Sunday, April 15, 2007

C-Span 2 A Mixed Blessing?

After all my distress over C-Span 2, and its happy resolution, I must say I saw something on C-Span 2 just a little while ago that filled me with a strange sadness. It was a famous intellectual author who called Sonny Rollins "unlistenable" -- seemingly because Mr. Rollins has dared to be, in the famous intellectual's estimation, well, intellectual, like the famous intellectual author. The poor old fellow can't tap his toes to Sonny Rollins, he claims! Maybe he should try harder! But no, his argument seemed false to me. He seemed to say that only highly cultured professional musicians could enjoy Sonny Rollins... and that the sort of complex, supposedly "unlistenable" music made by Mr. Rollins is a sign of decadence in the arts. It is hard to explain why, then, as a teenager in Bayou La Batre, Alabama, I was so taken with Mr. Rollins' cut "Blue 7" that I went out and bought every Sonny Rollins album I could find. I was no jazz expert. This was the first jazz I had heard! And it is impossible for me to believe that the poor, dumb teen that I distinctly recall being was so much more advanced and culturally decadent than the famous intellectual is TODAY, after all his globe trotting and drinking expensive wine with the queen and being on C-Span 2. The famous intellectual tried to get Duke Ellington in on his argument, as an exemplar of the toe tapping good times that he seems to regard as the only reason for music's being, ignoring the fact that Mr. Ellington played with John Coltrane (the primary recipient of the intellectual's scorn), Max Roach, Mingus... and that Monk, for example, was a careful student of Ellington... and I think that Ellington - always a searching and curious musician - probably even picked up a thing or two from Monk as he went along. Perhaps the famous intellectual brings all this up in his book and wryly dismisses it as balderdash. Why is my dander up about this? My dander is usually not up! Especially on the "blog" for all to see. Finally, what if -- and it IS NOT true -- but what IF only serious musicians could understand and enjoy Coltrane and Rollins? So what? Don't they get something they can enjoy, too? I believe I'm actually losing sleep over C-Span 2. It's supposed to PUT me to sleep! Well, that last remark was unkind to C-Span 2, and not even the truth. But Sonny Rollins is "LISTENABLE"! Listen!