EDITION: Guimarães Jazz Annual Journal #7 - Câmara Municipal de Guimarães/ Associação Cultural Convívio/ A Oficina     DATE: November 2012 


“The joy felt in recognizing something is quite powerful; however, the joy of setting eyes for the first time on
something which one has dreamed about is nonetheless so, and the first time, obviously, depends on the second.”
(1) Although we are all in complete agreement with that conclusion, in music we prefer to feel delighted by what
we have so often dreamed of as opposed to limiting ourselves to the tasks required by the act of recognition.
Music is the ideal element indeed for striving to delve more deeply into this perspective, one which does not
dominate over or emerge inexplicably in the encounter with the dream, which is a space reserved for great elation
or for great sadness. It becomes a question of comfort between the internal and the external, which can only be
made complete after death. This type of a final “settling of accounts” is the ultimate compatibility play, which as
is said, provides us with a fleeting moment, but one that is strong enough to put questions on the table regarding
which direction is to be chosen when faced with the wide range of possible discovery-making experiences there
are in art, and namely, in our case, in jazz.


We would like to frame the creativity and creative acts of others, or even our own, within movement, and the
meaning that it assumes for itself, that is to say, the meaning of life. “Meaning is an attribute of life, it is life
itself, and this is why life gives meaning to death, and never vice-versa. Death is a silence, a blank space which
requires the entire remaining scope of meaning to bestow intelligibility and excellence.” (2) This encounter, be it
external/internal or doubly internal, is something which cannot be repeated, being unique in its manifestations.
Music possesses this essential attribute, as do all the arts, in its ability to provide meaning, an ethic of sorts, ever
pure in its essentialness, and for this reason it should not be confused with what has come afterward - first the
establishment of an order, then its development into laws and morality. Whoever creates always establishes
within his/her work the proposal of a law which fastens together certain elements which are intrinsically part of
the work, but in the ambiguity saves the work in extemis in that it has already been deemed law. “Man is free
when he comes into an agreement with the gods instead of obeying them.” (3) Ambiguity allows for the possibility
that the work will be successively recreated or reinterpreted over time, saving it from its crystallization into norm.
This feature is a fundamental factor so that the work’s renewal of itself can occur in experience and memory,
which are the elements which comprise myth.


We are far more interested in discovering for the first time that thing which we have so often dreamed about or
hinted at than we are in remaining fixed within the rigidity of principles and norms, which make for one of the
most skillful and inhibiting of prisons. In his writings, Walter Benjamin has alerted us on numerous occasions,
with ample warnings reflecting on the dangers of all the power founded upon the premises of laws, norms, rules,
etc., and how they manage to penetrate or influence the act of artistic creation. Thus, it is fitting that we turn
from assuming the past as a thing which can close upon itself (immediately acquiring validity similar to the
concept of sovereign power) and which strips away the extraordinary capacity to remake itself in a natural and
permanent way. From the outset then it is symptomatic how “the petty, synthetic, post-modernist substitute for
revivalism is «appropriation» which normally signifies an artist of limited talent, blending visionless, ironic
references to the great works of the past. (…) Popular culture is a splendid laboratory for the study of the artistic
dynamics of revivalism.” (4) It “means the budding recognition of a timeless element in a work or style which
appears dated, confined, or limited to a particular period. Therefore, revivalism is crucial for the process of
defining the grandeur of art, a responsibility which is neglected by too many lofty Academies of the present day.”
(5) To narrate the past in this context would be the best procedure, keeping it always open in terms of its content.
Curiously, this has not been the way, or to put it more aptly, it does not seem to be the way that re-editions of so
many musical works of jazz have been seen, analyzed or received (see the numbers of box-set anthologies which
contain all the recordings of certain musicians, the never-before-released and released ones, the possible and the
impossible, in a type of “good for all” package, commercially speaking) which technology currently give us access
to, under the best conditions of quality and comfort and which for strictly non-artistic reasons they have given
counsel to this act or resurrection. In this brazen and aggressive strategy of recuperating the past in such an
unfettered way an enormous lack of respect is shown for everything that is new and to be explored, without the
artist having the slightest notion or act of will in the matter, and which can also indirectly harm (via unfair
competition) the visibility of all the excellent performances which today’s jazz and its artists continue to produce
via the fruit of their hard work and efforts. It should not seem strange that many of the analyses which currently
appear in the various publications have taken on an archaeological perspective and tone, excessively retro,
existing when meant to compare with those analyses that focus on more recent work, and easily and generally
disregarding situations which are occurring in the present. In the analysis of this type of phenomenon, two
important aspects must be kept in mind which will help in denouncing these simulated exhumations, completely
arbitrary and excessive, when the instantaneous reemergence of numerous musical registers are seen, for their
part coming from the widest range of origins, at times with extremely dubious provenance - legal, illegal, pirated,
private, personal - and thus projecting an image closer to something macabre, producing a disturbing feeling of
profaning something and harkening to the dark practices of a real trafficker of contraband.


