We have reached the end of an era.
In a chilly, crowded rehearsal hall on December 3, John Spencer Camp Professor of Music Anthony Braxton ended his last class of the semester, as he has for many years, discussing Ornette Coleman and the politics of being alive. But this was his last class session for undergraduates here at Wes–and after over 40 years of teaching, he’s ready to go. He was near tears as he described how lucky he has been to have worked so closely with so many great masters, and to have had the chance to work with college-age students for so long; his outlook on our generation is refreshing, given all the crap we’ve been getting lately. He expressed amazement at the ability of each generation to “do the work that needs to be done,” and said unequivocally that there is nothing this generation can’t do, if we set out to do it.
The recently named National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master is looking forward to an active retirement full of new works, remastering old works, and contrabass martinis. His presence has been a great gift to Wesleyan, and we wish him nothing but the best.
For some choice Braxton quotes from this semester’s MUSC276 (Music of Mingus, Coltrane, & Coleman), follow the jump.
“NO TENTACLES! I WANT REAL MONSTERS!”
“It’s noise. It’s art. It just depends on how we’re feeling when we take it in.”
Mary Lou Williams, Leveda Snow, and other female jazz masters–“the great masters who happen to not be in the boys’ club.”
“Yes, there is such a thing as the Jazz Industrial Complex.”
“If there’s anything that can unite this country, it’s creativity.”
“Is jazz a rhythm, or is it a vibration?”
4 BRAXIOMS for Musicians and Performers:
1. “Royalties are a joke.”
2. “BMI is a joke.”
3. “Government support is a joke.”
4. “Jazz polls are a joke.”
(In the end, his message is clear: go forward in your own style, stay true to your vision, flourish outside the system, and f*ck the h8rs.)