Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Liner Notes

I'd love to see a jazz liner notes archive. Somewhere on the internet. I've always enjoyed reading them. Good liner notes put an album in context. They're a little piece of history like the music itself. Pretty frequently it happens that a piece of music was approached or received differently when it was made than it is now. The notes preserve that. Yeah, sometimes they're formulaic or otherwise uninteresting -- this song has a 5/4 time signature, that one's a slow blues (aka stuff we can figure out ourselves) -- but sometimes you get a cohesive, thoughtful essay on the artist (or by the artist) and his work.

It's one things that's been lost with the shift to digital music. I always wished apple would include original liner notes with their downloads, but I guess there was never much demand for it and certainly no money in it.

I understand they're including liner notes with they're new 'lp' format, but i can't see too many old jazz records finding the light of day that way. Maybe they should though, decked out in that classic Francis Wolff photography or slick Impulse design..

I don't know what the deal is with copyrights on that stuff, but I'd certainly love to see it go up somewhere. I'd even buy it in a nice coffee table book.

Someone please get on this or tell me it's already been done. Anyway, I'll leave you with an excerpt from a classic (grammy nominated, in case anyone gives a shit), courtesy of Charles Mingus:

I, myself, came to enjoy the players who didn't only just swing but who invented new rhythmic patterns, along with new melodic concepts. And those people are: Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Max Roach, Sonny Rollins, Lester Young, Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Parker, who is the greatest genius of all to me because he changed the whole era around. But there is no need to compare composers. If you like Beethoven, Bach or Brahms, that's okay. They were all pencil composers. I always wanted to be a spontaneous composer. I thought I was, although no one's mentioned that. I mean critics or musicians. Now, what I'm getting at is that I know I'm a composer. I marvel at composition, at people who are able to take diatonic scales, chromatics, 12-tone scales, or even quarter-tone scales. I admire anyone who can come up with something original. But not originality alone, because there can be originality in stupidity, with no musical description of any emotion or any beauty the man has seen, or any kind of life he has lived. For instance, a man says he played with feeling. Now he can play with feeling and have no melodic concept at all. That's often what happens in jazz: I have found very little value left after the average guy takes his first eight bars-not to mention two or three choruses, because then it just becomes repetition, riffs and patterns, instead of spontaneous creativity, I could never get Bird to play over two choruses. Now, kids play fifty thousand if you let them. Who is that good?

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