Thursday, December 15, 2011


This one was hard... I read this a week ago... it really resonated... tough, but I think very correct...

and then I spent four days listening to ninety percent jazz... old monos... new stereos.. modern.. classic...

and I still feel that it is true... so I revisited tonight... now there is a stir.. sad.. but read the original.. I think it is correct... and read it with love.. I think it will sink in...

the original is here.. on Nicholas Payton's blog... the text I will copy below:

On Why Jazz Isn’t Cool Anymore
Posted on November 27, 2011

Jazz died in 1959.

There maybe cool individuals who say they play Jazz, but ain’t shit cool about Jazz as a whole.

Jazz died when cool stopped being hip.

Jazz was a limited idea to begin with.

Jazz is a label that was forced upon the musicians.

The musicians should’ve never accepted that idea.

Jazz ain’t shit.

Jazz is incestuous.

Jazz separated itself from American popular music.

Big mistake.

The music never recovered.

Ornette tried to save Jazz from itself by taking the music back to its New Orleanian roots, but his efforts were too esoteric.

Jazz died in 1959, that’s why Ornette tried to “Free Jazz” in 1960.

Jazz is only cool if you don’t actually play it for a living.

Jazz musicians have accepted the idea that it’s OK to be poor.

John Coltrane is a bad cat, but Jazz stopped being cool in 1959.

The very fact that so many people are holding on to this idea of what Jazz is supposed to be is exactly what makes it not cool.

People are holding on to an idea that died long ago.

Jazz, like the Buddha, is dead.

Let it go, people, let it go.

Paul Whiteman was the King of Jazz and someday all kings must fall.

Jazz ain’t cool, it’s cold, like necrophilia.

Stop fucking the dead and embrace the living.

Jazz worries way too much about itself for it to be cool.

Jazz died in 1959.

The number one Jazz record is Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue.

Dave Brubeck’s Time Out was released in 1959.

1959 was the coolest year in Jazz.

Jazz is haunted by its own hungry ghosts.

Let it die.

You can be martyrs for an idea that died over a half a century if y’all want.

Jazz has proven itself to be limited, and therefore, not cool.

Lot’s wife turned to a pillar of salt from looking back.

Jazz is dead.

Miles ahead.

Some may say that I’m no longer the same dude who recorded the album with Doc Cheatham.

Correct: I’m not the same dude I was 14 years ago.

Isn’t that the point?

Our whole purpose on this planet is to evolve.

The Golden Age of Jazz is gone.

Let it go.

Too many necrophiliacs in Jazz.

You’re making my case for me.

Some people may say we are defined by our limitations.

I don’t believe in limitations, but yes, if you believe you are limited that will define you.

Definitions are retrospective.

And if you find yourself getting mad, it’s probably because you know Jazz is dead.

Why get upset if what I’m saying doesn’t ring true?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t play Jazz.

I play Postmodern New Orleans music.

Louis Armstrong and Danny Barker play Traditional New Orleans Music.

Ellis Marsalis and James Black play Modern New Orleans music.

Kidd Jordan and Clyde Kerr play Avant-garde New Orleans music.

Donald Harrison plays Neoclassical New Orleans music.

I play Postmodern New Orleans music.

I am a part of a lineage.

I am a part of a blood line.

My ancestors didn’t play Jazz, they played Traditional, Modern and Avant-garde New Orleans Music.

I don’t play Jazz.

I don’t let others define who I am.

I am a Postmodern New Orleans musician.

I create music for the heart and the head, for the beauty and the booty.

The man who lets others define him is a dead man.

With all due respect to the masters, they were victims of a colonialist mentality.

Blacks have been conditioned for centuries to be grateful for whatever crumbs thrown to them.

As a postmodern musician, it’s my duty to do better than my predecessors.

To question, reexamine and redefine what it is that we do.

They accepted it because they had to.

Because my ancestors opened the door for me, I don’t have to accept it.

Louis bowed and scraped so Miles could turn his back.

It’s called evolution.

It’s the colonialist mentality that glorifies being treated like a slave.

There is nothing romantic about poor, scuffling Jazz musicians.

Fuck that idea.

It’s not cool.

Jazz is a lie.

America is a lie.

Playing Jazz is like running on a treadmill: you may break a sweat, but ultimately you ain’t going nowhere.

Some people may say we are limited.

I say, we are as limited as we think.

I am not limited.

Jazz is a marketing ploy that serves an elite few.

The elite make all the money while they tell the true artists it’s cool to be broke.

Occupy Jazz!

I am not speaking of so-called Jazz’s improvisational aspects.

Improvisation by its very nature can never be passé, but mindsets are invariably deadly.

Not knowing is the most you can ever know.

It’s only when you don’t know that “everything” is possible.

Jazz has nothing to do with music or being cool.

It’s a marketing idea.

A glaring example of what’s wrong with Jazz is how people fight over it.

People are too afraid to let go of a name that is killing the spirit of the music.

Life is bigger than music, unless you love and/or play Jazz.

