Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Open Letter to Brent Black Two(Electric Boogaloo)

 Dear Mr. Black-

Wow, I was alerted to how out of hand this has gotten by Billy Childs, after I interviewed him this morning(will be forthcoming on jazztruth). Anyway, I'm hoping that this will fizzle out and we can get back to the music. Hey, Brent, BTW, just to set the record straight, I've recorded I think 22 CDs as a leader. 2 of them are solo piano. I wasn't sure what you meant by "solo". Anyway, I'm pretty sure it's around 22. The first one was in 1995 for Steeplechase: I've done maybe about 10 for that label, I did 2 for Criss Cross, three for Fresh Sound New Talent, One for Sirocco, and a handful of self and sort of self released CDs. I have 2 in the can for Steeplechase, and a bunch more things in the works. I have the urge to offer to send you some of my music; not to review, just for your own listening pleasure, or maybe to help you more clearly decide whether I'm second rate or not (ha ha?). However, I think I'll pass at this particular juncture.Many of them are on itunes. If you type in my name, they should come up. For some weird reason(ha ha?) I think you probably wouldn't like it! But hey, most people don't like jazz, so the idea of somebody not liking my music is not really a new idea.

But you know, you aren't the first "critic" to suggest that I should not attempt being a bandleader, that I was really more of a sideman. I was even told by a promoter once, after I played three shows at a festival-one with Benny Golson, one with Al Foster, and one as a leader-that I "was one of the best sidemen out there, but it's just not the same when you are a band leader". Something to that effect. He had bought me a drink, so I was civil. I actually wanted to throw the drink in his face!
I've been struggling to be a bandleader for years, facing numerous disappointments and frustrations. I've submitted material to promoters and booking agents and club owners over and over only to be ignored. ( I realize I'm not the only. I'm always amazed to talk to name cats and have them tell me how hard it is out here to get gigs.)

Be that as it may, there is something -call it ignorance, being stubborn, or just a desire to express myself and have my music be heard-that has kept me going. I realize that it's too late for me to be an overnight superstar. But if I can get one gig at the Earshot Jazz Festival every 5 years, hey, that's something to celebrate! I'm in it for the long haul. I think most of us are.

In this way, I want to be an inspiration to my students. Most of my students may never get the opportunities I have, but if they are really serious about music, I want them to observe what their life might be like when they are my age(42). Maybe they will be teaching, and playing when they can. Maybe they will become name players, or get to do a lot of sideman work. Few get rich in music, and lots of folks can't even make a living. But if you can have some kind of life in music, and get satisfaction from making your own music or getting to collaborate with others, that might be more valuable than driving a Lamborghini or belong to the country club.
I'll never be rich in terms of money, but I have the joy and satisfaction of a life in music, in the past and present. Plus, I have a really wonderful family-a loving, talented wife and a son who is an endless source of delight. And I am extremely lucky to have a teaching job and in Portland, Oregon, no less.

Brent, I really hope you can find some peace in your life. Hate is really toxic. I have myself held grudges for years. Letting go of them is something amazing. Here's a quote from , who was that guy.....he was President after Buchanan....oh yeah, Abe Lincoln:

"Am I not destroying my enemies when I make friends of them?"
Offer still stands-if you are ever in Portland, coffee is on me. Maybe even a bagel.


  1. pass......call me anything. you can't call me a hyopcrite. give nicholas and orrin my best. two losers in search of a record deal. you dont challenge my integrity and then ask to break bread with me.
    want absolution then go see a priest ass hole.

    1. lol its funny how many times you said you'd "NEVER" be back, only to come back and write absolutely dick comments when everyone else here is cordial. You're opinion would go SO much further if you communicated in a more respectful manner. Instead, you've made yourself to be a complete asshole, and I'm pretty sure that opinion is shared unanimously by every person who's read your immature comments.

