Call and Response – My Thoughts on Your Thoughts Volume 1

I figured it is about time that I offer up some thoughts to some of the wonderful comments and contributions that we’ve received on Groove Notes so far. Thanks to everyone who has offered an opinion so far, and keep ’em coming!

First, my response to jazz radio legend and fellow KPLUer Jim Wilke’s comment to my December 17, 2008 poll asking readers to vote on who would win the jazz Grammy awards this year. Jim wrote:

Judging artistic achievement is NOT like judging giant pumpkins. You can’t weigh a jazz solo. However, Americans love a competition and that’s why we have the Grammys, the Oscars, even the Country Music Awards. I rather prefer an unranked list of significant achievements, because what I like is not necessarily what you will like, but hopefully we can both appreciate the artisanship, imagination and skill that goes in to producing an exceptional recording. Is this one “better” than that one? I wouldn’t want to be “the great decider” to that question.

I agree with Jim. How are we to decide better or worse with such a wide variety of artistic contributions? Personal taste, I suppose. While we all might agree that certain qualities go into what makes a “great” recording, I think it is safe to say that we, in general, love to offer our opinions on what recording might be the “best”. Whether it is or it isn’t, it is fun to talk about.

Next, I received several responses to my post “My Top 10 Jazz Albums That You Probably Don’t Own“. Tom T writes:

Are you kidding me? These are good tracks, but not the best 10. Come on. Get real.

One might get offended, but not me. In fact, I enjoy responses like these. I never offer Top 10 lists as a universal list that everyone should accept. I only post lists based on my own personal opinions and personal tastes. In most cases, readers offer their own lists, which results in me buying their suggestions and expanding my own personal music library. I hope everyone can accept that my lists are simply personal, and that I always encourage everyone to make their thoughts just as personal, whether offering their own lists, or their thoughts on mine.

On a similar note, my April 25th post “The Debate Over Coltrane’s Best” ask readers to vote on what they think John Coltrane’s best album was in a poll, and offer their thoughts. As of today, A Love Supreme is in the lead with 39 percent of the vote, while Coltrane’s Ballads release is bringing up the rear with 4 percent. Keep the votes coming!

And finally, I received an overwhelming number of responses to my post “Where is the Fine Line in Jazz?“, offering perspectives on whether or not Steely Dan’s album Aja belongs on jazz radio after a listener to my radio show wrote in and scolded me.

There were several people saying “play what you want”, while many others felt like it should belong on the local classic rock station. Nick Francis writes:

If this tune were performed with traditional acoustic jazz instruments rather than the electric ones on the record, absolutely NO ONE would consider this tune a rock or pop tune. The pop and rock elements are only on the surface.

Thomas Marriott responds with:

Well said and very true, but it isn’t performed that way and I think that’s what probably bothers the listener who wrote in.

But my favorite line comes from former colleague Troy Oppie:

“…if you don’t like something… just take a 5-minute break. Something new will be on then, and it’s very likely to be something I like.”

Thanks to everyone who wrote in. Troy is right. If you don’t like something, come back in a few minutes, and you will probably hear something you do like. That is the great thing about jazz radio.

My thoughts on Aja? Truthfully, it is an album I can honestly say I will never buy. Not because I think it is or isn’t jazz, has talented musicians on it or not, or is or isn’t well produced. I wont buy it, well, because I don’t want to. And I have that right and freedom, without having to go into any more detail than that.

Keep those comments coming, and thanks for reading!