Saturday, June 22, 2013

Fussing about Wayne Shorter

Because I don't spend a lot of time on the Internet except for stuff I really need, I have managed to miss the entire F*** Wayne Shorter fuss from earlier this year. A young saxophonist named Alex Hoffman propagated a social media utterance with this title. Typically, the post blew up and made him infamous. 

The online jazz writer Jonah Jonathan gave Hoffman an hourlong soapbox on Jonathan's platform, the Jazz Musician's Voice, In the intervierw, Hoffman rambles in a constipated tone about his aesthetic values and how Shorter falls short of them. The blather is available on YouTube under the title, Alex Hoffman: Why I think Wayne Shorter Sucks. Hoffman objects to the fact that members of Shorter's quartet occasionally yell at high points in their performance, and that Shorter uses harmony that Hoffman finds offensive.

Other people, such as Larry Blumenfeld, quickly came to Shorter's defense, as if he needed any.

This conflict between convention and innovation is not new in jazz or any other realm of art. But, seriously, Shorter's iconic Blue Note sides are half a century old now. And why do we need to hear another version of Giant Steps, just because somebody mastered it? 

Sad to see that innovation in jazz must come from a guy who's celebrating his 80th birthday this year. There are others, of course: Darcy James Argue, for one.

1 comment:

vagranaut said...

Jazz has always been and should always be totally individualistic. It's the most American musical art form in that sense. And sometimes the best art is the most offensive. Honestly, I don't really "like" to listen to Wayne Shorter's solos. Compare him to Dexter Gordon, for instance. One is insistent, harsh, and weird, the other is pleasant, smooth, and logical. But I listen to Wayne all the time anyway, because of the totality of his genius.