gapingvoid: “cartoons drawn on the back of business cards”: how to be creative

gapingvoid: “cartoons drawn on the back of business cards”: how to be creative:

“THE SEX & CASH THEORY: ‘The creative person basically has two kinds of jobs: One is the sexy, creative kind. Second is the kind that pays the bills. Sometimes the task in hand covers both bases, but not often. This tense duality will always play center stage. It will never be transcended.'”

The art/commerce intersection was bouncing about in my brain last night, so this hit home today. Click the link above and read the whole thing.

(Via @sivers.)

Thoughts on expectations, and a new blog

I’ll start with the shout out. Mike Reed appears to be blogging. Mike is a musician and music presenter in Chicago. I’ve mentioned him here before, an again, in full disclosure, must say that he is a friend of mine, we have played music together, and the Open Ears Music Series is greatly influenced and inspired by the Emerging Improvisers series that Mike started and runs with Josh Berman. Mike calls the blog “Thinking Out Loud,” although it shows up as “Free Time” in my rss reader. You can read it at his website,

My next thoughts were triggered by a review of Mike Reed’s Loose Assembly – The Speed of Change. My intention here isn’t necessarily to disagree with Stef’s review (although I think I liked the CD more than he did), but to point out some common thinking that is revealed by the reviewer’s choice of words.

“Soulstirrer” starts out well, but then falls back in mainstream rhythm and melody. The same can be said about some of the other tracks, such as “Garvey’s Ghost”, a Max Roach composition, which is relatively bland here, and “Tezetaye Antchi Lidj”, a Mulatu Astatqe composition, that sounds too joyful (and not raw enough) for the dark, bluesy and sensitive atmosphere on the rest of the album.

What I found thought provoking here was the idea that “fall[ing] back on mainstream rhythm and melody” could be used as a derogatory description, and the idea that it is possible for music to be “too joyful.” I get that some people like what they like, and want to hear that all of the time. I also get that a unified vibe for an album can be a good thing, but if I can get my noisy-free-jazz jones in the same place that I can hear beautiful rhythm and melody, AND get my joyful vibe on, then that is the place I want to be, as both a listener and performer.

The January 2009 issue of All About Jazz New York has a great piece on p.11 by Kevin Dorn called “How to completely miss the point of music.” Step 1 is “Take stylistic labels very seriously” and part of that instruction is: “Before you play, decide in which style you are going to perform.” Ultimately, we may all be better off if we can learn to listen and create in a manner that is free from the expectations of style, and open to all of the music that has already been made, or is still awaiting discovery.

Cell phone companies are still stupid

I don’t intend for this to be a consumer gripe blog, but I feel like I have to get my Seinfeld/Andy Rooney moments when I can.

What’s the deal with…?

Did you ever wonder why, cell phone companies don’t try to actually do what their customers want, instead of making their customers do what they want? Why do we put up with this lousy service?

I want to get my stepson a new cell phone. He has some money, and is willing to pay for it. The problem is, that his line isn’t eligible for an upgrade yet. They guy tells me that I can add the new equipment on my line, then he can change it to the other line, and I can go through the whole setup thing again on the phone that I have now, on the line I have now. WTF? Either way they are getting me to commit to two more years of abuse with extortion payment as the only way out. Why can’t they just do it the easy way? Why do I have to jump through hoops for their stupid rules?

I thought capitalism was supposed to create a better scene for consumers. Why do we let it work the other way? It makes me consider dropping off the grid…

EI does the math on Wynton

I know I have given DTM props before, but if you are a music lover and thinker, YOU MUST READ DO THE MATH, or at least check it out, because it is often quite good. Ethan Iverson is the usual blogger there, and he can be quite long-winded, but it is the attention-to-detail-about-stuff-that-really-turns-me-on kind of long-winded, not the I-love-to-see-my-words-on-a-screen type of long-winded.

Ethan has scored another great achievement with his interview with Wynton Marsalis and the resulting essays. It is well worth the read. I read them in the order suggested, and it flowed nicely. I suggest that approach. Ethan presents a well thought-out and quite insightful look at Wynton’s present and past, along with some corollary issues, and he does it seemingly without bias or any agenda other than the open-minded exploration of good music.

Sometimes really long essays can be hard to read online. I know I don’t usually enjoy laptop reading of long pieces, but I really dug this. Take the time, it is worth it.

Hollywood schmolly-wood

I like the fact that some creative New Orleans residents get work from the films that shoot here. Lots of local folks get some work out of the deal, and that is a good thing, especially now.

I don’t like it when they shoot on the street in front of my gig, without telling us that they will be sporadically closing the street and sidewalks throughout most of the first set. It is hard enough to get people to come out on a foggy Tuesday night to hear non-mainstream music, but the dude with the headset at the corner telling people that they can’t walk down the street makes it damn near impossible. This isn’t hard to fix. If they had just let us know ahead of time, we could have hit our email lists with the fact the the street would be closed for a few minutes at a time, throughout the evening. Knowing that a movie was shooting may have even helped bring people out, if they could have known that it would be possible to get there.

Movie folks can sometimes act like the world revolves around them. These people were fairly cool, but still, there are more people in the world than just the ones that care about their movie.

The doubly maddening thing about all of this is the fact that the presence of the movie shoots in New Orleans is, in itself, a sign of the world’s lack of respect for us as professionals. (I say “us” meaning the city in general.) The only reason that these films are being shot here is that they can pay New Orleanians less than they pay people in LA (or wherever else) to do the same work.

Sometimes we allow ourselves to get what we deserve.

relating to history

There is a sometimes rather large pile of magazines in my bathroom. It is an odd mix of my music magazines and my wife’s wife magazines. For some reason, today I dug down in the pile and came out with the December 2006 DownBeat, the one with Sun Ra on the cover.

There is an article/interview featuring Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, and George Lewis in that issue. There is a great passage in which Lewis is addressing history.

We’re looking at the paradox that you want to have the history or experiences, but at a certain point, history becomes meaningless and should just not exist, otherwise you become its prisoner. That’s a common conceit. To be without history means you’re not responsible and can sort of do what you want. From my standpoint, as a descendant of slaves, I don’t want to be disconnected from that history, because people tried to erase it, and we spent all that time getting it back. But I want to be able to abandon it when necessary, to reach these other places that I want to go.

As a musician that sees myself as coming out of the jazz lineage, that relationship with history can be a tricky one. I like the idea of being able to “abandon it when necessary,” which also leaves the idea of embracing it when necessary as well.

Louisiana vs. Illinois

I get to Chicago a couple of times a year (usually) and have lots of friends there. It is bad enough that the Bears keep beating the Saints, but this is too much.

Which state is the most corrupt—Illinois or Louisiana? – By Jacob Weisberg – Slate Magazine: “With the unmasking of Gov. Rod Blagojevich as a kleptocrat of Paraguayan proportion, Illinois now has a real chance—its first in more than a generation—to defeat Louisiana in the NCAA finals of American political corruption.”