four more months

Frankie, a student in a graduate program, once upset the classroom when Roslyn, another student, insinuated the author of a paper they were reading is probably a racist. Frankie said they didn’t find the author’s work racist nor do we have any proof of that. Roslyn pushed back and repeated the author probably is a racist since racists often write in the same way. Frankie pushed back too, there was nothing actually racist being said, this was just conjecture. Two weeks later, the teacher Selma, met privately with Frankie and scolded him for times he raises his voice, adding she gets upset when people raise their voices. Roslyn, the other student, told Frankie later when he gets emotional, like this instance where Roslyn called an author racist, it stops their brain from working because they feel so hurt hearing Frankie’s voice become excited. Both Roslyn and Selma wanted Frankie to understand the whole point of this wasn’t to inspect any ideas surrounding calling someone racist, but to have Frankie control the tone of his voice. Frankie asked them what they thought of the letter Robert Crumb sent his fan Mats Gustafsson, an improvisational musician who shared some of his recordings with Crumb. After reading it they both agreed it was a mean horrible thing R. Crumb did. Frankie counted on his fingers how many more months until this class was finished.

I finally gave a listen to those LPs and the CD you sent me, of your own saxophone playing and some Swedish modern jazz. I gotta tell you, on the cover of the CD of your sax playing, which is black and has no text on it, I wrote in large block letters, in silver ink, “Torturing The saxophone—Mats Gustafsson.” I just totally fail to find anything enjoyable about this, or to see what this has to do with music as I understand it, or what in God´s name is going on in your head that you want to make such noises on a musical instrument. Quite frankly, I was kind of shocked at what a negative, unpleasant experience it was, listening to it. I had to take it off long before it reached the end. I just don´t get it. I don’t understand what it is about.
You actually go on TOUR with that stuff. WOW. People actually… sit… and… LISTEN… to that. I mean, they voluntarily go to the place, maybe even PAY… PAY to hear that stuff. And then they sit there, quietly, politely… and LISTEN. Unbelievable. I should go myself sometime and see this. Witness it with my own eyes.
I don´t say these things with the intention to insult you. You seem to be a perfectly nice, civilized guy with a good sense of humor. I am speaking the plain truth of my reaction to the records and CD you sent. That this noise could give anyone any aesthetic pleasure is beyond my comprehension, truly. Is this the logical end of improvisational music? Is this where it ends up? Where does it go from this point? Is there any audience for this “free jazz” besides other guys who play it and maybe their wives who must patiently endure it?
I just don´t get it. Am I too un-hip? Am I a square from Delaware? A thick from Battle Crick? A shmuck from Keokuck?
—R. Crumb

1 Comment

  1. Mr Crumb sounds like someone we know, talking about rap music. -Kate


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *