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Editorials

Now view this next statement. “On 'A Picture Of Dorian Mode’ a boplike blowing tune, his left-hand comps tend to hang on one voicing until the next chord comes, rather than be fleshed out.”

This has to be the most idiotic statement I have ever read in a review, bar none! I have listened to this track, which incidentally was nominated for best song of the year in the International Song Writing Competition, dozens of times and I can find nothing to support this critic’s ignorant statement. The pianist’s left hand comping is in perfect sync with the melodic content of the solo which was praised as an excellent solo by many of the other critics. It is evident that this “critic” did not listen to the melodic content but focused on the accompaniment in the left hand instead in an obvious attempt to find a way to put this musician down. And what the hell is “fleshed out” supposed to mean? How can something that is improvised in the moment be “fleshed out?” Unless he meant something different than what this term usually signifies. Since this pianist is a human I would assume that his left hand is made of “flesh.”

He goes on…”And on "Still Water,"a three-chord minor blues-like tune, his solo breaks down as a handful of funk clichés.”

Here is further evidence that this critic falls into the category I alluded to earlier about people who cannot comprehend melodic content. If one listens to this track the piano solo is a beautifully developed melody with a significant content to it. In other words it tells a story. This critic did not hear this, which is evident in this silly statement, and tried to reduce it to its lowest common denominator since it is stated in the language of the blues and funk idiom. What he is really saying here is that HE “broke it down to a handful of funk clichés.” It is interesting to note that none of the other reviewers experienced anything resembling this sort of observation and in fact, more than one of them, heaped praise on this track and particularly the great piano solo.

Now here is the most revealing statement made in this ignorant review. " ‘New Muse Blues’ is, naturally, a blues, which imposes some limitations right there. But by setting it as a shuffle and kicking it off with tenor player Lance Bryant and Jimmy Owens on trumpet playing an el-emental riff, Longo works not to find something fresh but to conform to listeners expectations.”

Sure, why play a tune like this the way it should be played instead of adopting the same standards that made him fail as a jazz musician! The most telltale part of this statement is this…‘New Muse Blues’ is, naturally,a blues, which imposes some limitations right there. What???!!! A “jazz critic” that feels that playing the blues imposes “limitations!” This is indicative of a musician who cannot play the blues and when attempting to do so can come up with nothing but clichés he has copied from recordings. Indeed this is a “limitation” for him rather than the musicians on this CD who are all skilled blues players. Again, we have an exercise in projection by this rank armature! This is also indicative of the statement I made earlier about the ilk that wants to eliminate swing and blues from jazz to accommodate their inadequacy. This is another way of saying “We want to remove the ‘blackness’ from Jazz.” Interestingly this is the track that received the most airplay and the most praise from all of the other critics. It is a “feel good” track in the tradition of blues set by the masters of this music and it is expertly played and touches people on a deep level. It includes a superb piano solo that many of the musicians I have talked to consider a “masterpiece.” Here is what this “critic” had to say about the solo. “Wole-tone runs lacing his choruses are played well, and he veers occasionally outside the key. But it always leads back to familiar territory, particularly in the placement of ancient turnarounds at the end of each chorus.”

Most of the musicians who have commented on this solo remarked that the ability to do this is something praiseworthy in their eyes. They were referring to the ability to stray “outside” without losing the thread of the “inside” content as something not so easy to do while this pianist brings it off with ease. One critic remarked, “It is as if the pianist is teasing us,” This is an intelligent critic who actually got it while our friend makes stupid statements about “ancient turnarounds.” It is as if I criticized his review by saying “he places ancient periods at the end of his sentences.”

Take a look at this “brilliant” statement. “Except for another blues, Jimmy Rowles '"Magic Bluze" played as a somnambulant trudge, the covers on To My Surprise provide the best content.”

What is remarkably stupid about this statement is that the tune was written by Jimmy Owens, who is playing on the CD, and not by Jimmy Rowles. Just as he criticized a tune on the first CD that was not played, he now attributes a tune to the wrong author. It is a deep, down in the pocket, greasy blues by a master of blues that all the other critics raved about and here we have this phony referring to it as a “somnambulant trudge.” Oh, so the real blues puts him to sleep does it? Apparently this music is too deep for him to understand. And now dig this silly pronouncement. “But ‘I Hadn't Anyone 'Til You’ isn't the most daring tune to subject to a soft-shoe arrangement.” Here he is referring to a highly enjoyable treatment of this old chestnut that features marvelous brush work by Lewis Nash somewhat reminiscent of the Basie classic “Cute.” It is as if the critic is saying, “You shouldn’t have done this on a tune that lends itself to this type of treatment but should have been ‘daring’ and tried it on one that doesn’t, as I would have, to show everyone how hip I am.” In other words it is not about the music or about the people listening to it, it is about him and how he would like to be perceived.

I recall Dizzy Gillespie once saying, “The ego is the enemy of this music.” Here this guy is making statements that indicate that he is incapable of anything other than this and is even suggesting that other musicians should follow his lead.

The musicians on this CD, and particularly the leader, have played with and learned from the best and here we have this “mediocre” musician, who isn’t fit to hang with them much less criticize them, writing a review full of ignorant statements with an air of condescendence. In fact this whole review has a “vindictive type ring to it.” As suggested earlier possibly the result of a bruised ego due to the reader making a derogatory remark about his first review of this artist’s CD. I pity this artist if this same critic gets a hold of his next CD since in the very next issue of the same magazine that this review appeared in, the magazine chose to print, not one, but two letters from fans ridiculing this critic and his lame review of this marvelous CD. The issue prior to this one had another reader complaining about another lame review of a Cedar Walton record. It is my suggestion that this fellow stick to Country Music and leave Jazz to those who have an understanding of it. …Iizzy Feldman

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