Wednesday, July 19, 2006

finally, a saxophone for magicians

The Bushman Pocket Sax "sounds like a sax, looks like a clarinet and is played like a recorder... It is a true portable instrument that can be carried everywhere - in your pocket, backpack, even up your sleeve!" You will be happy to learn that "it is tuned in the popular key of C." Unless you're one of those snobbish underground types who only play instruments in the unpopular key of G#. The Pocket Sax can also improve your social life, as "its uniqueness will jump start many conversations."


Maybe it's not the right thing to do (and notice how I'm hiding this under the pocket sax), but sometimes, you have to call your fellow amateur critics out.

Recently I had a conversation about a certain gigantic jazz webzine and defended it by pointing out that because reviewers aren't paid, reviews naturally slide towards the positive: who wants to listen intently to bad music, for free? I could have added that its writers probably get little to no editing or outside help.

Blogcritics functions in similar fashion, except with an extra dose of anarchy. I sometimes consider starting to post there again, but then I read stuff like the staggering accumulation of haphazard pronouncements and bizarre metaphors in Larry Sakin's last two reviews:

"Pianist Monk and sax player Coltrane revolutionized music, adding a measure of soulful, spiritual rhythms which exposed the African heritage of jazz. They knew each other well, and considered each other mentors."

"[Miles Davis] is probably best remembered for his forays into be-bop in the forties and early fifties and as the progenitor of cool jazz in the fifties and early sixties"

"Listening to Monk and Coltrane play is akin to watching a splendidly exotic rose open its petals to capture the warmth of a spring morning."

"Van Gelder acts as professor here, rendering tutelage to this young, brash septet." (50+ years ago, RVG was tutoring Miles? I doubt it)

"The music on The Complete Riverside Recordings will clue jazz novices in on what all the fuss is about-- it’s exalted lovemaking as compared to average sex."

"Davis and his group ascend to the apex of musicianship on Walkin’ and they put the word 'genius' in a whole new category."

I'm opening myself up for harsh criticism, but I welcome it: the way things are going, there probably won't be any paid primarily-jazz critics at all, so us rank amateurs will have to start monitoring each other and, especially, helping each other improve our writing.