The art, or lack thereof, is just a reflection.

Miles Davis personified cool and he hated Jazz.

What is Jazz anyway?

Life isn’t linear, it’s concentric.

When you’re truly creating you don’t have time to think about what to call it.

Who thinks of what they’ll name the baby while they’re fucking?

Playing Jazz is like using the rear-view mirror to drive your car on the freeway.

If you think Jazz is a style of music, you’ll never begin to understand.

It’s ultimately on the musicians.

People are fickle and follow the pack.

Not enough artists willing to soldier for their shit.

People follow trends and brands.

So do musicians, sadly.

Jazz is a brand.

Jazz ain’t music, it’s marketing, and bad marketing at that.

It has never been, nor will it ever be, music.

Here lies Jazz (1916 – 1959).

Too many musicians and not enough artists.

I believe music to be more of a medium than a brand.

Silence is music, too.

You can’t practice art.

In order for it to be true, one must live it.

Existence is not contingent upon thought.

It’s where you choose to put silence that makes sound music.

Sound and silence equals music.

Sometimes when I’m soloing, I don’t play shit.

I just move blocks of silence around.

The notes are an afterthought.

Silence is what makes music sexy.

Silence is cool.

- Nicholas Payton


and after that has settled in.. I have two things I want to say, hopefully without taking anything from Mr. Payton...

one, I listen to this music every day.. my favorite modern musician calls himself a jazz musician just to thin his herd of potential followers and assure himself of a group of serious listeners.. I think this picture says a lot:

and two... deep breath... as many of you are here as much for gear as for music, every time you read the word jazz in that poem, please replace it with "audiophilia"... I think it makes even more sense...



  1. Thanks for this thought-provoking post...and for drawing attention to NP's poem. I am quoting Mats the line "Silence is what makes music sexy." I'm not sure the equivalent literary master would be "sexy," but Harold Pinter sure practiced this art in his powerful plays.

  2. "Silence is Sexy"

    einsturzende neubauten
    2000 zomba records / rough trade

  3. please replace it with "audiophilia".... Thanks JJ I just spewed coffee all over my new MacBook Pro roflmao.

    Perhaps we should start a Jerry Lewis style telethon to raise money for a cure for audiophilia.

    One more thing Jazz isn't dead it just smells funny.

  4. I always thought it died in 1975 with Agharta and Pangaea being the last truly creative "jazz" records. Also thought the 60's were the best times for the music and things were just getting started around 1955. Guess I was wrong.

  5. so, Joe... when did HiFi die?

    (and I agree with Payton that by the 60's it had somehow been disconnected from most mainstream music... and that label made people not even investigate it... and yes I know you lived outside the norm.. I ain't talking about you!)


  6. A 2000 Recording ..and the people said Amen!

    Mask ~ Erik Truffaz

  7. Since we have audio systems we can hang out in the past if we want to. It is an interesting and important place to visit.

    A different story for the players. They are stuck in the here and now, forced to take some position vis a vis their ancestors.

    Rejection is another form of acceptance, because the forebearers themselves rejected their forebearers, in a loving way of course.

    They had the same records as the rest of us and it helped make them what they are.

    This anti-"jazz word" stance itself is totally traditional. We should demand nothing less.

    Most of the best jazz came from players trying to destroy jazz. That's one of the main things jazz does, while keeping it alive.

    Check in with Gil Scott Heron for 9 minutes of insight and truth on this dialogue:

  8. #1 - Cool album cover!

    #2 - What kind of job do you have that let's you 'listen to 90% jazz for four solid days" ;-)

    #3 - I like Nicholas Payton and have many of his CDs. (I played you one of my favorites: the CD pairing him with Doc Cheatham). I've heard him several times in concert. He is never less than terrific, although his personal life definitely impacts his performances, for better and for worse.

    But gotta mostly disagree with Mr. Payton's post. Sorry, most artists don't make money; they make art because they are compelled to create. When an artist makes money, they are oft times considered a 'sell-out' by artists that don't make money. (Replace 'artist' with equipment manufacturers to get a feel for the state of the high-end industry.)

    Many critics argue that 1939 was the high water mark for American cinema, but that doesn't mean important films haven't been made since.

    I do like his thoughts about the music of silence...

  9. Ellington said (and I'm paraphrasing from memory), 'we never should have let them name it. as soon as they named it, that marked the beginning of it's end.' He called it American music.

    I hope NP is making some money. Most working musicians gave up on the idea of playing for much more than sustenance...maybe enough to help feed, cloth, and educate your kids, if you're lucky.

    If anyone is getting rich from jazz, or it's wandering corpse, I'd be interested to know their names. I don't think it's the first stop for VC these days.

    Whether it's alive or on life support, or waiting to re-emerge under a different heading, I am forever grateful for it's having been. As an audiophile, born in New Orleans to two (jazz) musicians, it's not jewelry nor's a time machine, forward or back to an uncommon, a higher denominator of the human experience.


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