Posted at 6:01 AM on June 26, 2012
by David Cazares
Filed under: Music
It can be tough to sell modern audiences on jazz.
Too many people think of the variety of styles grouped under the genre either as music of the past, or as a complicated art form played by musicians for musicians. Even some musicians say the music deserves a new name.
A common perception is that listening to jazz is "like drinking red wine," said Steve Heckler, executive director of the Twin Cities Jazz Festival.
"It's become very elitist," or so that view holds, Heckler said. "It lost its fun and became distanced from the people."
Battling the perception of jazz as an outdated or pretentious genre is tough. But Heckler is confident that more people will gravitate to jazz if they have a chance to see and hear the music played from the stage by bands that have modern audiences in mind.
With that in mind, the festival also has booked a number of local and regional favorites like the Zacc Harris Group and Koplant No, a group that fuses jazz improvisation with electronic music, rock and hip-hop.
"Our mission is really to bring it," Heckler said.
For a longer take on the Twin Cities Jazz Festival's mission, look here.
Posted at 11:27 AM on June 26, 2012
by Marianne Combs
Filed under: Culture
Are we returning to a more Victorian sense of propriety?
There was an uproar earlier this month over the use of the word "vagina" on the legislative floor.
Well, actually there were two upoars - one on each side of the cultural divide.
First the Michigan House of Representatives barred members Lisa Brown and Barb Byrum from speaking on the House floor, after Brown used the word while discussing a bill that seeks to put new regulations on abortion providers and ban all abortions after 20 weeks.
Brown ended her time on the floor saying "And finally, Mr. Speaker, I'm flattered that you're all so interested in my vagina, but 'no' means 'no.'"
In justifying the move to bar Brown from speaking again Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville said "What she said was offensive, I don't even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company."
Linguist Geoff Nunberg, appearing on WHYY's Fresh Air, said this was just one of several instances which point to what he calls "The New Reticence -- a distaste for explicit discussions of sexual matters in public, even in the most antiseptic terms."
The New Reticence has old roots. To the Victorians, a work could be held obscene or indecent simply because it dealt with a topic like sexual hygiene, prostitution or seduction, however decorously it described them. In 1914, Margaret Sanger was prosecuted for obscenity when she published a book advocating birth control. But the Victorian taboos were beginning to fray. By the 1920s, sex was an acceptable dinner party topic in sophisticated circles so long as it was described in an appropriately clinical way. That was when terms like "fellatio," "homosexual" and "orgasm" entered the educated vocabulary, while the category of obscenity was narrowed to the vulgar terms for sex and the body -- what people started to refer to as the "four-letter words." It was the beginning of the long revolution in American mores that the historian Rochelle Gurstein described in a book called The Repeal of Reticence. From Freud and Sanger to Kinsey and Masters and Johnson to Dr. Ruth and Eve Ensler -- with every generation, our public discussions of sex have grown freer and more open.
But not everybody has embraced that spirit of candor. There have always been a lot of Americans who are troubled by the clinical discussions of sex in public life. They suspect -- and with some cause -- that tricking sexuality out in a lab coat is a way of detaching it from the moral control of the family and the community. I don't know whether those people are more numerous now than they used to be. But they're clearly better organized and more audible. And they're increasingly wielding the conversational gavel, sometimes literally.
You can read Nunberg's complete editorial here.