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Rebel Soul
5th January 2010, 12:06 PM
At age 50, Miles Davis' album Kind of Blue (http://www.amazon.com/Kind-Of-Blue/dp/B00136JQMI/?tag=howardmacom-20) has been officially and unanimously hailed (http://www.nola.com/newsflash/index.ssf?/base/entertainment-12/126091140190080.xml&storylist=music) by the US House of Representatives. Rep. John Conyers (http://conyers.house.gov/index.cfm?FuseAction=Issues.Home&Issue_id=05f8dd95-19b9-b4b1-120c-7f652e56f56c) (D-Michigan) sponsored H.Res 894, which on Tuesday passed 409 to 0, recognizing the "unique contribution" of the 37-minutes of modal improvisation trumpeter Davis and his stellar sextet recorded on March 2 and April 22, 1959. The honor is richly deserved, and if you have to ask why, spend some quality time with the music. To learn more about it, I recommend Ashley Kahn's well-researched book (http://www.amazon.com/Kind-Blue-Making-Miles-Masterpiece/dp/0306815583/?tag=howardmacom-20) of "the making of Miles Davis' masterpiece."

But back to our contentious Congress: As my colleague Philip Booth posted on his blog "Scribe Life (http://www.blogcatalog.com/search.frame.php?term=u.s.+house+of+representative s+resolution&id=8871a7bc311d53abd8df59eca994ed0f)" the resolution reaffirms jazz as a national treasure (a point Conyers first made in 1987 with House Concurrent Resolution 57), upholds fair protection of recording artists under copyright laws, and encourages the U.S. government to take steps to "preserve and advance the art form of jazz."

Before anyone complains that would entail a government takeover of American culture, let us remember that this resolution is aspiration, not enforceable, and our gov already invests in culture in myriad (though too often paltry) ways. As Seattle-based jazz trumpeter and blogger behind One Working Musician (http://oneworkingmusician.com/house-of-representatives-affirms-miles-davis-kind-of-blue-as-national-treasure-does-this-ring-hollow-to-anyone-else) Jason Parker suggests in his post on the KOB resolution, there are many programs costing little that could be highly efficacious in supporting jazz (and which could be applied to other American vernacular art forms too -- I'm thinking blues, bluegrass, ethnic and folk forms) but require Congress to better fund the NEA, states to support their own arts councils, municipalities to get in on the game, private philanthropists and fans with modest financial resources to give what they can, presenter-producers to believe in the potential of putting on jazz concerts, media to open its ears.


A little of that happens now, but not in any concerted way. Jazz and its extensions enter 2010 the same way they've struggled through the past 50 years of a century-long history: borne in the hearts and minds of creative musicians and a relatively small though international and influential coterie of devotees. If you're reading this blog, you surely know this.


Struggle, they say, is good for the soul, and if so, jazz has got it. Would direct government funding help or hinder jazz's autonomy and development? Only one way to find out -- try it. And then we could judge, applaud, ignore, reform, renew or scrap the results. As it is, a House resolution is a nice pat on the back for an album that's proved itself by staying in print, finding new fans and staying of the moment for five decades.

Rebel Soul
5th January 2010, 12:22 PM
Here's my thought on it:

Why did they wait until the man died before giving him the kudos he should have had whilst alive? And almost 20 years after his death at that?

It's worth bearing in mind that as well as making amazing music, Miles Davis had a lot of strong things to say about the US establishment, especially its apartheid style treatment of black Americans for much of the 20th century. As a MUSICIAN, he continually argued that the music called 'jazz' should be given the same respect at home as it enjoyed abroad in his lifetime. These things would have made him 'a trouble maker' with those in the halls of power. Certainly not somebody who would be given honours.

Secondly, whilst on some levels it's a nice tribute, in other ways, I believe that funding for the arts is continually cut by the system over there.

bt/ub40
5th January 2010, 01:47 PM
I can hear you Imani...problem is its always accountants dishing out the funding NOT artists..anway..KIND OF BLUE playing in my house now..perfect music for those of us that are snowed in...BIG open fire, BIG cognac, Miles Davies...hhhmmmmmm...later


btw ..at least us musicians know the importance of Kind Of Blue and don't need a politician telling us its OK to like it..sounds to me like someone is seeking brownie points from Obama...maybe Im an old cynic...:lol:

bt/ub40
5th January 2010, 01:49 PM
This PERFECT SNOW MUSIC....never thought about it before...Flamenco sketches is too beautiful......

Rebel Soul
5th January 2010, 03:27 PM
I can hear you Imani...problem is its always accountants dishing out the funding NOT artists..anway..KIND OF BLUE playing in my house now..perfect music for those of us that are snowed in...BIG open fire, BIG cognac, Miles Davies...hhhmmmmmm...later


btw ..at least us musicians know the importance of Kind Of Blue and don't need a politician telling us its OK to like it..sounds to me like someone is seeking brownie points from Obama...maybe Im an old cynic...:lol:

And the accountants are probably more attuned to the "ker ching" from the sales of Lady GaGa (General Anarchy?) than in nurturing the next potential Miles and Trane. I think it probably was a politician looking for a raise :-)

All Blues is one of my favourites on that album....but yes, saw your Flamenco Sketches response.

Speaking of which...some nice images here, no snow though.

MsJ5dc7uFY0

Rebel Soul
5th January 2010, 03:29 PM
On the positive side, if this latest development gets Miles' music to a new audience, it can't be bad.

GefferyMorgan
5th January 2010, 04:09 PM
I love Miles Davis' music, don't get me wrong...but whenever the government starts "recognizing" someone musically, then there's a rat in the kitchen, so to speak....hoping to get brownie points from the voters, perhaps????

Rebel Soul
5th January 2010, 04:21 PM
I love Miles Davis' music, don't get me wrong...but whenever the government starts "recognizing" someone musically, then there's a rat in the kitchen, so to speak....hoping to get brownie points from the voters, perhaps????

It is quite an unprecedented move, in some ways. Bob Marley was awarded the Order of Merit when he was on his deathbed. Some Miles fans on Facebook have been saying "It should have been Bitches Brew", which I love, but just goes to show you can't please everyone! :-)