Jacques Derrida/Ornette Coleman

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JD: What do you think of the relationship between the precise event that constitutes the concert and pre-written music or improvised music? Do you think that prewritten music prevents the event from taking place?

OC: No. I don’t know if it’s true for language, but in jazz you can take a very old piece and do another version of it. What’s exciting is the memory that you bring to the present. What you’re talking about, the form that metamorphoses into other forms, I think it’s something healthy, but very rare.

JD: Perhaps you will agree with me on the fact that the very concept of improvisation verges upon reading, since what we often understand by improvisation is the creation of something new, yet something which doesn’t exclude the pre-written framework that makes it possible.

OC: That’s true.

It’s because of Borges. He’s hiding somewhere (probably in a mirror) cackling maniacally, knowing damn well that somewhere Jacques Derrida is always interviewing Ornette Coleman. So it goes. Jacques Derrida interviews Ornette Coleman

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Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me?

During the last set he became doubly alive because the saxophone player, who had been way out all night, took off on a terrific solo. He was a kid of about the same age as Rufus, from some insane place like Jersey City or Syracuse, but somewhere along the line he had discovered he could say it with a saxophone. He had a lot to say. He stood there, wide-legged, humping the air, filling his barrel chest, shivering in the rags of his twenty-odd years, and screaming through the horn. Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? And, again, Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? This, anyway, was the question Rufus heard, the same phrase, unbearably, endlessly, and variously repeated, with all of the force the boy had. The silence of the listeners became strict with abruptly focused attention, cigarettes were unlit, and drinks stayed on tables; and in all of the faces, even the most ruined and most dull, a curious, wary light appeared. They were being assaulted by the saxophonist who perhaps no longer wanted their love and merely hurled his outrage at them with the same contemptuous, pagan pride with which he humped the air. And yet the question was terrible and real; the boy was blowing with his lungs and guts out of his own short past; somewhere in that past, in the gutters or gang fights or gang shags; in the acrid room, on the sperm-stiffened blanket, behind marijuana or the needle, under the smell of piss in the precinct basement, he had received the blow from which he would never recover and this no one wanted to believe. Do you love me? Do you love me? Do you love me? The men on the stand stayed with him, cool and at a little distance, adding and questioning and corroborating, holding it down as well as they could with an ironical self-mockery; but each man knew that the boy was blowing for every one of them.

James Baldwin, Another Country

Truth is always funnier. Truth is always more telling.

Duke Ellington’s feature film debut was in a 1929 film that starred “Amos and Andy,” Charles Correll and Freeman Gosden, two popular white comedians who played black characters on radio and wore blackface in order to play them on screen…In fact, two members of the Ellington band, Juan Tizol and Barney Bigard, had to wear blackface in the film because their skin was so light. It was unacceptable that they should appear in a black band in a film that starred two white men wearing blackface.  You can’t make up things like that, and you don’t have to. Truth is always better. Truth is always funnier. Truth is always more telling.

 

Ethan Iverson interviews Duke biographer Terry Teachout