A jazz club

For readers in the New York City area, I’d like to recommend a wonderful jazz club, Smalls, on West 10th Street in Greenwich Village. You pay $20 at the door and can stay through as many shows as you want. The groups are small combos, like sax, bass and drums, and it’s pure music. The musicians have a pure devotion to what they’re doing. Jazz has maintained its integrity in the midst of our decadent culture.

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JJM writes:

I don’t mean to be needlessly contrarian about this, but I think it’s interesting you used the phrase “decadent culture,” since it was not too long ago that Jazz was actively denounced by many traditionalist-minded individuals, both within America and Europe, as one of the most grotesque embodiments of our decadent culture.

While I’m a Jazz fan myself, I’m curious if you think any of the anti-Jazz critiques that were spouted back in the day—namely that genre is disorganized and meaningless, excessively sexualized, and, due to its black roots, alien and anti-western—have any validity in the present.

LA replies:

You say “not too long ago” jazz was denounced. You’re talking about 70 or 80 years ago. Was jazz, early in the 20th century, part of the breakdown of the older Christian-bourgeous ethos? Undoubtedly. But good jazz is like classical music, it requires the listener’s full attention, and does not release “decadent” impulses. It provides pleasure in the best sense of the word. The music I was hearing at Smalls when I was there a few weeks ago could not be called decadent in any way. It was art.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at August 25, 2009 08:23 AM | Send

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