Bang the DrumI don’t know how prevalent it is today, but when I was growing up there was a sort of Rock Supremacist attitude going around. Other people’s dads and uncles and older brothers said things like “Rap? More like crap!” or “You call that music? They aren’t even playing any instruments!” Basically, a bunch of rock fans weren’t willing to accept the legitimacy of burgeoning hip hop and disco/electronic music forms. At its ugliest, this attitude reflected racist and homophobic undercurrents in rock. At its most benign, hey, sometimes people just like an excuse to say “crap”.
Ka$ual (feat. Jon Bellion) – “I Dont Take L’s” by Diamond Music Group

Last month I went to see Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society at the Vogue Theatre here in Vancouver. I joked to my brother, as I often do at jazz shows, that we were probably the youngest non-MFA’s in the place. My brother, who’d just finished chiropractic college, thought there must be some young science geeks who dig contemporary jazz. I disagreed. I figure the traditional jazzbo demographic has mostly drifted into metal. Thank Rush for that. Thank jazz, too, I guess.

Watching Erica von Kleist’s tremendous alto sax solo during the Secret Society’s last number of their set (there was, of course, an encore), “Obsidian Flow”, seeing how invested she was in her instrument, how much of her actual physical human existence was put into that jam. The squeals and the squelch that drove the number, that drive most jazz, come from that basic unit of sustained life: human breath. I looked over at the guitarist, Sebastian Noelle. Up to that moment, I’d been on his side, a fan of his. But I saw him, holding his machine, getting sounds out of it with his hands. Big deal, I thought. Hands, pffft. Von Kleist is over there, making music with the very apparatus that keeps her alive. Talk about transcendental. This guy, this guitarist, he’s operating a machine. At that moment, I felt the contempt that sax players must have felt at the dawn of rock & roll, as the electric guitar assumed the role of wicked noise maker. That’s not real music, I thought.

mp3: “Obsidian Flow” by Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society

And then I thought about the Tuvan throat singers and how they must sneer at woodwinds.

mp3: “Came Home Late” by Lambchop (via Grapefruit Record Club)

Emmet Matheson sneers at all music on his blog A Bulldozer With a Wrecking Ball Attached. You can e-mail him at: bulldozerDOTwreckingballATgmailDOTcom