Monday, February 22, 2010

Chris Kelsey rattles cages

Saxophonist Chris Kelsey has an excellent blog, and also has a tendency to stir the jazz soup and elicit emotional responses. A few months ago, Kelsey had a post about modern big band jazz comparing the recent albums by John Hollenbeck and Graham Collier. He got a lot of interesting feedback, especially from critic and blogger David Adler, and their exchange became a little heated before settling down. On Sunday, blogger Chris Rich (a cage rattler in his own right) posted excerpts from Kelsey's yet to be published book on jazz, and the section on the perils of jazz education at the college level brought on a heated response in the comments section from jazz guitarist and educator Joe Morris. While the conversation in both of these instances may have brought out some sharp edges, ultimately they are valuable for both the jazz blogosphere and the music as a whole. Kelsey and Adler both had interesting comments about the nature of big band music, and I think it was a missed opportunity that they were not able to develop a dialogue about the relative merits of Hollenbeck and Collier and modern large ensemble jazz in general. A thoughtful and respectful exchange of ideas would have been a wonderful thing to read. Kelsey and Morris are clearly at odds about the role of formal education in jazz (Kelsey's response), and I hope that when the smoke clears someone can give them a forum to share their ideas on the subject. This exchange of ideas moderated by some impartial blogger like Patrick Jarenwattananon or Jason Crane would be valuable to the jazz blogosphere and a compelling read or listen that may even interest new fans of the music. Instead of speaking past each other in the heat of passionate argument, channeling thought into positive debate and discussion would be a wonderful thing.

Send comments to Tim.