Re: [Harp-L] Re: Phrasing and Spacing

Hey, I Googled the quote and found it on a web site attributed to Satchmo.
The question to him was "What is Jazz?" His answer was "Man, if you have to
ask what it is, you will never know."  We don't know the context of the
question, but I do know that in Jazz and Blues circles, plays on words and
phrases are part of the tradition. Many are designed to challenge the
questioner to step up and learn how to dig the scene and hang.

Can you picture Satchmo stopping what we was doing and launch into a polite
music theory analysis of what is largely an improvisational art form to some
guy who just walked in the door of a club in Harlem? Besides, he would know
that if he did spell it out it would do little good. You can learn about
Jazz in school but that doesn't make you a Jazz musician.

I heard story about Miles Davis and John Coltrane. Again, somebody bust me
if I have it wrong. This was during Coltrane's avant-garde period.
Challenging stuff for sure. Miles was in the audience checking it out.
Someone came up to Miles and said something like, "Miles, I'm not sure if I
get what Coltrane is doing." Miles said something like, "Man, it took
Coltrane 20 years to get where he is now and you expect to get it in 20

Maybe that is elitest too but I never found a jazz or blues or rock hang
that was sanitized for my protection. I expect to get pushed around a bit.
Especially since I'm a friggin' harmonica player. But that only makes me
bring up my game. Thats when the music gets good.

On Jan 23, 2008 12:27 PM, Winslow Yerxa <winslowyerxa@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:

> I've heard that same quote attributed to Fats Waller, and I'm sure it's
> been attributed to others in addition to Pops and Fats.
> Frankly, I think it's a harmful and elitist statement - in essence, it
> says that if you're on the outside, you'll never get in.
> I can't imagine Louis Armstrong ever saying such a thing. If he had really
> believed that he never would have become such a big popular success. Louis
> grew up playing for change on the street and knew that if he and his
> orphanage band didn't please the passers-by - if the audience "had to ask" -
> if they didn't get the feel of the music - he might "never know" a meal that
> night for lack of funds. Louis wasn't about to shut out his audience for
> lack of perceived hipness. (That insider attitude may have started later,
> either with swing-band musicians or with beboppers.)
> If you don't know, ask. The answer may come in the form of a demonstration
> instead of a spoken or written description, but it will come.
> Seek and ye shall find.
> Ask and ye shall receive.
> Knock and it shall be opened to you.
> Winslow
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Ken Deifik <kenneth.d@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
> To: harp-l@xxxxxxxxxx
> Sent: Tuesday, January 22, 2008 12:27:06 PM
> Subject: Re: [Harp-L] Re: Phrasing and Spacing
> At 07:10 AM 1/22/2008, you wrote:
> >Some one correct me if I'm wrong but the story goes something like
> >this . Someone asked Louis Armstrong about about how he played jazz or
> >how to play jazz or something along those lines . He responded and I
> >paraphrase, "Man, if you gotta ask you'll never know ."
> I intend to join in the larger discussion, and I feel that the other
> paragraph Gary wrote is right on, but this quote would have to be among
>  the
> most discouraging, and incorrect, pieces of information to tell most
> harmonica players.
> In fact, most people "gotta ask", and Harp-l is a forum where people
>  "gotta
> ask" or they will not learn.  Armstrong, who may not have even spoken
>  that
> quote, was not a teacher, he was a genius who didn't put much thought
>  into
> explaining.  On the other hand, he had many, many teachers and said as
>  much
> when recourning his personal history.
> Note to everyone who feels like they have not gotten to the musical
>  place
> they want to get to: You Gotta Ask.  Almost every good musician I have
>  ever
> played with stunk at first.  Then they got okay.  Then they got good.
>  Alot
> of it comes from working at it, but ALOT of it comes from asking people
>  who
> already know.
> There are big issues that are hard or impossible to teach, but the idea
> that was presented in that quote is pure, unnecessary discouragement.
>  Ask
> ask ask.
> Ken
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