Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What's all this about Wayne Shorter?

LOVE Wayne Shorter.......
Facebook is quite miraculous in many ways. The explosion of social networking in cyberspace has changed people's lives and made it easy to keep up with friends who are far away, publicize your gigs and music, and also share photos and information with large numbers of people. There's also a dark side to Facebook. Some people use it as, at best, a public diary, and at worst, a way to incite virtual riots. (Since Facebook caught on, I've been truly fascinated to see the wide diversity of status updates; they range from extensive quotations from the writings of Krishnamurti to "I love pancakes!")

In the past few days, there has been a huge cyber-controversy regarding a young musician who, in what I imagine was a poorly thought out burst of emotion, posted something very harsh about the great saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter. (I don't want to post it here. It was a much meaner way of saying "Wayne Shorter sucks.") Folks have come out of the Facebook woodwork to criticize this young man. While I haven't had time to read all 400 and then some of the comments below this post, I felt the need to say something.

While obviously, this guy, who is a saxophone player, technically has the right to say whatever he wants (within the laws of free speech; for example, it's illegal to threaten to kill the President, or to post child pornography, or that type of thing). And certainly, I have said harsh things about human beings on my Facebook page, AND on jazztruth. In defense of myself, I have been harsher on political figures, who I believe are fair game for harsh criticism; I believe I have been critical of them in a political context. If it seemed over the top, I was probably attempting humor (for example, if I say , "John Boehner is the Devil," I don't really believe he is the Devil, first of all, because I don't really believe in the Devil, and secondly, because I am aware that Boehner is a human being. He is a VERY corrupt politician. I don't know, unless you don't consider passing out contribution checks from Big Tobacco to fellow Republicans on the floor of the House of Representatives corrupt). Perhaps it's unfair to use humor as a defense; Rush Limbaugh has tried to hide behind some of the reprehensible things he has said by saying he was trying to be funny. (Limbaugh makes millions and is in a much different position that I am.)

I have been critical of some musicians, maybe some who didn't deserve it. In observing this sort of flip disrespect of Wayne Shorter, who is widely agreed in the community to be a jazz legend, I have my own regrets of things I have posted about lesser known musicians. I never used this type of profanity to sort of "dismiss" anyone. Now, some say that this type of obscene dismissal occurs all the time in private conversation(or perhaps throughout the Miles Davis autobiography. Well, none of us are Miles Davis, so you can forget using that as a justification). There's a big difference between saying this kind of thing in conversation and posting in a public forum.

Again, everyone has the right to their opinion, whether it makes any sense or not. Let's face it, this young jazz player is at least dismissing Wayne Shorter after listening to him; how many billions of other people in the world have dismissed jazz music altogether? In fact, they don't even have the time or interest to say, "Jazz Sucks," on Facebook. So in this way, this young musician's opinion is probably in the majority, if you really think about it.

However, I think that this poor misguided young musician is going to regret his callous words in the future, maybe even the near future. It would have been better if he would have written these words in a private email, or just vented to a good friend after a few beers. Unfortunately, saying something on Facebook is now a very open public forum, much like saying something in a magazine interview or on television. I think one should consider that these type of statements will have consequences, and that one must be prepared for those consequences. (For example, if I say "Mitt Romney sucks!" I know that there are some of my Republican or conservative friends who are going to disagree. And as long as they don't call me names, I'm willing to accept intellectual dialogue. But to my recollection, my criticism of Romney and other conservative figures has been based on their policies and their words. These policies will effect the course of world history. Music is WAY more subjective, and we need to acknowledge this.)

My basic impression is that a young musician who has essentially not much of a career to speak of at this point should not be publicly dismissing 80 year old jazz legends. It would have been MUCH different if he had posted, "Just came from the Wayne Shorter concert. I think it went over my head..." or, "What's all the fuss about Wayne Shorter? I'm not a fan....". Instead of dissing Wayne Shorter, maybe he should have talked about the tenor saxophone players he really loves. "Hank Mobley is AWESOME!"

Regardless of whatever his true opinions are, this young saxophone player should realize that success in the jazz business(and although it's microscopic compared to the rest of the music biz, it's STILL a business) is probably based as much on REPUTATION than one's playing. So if you want to have a good reputation, dissing the living legends of jazz is probably not a good way to make people think well of you. And it seems as though this young man is pretty stubborn, and pretty convinced that he is "right." Well, whether he is right or wrong, which is fairly subjective, he should still consider the fact that no he will be known as "the guy who dissed Wayne Shorter on Facebook" rather than "the guy who plays tenor saxophone at Small's occasionally."I've seen careers ruined by much less than this. Maybe this gentleman will eventually live this down. He could start by apologizing, instead of digging himself further down into a hole by trying to justify himself.

In some way, I can understand the emotion behind the rejection of one's elders. Jazz music, like life, is a progression. Jazz evolves. How does anything evolve? It changes. Jazz music comes out of a tradition, much like people come out of traditions. Some people continue traditions, some people take traditions and modify them. Some reject them altogether. I think when we are very young, we worship our parents, because we would die without them. As we get older, in order to assert our independence, we push our parents away. However, a sign of MATURITY, real MATURITY is to be able to look at our parents and say, "Wow, I used to think you were really corny. Now, I respect you."
I say all this because my mother died very suddenly a few weeks ago. I think about when I was in high school, and I had many conflicts with her. Then, as I got older, I started to understand her and respect her. And when I had a son, then I REALLY understood all that she sacrificed, and how I took her unconditional love for granted.

In this way, I think this young man's rejection of Wayne Shorter in such a disrespectful way is much like the high school kid saying to his parents, "I can do what I want! You aren't the boss of me!" But I suspect that a few years down the road, this young man will begin to understand why he should RESPECT the 80 year old Wayne Shorter, regardless of whether he will ever love Wayne Shorter's music or saxophone playing. It's just the right thing to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.