Jazz workers

February 12 2008 at 12:51 PM
Cuban Pete 

Response to Hanns Eisler


In the on-going discussion about jazz, blues, rock and roll, and music as folk form, art, and commercial entertainment, and music as cultural expression versus music as a business, it is important to consider the views of musicians themselves. This is what makes the autobiography of baritone sax player and musicians' union activist Harry Gold so interesting. In relation to the Musicians Union, Harry Gold has written about some of the history related to organising jazz and dance band musicians. It would be interesting to find out more about the part played by CPGB members in this.

On another, not entirely unrelated point, Jazz fans can sometimes be a bit snooty about commercial music such as rock and roll but how do working musicians feel about the music that they need to play to earn a living? A former member of Geraldo orchestra once told me how pleased jazz-oriented musicians of the dance band era were, when rock and role came in, since rock and roll was based on blues harmonic structures. This meant that the musicians were free to play jazz (ie improvise) over these chords, rather than play sterile and dreary stuff such as 'how much is that doggy in the manger?' (Margaret Thatchers favourite tune on desert Island Discs, I believe).

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