development of Jazz in Britain - Part 1
from The Bald Soprano, written by Jeff
Nuttall and published by Tak
the 30s and 40s precision was achieved by referring
to hot jazz and sweet jazz, later to hot jazz
and cool jazz. This last was after swing had yielded
it’s wilder offspring bop and jazz was suddenly
applied once more to a wide range of developed
directions extending from Stan Kenton to Lu Watters.
When this scene expanded into so-called free improvisation
in the late 50s the term still applied as a distinction
between jazz and the rapidly developing rock tradition.
the late 70s, we had a hybrid music involving
elements from the electronic music of Stockhausen
and Varese, of twelve-tone composition, of Boulez’s
percussion clusters, of bop, of blues, of rock,
of various folk traditions, Celtic, Spanish, American,
of Indian and African modes and rhythms. Lol Coxhill
is situated right in the middle
of this area for which jazz, the term still in
use, is becoming vague to the point of redundancy.
This is probably because an appropriate substitute
term has not yet been coined....
I would say, looking back over 45 years that have
coincided almost exactly with these developments
in music, that jazz most properly refers not specifically
to music, but to the quality of indigenous American
urban culture during a certain period of expansion,
a quality that is certainly most closely crystallized
in the best improvised music of the period but
not exclusively to it. Jazz is a particular brash,
buoyancy, a particular flaunted eroticism, a precise
kind of mischief, a National back-alley wit and
an alcoholic melancholy. It celebrates areas of
crude sensibility which other cultures eschew.
British music hall hasn’t got it. European
cabaret is different. And it leavens this crudity
with a highly articulate erotic lyricism. By this
understanding the Bowery Boys have more right
to be called jazz that then Chico Hamilton Quartet.
Certain comic strips - Bringing Up Father, Krazy
Kat, are more properly jazz than John McLaughlin.
Bogart is jazz. Cagney is jazz. Astaire is jazz.
The talk of Louise Armstrong is the most definitive
jazz. Sun Ra, Chick Corea, Evan Parker are artists
in whom the jazz is all but disappeared. Lol Coxhill,
on the other hand, is an artist who has sufficient
respect in passing for that boozy old idiom that
he is able to play, not jazz, but music about
jazz. Passages in the “Vorblifa Exit”
track from “Ear of Beholder” or “Soprano
Derivativo” from “Oh Really”
slide into a New Orleans march style, a churchy
soul-jazz style or the militant belligerence of
Archie Shepp (who, in the hybrid scene, retains
jazz as the main ingredient in his style) with
1] [Part 2 ]