If I may depart from the usual scrutiny of things ahty and fahty, I want to tell you about what came in over the wires this week. A 23-year old Yaley, Marc Bush, has organized something he calls "Bike and Build" which, if I understand it correctly, both raises construction money for new houses for the homeless, and makes good PR for Habitat for Humanity. Mind you, this Bush went to work for a mere 4 months at Goldmann & Sachs, made more money than the average 21 year-old ever does (let alone the recipients of these house-building funds), and bankrolled it so he could develop the bike and build project. The idea is relatively simple: each participant raises $3750, then takes to their wheels for a two-month, 3,650-mile bike trek that started on May 17th from Virginia Beach, Virginia, and will end July 19, in Portland, Oregon. En route, the 20 participants, who have broken up into four or five teams, will help build Habitat homes for six days. In exchange for a night's stay, "each team will give a bicycle maintenance lesson and a presentation about the project," according to The Riverdale Press, Marc Bush's hometown newspaper.
Alas, the Press has no interactive website, so there is no link that allows bloggers to check it out, but the live link above will take you to Bike & Build's website. From there, if you click where indicated, you will be taken to their blog. The last entry I read was a rhapsody about biking along the nation's highways over 20 MPH.
I just love it! RRRRRRRReeeeee-uhd all aboutit! "Yale Graduate Quits Goldmann-Sachs--Doesn't Make a Million on His First Start-Up Project!"
After hopping up and down about Stanley Crouch's dismissal from JazzTimes, I thought I was done with this! Stanley will teach Duke Ellington at Columbia next semester, and I will indiosyncratically track matters seismological. End of rant--right?
Wrong. Gary Giddings' remark in an otherwise not altogether awful review in the Village Voice of the Savoy collection All That Jive has sent me around the bend. (And I plead--I am only a fan.) I quote:
Yet Milkowski [Giddings refers to Bill Milkowski's "encyclopedia of jive," Swing It!] defines a jitterbug as "a swing fan," while many of his jivesters are devoted to bop or r&b. So clarification is in order. I suggest: a wacky, usually "inside" mode of humor associated with but not exclusive to African American musical idioms generated between World War I and the Korean War. Even that embrace, however, fails to account for the 18 tracks on the Savoy collection All That Jive. And neither does the subtitle "Jazz Classics With a Swinging Sense of Humor," unless straight readings of "Round Midnight" and "The Way You Look Tonight" crack you up.
I wish Robin Kelley were here to tell me I am wrong!
What (I hope) I learned from sitting in on his class at Columbia University on "Jazz and the Political Imagination" was everything Giddings leaves out. That is, a whole history of jazz during the period our a-historical Giddings just leaves out--poof! Just like that. To improvise, furthermore and IMHO, is to do a variety of things, not the least of which is to play with the listener. But if the listener is a boobus americanus, fugeddaboutit. You have to know what Diz is doing to get the joke. You have to know that bebop can do anything it damn well pleases so long as, at some point, it gets back to that next note in the tune--including pull yo leg, talk back to your sorry ass, celebrate, calibrate, calisthenixate, and soforth-ate. It appears, I might--oh humbly, of course--suggest, is that Giddings wants to whiten "his" jazz, to rip it away from its history--a large part of which is the black response to the e-rasism of racism--that Giddings wants to "not only" to death a mode of humor which, yes, dammit, IS exclusive to African American musical idioms. This humor comes out of the absurdity of being in a world where the white man cannot stand to be upstaged. And, I might add, ain't got no sense a humor. What allows other folks to laugh is that we have all been around this kind of enfant terrible before: that the humor is also history and people-specific, I say, should not be cause for one whit(e?) of qualifying ink.
Is Savoy guilty, then, in it's odd selection, for not wanting to offend the Great Upstager? if so why did Giddings not nail Savoy on some of these issues?
Still not better said: It don't mean a thing, if you ain't got that swing.
Sadly, Algeria has been shaken. Then, give or take the 20-odd hours it takes to time to travel from all the way over there, to here, mother's been rockin and a' rollin in the Pacific: northern Japan; Minanao, Philippines; the Moluccas in Indonesia. That little red spider mite/star has been crawling all over the map again. Check my link at the left for more of de tales!