Il classico più suonato, Happy Birthday ovviamente

Questi estratti da temi di saggio sono autentici: si tratta di un corso di storia del jazz per ragazzi del college americano con più di 18 anni che ha unicamente un valore formativo ricompensato con dei crediti scolastici. L’adesione è quindi facoltativa ma i risultati, a giudicare dal campionario di scempiaggini e corbellerie, non sono stati un granchè. L’elenco completo lo posto a piè pagina, qui mi limito a riportare alcune delle stupidaggini più simpatiche, alcune le ho tradotte direttamente per meglio rendere l’idea a chi mastica poco l’inglese. Buon divertimento.

Una cosa che mi ha confuso è Jelly Roll Morton. Ha suonato con i Red Hot Chili Peppers? Non pensavo che ci fossero già allora.

Ho imparato molto su be-bop, Swing, fusion e droghe.

Ho provato rispetto per Miles Davis. Fu irremovibile nel rifiutare l’uso di droghe quando tutti cercavano di convincerlo.

Pensavo che il jazz fosse nato nel 1960, ma con mia grande sorpresa ho saputo che è iniziato nel tardo 18° secolo.

Un sacco di musicisti jazz neri erano di grande talento, il che probabilmente era dovuto dal fatto che non avevano niente da fare.

Dopo il corso la Tv ora è diventata più jazz per me.

La prima cosa che ho imparato nella storia del jazz è che “Happy Birthday” è il classico del jazz più suonato.

Sono rimasto sorpreso di conoscere musicisti con nomi strani, come Vilage Von Guard.

Mi piace il jazz più sui libri che sui dischi.

Nel corso del semestre la mia conoscenza del jazz è passata dal nulla a, praticamente, nulla.

Se Wynton Marsalis ha detto che il jazz è morto nel 1970, allora allora cosa sta suonando ?

Mi piace il jazz ma ho bisogno di qualcosa d’altro oltre ritmo, melodia e armonia.

Troppo stupido per essere vero? No, purtroppo è tutto documentato, ma credo non bisogna stupirsi troppo, cosa succederebbe se un analoga esperienza venisse fatta in Italia?

C’è infatti un precedente in tal senso. Nel 1971 Enrico Cogno diede alle stampe un libro, Jazz inchiesta: Italia, il jazz negli anni 70′. L’autore si prese la briga di prendere il telefono e chiamare a caso, intervistando massaie, pensionati e chiunque gli rispondesse e sondando la conoscenza della musica afro-americana negli strati più popolari della società italiana. Ovviamente non si trattava di una indagine rigorosa e numericamente rilevante, ma le risposte non sono poi troppo lontane dal livello degli studenti americani.

Il libro è stato ristampato recentemente, aggiornato e arricchito, con una prefazione di Roberto Arcuri. Maliziosamente penso che se una iniziativa simile fosse riproposta oggi dal telefono giungerebbero risposte che sicuramente indicherebbero come jazzisti italiani di riferimento Gino Paoli e Massimo Ranieri. Forse è meglio non indagare…Ecco comunque le note introduttive del libro:

«Chi è l’uomo del jazz italiano? Un poeta o un artigiano della musica? Chi è il critico italiano di jazz? Un giornalista reduce dal Cantagiro? Un musicista fallito? Un esaltatore di avanguardie per credo politico o un conservatore per inadeguatezza culturale? E per la folla il jazz italiano cos’è?” Jazz inchiesta, primo libro sul jazz italiano, propone le risposte a questi interrogativi più con la finalità di “informazione stimolante” che di trattazione “dotta” del fenomeno musicale jazzistico in Italia. È un racconto giornalistico formato dalle testimonianze di musicisti, critici, attori, studenti, tutte le piastre di un mosaico alternante in modo solo apparentemente casuale, una sequenza che del jazz ha il ritmo e la visceralità». Basterebbero le note di copertina dell’edizione originale, pubblicata nel 1971, a spiegare perché, oggi più che mai, è necessario non solo ripubblicare un libro simile, ma ricollocarlo nel contesto dal quale si è staccato con la forza di un meteorite e la visionarietà di un’opera d’arte. Un volume irripetibile, reso unico da quel preciso taglio giornalistico dato dalla scelta di scattare «semplicemente» un’istantanea del paesaggio culturale senza «ricalcare in bella» giudizi di sorta. E dalla volontà di registrare direttamente al fianco dei musicisti: usando il microfono come fosse un altro strumento di questa spontanea jam; indagando la questione musicale direttamente dall’interno delle naturali connessioni con la questione civile; stimolando risposte che altrimenti non si sarebbero mai improvvisate, se fossero rimasti distinti i due lati della barricata; scendendo infine tra il pubblico, con la gente e per la gente, in piena sintonia con le istanze che, all’epoca, stavano capovolgendo le consuetudini.