We would like to center the majority of our attention on the act, in this case, of making music, and on its
strength. “In Aristotle, in fact, if on the one hand strength precedes the act and places conditions on it, on the
other hand its strength seems to be essentially subordinate to the act.” (…) “Aristotle takes pains to insist that the
autonomous existence of strength, in the fact that is clear to him that the harp player maintains his strength
intact even when he is not playing, and the architect maintains his strength to build intact even when he is not
building anything.” Therefore, so that strength does not always immediately disappear with the act but maintain
its own consistent nature, it is also necessary that it pass into an act, that it be essentially the strength of not
doing (doing or being), or in other words, as Aristotle notes, that it also be non-strength (adynamia).” But how,
within this perspective, does it pass into an act? If all the strength (of being or doing) of performing is also,
originally, the strength of not performing (not being or doing), how can one possibly carry out an act?  “The
answer is contained in a definition that constitutes one of the sharpest tests of one’s philosophical genius, and in
being so, it has been misunderstood many times. «A thing holds strength for that which in the passage of the act
to that which it is said it holds strength, nothing can be unless it also cannot be» (Metamorphoses 1047a, 24-26)”
(6) From this we can take it that nothing is resolved from all the recordings of the acts occurring in the past, as
they pertain to the converse of the non-act. We are compelled to admit that the recorded work of music in this
context is always a hardly scrutinized object, even if placed in confrontation with what has been performed and
improvised by a jazz musician at some point in his career given that he has been unable to create anything during
his lifetime. “What reigns, above all, is the act which is performed and which merely suppresses the strength of
non-being, allowing itself to exist, giving of itself.” (7)


When people insistently attach analyses to a certain time frame, they turn it into a delimited space in time, a
chronologically organized period of time operating under precepts to which History has been able, in one way or
another, and at times in a sadly ridiculous way, assume and transform the matter into a thing that is certain and
reliable. “In fact, the phenomena of history, which we always seem to repeat, does not have rational causes. “To
say (as is usually done) that they are caused by human nature is commonplace.” “We were taught to respect
certain people who acted in such an absurd way, and we even considered them great men. We were used to being
subservient to the political wisdom of those in political authority, and all these phenomena are so exceedingly
familiar that so few of us hardly even notice when mass human behavior throughout the discourse of history
shows itself to be stupid, repugnant and undesirable.” (8) In addition, it bears noting that the previous
conclusions state that “to articulate the past in historical terms does not mean that one has knowledge of it
exactly as it took place.” (9) The past is immediately linked to the stimuli which surrounds it, a reliable and
certain thing where other points of reflection are lost which might otherwise have much more useful elements to
offer in the process of understanding and which present complementary and creatively interesting potential. As
Hegel said, “what experience and history both teach us is that neither the people nor our governments have
learned even the slightest bit from history, nor have they ever acted according the precepts set forth by History.”
(10) Are people really aware of the limitations of this historical perspective although the horizon appears to be
unmovable? We all have our own doubts, yet we have grown to see more clearly those most basic indicators of the
lack of freedom - most notably the lack of freedom of thought - which has become victim to the insistent and
continuous repetition which transforms a commonplace and meaningless act, enabling it to take on all the
features which allow it to become an integral part of history (or of yet another history). The role of the narrator
is that of the chronicler of history, par excellence. “The primacy of information has, in our day, contributed
decisively to the extent that the art of narration has become quite rare.” (11) The narrator is no longer a chronicler
of history, and from now on, he has permanently taken on his inescapable and current status of having ‘nothing
to explain’ (we intentionally recall the increasingly noticeable lack of the constituent elements of myth in our
daily lives - experience and memory) which, for so many people, is expressed in the innocuous singular or simple
response that we resign ourselves to choose to believe.


