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Since I started Lubricity last week, I’ve been thinking about the meaning of the word and, ironically, how this space will define itself in its own non-definitional way. One way of going about this has been to think about what won’t be happening in this space. Expect more soon on what kinds of things you WILL be seeing, as well!
One thing that I am planning to leave off this site is the obituary. Perhaps the most difficult part of being a member of the jazz community as a young man with a whole life in jazz ahead of me is being constantly surrounded by the reminder that everyone of import in the jazz world seems to be either dead or dying. In my last post, I talked about being raised by ghosts. That will continue to be true without having to take note of the passing of every next jazz musician (today it was Wes Montgomery’s brother Buddy.)
Lucky for me, most of my favorites are already dead anyway. My man Jack Teagarden kicked it 20 years before I was even born. Miles Davis met his maker when I was 7 and hadn’t even heard of jazz. I remember hearing news of JJ Johnson’s death in high school, but I never had a chance to hear him play live. Who knows, maybe this is about my own fear of death more than it is about any kind of editorial decision. But when I read the news of bassist, retired basketball player and inspirational cancer-battling amputee Wayman Tisdale’s death this morning, I realized that I’d have to make an exception in my non-eulogizing policy.
Welcome to my new blog, Lubricity. Check out the about page for more about this new endeavor. While you’re here, click that “subscribe to feed” button and follow me on RSS.
I hope that these observations about jazz give you some perspective on the music that isn’t available elsewhere. My first post below is a recent essay I wrote for a class in my Jazz History MA program, jazz and film. It marks where I am right now: at the beginning of my foray into the world of jazz writing and historiography. Expect a combination of essays, reviews and questions for the community in future posts. My goal is to speak about the jazz world from the perspective of its younger participants — people like me who grew up well after Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, John Coltrane, even Miles Davis had passed away. For us, these people are ghosts, but they speak to us in very real ways through music and mythology. Our perspective on these voices doesn’t yet have a strong presence in the jazz discourse, but I hope that will begin to change soon.
Also watch this space for information about the upcoming relaunch of the Rutgers Jazz MA website, which currently leaves a lot to be desired.
Whenever I watch a movie, I always lose track of time. Weeks, years, lifetimes, even generations can unfold before us in a movie theater in under three hours. I had originally planned to write about how the story of the trombone has been told in Hollywood films, but when I went to the archive to watch them, serendipity distracted me with a pair of VHS tapes about Jack Teagarden, the subject of my MA thesis. They were produced by Joe Showler, the preeminent researcher of everything Teagarden who passed away days after I began classes at Rutgers. Watching these tapes took me to surprising emotional depths. It was like meeting someone for the first time, and totally hitting it off. The striking nature of the experience led me to abandon my other project. Instead, I’m reflecting on the “meeting” to try to better understand the nature of my love of jazz, the telling of history, and the power of the motion picture.