Ed ecco le risposte del test degli studenti americani:

These are quotes from students in a college jazz history class. They are extracted from the essay topic, “What I learned over this semester in jazz history.” These are all genuine responses, completely unaltered. They are all 18+ year old students; not high school or middle school age kids. None of them are music students; they all took this class as a gen. ed. credit and a hopeful “easy A”.

  1. “Free Jazz is an era that I wished I had never learned about.?
  2. “Free Jazz. Wow; what a sound it makes. An awful, horrible sound. I don’t see how that can actually be called a sound.  My 5 year old nephew could pound on the piano and make the same sound! He may even make a better sound. To be honest, that sound is one big mess”.
  3. “With swing, it’s kind of up in the air for me. I must say I tried like hell to keep up with it.”
  4. “My favorite jazz has a bluesy, Mexican feel to it.”
  5. “Though Jazz started in New Orleans, it traveled all around the world picking up and dropping off things along the way.”
  6. “One thing that confused me was Jelly Roll Morton. Did he play with the Red Hot Chili Peppers? I didn’t think that they were around back then.?
  7. “Jelly Roll (Morton) bridged the gap between piano and ragtime.
  8. “My grandpa likes it, but I think scat stinks.”
  9. “Chick Corea, Dizzie Gillespie, Bix Biderbeck, and the monk created the first cool group.”
  10. “I wished Don Cherry would put his trumpet back in his pocket.”
  11. “There is not enough space in my head to fit all that I learned.”
  12. “This class taught me about a lot of things that I never knew about.”
  13. “Some of the big jazz musicians we learned about were: Lous Armstrong, Duke, Charlie Parker, Dizzy Cillespic, T. Mark, Ken Barns, Buddy Baldwin, Jellyroll Mortin, Sydney Bichai, Fats Waller, Earl Hines, and many many more.”
  14. “Coming into class on the first day, I assumed there would be a boring professor standing in front of the class droning on and on about jazz. Here’s where it started; this is who played it; and here we are today; blah, blah, blah. I now realize that my assumption wasn’t all that wrong.”
  15. “I assumed that jazz had started in the African-American community only because it fulfilled a multi-cultural course that I was required to take.”
  16. “Jim Crow, in a way, was the first jazz musician.”
  17. “Jazz was put into effect by Jim Crow”s Law.”
  18. “I really enjoyed hearing the big band, Frank Foster’s Arrangement”.
  19. “I learned in this class that, contrary to my mom’s opinion, Kenny G is a joke. A really non-funny one.”
  20. “I fell in love with that tune, “Stablemates”. It really hits home.?
  21. “Jazz musicians don’t play for women any more.”
  22. “I learned that going to jazz concerts gets me in good with the girlfriend.”
  23. “I learned a lot about Be Bop, Swing, Drugs, and Fusion.”
  24. “I found new respect for Miles Davis. He was adamant about not using drugs when everyone else was trying to get him to try some.”
  25. “I liked hearing the Original Dixieland (Jazz) Band, and how they were the original Dixieland band.”
  26. “You might want to mention to future classes that jazz brings true romance to a scene.”
  27. “I’m glad I took this class, because I feel more comfortable to talk about jazz in its awesomeness.”
  28. “Drugs caused many artists their careers in many ways.”
  29. “Jazz is a style of music that is almost very sober.”
  30. “I figured jazz started in the 1960s, but to my surprise, it started back in the late 18th century.”
  31. “Smooth jazz now just plain old angers me.”
  32. “A lot of the things that I learned were facts that I never new about, not only in jazz, but in life as well.”
  33. “I got really excited by the tenor sax, soprano sax, baritone sax, but not so much the alto sax.”
  34. “I can’t believe that blacks had time to invent jazz if they were hanging out in the whorehouses with Jelly Roll Morton.”
  35. “A lot of black jazz musicians were very talented, which probably came from them not having anything else to do.”
  36. “When blacks and whites finally decided to get together to make jazz, it was a big hit.”