We would like to touch upon other questions related to those that we have already addressed. It is interesting to
reflect as well upon the present-day meaning of the act of giving counsel or advice, which can and should also
represent an important sharing of experiences, which is always useful in whatever entrepreneurial activity it may
be, even though the efficient application of such principles may depend greatly on the credibility of the person
giving the advice. “Practical interest and sage advice make up part of the essentially hopeful character of
narration.” (…) Naturally, the ability to give advice depends on the validity of the narrator’s very own experience
or on the unwavering trust placed in the memory that is preserved and transmitted. And if no one trusts their
experience any longer and tiresome skepticism shakes at the foundations of memory, the notion of advice is
transformed into an utter sham or the key to despair.” (12)  Once again we cite Walter Benjamin, “ ‘Advice,
interwoven in the strands of life, is wisdom. The art of narration is nearing its end because the extinction of the
epic nature of truth, which is wisdom, is approaching.’ Yet on the other side of truth is science, which does not
give advice, but which legislates and which has contributed to the erasing of the moral tracings which any well-
lived experience might retain within the moral of the story. Conquered wisdom gives way to acquired
information.” (13) We are thus struck with a clear feeling that at the present time what has been deemed critical
activity is quite unable to reach the ethical and humanizing validity on par with advice-giving. It stands before
more or less mercantile acts where commerce and industry are almost always associated with business interests,
and which in this case is mere parody. The work of art, given that it has lost its aura due to continuous profane
handling, has now increasingly become a luxury item, subject to sales strategies as if it were any old product
which is hoisted for no other reason than to increase its consumption. The critiques with greater or lesser
intimacy with the subjects involved will fulfill their role as terrorist. They appear as the need to seal this
destructive hemorrhage off from an attitude of seeking, in which the latter may act in a way diametrically
opposed to a merely hopeful posture of the subject when confronted with what has simply been provided him.
When everything began to be placed at one’s disposition (with the most sophisticated skill), ready to be leisurely
enjoyed, the ontological grandeur of seeking is lost in the passing to the smaller and meager act of simple
recognition, ending up in complete paralysis of that which is served up to us solely and exclusively as an object of
mass consumption.

Perhaps it might be interesting to put forth some ideas which give evidence that we think it possible to be clearer
within the wide range of viewpoints. We return to the need to reserve for ourselves a space which is totally free of
memory and experience, bearing in mind that all true narration, being a form of truth that is objective, is also
paradoxically always ambiguous. In his book, “The Open Work,” Umberto Eco extends this ambiguity to all
facets of artistic constructions, which in turn can be manifested in the fact that, for example, a musical structure
need not necessarily determine the structure that follows it; that is to say that there is no longer a tonal center
which allows something to interfere in the following movements of discourse, meaning a crisis in the principle of
causality on the general plain. “In the cultural context in which a bi-polar logic (the classical aut aut between
true and false, the either-or scenario of any given object and its opposite) is no longer the only instrument
possible for gaining knowledge, there appear many multi-purpose logic schemes which pave the way, for
example, for the indeterminate to be the valid result of cognitive functions (in this context of ideas), and thus we
have the poetics of a work of art deprived of its necessary and predictable result in that the freedom enjoyed by
the performer acts as an element of the discontinuity which contemporary physics has recognized, seen not as the
reason for disorientation but as the inseparable aspect underlying all scientific verification, and the observable
and irrefutable behavior of the sub-atomic world.” (14) Thus, highly provocative concepts arise - chance, the
indeterminate, the improbable, the ambiguous, the multi-faceted - which indicate that there exists a process of
rupture in relation to the traditional order in which Western culture deems as immutable and which is identified
as the objective structure of a world. The conventional is appreciated acritically, and what is truly new is
criticized with scorn, as Walter Benjamin states, to which more must be added given the feeling that a difference
between the act of recognizingand the act of seeking is implicit there. Unlike the act of recognizing, ‘to seek’
possesses within its essence an incessant movement toward reformulation, one with its very own dynamic,
requiring of the protagonist much more than a simplistic and acritical assimilation. Simple in primitivism and
innocence in that the senses are being used, and acritical in conformism, hetero-direction, gregariousness, and
the massification which is the very consequence of a non-moveable acquisitions process and full of standard
elements of understanding, as if this were an automatic and programmed assembly line. Seeking reveals itself in
this context to be a wonderfully rich manifestation of the myriad stimuli from which it becomes possible to
reconstruct successive landscapes using the same perspectives. It stands out for its profound grandeur amongst
the variety of combing elements possible, that which can be called the state of helplessness, which solely due to
its being judged on a social level as being synonymous or a symptom of weakness, is for this very reason is
rejected and disguised in the most ridiculous forms that appear associated with certain sexist concepts which
from the outset hold vital importance when the intent arises to find expeditious procedures for the notion of what
is power and the act of seeking. The state of helplessness which is presented as one of its most clarifying elements
demonstrates that seeking must always include the anguish of the mourner in that seeking brings about ever-
lasting feelings of loss and incapacity when faced with the presence of a reality totally out of our grasp, a fact
which we are compelled to confront. We are tempted to quote the words of Goethe: “The greatest happiness for
the thinking man is to have fathomed the fathomable, and to quietly revere the unfathomable.”


