Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

There’s a festival coming up in Dublin at the end of May - Down with Jazz http://www.downwithjazz.ie/index.html - to celebrate jazz and commemorate the 1930s of Ireland when the forces of cultural nationalism threw the pure traditional music that we aspire to against the evils of jazz.

Fr.Conifrey was the chief leader of the campaign, getting support from the Gaelic League, the church and Irish politicians alike. My favourite quote from the campaign : that jazz is "abominable" music that originated in central Africa and was exported to the West by "a gang of wealthy Bolshevists in the USSR to strike at church civilisation throughout the world. And furthermore brought down the Roman Empire", no less!!

They sought to ban it from the dancehalls and from public broadcast so as to save the modesty and chastity of the plain people of Ireland whilst promoting proper national dances like four hand reels and so on, where the sexes kept their distance.

Here’s a link to a documentary on same: http://www.rte.ie/radio1/doconone/jazz.html

Have a listen, you might learn something about the revival of Irish trad music and the priest ridden society of this country - aspects slowly fading but which still have echoes in modern Ireland.

Re: Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

Note that the documentary above was made over 25 years ago, hence it’s slightly stilted style. One presumes too that several of the musicians interviewed have passed on to their eternal reward.

Re: Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

Meanwhile, over here in New England, in the dance halls of Roxbury, MA, folks were mixing trad tunes and swing, and creating quite an interesting mix. Couples dancing to Glenn Miller tunes alternated with ceilidhe dances like the Siege of Ennis. My former next door neighbor met his wife at one of those dances.

Re: Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

I don’t agree at all. I would hate, to call it the devils music. I find dixieland jazz, execiting. I would rather listen to it, than all the poor country music, that we have in Ireland. Let me add, it is nice to know that the boundaries have been stretched, and there is a debate about a totally different style of music.

Re: Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

The 1940s and 1950s were the halcyon days of the ceili and old time dances in Ireland. Towards the mid fifties more and more young people were drifting towards ballroom dancing and ceili bands had started playing Ceili and Modern to attract the younger punters. I remember many of the older trad players refusing to play a foxtrot or a quickstep. "I don’t mind playing a waltz but I’m not playing that auld jazz" was usually the cry. Any tune that was the product of ‘Tin Pan Alley’ was classed as Jazz. It was referred to as jungle music by many of them. As a young teenager at the time I was amazed at their attitude to modern music. I’m afraid to say that Ireland at that time was still a very introverted country and thanks to Dev and his cohorts in the Catholic church there was a strong desire to keep it that way. Eventually Rock and Roll and the Showbands came on the scene and blew all that bigoted crap out of the water. Even when I emigrated to London in the 1950s the majority of the Irish dance halls had signs on the walls that read ’ No Jiving or Jitterbugging’. Most halls employed a ‘bouncer’ to patrol the dance floor ensuring that the rule was adhered to and also to keep the boys and girls dancers from dancing too close. Definitely no snogging on the dance floor….Ah the good old days….me arse!!!

Re: Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

Doing some research for a paper led me to reading, literally page by page, back issues of our town’s only newspaper. I read a story from sometime during the 40s that reported swing had been banned from local dances for its deleterious effects on youths, and encouragement of rowdiness and drinking. They positioned a police officer at the stage of any dance to enforce the ban, and no two dances were allowed to be scheduled on the same night. Our city had three full time police back then, so 33% of the entire force, that’s a serious commitment!

Re: Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

I agree with Father Conifrey in finding nearly all jazz abominable.

I disagree with him - I assume - in that I fail to register it as curdling with eroticism. I find it about as erotic as cold kebab meat. Most of it I find to be the sonar equivalent of a bunch of youths deliberately wasting time, posturing and making obnoxious calls and remarks at passers-by. Turning on Radio 3 late at night and hitting a jazz programme provokes me to incontinent roars and swipes at the radio’s various knobs in the dark, probably discombobulating the rest or nocturnal activities of my neighbours:-(.

The good Father’s notions of the history of jazz (seemingly wrong in every detail) made me smile, but I like the idea of jazz bringing down the Roman Empire. The Roman Empire would have deserved this. It sounds horrible. If I’d lived in it, I think I myself might have brought myself to play jazz, to bring it down:-):-).

Maybe jazz actually aided trad by being a lightning-conductor for Father Conifrey’s wrath. The wrath of some people always has to go somewhere, and without jazz he might have just turned it on trad as the best remaining target on offer.

Swing’s not bad, though, at least it’s got tunes:-):-):-)

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IMO, your sonar palate is back in the days prior to The Roman Empire haha.
I wouldnt expect you to like jazz one bit but your idea of its sonarity reveals blatant ignorance of an incredible artform and says more about your musical development than anything about that medium of artistic expression at all. But again, in case anyone blows a head gasket this is IMHO. Make sure you read IMHO.

I suppose Louis Armstrong, Django Rheinhardt, Thelonius Monk, Lester Young, Billy Holiday, Duke Ellington, Barney Kessel, Miles Davis, Wes Montgomery, John Coltrane, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson, Joe Pass were all complete wasters as youths??

You’re outlook on something you obviously haven’t looked into in any intelligent way displays hilarious levels of musical lack of development.
You remind me of all those people in other musical forms like classical and jazz and rock who think itish traditional melodic music is for bogmen and inbred folk and such.
IMHO, attitudes like your’s are among the most unmusical attitudes I have ever stumbled across.

