably one of jazz’s stalwart and most influential record labels (munich’s ECM) truly was the driving impetus under jazz’s (inevitable?) transformation in to modernity (leave it to a french “existential philosopher” to neglect such a natural phenomenon, be it purposely or otherwise). like james baldwin in literature or dorothy dandridge in cinema, the american negro artist, certainly the ‘jazzman’- was hard-pressed to prominently surface, west of the atlantic, without the required quasi-exile through continental europe (if for the most part in the form of wartime deployment, or as stationed g.i.’s), no? the sounds produced by their instruments then mirrored the physical appearance of the (relatively) recently bombed, destroyed european cities: chaotic; shocking; dissassembled and in search of reconstruction or identity… humbled. i grew up mostly in paris (although in the 1990’s), i am an american, and of color, and i must say that while as a young man i never quite could tell which city i preferred between it and new york, i now realize, well, they simply represent two very distinct environments, and that is perfectly fine except perhaps for one minute distinction which in a musical context is not without high value, and that is the european national’s disposition as much better listeners than their american counterpart, without contest. thus, while a “freest” and less homogenized group of peoples will by far and oftentimes prove the most inventive, jazz, without the required abled ear, would have likely remained consigned to obscurity.

    just my opinion. anyways, you’re a young woman with a passion for the guitar, right? i’m curious: what do you think of kaki king’s first record? perhaps we shall discuss at the next gig, no?


    r. w.

    March 6, 2010 at 2:34 am

    • Salut a toi aussi 🙂 Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! I’m out of town at the moment, but otherwise, sure.


      March 7, 2010 at 5:35 pm

  2. heia – kas NYs pole enam üldse uudist?!


    July 14, 2010 at 4:57 am

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