Another way to approach the work of art resides in the assertation that there are indeed many ways that the work
situates itself with respect to its innumerable destinations and recipients. This comes about at the center of a
complex network of power relationships. For the sake of more easily maneuvering about within these always
difficult concepts, we would like to mention that it is also reasonable to analyze and bear in mind the external
effects. Here it is a question of the external aspect which is reflected in the variety of tasks that have successively
taken form around you.  The power to convince, persuade, and formulate opinions therefore also allows for the
formulation of a truth. Hannah Arendt calls truth constituted in this way, “factual truth.” Given the fragilities it
displays and the elements which comprise it, it is quite different from philosophical truth. In explaining its
differences, we must right away note that “philosophical truth refers to man as One, it is not political by nature.”
(15) “Thus in the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson affirms that ‘we hold these truths to be self-evident
because he wanted to keep the fundamental Oneness of men out of the argument, out of the debate on the
American Revolution; such is the case of mathematical axioms which should express ‘the beliefs of man’ which
‘do not depend on his will but rather involuntarily follow the evidence offered to his mind.’  But to say that ‘we
hold these truths self-evident would recognize, without our being aware of it, that the affirmation ‘all men are
created equal’ is not evident but rather demands agreement and assent - that equality, having a political
meaning, is a matter of opinion and not a ‘truth’.” (16) “Today, when practically no philosophical statement, for
as audacious as it may appear, is taken seriously enough to put the philosopher at risk of his life, then the rare
opportunity to see a philosophical truth politically verified has been lost.” (17) In this way, opinion (supported by
factual truth) is worth what it is worth. It is not only the factual affirmations which do not contain principles on
which men can act, making them manifest in the world, but it is also their own content which refuses this type of
verification. Whoever speaks the truth of a fact, in the improbable eventuality of wanting to risk one’s life for a
particular fact, would be committing a type of error.” This mistake, now having become an event, would take on
weight of such comic and tragic dimension at the same time that we would be obliged to find its explanation in
the absurd, realizing the great disproportion between the value of the meaning of the act and its final result - the
person’s death. Opinion emerges in the present day as being associated with a communication process that is
saturated with information and quite contaminated by changeability, and thus has an extremely short lifespan
because beyond the fact that its qualities depend on the knowledge and goodwill of those who use and regard it,
and whose credibility is guaranteed by their impartiality, integrity, and independence, the very media used in the
process of communicating is in crisis. We quote Hannah Arendt once again, who states: “While the liar is a man
of action, the one who speaks the truth, whether he speaks rational or scientific truth, never is one.” The power to
convince and persuade others will thus be another road, if one can consider it to be a pathway. In Hobbes, for
example, we encounter the conflict between two opposing faculties, «solid reasoning» and «powerful eloquence»
with the first being built on the principles of truth and the other on opinions and passions, noting that human
interests are different and variable. For many it remains a choice within reasonable reach, but after the passing
of a certain amount of time we only seem to encounter the vestiges of ephemeral, empty, and unbearable objects
without our feeling any pressing need for their replacement. The principle of permanent removal of stimuli as the
essential nature of a survival mechanism destroys itself on the path to self-regeneration. Music seen only from the
outside looking in can well be represented by the metaphor of the serpent who feeds on its own body. Granted
that it is undoubtedly more within our grasp to recognize than to feel given that this capacity to feel also becomes
sparks the notions of incapacity, doubts, and anguish which will never be comprehended without rigorous and
serious efforts. They cannot be controlled because their origins are not known; this exploratory activity demands
an attitude that is unpretentious and free of preconceived notions. Power, as a way to act upon what is external
and based on the violence of laws is easier to tolerate than fear, which is horrendously painful to bear because it
lives in intimate association with the anguish of a mourner, an act of seeking which can only be carried out via
profound and prolonged introspection, one of self-control, which is magnificently explained in the Eugen
Herrigel book, “Zen in the Art of Archery”. Thus, we must admit above all that “eminent amongst the essential
modes of truth-telling (…) are the solidity of the philosopher, the isolation of the wise man and the artist, the
impartiality of the historian and the judge, and the independence of the fact-finder, the witness and the
reporter.” (18) When we place ourselves upon an immense surface undergoing constant change (jazz), which is
felt in bundles of perceptions whose origins we can only completely explain with difficulty and which in order to
locate or know we must possess the knowledge of survival (the act of managing to live with sparse means and
resources), we are immediately obliged to understand the immense number of objective and subjective variables
which interact amongst themselves and which permit the most extraordinary associations as well as numerous
and complex results. “Man contains within himself a partner from whom he cannot be free, his interest is not to
live in company with either an assassin or a liar,” says Hannah Arendt on the subject. “No one refuses to
recognize that communication technologies imply a growing immateriality in the relationships with different
worlds. This undoing of human permutation is not just a pop-up, fashionable idea; it is produced with the
multiplication of networks and channels, the speed of information traffic, and the proliferation of television
images…. Is this a sign of a society based on emptiness? (…) Are we before a shattered and fragmented reality,
one we can no longer take hold of since reality is wholly made up of communication subterfuge? How impossible
it is to deceive ourselves with an “other” reality which is really just a masquerade! Such an abstraction of the
world does not impede one from feeling emotions, existing, or becoming passionate given that the distributors of
feelings appear as quite formal, their power to pry into our daily thought-habits notwithstanding. Ideologies will
retain a certain fictitiousness, offering the false appearance of freedom of expression which will always allow for
the belief that free will may return. (…) Communication technologies have taken the classical relationships
between subject and object and torn them into pieces.” (19.


