Een tijdje geleden was ik bezig over Duke Ellington in mijn antwoord aan Frederik, en ik kwam nog meer interessants tegen over de muzikant. Ik heb overigens een beetje rondgekeken op amazon, maar verschrikkelijk veel is er niet te vinden aan jazz- of muzieklectuur in digitaal formaat. Tips zijn altijd welkom.

Een paar Ellington citaten dus. We vertrokken van if it sounds good, it IS good, dat voluit waarschijnlijk dit was: if it sounds good, it’s good music, and if it doesn’t, then it is the other kind. In een citaat wat verder hieronder, legt Duke het nog verder uit. Over critici had hij het volgende te vertellen:

I’m sure critics have their purpose, and they’re supposed to do what they do, but sometimes they get a little carried away with what they think someone should have done, rather than concerning themselves with what he did.

In The Duke Ellington Reader (niet digitaal beschikbaar helaas) van Mark Tucker staan een pak interviews die Duke indertijd heeft gegeven, zoals bijvoorbeeld The Art Is in the Cooking met Stanley Dance uit 1962, waaruit we onderstaand fragment lichten.

People are told that they must never drink anything but a white wine with fish or a red wine with beef. The people who don’t know, who’ve never been told that, who’ve never been educated along these lines –they drink anything. I suspect they get as much joy out of their eating and drinking as the other people.

It’s just like people who listen to music. They don’t necessarily know what they’re listening to. They don’t have to know that a guy is blowing a flatted fifth or a minor third, but they enjoy it, and this I consider healthy and normal listening. A listener who has first to decide whether this is proper when a musician plays or writes something –that’s not good. It’s a matter of “how does it sound?” and, of course, the sound is modified by the taste of the listener.

The listener may like things that are pretty, what we consider pretty or schmaltzy. Another may like a graceful melodic line, with agreeable harmony under it and probably little romantic element. A third may like subtle dissonance, while a fourth may go for out-and-out dissonance. A fifth may have a broad appreciation and enjoy all kinds. But what is really involved here, I think, is personal taste rather than categories. Music itself is a category of sound, but everything that goes into the ear is not music. Music is music, and that’s it. If it sounds good, it’s good music, and it depends on who’s listening how good it sounds.

Of in het essay Where Is Jazz Going?, gepubliceerd in Music Journal, opnieuw in 1962:

As you may know, I have always been against any attempt to categorise or pigeonhole music, so I won’t attempt to say whether the music of the future will be jazz or not jazz, whether it will merge or not merge with classical music.

There are simply two kinds of music, good music and the other kind. Classical writers may venture into classical territory, but the only yardstick by which the result should be judged is simply that of how it sounds. If it sounds good it’s successful; if it doesn’t it has failed. As long as the writing and playing is honest, whether it’s done according to Hoyle or not, if a musician has an idea, let him write it down.

And let’s not worry about whether the result is jazz or this or that type of performance. Let’s just say that what we’re all trying to create, in one way or another, is music.

’t Is gewoon jazz, godverdomme!