Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Classic focus: Whirlpool

Handy term - the scene. What it can mean to you says as much perhaps about you as about that very thing. Projection you are thinking, dear reader, is what he's driving at here - and you would be right. The process of operating through …

Published: 11 Jun 2024. Updated: 38 days.

whirlpool

Handy term - the scene. What it can mean to you says as much perhaps about you as about that very thing. Projection you are thinking, dear reader, is what he's driving at here - and you would be right. The process of operating through interpretation and inference, where one assigns meaning to facts based on one's own unconscious needs and prejudices. ''The hush of the sea's in the seashell,'' Malcolm Lowry wrote in his poem 'Whirlpool.'

According to Carl Jung ''everything that is unconscious in ourselves we discover in our neighbour, and we treat him accordingly. We no longer subject him to the test of drinking poison; we do not burn him or put the screws on him; but we injure him by means of moral verdicts pronounced with the deepest conviction. What we combat in him is usually our own inferior side.''

The ''scene'' is your ''scene'', your territory limits if you like. Your view of things. It is all couched in para-social terms, the thinking coined by Donald Horton and Richard Wohl discusssed in Mass Communication and Para-Social Interaction Observations on Intimacy at a Distance (1956), meaning a sort of psychological relationship where an audience interacts with media personalities as if in a reciprocal relationship, despite limited real interaction.

Unless you are on the road all the time and even then you won't in terms of empirical witnessing be able to experience that much. Therefore that para-social phenomenon kicks in and you build a world by developing a relationship with the jazz icon to hand reached via listening or seeing live but just as much viewed through the lens of the media, typically the Internet. We are far more visual these days. And even if you go out more than most and see a jazz gig once or twice a week it will probably be in a limited set of places. How do you then in a serious way connect what you have witnessed with the greater whole? Of course you then enlarge upon all that and imagine what you are seeing as part of a bigger picture extrapolating more through research as prudently as you can or not.

A parochialism might intervene. Maybe it is the big city variety of metropolitan triumphalism or the twee, tidy little town bourgeois self satisfied pride variety. Each can be absurd. But it is surprising how often people rank scenes and attribute to particular ones great significance, importance, special characteristics which they feel then influences other scenes. Point of view then masquerades as fact.

The individualism of the players is we think more real than notions of the scene and would caution against a one size fits all mentality. You can't herd cats, muso or feline. And the quiet ones are often those with most to say don't you think long term especially when it comes to the creation of new items in the book of jazz standards that eventually tortoise rather than hare outlast the last note in the concert hall, last usable take from even a memorable studio session, and light up our imaginations via generation upon future generation.

Try listening to another Whirlpool - as we were doing earlier today. The work of one of those quiet ones with a lot to say whose message lingers longer than most, pianist, composer, improviser, teacher John Taylor. Sad to think that bassist Palle Danielsson - who was on this great Cam Jazz recording issued in 2007 - passed away recently less than a decade after JT himself died. Only Martin France from that remarkable recording is still with us.

Made in a German studio in 2005, with tunes like Kenny Wheeler's 'Consolation', 'Nicolette' and classic standard 'Everybody's Song But My Own,' Taylor's title track & 'The Woodcocks,' a version of the Gershwins' 'I Loves You Porgy' and Gustav Holst's 'In the Bleak Midwinter' included, the scene you harrumph, listening to this classic… what on earth? On second thoughts maybe it's better to just trust the individual vision of such velvety softness reached inside a brittle shell and park the meaninglessness of ''the scene'' in a cupboard full of old cables and other mothballed paraphernalia instead.

Turn to another quiet master and something of both a totem and ur text spiritually - Bill Evans - a big inspiration of Taylor's and 'Re: Person I Knew.'

Around before many of us where even adults or born Evans even so is someone you swear you knew… that para social thing again sparks the imagination. And you do know him in a personal way that is meaningful to you and perhaps only you in a certain sense. Thinking - manifesting, that fashionable term might even apply - may powerfully once again well be believing when translating what you are hearing into some sort of personal revelation. If the only choices going are literal and metaphorical we'd prefer the metaphorical every time.

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New track of the week: blue, mostly by Harry Skoler ****

Drawn from Red Brick Hill out next month on Sunnyside this is new from the Bradford, Massachusetts-based Berklee professor clarinettist Harry Skoler and features some characteristically nimble double bass playing from the great Dezron Douglas and …

Published: 10 Jun 2024. Updated: 37 days.

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Drawn from Red Brick Hill out next month on Sunnyside this is new from the Bradford, Massachusetts-based Berklee professor clarinettist Harry Skoler and features some characteristically nimble double bass playing from the great Dezron Douglas and brightly conveyed vibes by Blue Note star Joel Ross whose Nublues is one of 2024's finest releases.

There's also unforgettably a fabulously scalding clarinet run from the leader.

The track, full of lots of brooding timbral contrasts and interesting narrative story telling in the compositional structure, was recorded at top New York studio Sear Sound - a synonym for quality jazz sonics in other words - the trumpet solo from Marquis Hill is also notable and the interplay between trumpet and clarinet gains a whole lot of traction.

Drummer on the track is Blue Note star, also well known for his work with Kenny Barron and Dave Holland, the formidable hard bop player Johnathan Blake whose album Passage lit us up inside immeasurably in 2023.