The desert and the sea for quite a long time have been places devoid of points of reference, and because of this
have risen to mythical status as being inhuman. External-ness is an aspect which offers a type of easiness,
allowing for the variety of stimuli which emanate from those places to provide conditions of recognition and self-
recognition which are essential for feeling the safety and trust that is so fundamental for dealing with daily life.
The Oxford English Dictionary’s main heading for the word “trust” defines the term as “safety or credibility in
some quality or attribute of a person or thing, or in the truth of a statement.” (…) At the same time, as safety and
trust are seen as being closely linked (…) in a situation of safety, a person can react to disappointment by blaming
others; in a situation of trust, a person must assume part of the guilt for himself and feel sorry for having placed
trust in someone or something.” (20) It is noteworthy to observe how the medium in which we construct our
relationships increasingly assumes the absences of a place, or in other situations, the excessive and repetitiously
homogenous presence of a place called non-place. We see emerging the primal need for a person to self-identify
in the midst/in the medium of others so that the time for integration can begin afterwards, yet after the
construction of identity. The conventional, as in what is full of references, thus becomes a powerful mechanism
for attraction and therein our normality within socially accepted rites is confirmed by the representation of
everything that is duly explained, normalized, and regulated. What is more of note is knowing what to be and
how to be amongst those things that are new, as this comes with risks, always different, and always inadequate at
explaining everything. Knowing can be understood as “a something” which is lost, always at that exact moment
following, and lost as standing before the totality of knowing. We live surrounded by so many insufficient and
fragile approximations of what is offered up as art today.  The erasing of the self. “The individual, paradoxically,
should deny him/herself permanently if he/she intends to be a bit thought about in this society.” (21) What does
it mean at the present time to be the disseminator, the critic, the promoter, the producer or the manager of a
product which is also commercial and involves interests which have nothing to do with jazz as art? Might there
still be some way to properly keep separated and sealed off each one of the aforementioned functions? Are there
not enough indicators to conclude that the necessary conditions may not well appear upon the shapeless
landscape of jazz and art, especially the curious complicities and peaceful promiscuities among these activities?