    2. Wow, uneccessarily offensive, insulting words from Brent Black - "asshole... losers..." - to a super talented musician and jazz educator named George Colligan. Well, you "losers" may count yourself in good company with Romney's 47%. This blogging, something I have some interest in doing, seems to get really personal and cut-throat. I have noticed critics, as opposed to actual musicians, seem to think their mere opinions are above reproach and they may lack any sense of accuracy, perspective and context. Something Benny Maupin told me in an interview about critics, relative to a paper I did on Horace Silver being marginalized by jazz critics, "...what have they ever contributed...?"

  2. This blog entry (and the response from Mr. Black) are very telling. I'm in the midst of some unpleasantness right now myself, and I'm a little surprised at how thoroughly I got blindsided, and I think the reason is I simply do not understand the motivation of people who are gratuitously nasty. Being a jerk in pursuit of money, power or sex at least makes a kind of sense, but being a prick when there's no real tangible benefit in doing so puzzles the hell out of me. I really don't get it.

    I'm tempted to be angry with my own tormentors (who in my case ae academics) because they've caused real damage tomy life. But I suspect just being that much of an asshole is punishment enough in itself. as you point out, hate is toxic, and those who indulge poison themselves more effectively than they damage their "enemies."

  3. This probably isn't news to anyone, but Mr. Black needs to consult a mental health professional. I know it's difficult, but the best thing to do for us and him is avoid future interaction, at least until such a time that healthy relationships are possible. I say this to encourage compassion and acceptance for everyone. You never know what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes. Peace...

  4. Awesome post George! You are an inspiration with your classy attitude and positive energy. Certain others, not so much.

  5. And since Brent seems to ignore what others have posted, let me add:

    First, 'tain't nothin' wrong with being a sideman. I've seen you with Byron and DeJohnette, and you were absolutely killing! And sideman ain't really an appropriate term, since you were hardly in either group as a "support player"; you were an integral part of each band, whether you were accompanying another soloist (but always interacting with the rest of the players) or soloing yourself. You've got huge ears, George, and it's absolutely clear why folks like Don and Jack continue to recruit ya;

    Second, your records as a leader may not have garnered you the chart success that Brent seems to think is the litmus test for a successful record, but you've covered a lot of territory, from your Mad Science fusion-like group (wow!) to the recent trio record of mostly Stevie Wonder tunes. You've nothing to apologize for, that's for sure, and given that Brent espouses to be a supporter of the indie musician, and covers music on a variety of labels no larger than those you release on, I just don't get the difference in his mind...except that, along with these John Kelman and Michael Ricci guys (who the heck are they anyway?), he's decided that no matter what you say, you are what he thinks you are. Same goes for Orrin and anyone else who crosses his path. He talks of integrity, but anyone who talks to people the way he does here can't have much of it.

    Hate is a terrible thing, and this guy seems absolutely filled with it. Go to his website, and see how, more than once a week, he has to spout some kinda shit against *someone*.

    Guys who either love you or hate you, as Brent seems to do, sound very much like borderline personality disorder people - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borderline_personality_disorder - characterized by black and white thinking, unusual variability and depth of moods. It's also a disorder for which there is no treatment so, if anything, as ugly as he is, he might actually be someone to pity, because he can't help himself and there ain't no fixing it.

  6. George - Brent Black is not worth trying to reason with. His mind is made up and he also wants the last word. Time to move on. In the comment above, Mr Booker may have got it exactly right when he wrote "he's decided that no matter what you say, you are what he thinks you are." I am enjoying your blog posts and your point of view.

  7. It puts the lotion on its skin!

  8. read the words i posted....not what you think they mean. big difference. i gave george props on the josh ginsburg review but does that get taken into account? no.
    you bet, if some low budget wants to do a cyber drive by then i will fire back. orrin evans said posi-tone was "bull shit"....really? no one picked up on an artist so stupid as to truly bite the hand that feeds them. things are black and white. life is easy. people make it hard. peace out and suck it.

