Dan Lehner 
Member since Jun 23, 2014


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Re: “Jazz Fest 2014, Day 2: Ron reviews Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet, Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio, and the John Escreet/Tyshawn Sorey Duo

Hi Jake,

I didn't attend the concert - I do not live in the Rochester area (I found this review from Tyshawn Sorey's Facebook page, where he is taking it in jovial stride). I know that, on the surface, this may seem like it disqualifies from making a comment, but allow me to elaborate.

I am fairly acquainted with both Mr. Sorey's and Mr. Escreet's music. The two of them have a sonic rapport through their respective working groups, of which each musician is a member of the other's ensemble. Though I have never heard these two play duo together, I *have* heard Sorey play duo with pianists before, most notably with Matt Mitchell - piano/drums is a format that Sorey happens to favor.

Being familiar with how these gentleman play music, it is statistically impossible for them to have, in Mr. Netsky's words, not "approach playing anything [he] would call music". It would be like going to a Chuck Close exhibition and saying there was nothing you would call a painting. These two are excellent musicians - though I'm sure what they did was not to the author's liking, it is still music.

Calling free improvisation, or any music that frees structural boundaries or places emphasis on sound textures, "not music" is intellectually lazy. It is also, unfortunately, not an unfamiliar screed against it. That doesn't make it any better. Mr. Netsky makes his prejudice very front and center.

Reviewing a jazz festival is extremely difficult (I would know, I've done it several times), because you have to be ready for a huge tapestry of different sounds and approaches. If the Escreet/Sorey duo was outside of Mr. Netsky's wheelhouse of being able to describe, he should have left it alone. These performances typically involve a high degree of communication, sonic exploration and controlled dissonance, but not so much in the area of melody, harmony or song structure. I am absolutely sure that's what happened this time around. There is no way that telling a reader that Escreet "banged at the piano" and Sorey "banged at the drums" (how else do you play drums??) encapsulated any nuance of their duo. There is no way calling something "meaningless noise" is a good gesture of journalism.

That's my two cents.

3 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Dan Lehner on 06/23/2014 at 3:56 PM

Re: “Jazz Fest 2014, Day 2: Ron reviews Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet, Sunna Gunnlaugs Trio, and the John Escreet/Tyshawn Sorey Duo

It's fairly telling that you begin this article talking about Marsalis's bands' clothes - it sets up the impression that you don't particularly know how to write about music, a hypothesis you corroborate when you "reviewed" Escreet/Sorey.

I put "review" in quotes because what you did was actually no such thing. It was a dismissal and not even an in-depth one at that. Here's a tip, man: if you're going to review a jazz festival, get ready for some free improvisation and when it happens, know how to write about it.

I've seen enough reviews of these kinds of musics to know when a writer reacts on reactionary impulses rather than their ears. Your tell was when you called it "not music", which is wrong as it is boring at this point.

1 like, 2 dislikes
Posted by Dan Lehner on 06/23/2014 at 2:44 PM

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