Let’s return to Walter Benjamin. “Even in the most perfect reproduction, something is missing - the here and now
of art - its unique existence in the place where we encounter it.” It is nevertheless in this unique experience, and
only there, that the story fulfills the discourse of its existence to which it had been submitted. The here and now
of the original constitutes the concept of authenticity.” (22) These issues may well present one of the more
significant problems which concerns jazz as improvised music precisely because it takes up the question of the
value of its forms of authenticity. Existing recordings represent an infinitely small part of the jazz legacy which
has been lost forever, and the pieces which have been restored and selected by the advances in technology are not
enough to satisfy its historical mission rightly. In addition, the number of publications which we have access to
each year, in most cases, suffer from an eager formality which can be summarized in unavoidable influences
upon the act of recording, removing more and more of its meaning. Jazz, like no other music or art form, must
endure this terrible failing - that of improvisation - which has historically been viewed as being more or less
equivalent to a chronic lapse of memory, and whose existence is hindering the resolution of the problem. “With
the wide variety of methods available for technical reproduction of the work of art, the likelihood of one’s being
exposed to the work has increased in such a powerful way that this quantitative gap between the two poles that
existed in the past has now been translated into a qualitative alteration of Nature. In the beginning, the work of
art, due to its absolute weight set firmly on the inherent value of worship, was transformed mainly into an
instrument of magic which would only later be recognized as a work of art. In the same way, the work of art
nowadays, due to its absolute weight set firmly on the inherent value of being performed, has become a
composition with totally new functions, those which highlight what is most familiar to us - the artistic - and
which perhaps afterwards may come to be recognized as accidental.” (23) Some think that we can take up some
of the questions asked previously and apply them to jazz when we begin to look at its principles - its value as
worship based on an instrument of magic which comes from its origins and the de-phasing which exists relative
to Black cultural roots, felt first within an environment sympathetic to slavery and later in a racist society. If the
initial value as worship is transformed into a work of art, jazz’s problem of being improvised music causes even
more trouble when it comes to the ability to reproduce the music in space and time. Brecht said that when the
work of art is transformed into merchandise, we will have to abandon the concept most cautiously if we do not
want it to be ourselves who wipe out the purpose. The piece will have to go through a phase of “not being treated
as an optional detour from the right path since what is happening to it is a radical change, the erasing of its past
to such an extent that if the old concept were recovered (…) it would not spark any memory of what the thing in
the past meant.” (24) Here we would like to briefly touch on the musician, quoting Eisler: “In the evolution of
music, in the production as well as in reproduction, we must learn to recognize the process of rationalization
which is growing stronger and stronger… records, films with sound, machines which make music, in the
production as well as in reproduction of music they can sell wonderful pieces of music…like merchandise sold in
tin cans.” (24) These issues touch upon the new need to place or situate music in such a way as to eliminate the
antagonisms between performer and listener, and between technique and contents. “It has always been one of
art’s most important tasks to create demand whose total satisfaction has not yet been achieved.” André Breton
notes that “the work of art only has worth to the extent that reflections of the future vibrate in it.” (25) We add,
“All pioneering creative acts of seeking, fundamentally new, exceed their own expectations. When a work’s main
requirement is to provoke public scandal, what is there to say about the limits of creativity?” once it has been
transformed into the opposing attitude, in that which is held by the majority as conventionally accepted as
normal in art and has negated forever the place where it had stepped off from. “When we deal with the “higher”
senses of vision and hearing, we are accustomed to having attitudes more akin to producers and not consumers.
We are perfectly content to use the nose for pure fun, but we watch and listen for enjoyment. The majority of the
use of vision and hearing in urban life is functional. Event recreational listening leans toward functional ends -
we go to a concert to relax, to tell ourselves and others that this is the time to stop and listen. Many people go to
concerts the way they practice sports, as some type of duty (even if they are not professionals).” A quote from the
Jacques Attali book - Noise: The Political Economy of Music, as found in The Skin of Culture by Derrick de
Kerckhove. But they will say that there are people who are able from the beginning to repudiate whatever type of
feeling of scandal even when they listen to music. Certainly this right is not being questioned, but this gets us
nowhere. How many songs were misunderstood in their own time? How many works gained recognition so many
years after their composers or performers had died? How many insults? How many acts of injustice? How much
disagreement? Nothing has pulled the work astray; nothing has diminished its significance and importance.


But if people regularly get along poorly with each other because of something that relates to their inability to take
risks in some unknown territory, and if they express their anguish and insecurity which flows out of that, then
that is fine. Yet here emerges “an old complaint about the masses which seek out diversion and fun when art
requires contemplation from the observer.” This is a question of common space. Might this be a distracted
examiner of things, also someone who rejects value as worship, this being symptom of the deepest alterations in
critical acumen? There are too many sounds for communication to happen without someone getting lost on the
way, irreparable in a world where the trite day-to-day reigns in total bliss. Aldous Huxley wrote: Technical
progress has led us to become ordinary… technical and rotatable reproducibility have made it possible for a poly-
copying of image-writings (and songs). Greater schooling in general and relatively higher wages have created a
larger population which knows how to read and knows how to acquire written and illustrated (and recorded)
material. To make this material available, a substantial industry has been created. But the gift of art is something
rare, the result of which is that at any time and place, the majority of global artistic production has shown itself
to be of inferior quality. But today the percentage of residuals from global artistic production is greater than
ever… Prosperity, the gramophone, and the radio created an audience of listeners whose consumption of music
grew disproportionately with regard to overall demographic growth and of course with regard to the normal
growth in number of talented musicians. Such a situation will remain as long as people continue to consume
images, reading and listening material in excess.


