31 May 2010

Crossover appeal

If you're not interested in the cultural positioning of music in the twenty-first century, then this article won't interest you a whit. But since it does me, there's a fair amount to chew on in this seemingly light exchange. And this paragraph, especially as a person who really aims to play a wide variety of music for work, really stands out:
Sometimes when classical musicians, especially instrumentalists, play jazz or rock, the problem comes with their approach to rhythm. They mimic the jazzy swing style but lack the requisite quality of relaxation. When Duke Ellington and Art Tatum played, no matter how complex and driving the rhythm, they sounded relaxed. Not so Itzhak Perlman when he tries to swing.
If Scott the earnest musician were to receive a report card of his leadership at work yesterday, it would read something like: "Cantor Rohr was well prepared (especially for a holiday weekend right after a major festival Sunday), led a number of people and music styles ably, but lacks the requisite quality of relaxation."


  1. Sounds like you need to come over to my house for a drink. That'll loosen you right up!

  2. OK I love this. You certainly play more crisply than many (as contrasted with my signature slushiness). But does this negatively impact your unique superpower? I think not.

  3. When we tune in to this sort of thing, we don't really hope to hear that Ms. Flemming can sound like Norah Jones, do we? And if she pulls off the impersonation, it's strikes us as dishonest. The grader of Cantor Rohr's report card must remember that Rohr's sense of Just Rightness is what his parish is falling in love with. I say, where church musicians are concerned, authentic musical self is always way more interesting than technically crisp or perfectly relaxed. So give yourself a break? ;)

  4. If I were authentically 'relaxed' enough to swing, I wouldn't be in church on a lovely summer Sunday morning. You, being you, showed up to lead your flock.

  5. Crossover appeal almost always trumps cross-dressing appeal. Just sayin'

  6. You are surely doing most things in a way that satisfies your "flock". Had dinner last evening with a neighbor who was highly complementary of your talents and performances - she being a member of your congregation.


As always, civility reigns, but cleverness trumps.

They shall be called my disciples.