Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's BĂȘte Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, April 29, 2004


As I drove to work last Friday the local college folk-jazz-world-music-news station played a tune that caught & intrigued & delighted my ear. Clarinet, vibraphone, a brass instrument, bass & drums started in an attractive Steve Reich-like repetitive pulse pattern, broken by the vibraphonist’s improvising in a jazzy manner. The whole ensemble shifted to a jazz style, then to a raucous free-jazz style and back to a calmer, more conventional jazz style. The smooth naturalness of the transitions impressed me, and I was anxious to hear where the piece would end up, having traversed over a few different styles, but I worried: it was coming hard upon 9 o'clock, I knew the news started then, and I knew the station's volunteer DJs often put on tunes too long for the time left allotted for them. Would this DJ vex me up by robbing me of the tune's resolution? Alas! She did! She faded out the tune & faded in, a second late, the BBC World News report. Why! Why do they do this to me! It's so disrespectful! Disrespectful of the music! If you only have time for a 3 minute tune, don't play a 4 minute tune! Don't cut it up! Don't hack it to bits!

That was my reaction a week ago, but now, after calm reflection, I'm happy to have heard what I did hear of the piece, grateful for the enthusiasm of the volunteer DJs, and amused and embarrassed by my constant irritable reaching after fact and reason, my inability to be happy in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts. I mean, isn't radio listening often a fragmentary experience? I admire, though not to the point of wanting to emulate, people who love music and books and movies without ever being able to remember the names of the pieces or who made them. I suppose it's possible to be happy to emulate them when circumstances force me to. I'm working on it.

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