To discuss jazz in the present, and from the perspective of to be or not to be, seems totally upside down, contrary
to the fundamental elements which aid in understanding the artistic phenomenon. Today when all types of
uproar is heard in response to what we are given, those things imposed in the name of a set of more-or-less
consensual and majority-based opinions (you only need look around you to know what we are talking about), it
might be well, at the very least, to manifest a type of non-conformism, resistance, rebellion, and freedom, most
decidedly in the freedom of thought. There are no longer good reasons to discuss what jazz is; this is sheer
hopelessness for whomever stands to the contrary, given the memory of jazz and the experiences of up and
coming musicians who are committed to the exploration of their passion-infused talent. This type of analysis
which reduces the internal and the external is a road to nowhere. In the nothingness of starting at zero for the
entirety of creative endeavors (or the attempts at such), the slightest thing is prevented from growing. In the land
of nothingness it is easy to draw up laws - one only needs power (for example, the law of the jungle where the
strongest wins); however, we are focused on the construction of mechanisms of control and application, leaving
the mission of creative activities to its own devices. As has been said, jazz lives out its manifest ability to
constantly renew itself which necessitates a free space for it to fulfill its destiny. To listen more is to know how to
encounter the sound behind the sound, beyond the hectic city life and the cacophony of the media. To listen more
is to learn along with David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir, and yes, over the centuries we have obliterated the
harmonics of sounds that have supported meaning, the only ones we are able to hear. For centuries we have not
been able to hear the divine subtleties of the resonance and the combination of environmental harmonies. John
Cage said that silence was the sum of all sounds in the environment. He might also have said that silence is alive.

To feel more is more important, though. Paracelsus said that the ear is not an extension of the skin, but that in
fact the skin is an extension of the ear. It is evident that after we learn to read and write, we close within our skin
the silent content of our minds. We learn to use our skin as an exclusionary device. We come to recoil from touch,
from body contact, from being close to other people’s bodies and from our own, more than from anyone else’s.
Thus, the skin can only give us pain. It needs the protection of layers of clothing. Other people’s touch can only
hurt. Our privacy demands protection from guilt.” (27)


One might think that the state of things might be of benefit to someone. And we return to earlier statements that
there are myriad ways to look at the world. So it is obvious that we always have excuses for the mistakes of the
past, the destruction and replacement of myths; everything is perpetuated as more of the same and it continues to
be more of the same. To take up Bill Evans and his work, this musician (as with all musicians) feels the
imperative to play, but certainly he has played far better live than can be heard on his recordings. Published
recordings (various versions of the same song, takes, etc.) allow for reproduction but also open the stage for
trivializing the work by the never-ending opportunities to hear the music again and again, and in a plethora of
contexts, so many of which are utterly foreign to original concept. When it is said that “certain types of music
disappear after a fleeting moment, and others last a lifetime stored in our arms, legs, minds and even in the
heart. When I play something really good, something strange happens in my ears: after I play it I heard a
humming which echoes in the room as if my ears had become a type of radar, capturing everything that was
happening around me. Normally, my access to ambient noise is selective, not the least all-inclusive. If I have no
need to hear the sound, I do not listen for it unless it is truly intrusive. But in this case, it was as if my playing had
turned my body into a system for programmed monitoring to detect the expansion of the self. I was able to hear
more, and more deeply than was usual. I thought it was the musician’s reward. Needless to say that it gave me
supreme enjoyment. To date, I do not really know if my improvisations worked well because of this special sound
quality, or if this special sound quality was due to my performance. One thing is certain - to play this way helped
me to change from a more written mode to a more oral mode. More than ever, we need this.” (28) Jazz is not an
administrative super-entity with innumerous zealous benefactors up above who “manipulate” everything, but
rather a creative activity which respects human freedom and, instead of intervening in events, helps people to
carry them out and react with them in the light of faith. At this moment, making the facts more holy is not in play
but rather finding a meaning and a hope beyond and despite these facts.