  9. and davis the only one with a personality disorder is you as you keep coming and coming and refuse to acknowledge any point i made better yet. mind your business. this was between george and i and "we" started off fine till douchbags like you got involved. i only wished you live here in ky so i could see if you would say the same shit to my face. and to mr. anononymous - your posts are meaningless if you dont have the balls to sign em......with that...i have work to do. my audience numbers are also figured based on radio stations that carry my reviews, major label web sites etc....not "just" google analytics. i have 2 degress, one in music. i have a minor in statistics so basic math and reading tables doesnt pose me a great deal of difficulty. sorry george....had you monitored your site properly and kept your trolls in line this would not happen. but i stand my remarks. all of em....i notice orrin hasnt been back....snicker. i know why. lmao!!

  10. And yet, each time you say you are done here, you keep on comin' back, back & back again, like a bad canker. As for wishing I was in KY, you talk a lot more trash than anyone else, Brent; I'd love to see you come to New York, pay some of us a visit and see if you're ready to call us douchebags, assholes, butt buddies and everything else to our faces? I'd have no problem saying "the same shit" to your face, since it's all about facts, and not the screaming tantrums you call posts. Orrin isn't back, I guess, because, unlike you, when he said he was done, he was.
    You keep making promises ya clearly can't keep. A little impulse control problem, perhaps?

    As for stats? First, those labels that don't *carry* your shit, they just *quote* it - like they quote *any* positive review that helps their cause (another lie on your part), and I doubt they provide you with reader stats, since many of them don't know how to track them (knowing even less about web metrics than you do).

    Don't try to make your numbers bigger than they are. Nobody says you don't have readers; we just say you don't have a quarter of a million of 'em. And you may have a minor in stats, but it's one thing to know how to read a table; another to be able to *interpret* it. Again, differentiate between page impressions/hits and unique visitors. Or provide empirical evidence that you have those 250,000 readers. Of course, your answer to all this will probably just be something like "I don't have to prove anything to you, Jethro." You are so, so predictable.

  11. Personally I think The Who said it best...as they were obviously referring to Brent Black when they said , "Who are You?".....I still don't know--still don't care.

  12. hey davis...you dont get where i am read or how those numbers come into play, it is a guess on your part. lie? fuck you. i dont lie and i dont need to take crap like that from a douche like you. attack me and you damn right i'll fire back. what promises did i make....name me a promise? you cant. george is letting his trolls do the dirty work for him. gutless worms like you. reading and interpreting a table go hand in hand and like i said - you dont know where all i am carried and those numbers are all figured in.....if i was in the position to travel i would gladly come see you and say everything right to your face. you are the one with cyber balls.

    1. Anytime, Brent. Anytime. Let me know when you'll be in the New York area; will be happy to comply. The only one doing any attacking is you. Folks here are just questioning your statements, and in lieu of actually providing arguments, you keep falling back on the same old same old: names, insults and more insults. And the reason Orrin isn't back is because, unlike you, when he says he's gone, he's gone. How many times have you made that promise? And yet, here you are again...and again....and again. Makes Borderline Personality Disorder sound more and more likely.

      Until then....

  13. and evans hasnt been back because when he called his label posi-tone "bullshit" i sent the comment right to them. and sunnyside and i few other labels....no label is perfect but you dont call out in your employer in public.

  14. Dear Bitter Brent Black,

    Hence forth you will be known as B3.



    The Internet

  15. oh cool, i love that....i play just enought b3 to know my time is better spent on sax thanks to so much you chicken shit asshole.

  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  17. Mr. Black,

    You wrote "this was between george and i..."
    I thought you were a professional writer!?! It's "George and me."

    Also, I understand that all of us here have willfully entered into this conversation with you, knowing full well how you typically respond, so if you wanna respond with some hateful shit, then by all means, continue. However, writing things like "put your wife on the front porch and stick a candle in her mouth..." is really offensive and uncalled for. There's no need to say such things about anyone's family. You have stooped to a new low.