Thursday, August 03, 2006

Matthew Shipp... the freedom to be asinine...

Sometimes you have to say something... I didn't want this blog to get involved in political issues as it is predominantly about music but I found this last night on JBSpins blog and it incensed me...

'The September Jazz Times is currently hitting mailboxes with a feature marking the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attack on lower Manhattan, soliciting responses from a diverse group of musicians. Most, like Sonny Rollins, Bob Belden, Joanne Brackeen, and Fred Hersch largely confined their reflections to personal stories. Matthew Shipp however, took the opportunity to make some vile statements, excusing the unprovoked attack that killed almost 3,000 of his fellow New Yorkers. As Shipp sneers:

“With the type of cold-blooded capitalism that is practiced in western uncivilization [Shipp's italic], terrorism is an inescapable consequence. This country cannot be involved in wholesale corporate imperialism like it is and not expect some type of blowback.”

Part of JBSpins reply is as follows:

'The terrorist attacks of 9-11 had a devastating impact on New York's economy, which as a result had deep repercussions on music scene. Gigs dried up, and venues closed. Most importantly, almost 3,000 individuals were brutally murdered. Make no mistake, there is no place for a jazz musician in the world of Islamic Fascism. Neither is there room for anyone who does not subscribe to their extremist Islamic beliefs. Everyone who contributed to [these] 9-11 reflections has a stake in the fight we face, whether they want to acknowledge it, or not'.

Read the complete article here. Shipp, of course, has the freedom to make asinine statements, which is one of our great and collective strengths despite all the acknowledged - and debated - imperfections of our countries - I don't see him getting too many gigs in downtown Teheran... A great deal of the music I love is difficult, awkward, contradictory and cranky stuff, like many of the musicians who play it and it reflects and often criticises the societies and cultures that produce it – but the main unifying theme throughout is freedom and the joy that stems from that freedom – something that I know in my bones the Islamofascists have no conception of and would stamp out and murder given half a chance in the simplistic one dimensional world they are trying to impose on everyone. The most profound art, for me, is concerned with exploration, difference and complexity... long may it flourish...

This excellent blog also skewers Charlie Haden's long-term apologistic sucking up to that old tyrant Castro – still writing songs to Chairman Mao, Charlie?


Rant over... back to the music...

12 comments:

St Anthony said...

What a prat this Shipp sounds ... Western Uncivilisation? Surely the exact kind of sweepingly racist, bigoted statement that, were a white Westerner to utter, would get him labeled a bigoted idiot ... I smell the reek of double standards.
The funny thing is that, since the advent of what we know as jazz, it's been the target of every totalitarian government going. The Nazis, the Commies, every theocracy - they've all hated and banned jazz.
Like that benighted scum, the Taliban, banning all music.
As for corporate imperialism - I take it Shipp charges admission to his gigs, and releases his albums through a record company - that makes him, perforce, a capitalist.
I assume he's not giving all his royalties to charity.
What a twit.
Yes, too - Charlie Haden. Surely the example of Ornette should have wised him up - no doing business with dictators.

Rod... said...

The example of Ornette could stand to counterbalance the contortions of many a blowhard

godoggo said...

Not going to comment, because when I want to read about politics I'll generally read a political blog, but I'm curious. What did Ornette do?

godoggo said...

...though I would add that "excellent" is not quite the word I'd use for the blog you linked to.

St Anthony said...

Well, I'd say Ornette, instead of making prescriptive political statements (a la Shipp and a million others) led by example - humane, independent, democratic, courageous ...

Rod... said...

Ornette came from an impoverished background to become one of the great musicians of the twentieth century - and beyond - fought all the way against rejection and misunderstanding. Yet there is a wonderful humanity and democracy in his music, a utopian yearning for better things - his music, if you read any of his interviews, was always about wider issues of freedom. He never went in for facile sloganeering. As for the blog you mention - the whole point of this brief detour was so stress freedom of speech and choice. I don't expect anyone to accept what I regard as excellent - that's your choice. Similarly, to finally get back to music where we will stay, for the time being, Weather Report have never done much for me musically - yet because a couple of people have mentioned them, I'll go back and have a listen. Maybe I'll like them, maybe I won't - I try not to be too rigid about issues of taste - chacun à son goût every time... it's this plurality I celebrate... anyway - back to the music...

Ford MF said...

I adore the music that comes out from under Matthew Shipp's fingertips, but I can't say as I'm surprised at his comments. As you say, The Music tends to be made by cranky, difficult people, and to a degree I think you just have to accept that a lot of them are total kooks. Some of them, like Sun Ra, are glorious, life-affirming kooks, and some are hackneyed cliche-radical goobers like Shipp. What can you do?

I once shared a couple beers with Daniel Carter from Other Dimensions in Music and he was more or less of the same temperament, which was on the one hand disappointing and annoying, but on the other hand, whatever. He makes beautiful music. Most musicians are people I wouldn't want running for public office.

Rod... said...

Ford - point taken... I don't intend to stop listening to Shipp -I like his music and have been tracking some of his experiments with hip hop etc with interest - come to think of it, most of the musicians I know would be frightening if political figures... some of the internecine squabbling that goes on mirrors perfectly the madder late marxist sects - but this is an old argument - I can remember the late Jewish critic in the UK, Bernard Levin, writing an eloquent defence of Wagner, whose music he adored - in full awareness of Wagner's wacky anti-semitism...

james taylor said...

Having interviewed Matthew Shipp myself (for AllAboutJazz.com), I have to say he is a brilliant artist who is incredibly knowledgeable about jazz music and Black music in general. Free jazz, avant-garde jazz or whatever you choose to call it is an inherintely political music. Historically, the individuals who have made this sort of music are smarter than the average bear, so to speak.

Beyond defending Matthew Ship, who I think needs no defending honestly, I do agree with all the comments he makes. Blowback is a CIA term, one used by the agency itself to describe the consequences of its vile and often illegal military and political actions.

And there is a BIG difference between a professional musician charging admission to performances and US-brand capitalism that is intimately involved in exploitation worldwide.

Mike in London said...

Interesting that Shipps comment should provoke just the kind of unreasonable and slightly hysterical responses in some quarters that he himself has been accused of making. He makes no mention of "islamofascism", rather he is making the point made by many others all over the world that the recent terrorist attacks in the US and UK were in part a response to some acts of the foreign policy of both countries. Sadly it seems that the sort of kneejerk reactions to anyone not "falling in line" in this day and age are what we can now expect on a regular basis. I thought that this sort of "you're either with us or against us" nonsense was on the way out.

Read his comments again and then try and find any support for what happened, for the perpetrators of the evil crimes. As for labelling him a supporter of Islamofascism... laughable, and rather depressing.

Agree or disagree with his comments as you please, but why be so quick to haul the guy up and punish him as a result of misinterpreting his personal views?

Anonymous said...

i agree with ford and mike in london. i know matt very well and he is very very smart. i share his opinion which you misinterpreted because it is true... america is not the great nation it was (england too - sorry!) and there are consequences to american imperialist actions (and as we all learned in school - for every action, there is a reaction). 9/11 was not an accident - obviously, we pissed alot of people off - it's 5 years later - don't act so surprised.

Anonymous said...

sorry, i meant james taylor - not ford.