  37. “Lennie Tristano and Lee Konitz were two guys who would sit down and enjoy cool jazz.”
  38. “Going to the club gave me jazz sensations.”
  39. “I hear the hard-bop jazz influence on bands today such as Matchbox Twenty and Dave Matthews Band”.
  40. “I’m now going to start this essay on jazz.”
  41. “James Crow worked to bring the slaves together with the creoles.”
  42. “Learning jazz has helped me beat my mom at Jeopardy. She had no idea who a blind pianist from Toledo, OH was for $800.”
  43. “I learned the definition of supreme technical virtuosity is to play like Louie Armstrong.”
  44. “Charlie Parker was a famous jazz musician who played saxophonists.”
  45. “Getting 81% (on a test) is all well and good until you see that dumb guy next to you who picks his nose getting 91%. I then started studying and coming to class”.
  46. “I asked the drummer what the names of the names and styles of the tunes that he played but he didn’t seem to know”.
  47. “TV has become more jazzy to me now.”
  48. “Studying jazz has been a coming out party for me.”
  49. “I loved the vibrational solos of Clifford Brown.”
  50. “When I think of tradition and instruments, I think of Fiddler of the Roof”.
  51. “I learned a lot from the different guest speakers in class, whether they were an experienced piano player, a director of music at a major motel, or a guitar player with an oddly placed handkerchief in his pocket.”
  52. “Jazz has the technique of classical music, the feeling of blues, and the hope of children everywhere.”
  53. “I know what troubles musicians now when I watch and listen to them play.”
  54. “My ties to jazz were through Bleeding Gums Murphy, a character on a TV show called the Simpsons. It comes on at 8pm on Sunday nights.”
  55. “I was surprised to find out about the different styles of jazz like hard, be, and post bops.”
  56. “I thought that jazz was a certain amount of instruments that you played and was composed for you(,) not believing that it was their improvisation and the jazz musicians who made up the music on the spot doing what they wanted to do with the tunes. I know this is hard to explain but it is true.”
  57. “When I try to play jazz, I mess around with the instruments pounding out random notes that were just me making nonsense up and it sounding like a big pile of crap.”
  58. “Jazz is more profound when it doesn’t help pay the bills.”
  59. “The first thing I learned in jazz history that happy birthday is the most played jazz classic. You want to hear happy birthday in swing BAM! You got it You want to hear happy birthday in classic jazz BAM! You got it. You want to hear happy birthday in be bop BAM! You go(t) it. It’s great The second thing I learned is free jazz is where its at. I think that I could be a free jazz musician cause it all sounds like a drunk 7 year old jamming down on some notes and making the sweet sweet music fly. Free jazz was defiantly the best part of the class but unfortunately you didn’t play free jazz enough. My one suggestion for your next class is that you start out every class with a 5 minute free jazz intro. Over all and all, I defiantly learned a lot in jazz history class.”
  60. “Hip hop and pop are fine, going out for fame and bling bling. Jazz has been around for a while, is out of style, but can really sing.”
  61. “Jazz musicians sing and play music because they can’t contain their passions. Their music starts in the soul radiates out in every direction.”
  62. “Jazz is a very dynamic kind of music. Loud and Soft.
  63. “Swing makes you want to get up and dance and free jazz just makes you want to get up.”
  64. “If any kind of music can calm a hectic day, its cool jazz. If you feel like going out and dancing, however there is ragtime.”
  65. “In conclusion, jazz is music.”
  66. “Jazz has come from the fields of New Orleans to my 2pm class, and beyond.”
  67. “Unlike other forms of music, jazz is listened to by old people as well as us.”
  68. “I learned what intros and outros were in this class. Now I look for them when I go searching for good music.”
  69. “I went to do my (jazz) listening report at the house of blues.”
  70. “Jazz has taught me a lot about the Civil War, World War I, and World War II.”
