Wednesday, August 18, 2010
Jazz and the Healthy Neurotic: How Can it Be Any Good if it Ain't That Hard?-by Steve Provizer
Hey! You with the dirty mind: I'm not talking about sex. I'm talking self-torture here-masochism, not sadism. In this jazz life, we are plagued by a foundational neurosis-to be revealed below-but let's start off with the happy thought that we have found-albeit unconsciously-healthy ways to try and de-fuse or re-articulate this neurosis. Here's what we say to ourselves: "No one gives a shit about this music. This society sucks." Then, if we do get a few people to care, the whole thing shifts a bit and we think: "I should be making a living out of this. No one really understands my genius, the sweat I've given. This society really sucks." But, swearing under the breath and bemoaning the rock-headedness of your fellow sapiens is good. It's solid sublimation; a healthy way to deal with what's underneath it all, the crux, the root neurosis: "Why can't I play like Clifford (Brown)? Why should I have to play like Clifford? I don't have to play like him. I can play like myself. Self-expression-yea, that's where it's at....Why can't I play like Clifford? Why should I have to play like Clifford? I don't have to play like him. I can play like myself. Self-expression-yea, that's where it's at...." Unending, unto eternity-the masochistic need to spend your days, your years, in pursuit of the chimera of creative resolution when there will never be a resolution. My observation is that-in or out of music-most jazz musicians aren't happy doing anything they can easily do. Ours is a personality type that must be wrestling with something just beyond our grasp. Any job we can do without a struggle is a job not worth bothering with. Any club that will let us join ain't worth the time. We work for years to make the high G and as soon as we get it, we gotta have a high Bflat. It's good that our partners force us to do things we can actually do-like hanging curtains, or figuring out on the bank checks which is the account number and which is the, you know, the other number. Of course these paltry victories inflate our egos to abominable dimensions, to the point that the distaff side tells us to just go away and get back to our damn practicing. The usual self-medications-scotch, pills, dope-have unpredictable side-effects. But fear not, friends and fellow sufferers. Even as you read this, Brilliant Corners jazz neurologists are sequestered in our gleaming lab, synthesizing a fool-proof 12-step plan, guaranteed to turn that bed of nails into a bed of roses---and 100,000 $.99 downloads of your latest masterpiece.