My Two Cents in Response to The New Yorker, Sonny Rollins, Jazz ‘Satire’



My two cents in response to the recent, New Yorker magazine Jazz ‘satire’, “Sonny Rollins: In His Own Words” by Django Gold, a senior writer for The Onion.

In order for satire to work here, there must be the assumption that the practice of jazz involves some sort of vice, stupidity, etc.—something to expose and actually mock.

Since the old stereotypes—of the drug-addled, nefarious brothel-dwelling, ape-like, drum-beating syncopators—have come and gone, I’m afraid this piece falls sadly flat in the humor department, due to lack of content or context.

What’s left now are the fortunate progeny of those who would—withstanding all of the consistently abhorrent conditions and perennially revamped deceptions that have come with second-class citizenship—produce the greatest artistic gift that this country has ever given the world.

If one wishes to poke fun, try this image:

The kings and queens of this music, aloft in heaven, are jamming together, looking down with amusement, waiting for their new band members to join them from downstairs.

There’s a ground-level, crowded full of babies in diapers and graduation caps, with bottles in one hand and instruments in the other, trying to buy their way upstairs via the university jazz-ed program system.

Don’t forget to include their parents, hauling sacks of cash, running behind their kids, throwing money at them… Money that falls down below, spilling on some who try to build a rickety, two-story bridge that connects them up to the angels;  others who by combining confusing sounds, attempt to distract attention from the heavenly rhythms and melodies; and others still who scamper about, trying to gather up the cash quickly before it burns.

I know, I know. Ha ha, very funny, right? Sorry, it’s just satire.

The untouchable, invaluable reality is that music, in this case jazz specifically, created for the purposes of the healing of self and others, cannot really be bought, sold, reconfigured, misrepresented or misappropriated. Jazz is so much bigger and better than that. Its true purpose operates, transmits, touches and heals on a whole different plane.

That’s why we love it so.