Sunday, September 21, 2014

Two Critical Articles Against Jazz from 1921

Here are two critical rants against the "new" music of jazz in a publication called School Music from 1921.
       Larned, Kans., Dec. 18, 1920.
Dear Mr. Hayden: A few thoughts suggested by the "Popular Songs" article in November-December School Music:
Supervisors are paid from public funds, presumably as educators. Shall we assume the role of entertainers, at the state's expense?
If pupils "already know" the questionable, indulgence as "light diversion" is unnecessary. Cheap resorts, and "canned" villainy everywhere, will amply supply demands.
If you personally cater to this demand, keep still about it. Do not lend influence through speech and writing to debasement of public taste. The fight against the rag-jazz abomination will be hard enough at best.
Distinguish between the merely light and trivial, and the vulgar and vicious.
A terpsichorean academy in a western city bars jazz. The owner believes that vulgar music means vulgar dancing, and considers jazz music vulgar.
A citizen, protesting through a city daily against jazz in school orchestras, thinks the way to eradicate a bad thing is to "put a good and interesting thing in its place."
   With our wealth of available good music, vocal and instrumental, there is no justification for flirting with the frivolous and vulgar at public expense, just because a noisily demonstrative element seems to approve.
Yours truly,
Le's all resolve t' do all in our power t' discourage jazz music. There's a somethin' about saxophones an' trap drummin that lures us on t' recklessness an' license. Somehow we don't seem t' care what becomes of us while a jazz orchestra is rattlin' an' gruntin' an' shriekin.' We fergit home an' mother, unless mother happens t' be in th' crowd. We feel tough an' bold. We dance with people we never heard of before an' we lounge about the sorceress o' th' Nile. Jazz records are in every home. The modern parlor smells like a star's dressin' room—cigarette smoke, cosmetics, dandelion wine an steam heat—a combination o' fumes unknown in private life before the introduction o' jazz. Once we stop jazz, much o' th' demoralization now so common '11 die out.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Jazz Performance Saturday - Trad Jazz in New Orleans!

The Saturday Jazz Performance feature has returned! Today we look at a New Orleans performance of a group of made up by some of the members of Magic Shook Heads from Montpellier, Languedoc-Roussillon, France and Ewan Bleach! Bleach is the clarinetist.

The film was posted on April 6, 2012. I don't know which tune this six membered group is playing, but I like it!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Carla Maria Rotolo (1941-2014)

Carla Rotolo
Carla Rotolo, George A. Borgman's wife Janet's first cousin, died on August 25, 2014 in Sardinia, Italy at the age of 73. Although Carla and George were from very different backgrounds they shared a love of music and got along well. George wrote this about Carla, "she is an expert gourmet cook.  I like her, always have."

In the 1960s Carla was Alan Lomax's assistant. Lomax was the famous folk archivist who interviewed and recorded the legendary jazz musician Jelly Roll Morton for the Library of Congress in the 1940s. These recordings are still being released on CDs today and contain such a wealth of information on music and the creation of jazz that they are a must hear for anyone seriously into Traditional Jazz. 

Alan Lomax

Carla helped Lomax record traditional folk singers and also helped log the recordings. One late night as she was logging some music on the original reel to reel tape, the tape jammed and ripped right in the middle of a tune. In a panic Carla unraveled the mess as best she could flattened out the wrinkled tape and taped the two crooked ends back together. She rewound the repaired tape rethreaded the machine and pressed "play." The music started up, and as she listened intently to hear what the damaged section was going to sound like, she couldn't hear anything but the music! Miraculously the repaired portion left no discernable problems on the audio.

She can be seen in the Lomax documentary filmed in 1961 entitled Ballads, Blues and Bluegrass which was recently released.

Carla can be seen smiling in close-up.
Carla also was an early supporter of Bob Dylan talking him up to important people she knew connected with music. She opened her vast collection of folk recordings to him and he would spend hours listening to records in her apartment during the day. 

Carla had introduced her sister Susan to Dylan and they began dating. Carla would sing back-up with Dave Van Ronk and Bob Dylan in those early days before she became disenchanted with Dylan especially in how he treated her sister.

Suze is much credited with influencing Dylan and his early music. But no mention is made on Carla's influence on her younger sister. Carla was politically active and working for civil rights, she was an artist, did theater set designing, was a writer and had an affinity for Bertolt Brecht. Almost all of these things her younger sister was also in to. Suze even used the same type of pen as Carla and her handwriting was very similar. In fact, though Suze did wear long boots also, it was Carla who had the, "Boots of Spanish Leather," which were made in Madrid, that Dylan wrote a song about.

When the affair was coming to an end between her sister and Dylan, a big fight erupted between them at Carla's apartment. Carla came to her sister's aid and clashed with Dylan who refused to leave and who shoved Carla around. Dylan was finally ejected but he immortalized that night and viciously vilified Carla in the song Ballad in Plain D.
Far from the "parasite" that Bob Dylan labeled Carla, she always had a job doing something different or important. In the 70s she worked for the controversial Grove Press run by Barney Rosset and later worked for former baseball player Joe Garagiola, as his personal assistant during his years at NBC. Afterwards she'd work as a proofreader and copyeditor at various publications.

In 1987, Carla moved to Sardinia to look after her aged mother and step-father. She made two extensive trips back to the States in 1998 and 2005 staying with the Borgmans and visiting friends.

In 2005 when Carla visited the Borgmans staying with them for six months George always happily invited Carla out to the Sherborn Inn every Tuesday to hear the jazz bands that played there. She went every week, but one. Carla enjoyed listening to the music and conversing with the musicians during the break and reminiscing about her days in Greenwich Village.

Suze shut out Carla from her life as well as other family members. When she died in 2011 neither Suze's husband or son bothered to let Carla know. Carla, who was always the kindhearted one and was very caring commented that if she had known Suze were ill, "had I KNOWN I would have called - I don't hold grudges I just stay away. Far away so that when potshots are being fired I can dodge 'em. It's also called hiding out. I really prefer peace in the valley."

Living anonymously in Sardinia did help keep the worst of the Dylanites from bothering her. Dylan's character assassination followed her to the grave.

Just a month before she died she was portrayed by actress Jaime Babbitt from July 17 - August 9, 2014 in the Larry Mollin play Search: Paul Clayton - A true tale of Love, Folk Music and Betrayal at the Martha's Vineyard Playhouse in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts. Mollin's character description for Carla Rotolo was the stupidly, "cynical New Yorker."

Carla still loved her music and jazz, commenting several times recently, about Vince Giordano's Nighthawks Orchestra. She also remained politically active and took part in several conservationist rallies and other efforts to bring awareness to the plight of animals and the natural environment. She was staunchly against genetically modified foods and spoke passionately about the values of organically grown vegetables. Carla was a supporter of the World Wildlife Fund and Doctors Without Borders as well as many other causes.

She died after a bad kitchen fall in her condo in Santa Teresa di Gallura on August 25th. She is survived by many first cousins and by her beloved cat Vivaldi who had been her constant companion for over 15 years.

She was interred in a crypt at the Buon Cammino Cemetery on September 3rd on the outskirts of Santa Teresa di Gallura. George's son Eric was the only family to attend, he also rescued her cat, bringing him back to America where George's widow Janet, is caring for him.
Carla Rotolo Wikipedia Entry

If you were a friend or acquaintance of Carla please contact me as I am still researching her life.