Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Nicholas Payton and Black American Music.

Louisville Kentucky - The revolving door for jazz. If you are good you are normally out of here so fast your shorts will not catch up for a week. No jazz radio to speak of. Club action? Better have your CCW permit on you at all times...My little corner of the jazz world.

Earlier today I stumbled upon a face book post by Carmen Intorre Jr. applauding the fact that Nicholas Payton wanted brick and mortar stores (the handful that are left) to have the option of putting what is commonly referred to as jazz in the "Black American Music" section.

Sitting down? I think giving a retailer an option is a good idea because a.) it will work and be a gold mine or b.) it will fail quicker than "Hope and Change."

Let the retailers and consumers figure it out but consider the massive section and problems it would cause consumers in attempting to locate an artist they are particularly interested in. Some people hang the tag of "easy listening" on Acoustic Alchemy while others cling to "new age" and then there are a handful of enlightened souls that call it acoustic jazz.

Consider this...Place bluegrass and Appalachian music in a category called "White American Music" (but everyone is welcome to listen which is the crux of the Payton argument) then you would have every NAACP lawyer in a hundred mile radius dying to file suit. How about classical music? Do we call it music for well to do white pseudo intellectuals but everyone can listen? Most artists I speak with pay little if any attention to labels given and normally have a negative reaction which is due largely in part to their concentration on their craft not on creating a radical racial revolution that much like the last war, has no real end game strategy other than a constant flow of wasted P.R. Racism is a two way street with a dead end. In 1914 Teddy Roosevelt gave a speech where he called for the end of phrases like "Irish-American" or "Italian-American". No matter the country of origin or the god you pray to we are all Americans. Even President Obama does not use race as an issue. History is to be examined, studied and ultimately learned from and not used as an excuse for shortcoming which include a stalled career that you wish to blame on everyone but yourself. I applaud Payton's passion no matter how poorly thought out or completely misguided it may be.

John Kelman of All About Jazz said my "issue" was the inability to separate the man from the music. Clearly the music is the man or woman and to define an art form purely on race is a walking contradiction in terms to the very point Kelman falls short in making.

I appreciate Payton's passion, his idea could have merit if not for certain logistical nightmares but with more cyber platforms available to purchase music from the idea is doomed from inception. I don't want to call Payton a self serving media hound but it would appear this somewhat desperate attempt to fit a square peg in a round hole misses the mark yet again.