Sunday, July 17, 2005



One of the things that makes jazz unique is the way that people who love it just assume that everyone loves it.

You might hear someone say "I love the opera," or "do you like country music?" Or if someone gives you a CD for your birthday, they might say, "I really like this group, and I hope you will too." Or you might even get music flung at you like a challenge: "You do not like hip hop. You aren't cool enough to like hip hop."

With jazz, all this is skipped over. Jazz lovers go straight to: "Mobius Strip is playing next week at the Slink Club. I thought you'd want to know." Or they'll invite you to go hear the Chuck Chudek Five without even inquiring whether you like jazz. Or they'll just give you a jazz album for your birthday as though it were something generically giftable, like wine or flowers or chocolate.

Please note: I'm not saying that all jazz lovers do this. But if someone happens to cop this attitude toward their music, it's probably jazz. What's that about?

UPDATE: Althouse links and finds a political side to the jazz issue. Or is she just giving her answer to the implied meme, "what do people (wrongly) assume about you?"


Do you mean you don't like jazz? What's THAT about?
Aptly put. It seems to me it goes along with the assumption that you're a liberal. I think if you got out of the geographic spaces where people assume you're a liberal, you wouldn't find people assuming you like jazz. And by the way, I think jazz is the type of music people are most likely to PRETEND they like or even to fool themselves into believing they like. A lot of people just like to think of themselves as the kind of people who like jazz.

Also, have you noticed how many upscale stores assume their customers just can't get enough of Ella Fitzgerald music?
I may not know how to determine what good jazz is, but I definitely know when it's bad jazz. And it's playing at the Starbucks on University Ave. The 2nd high G over middle C is probably the most annoying sound to come out of a synthesizer - especially when held for roughly 2 minutes. Eeek!
There are people who don't like jazz?
Huh? I've listened to jazz for years and also write about it, but I've never encountered a jazz booster like the one you've described. The other jazz listeners I know assume other people think of it as a oddball interest. Jazz doesn't convey casual sophistication anymore--at least not for anyone my age (late 20's, early 30's).
Ann: I always assumed you were a liberal. Me, I'm going to stop pretending to be a liberal, starting NOW.

Mariam: Thanks for bringing up Starbucks, one of those "upscale stores" (Ann's comment) that assumes eveyrone likes jazz. And is a liberal. Can you really identify 2d high G over middle C? I think that makes you some sort of music geek.

Wendy and Jo(e): ;)

Anonymous: I bet you get the "not cool enough to like hip hop" a lot.
I do believe the appropriate term is "nerd" instead of "geek"... I looked up the differences on, sealing my fate as a nerd in the process.
> I think jazz is the type of music people are most likely to PRETEND they like or even to fool themselves into believing they like.

I'd say it's classical music, actually. It's the standard of "beauty". It's like reading Shakespeare. But most people really don't listen to classical music. They listen to Justin Timberlake, while thinking they appreciate Chopin. Most folks either love jazz or ignore it.

I wonder if the assumption that one likes jazz extends out to assuming they like modern art or poetry. I never thought of these things as being in the liberal domain, but if those are the lines to be drawn, so be it.
Just as a clarification: anything with Kenny G playing in it is not Jazz, saxophones notwithstanding. (And neither is Dave Matthews).

One last comment: "Jazz" these days covers as wide a variety of music as descriptors like "Rock" or "Classical". Or to give a literary analogy, "Romance" and "Science Fiction". It is not a given that if you like Count Basie, you'll also like Ornette Coleman (or even know who that is) - and both are considered "Jazz"
Okay, I don't give a shit about jazz but be careful what you all say about Dave Matthews. :)
Kids these days don't know what the jazz is all about.

See, jazz is like a Jell-o Pudding Pop(tm).

No, like Kodak(tm) film...


Anyway, yeah. Gotta agree with Prof. Althouse here, about the Jazz Pretentiousness Factor. (Though I'm sure a goodly number of people honestly and un-pretentiously really do like jazz.) Me, I've never seen the point in it.
Sid, jazz was the first "democratic" music (and it can be said that rock is a subgenre of jazz; blues, actually) - it eschewed the autocratic heirarchy of the orchestra, and replaced it with the democracy of a handful of guys improvising music and taking cues off each other. What's the point of any music? In it's "heyday" jazz was the popular dance music of its time, and young people liked it because it was sexy and upset their parents. That's pretty much the point of all music, isn't it? To get laid?
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