Wednesday, August 08, 2007

i'm getting out of this goddamned city

Darcy has video and reactions to the latest Keith Jarrett audience-hating outburst. It seems to be as regular a feature of his concerts as anything else: last month James Hale reported an identical incident in Montreal and asserted that in Toronto, Jarrett "threw the mattress out of his five-star hotel room and ordered a new $2,000 one in." In this age of diminished expectations, Jarrett continues to party like a rock star.

As is his/her/its wont, The Improvising Guitarist asks a lot of pointed questions.

Who do we expect our performers/artists/musicians to be? And why? And what happens when they don’t perform as expected?
I'm not sure Jarrett is the best person to rest this line of questioning on, though. We expect this from him. We expect Jarrett to irritate us, sometimes, as is the case with his vocalisations, even as he thrills us. We expect insufferable arrogance. We expect him to be paid a lot of money and we expect to pay a lot of money to see him (I've never seen him live, but I'd like to). While Jarrett's wealth and position within the jazz musician hierarchy don't negate the servant/master relationship tig outlines, it doesn't feel to me like the right one in this case. I don't know, maybe he's more of a well-heeled bad boy. However, the issue of what a performer is "allowed" to do is an interesting one.

I vaguely remember someone telling me (forgive me if this story is apocryphal) about Marion Brown getting on stage at a festival and only pretending to play, saxophone in mouth but not actually making a sound. The crowd grew irate. Further, what is the audience member allowed to do? For example, there's Forbes Graham's interruption music, which in most cases I suppose would be deemed "unacceptable behaviour." I often wonder what would happen if a listener took a musician's mid-concert political statement as an invitation to open debate. When I saw Dave Douglas in Liège, he linked George W. Bush to the unseasonably warm April and early May we were having (ironically, the weather has been terrible since - in mid-July it was so cold people had to get their sweaters and jackets back out). What if someone had stood up and said that the current weather wasn't Bush's fault, because of the inertia inherent to climate change?

Does "jazz as democracy" extend beyond the stage and the music? Can a lavishly-produced event (the concert took place in a big conference room with fancy lighting and was filmed by lots of TV cameras, including a remote-controlled one on rails in front of the stage and a highly annoying one on a crane) be interrupted in such a fashion?