  71. “I thought of jazz as a thing of the past, something old African American men listened to on old record players while sitting on their front porches smoking cigars.”
  72. “Steve Turre has taught me that sea shells should be left on the ground instead of his mouth.”
  73. “Over the course of the semester my knowledge of jazz has gone from nothing to practically nothing.”
  74. “Even though I probably won’t listen to jazz after this semester, it has given me a greater appreciation of movies.”
  75. “My favorite person to study was Sonny Rollins. He knew that he had to throw his saxophone off the bridge when he heard how good Charlie Parker was.”
  76. “Jazz to me was the ‘shoo opps’ from groups in streets downtown in the olden, golden days.”
  77. “Happy birthday That song is just amazing to me.”
  78. “My all-time favorite jazz artist to listen to was Buddy Baldwin, AKA “the jazz king”. I think I’m going to go out and buy a couple of his CDs?
  79. “I was surprised to find musicians with such odd names such as Vilage Von Guard.”
  80. “Jazz is not as popular with all of the adolescence going around.”
  81. “I like jazz more in books than on cds.”
  82. “I remember coming into class with no facts but a whole plate of bullshit to dish out.”?
  83. “I found myself learning about Blues, Early Jazz, Dixieland, Swing, Be Bop, Brazilian, Afro-Cuban, Cool Jazz, Hard Bop, Free Jazz, Third Stream, Japanese, Post Bop, Fusion, Smooth, Modern Jazz, and the list goes on.”
  84. ” ‘Call and Respond’ is where one musician plays and the other one tries too hard to figure out what he’s doing.”
  85. “The people in Dixie Land originated jazz music.”
  86. “Jazz is now a part of me from 2pm-3:15pm every Tuesday and Thursday.”
  87. “Jazz started in the fields where they used hand-me-down instruments and wore hand-me-down clothes.”
  88. “If Wynton Marsalis said jazz was dead in the 1970’s, what was he playing at the time”.
  89. “Weather Report was the final big band back in the day.”
  90. “My girlfriend and I both agreed the next morning that jazz-club food was something we could’ve done without.”
  91. “Jazz agitates me.”
  92. “I like jazz, but I need something else besides rhythm, melody, and harmony.”
  93. “I had no clue that so many (musicians) used drugs. Thinking about that, there is no doubt that they are living the life I dream of. They are spending money on things that they don’t really need or even want.”
  94. “I noticed that there weren’t many jazz women in our textbook until I looked to see that the author was a guy. All guys are sexist, women bashers, who don’t ever give us our credit.”
  95. “The part I most enjoyed was studying and appreciating slavery.’
  96. “Its hard to imagine where Winton Marsalis gets his ideas from.”
  97. “I’d like to see midgets getting bribed in every jazz club. Not just with Birdland. I’m of course talking about the jazz club, not Charlie Parker.”
  98. “We’ve had our share of good times and bad times over the semester. By bad times, I mean my tests.”
  99. “Count Bassie WAS the swing era”.
  100. “This class increased my intelligence with aptitude.”
  101. “Duke Ellington had the ability to turn jazz compositions into pure magic.”
  102. “Swing died in World War II when the soloists took over.”
  103. “I could go on and on about jazz, but I won’t.?
  104. “Tony Williams was my favorite drummer because his group, Lifetime, is the same name as my favorite channel that I watch.”
  105. “How do the musicians know what to play when their eyes were closed the whole time? And what was with the piano player talking while he played his solos. His musician friends must have been thought he was crazy.”
  106. “I technically wasn’t in your class but I was happy to be along for the ride.”
  107. “I was in jazz band in high school but we didn’t play jazz music.”
  108. “Dizzie Gillespie was the one who jammed on the drums.”
  109. “I thought doing our listening report would be a painful sort of torture.”
  110. “I was bummed out at the beginning of the semester because I thought Louis Armstrong was going to be one of the guest lecturers.”

Link di riferimento: http://communities.canada.com

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