Sunday, December 04, 2005

John Coltrane and the Death of Jazz

Billy asked about this offline in the non-virtual (a.k.a. "real") world. We'll count it as a vote.

This is undoubtedly the last post I will ever write. Shortly after it's publication, a fatwa will be issued calling for my death, and a jazz zealot will murder me in my sleep. But Slimbolala bows to no man. The truth must be told!

The day John Coltrane picked up the soprano saxophone was, in my not particularly well-informed opinion, the beginning of the end of jazz, the first cough in its slow, excruciating death-rattle, the first lungful of its drowning in a sea of splashy, off-kilter rhythms and overdense chords, the peeling loose of the last finger of its grip on melody before plunging to its demise, Wiley-Coyote-style, at the bottom of the canyon of cerebral, academic noodling.

That's all. I could try to justify this assertion, but that would require effort, and I'm feeling kind of lazy right now, so you'll just have to take my word for it.

Oh, and it's been nice knowing you.

Ask and ye shall receive.


  1. Fatwa notwithstanding, you'll have to find a way to blog from the great beyond.

  2. Anonymous10:16 AM

    I can tell you exactly where the fatwa will originate, too:

    (one of my S.F. faves)

    Good luck, Salman.

  3. Anonymous11:49 AM

    Wasn't there also something about a Lost Painting at the End of the Earth featuring carnies in skorts holding chickens?! Homesteading Frogman Henry? Bad abscess blues?!

  4. Coltrane created a new kind of jazz, but he didn't kill anything off. Consider, for example, Houston Persons.

  5. Ms. Howell, are you chastising me for not promptly responding to votes? If so, you didn't read the fine print. Or am I not catching your drift?

  6. And I should clarify, I like a lot of John Coltrane's music ("Giant Steps"? I'm there), and I even like some things about his later stuff. But it contains, in embryonic form, elements that have grown in subsequent decades and taken the main thrust of modern jazz in a direction that I don't want to go.

  7. Anonymous11:11 PM

    Chastising? No!
    Awkwardly egging-on? Yes!

    -but back to John Coltrane. As great as it is (so great), his style seemed chained to a personal me the music that fused his ideas & music was the weaker stuff musically...but got picked up on because it was interesting in a way that had broader appeal than the hard-core more-music/less-theory stuff

    -But what do I know, I don't even like Miles Davis's music.

  8. You my friend are one of those modly figs. You sound like those fundamental idealists who dont dare to accept anything new, always afraid to step out of the comfort zone. I dont expect you to "like" the new thing music of the sixties but be a little more open minded and try and understand whats the goal behind that music, its influence on the political/cultural scenario and the emotions it portrayed. When you try and question accepted conventions, try to break away from them and create an atmosphere for free thinking, you will understand the significance of Coltrane's later works