Top 50 JAzz Blog

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Infernal Vuvuzela, Scarcity and The Breath-by Steve Provizer

The World Cup has resuscitated the vuvuzela, formerly known to us boomers as "can I have one of those big horns?" These horns (always red) stuck out the top of the 2-wheeled carts dragged along by guys working the crowds at parades and ballparks. They also had banners, mylar balloons and the industrious ones had cut deals with other vendors to sell popcorn. But the horns were the most expensive and highly-prized tchochkes. Browbeating a parent into buying one was an all-day effort. To quote myself on Facebook: "I'm sure now that people have experienced the melodic limitations of the vuvuzela, they will flock to study the trumpet." Of course, this is the same category of cluelessness inhabited by people who are sure that sampling say, Michael Henderson, in your hip hop track will bring the kids around to listening to jazz. But this infernal device did evoke thoughts about the power of limited means. Wha? Listen: I had a friend who played the piano. He came from a rich family. He refused to go to a gig where they wanted him to play any kind of piano but a grand. No electric, spinet or upright for him...I'll just sit here for a few minutes steaming as I remember all the music I've heard made on crappy pianos by Tatum, Bud, James P.-basically any great jazz pianist. It stands to reason you don't want to sit down to play a piano with no F# above middle C, with the top octave sounding like the broken works of a cheap music box, or with a sustain pedal that sounds like it's harboring a family of mice. But that's what you got. You take it as a challenge to figure out work-arounds. Maybe it forces you to use new patterns and you discover a riff you never knew existed. Maybe it pisses you off so much you give up trying. Of course, that would mean no payday-and no music. People act amazed at the great music played by people who made banjos out of cereal boxes, or drums out of spackle containers or oil drums. Not me. The investment almost pre-determines that if the music's in you, you'll work hard enough to get it out. Now, you ain't making great music with the infernal vuvuzela, but you are putting enough breath into a column to agitate the standing waves and engage the harmonic series. That puts you closer to the many musicians who made somethin' from nothin' than to the people who buy Martin Committee horns and hang them on their den walls. Breathing is always a good thing. And you gotta breathe to work the vuv.


Anonymous said...

Well spoken, Steve! -- It has been quite a challenge, but I have quite successfully blended the sound of the vuvuzela in a new piece of jazz:

"Bloozin' 'Round De Vuvuzela".

We will meet at my place next Thursday, and we will re-record the tune. It's two A's 12-bar blues in B-flat, a slightly altered rhythm changes bridge, then 12 bar-blues again.

I'll keep you posted, and will send you the link to the uploaded piece of tooting as soon as we will have recorded it again.

It's an infernal sound indeed, but you know what? I didn't even hear it anymore just because I have watched so many soccer games in the last four weeks.

A little preview can be heard (and seen) here:

Bloozin' 'Round De Vuvuzela

Steve Provizer said...

Congratulations, Brew. You have picked up the challenge and (to keep the metaphors mixed) scored a goal!

Steve Provizer said...

J. Scheuer writes: "I was in Edinburg Texas eight days ago, documenting a minor league match between the Edinburg Roadrunners and the Rio Grande Valley Whitewings (no
bullshit--film project research). Sure enough, some Roadrunner fans at
the 3rd base line had vuvuzelas. Blue ones.

Anonymous said...

Great picture, Steve, and indeed very blue.



Anonymous said...

It's up, dear friends from overseas --

We did a little recording session at my place yesterday, "waxed" parts of my "Soccer Suite", which includes the new tune now.

I've enhanced the other video with take 2 of Bloozin' 'Round De Vuvuzela. Makes a crazy mix. It's really a funny piece of "great cinema", as my drummer wrote so enthusiastically.

Well, I don't know if it's that, but you can decide yourself.

More will follow soon, but not as, err, trashy, and of course embedded at my blog.

Folks, it's hot here, very hot. Too hot for sitting before the computer.

Will go to the Rhine today, practicing a little, and will get inspired by girls skating by.

All swingin' best,


Anonymous said...

P.S. -- We did it!


Steve Provizer said...

I love the surreal juxtaposition of the music and the imagery in the video-great job. I also love the idea of practicing at the Rhine.