Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Still in the Now

A thought occurred to me about Phil Freeman's article referred to below. Couldn't his discussion be boiled down to two different conceptions of Now?

In the collective jazz conciousness (as established by countless small and large group sessions over nearly a century, and concerts in which the musicians are judged as much on their technical proficiency as on the actual content of the music), that Now is what was played live and by the band together. "Now Is the Time," the Charlie Parker tune goes: a Now defined by the musician, as found in that oft-repeated idea about an improvisation reflecting whatever the musician was feeling that day. The pop Now is a located elsewhere: the key moment is the moment of commercial release, rather than the moment of recording. The listener creates that now upon hearing a song for the first time and slotting it into his/her life.

To illustrate further, when discussing golden periods, jazz fan turns to recording dates ("Albums X, Y and Z were all recorded within a couple weeks of each other!"), whereas the pop fan considers release dates (e.g. the infamous 1985 survey or Clap Clap ingesting music in 3 month blocs). This is partly because much pop has no single recording date, as overdubs and post-recording techniques are piled onto each other at various points along the way.

As an aside, the above discussion would tend to reinforce the rather unfortunate view of jazz as musician-centric and pop as listener-centric.