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Re: Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

Agreeing with @Michael Mc Cague
Personally, i love irish music for its integrity of soul and emotion that has carried through centuries. I have a hard time listening to that synthy watered down stuff. Irish music is music of peoples’ expression, pain, grief, joy, etc. I love music with soul and genuine feeling. Jazz is music where people do these same things, musical expression in one of it’s purest forms! Where people express themselves and say with music what cannot be said with words. To say you hate jazz is saying you either you hate what Irish music represents or you simply don’t understand its true meaning. What a poor fellow you are to have such an ethnocentric view on music.

Re: Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

Meanwhile… in the first episode of his documentary on jazz, Ken Burns, in tracing its roots, presents a sample of what he claimed to be the "earliest example of recorded jazz." The music that followed was a Dixieland jazz band playing the Irish reel, The Sally Garden… but he neglected to point that out.

Re: Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

#like
good music is good music. This old adage of the Irish musician attitude of "we’ll have none of that jazz" makes me sad for them and sad to be associated as the same race.

Complete carpet bombing attitude style.

To be a musician must absolutely mean we should be open to all potentially great and beautiful music.
If one can’t see it like this then I emphatically insist that that person has not got a philosophically musical bone in their body.

The only way you will ever learn the greatness within music is to be open to receive how great that music may make you feel.

This may not be easy to do at first and thus you may think in the lazy sense and say "ach sure feck this, that’s a pile a crap". I nearly took this approach when I first started getting into jazz a lot and I countered it by making myself listening to non acoustic/gypsy jazz (which was easy for me not to be afraid of) and deliberately listened only to 40’s electric bebop over and over and the amount of sensational hilariously enlightening themes that were opened up to my senses weren’t even remotely countable.

To be a musician and not be open to the possibilities of change, discovery, learning, communication is an oxymoron if ever there was one. I mean, how does one bloody learn in the first place if that were to be their attitude?? One simple wouldn’t, would they?

So when does this detrimental stance start in a musicians life?

Is it when they get to a certain level of proficiency and (sub)consciously decide to themselves they are not going to walk out on to that tight rope (of listening to new music / or even playing new music/ even new tunes, variations / styles), not take new risks in case they will be exposed as some sort of a fraud?
I think that’s where the sh1t hits the fan…….fear.

I believe everyone needs to try like fcuk until the meet their own wall and then accept their lot yet continue to enjoy everyone else’s musical lot. Otherwise you turn into the grumpiest, most unsatisfied donkey on the farm.

My wall was when I had to accept that after sacrificing Irish music for 2 years to play jazz that I could get it the same as I could get Irish music. I felt like I had missed the jazz boat and was annoyed for a good while. All I could hear was what I should be fit to do but couldn’t. I couldn’t hear how great the music was because of my frustration with myself. Thankfully I eventually came to accept my limitations and could enjoy listening to it again!

I know this is a bit of a serious comment and sort of off topic but sure feck it I don’t care, do you?

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Re: Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

I meant to comment earlier but I’ve been on the road on a trip. I now have internet.
Jazz isn’t the devil’s music, a rather crazy notion.
Good music is good music, people.

Re: Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

Michael McCague,
I had to laugh at your remarks about Joe Pass. I’m afraid yes he was "a complete wasters as youth". He did about 5 years jail for drugs, and was a heroin addict! Maybe that was the wakeup call he needed because he went on from there to be one of the all time greats. But I think you make a very valid point about musical bigotry. I could just as easily listen to Ruby Braff as I could to Kevin Griffin or Steve Hillage or Segovia, or Oscar Peterson.
Many of the great jazz musos are/were very spiritual people, far removed from doing the devil’s work, far more spiritual and humane than some of the characters that were running churches and schools in "the old days". In the case of many of the musos listed above they did a huge amount to break down racial barriers. Peterson(black) once said that when he hired Pass(white) he got as much hate male from his own race as he did from Klan like types. Hardly sounds like doing the work of the devil!
I’d like to think nowadays Irish music can stand on its own two feet and not need a form of cultural protectionism.

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Yeah, Tony ha!
I know all about Pass’s youth. He’s made no secret of it. But he was probably still more productive with his talent than most of us, even in the shape he was in haha!

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Re: Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

Well said above, Michael

Dug out an old Ornette Coleman album the other night; much as I love the sound he has on alto, I don’t know if I’ll ever get to love his sound on the fiddle!

Hussar, it’s good to see you here again.

Re: Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

Okay, Michael McCague and Robert Young. I realise I was disparaging almost wholesale a music of which you have knowledge and love.

I don’t recant my remarks about it - they *do reflect my take on it to date - although I realise it was not actually necessary or helpful to post them. I would merely say they do not - I like to believe - issue from some fixed ideological / ethnocentric / ethnophobic standpoint, or reflect a refusal on my part to extend my appreciation of music. The latter may in time extend to jazz, or at any rate more of it, but up till now I’ve just found certain other forms of music far more attractive.

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I don’t think you read the OP, Michael McCague or even listened to the documentaries????

We’re not talking about Ireland in 2014 but Ireland in 1934!! History, you know, that sort of thing..

The point is, that people here, particularly those overseas, tend to eulogise this wonderful cultural expression that is their hobby of Irish trad music etc.

Whereas in reality it has had a very chequered past, often been put down on the one hand as ‘tinkers music’ and on the other held up as some symbol of a pure and Christian Irish society. In the case above, the ‘Down with Jazz’ festival commemorates a time when jazz was denounced from the pulpits of Ireland and the politicians nodded their heads in subservience whilst this music here was held up as the ideal for Irish society.

Re: Down with Jazz! - the Devil’s music

"There are only two kinds of music — good music and bad music."
Edward Kennedy Ellington

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