There are a couple of very interesting articles in the Village Voice this week. The first one takes a look at jazz violinist Billy Bang and how he's using music as therapy to confront his painful memories of serving in the Vietnam War:
The South Bronx had degenerated into a war zone, and many of his friends were so fucked-up he wondered if he had been safer in Vietnam. He climbed on and off a law career track, read politics, fell in with a gang of would-be revolutionaries. On a trip down south to buy guns, he picked up a pawn shop violin—figured that at least was an instrument he knew something about. He stuck with it, moved downtown, picked up pointers from AACM violinist Leroy Jenkins, did the late-'70s loft scene, called his first group the Survival Ensemble. Bang worked on the avant-garde fringes for decades, gigging with Sun Ra, recording occasionally in Europe. By 2000 he was so broke Justin Time's Jean-Pierre Leduc talked him into writing an album about Vietnam and the nightmares that haunted him.
The second article is one of my favorite jazz writers, Francis Davis, writing about one of my favorite bands, The Bad Plus:
Make no mistake, the Bad Plus play top-notch jazz. And except for their rock covers, their reaching out to a larger audience involves not a hint of condescension (unlike "O.G.," most of their originals eschew a stated pulse, much less a groove). What overcame my skepticism was their version of Ornette Coleman's "Street Woman" on last year's Give—a careening interpretation that suggested a noble lineage I could kick myself for not getting on my own.
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