A digital recording enjoys the characteristic of always being moment that can be fortuitous to either a greater or
lesser degree. At a concert, things happen more or less in the same way, the intensive listening moment placed at
everyone’s disposition and afforded by the various processes of recording and reproduction manages to remove
the aura of a work which defines itself “as a unique manifestation of madness, for as close as it might be;” it
represents nothing more than the formulation of the piece’s value as worship in categories of spatial and
temporal reception. Once again from Walter Benjamin: “It is clear that the secularization of the work which
follows alienates the work from the initial value as worship, supplanted by the singularity of the artist or the
aesthetic performance conceived by the observer.”


“The reproduced work increasingly becomes the reproduction of a work, freeing itself from the parasite’s
existence of ritual,” This distancing brings two new and indispensable elements to the fore - the artist and the
audience - who emerge as intervening factors, active in their resolution through time(s) and space(s). The
recording, the concert - they always bring a movement to a close, which curiously, could be reproduced today
audio-visually in the most diverse of contexts. From here, any approach taken regarding the content errs from the
outset in its enormous fragility in comparison with the totality of the work, the life of the author, and his/her
moments of seeking. Leonardo da Vinci compares painting to music using the following words: “Painting is
superior to music because it does not have to die as soon as it has been given life, as occurs with poor
music…music which fades away as soon as it appears is inferior to painting which becomes as eternal as the use
of varnish.” An interesting idea although one which itself loses its luster after many years, and for reasons of a
technical nature.


"The reproduced work increasingly becomes the reproduction of a work, freeing itself from the parasite’s
existence of ritual,” This distancing brings two new and indispensable elements to the fore - the artist and the
audience - who emerge as intervening factors, active in their resolution through time(s) and space(s). The
recording, the concert - they always bring a movement to a close, which curiously, could be reproduced today
audio-visually in the most diverse of contexts. From here, any approach taken regarding the content errs from the
outset in its enormous fragility in comparison with the totality of the work, the life of the author, and his/her
moments of seeking. Leonardo da Vinci compares painting to music using the following words: “Painting is
superior to music because it does not have to die as soon as it has been given life, as occurs with poor
music…music which fades away as soon as it appears is inferior to painting which becomes as eternal as the use
of varnish.” An interesting idea although one which itself loses its luster after many years, and for reasons of a
technical nature.


But does it really lose its luster and consistency? What we have said before sheds light on some of the questions
which can be asked when faced with the fragility of reproductions and moments, when faced with a totality that
is beyond our grasp - the work itself - from the losses that are represented to the seeking which reveals itself as
transcendental and immediately without repetition. And now you may eventually ask what jazz has to do with
any of this. Nothing, absolutely nothing, as these are unnecessary explanations.

(1) Fernando Savater, A Infância Recuperada, Editorial Presença, 1997, p.39
(2) Ibid. p.33
(3) Ibid. p.36
(4) Camille Paglia, Vamps e Vadias, Relógio de Água, 1997, p.423
(5) Ibid. p.424
(6) Giorgio Agamben, O Poder Soberano e a Vida Nua, Editorial Presença, 1998, p.50-51
(7) Ibid. p.53
(8) Konrad Lorenz, A Agressão, uma história natural do mal, Relógio de Água, 1992, p.247
(9) Walter Benjamin, Sobre Arte, Técnica, Linguagem e Política, Relógio de Água, 1992, p.159
(10) Konrad Lorenz, A Agressão, uma história natural do mal, Relógio de Água, 1992, p.248
(11) Fernando Savater, A Infância Recuperada, Editorial Presença, 1997, p.27
(12) Ibid. p.25
(13) Ibid. p.26
(14) Umberto Eco, Obra Aberta, Difel, 1989, p.84
(15) Hannah Arendt, Verdade e Política, Relógio de Água, 1995, p.36
(16) Ibid. p.35
(17) Ibid. p.39
(18) Ibid. p.54
(19) Henri-Pierre Jeudy, A sociedade Transbordante, Edições Século XXI,1995, p.76-77
(20) Anthony Giddens, As Consequências da Modernidade, Ed. Celta, 1995, p.24-25
(21) Guy Debord, Comentários à Sociedade do Espectáculo, mobilis in mobile, 1995, p.45
(22) Walter Benjamin, Sobre a Arte, Técnica, Linguagem e Política, Relógio de Água, 1992, p.77
(23) Ibid. p.86
(24) Ibid. p.87
(25) Ibid. p.148
(26) Ibid. p.106
(27) Derrick de Kerckhove, A Pele da Cultura, Relógio de Água, 1997, p.127-128
(28) Ibid. p.161