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world pop or jazz?

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 9:13 am
by Charlie
letter in today's G2 supplement from Andy Wood of ! Como No !, promoter of La Linea Festival and occasional contributor to this forum:

How come your world music reviews are now with jazz and folk at the back? Most of your world music albums are just someone else's pop music with all the power, passion and immediacy of the best of our own. Will the world music reviews only make it back into the pop section when the last ethnomusicologist has been strangled with the guts of the last Radio 3 music producer? If so, then hold my coat.

Andy Wood, London

Re: world pop or jazz?

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:46 am
by Ian A.
Charlie wrote:Will the world music reviews only make it back into the pop section when the last ethnomusicologist has been strangled with the guts of the last Radio 3 music producer?


When people on the world music scene remember that we're a community where everybody has a part to play, and stop blaming other parts of the community who are all beavering away as best they can with what they've got, there's far more chance that we'll all achieve lift-off. The internecine squabbles that regularly surface on this board and ours remind me mainly of early '80s Labour. And look where that left them and us for another 15 years. Just because a lot of the Latin music Andy promotes doesn't particularly inspire me doesn't stop me appreciating that he's doing a good job for the scene in general, where in the end everybody benefits. Unity is power!

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:59 am
by howard male
Andy Wood wrote -

Most of your world music albums are just someone else's pop music with all the power, passion and immediacy of the best of our own.


Well said that man!

And now that Shaheera has been booted off as Verity stand-in on Late Junction, there will be even fewer pop orientated world acts given exposure on National radio.

And it's a point well made that most world music (at least the stuff given a decent push in the UK) is so much nearer to contemporary pop than the self-indulgent meanderings of much modern jazz, or the introspective traditionalism of much contemporary folk.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:20 am
by Ian A.
howard male wrote:most world music (at least the stuff given a decent push in the UK) is so much nearer to contemporary pop than the self-indulgent meanderings of much modern jazz, or the introspective traditionalism of much contemporary folk.

What you actually mean, Howard, is not "most world music" but "the stuff I like." Give those who have different tastes to you a break, remember that we're mostly on the same side, and read my posting above. Why not use your energy and volumes of bile to fight the real enemy - the mainstream music & media biz - rather than squabbling within our community?

When I dreamed up the Awards For World Music 5 years ago and sold the idea to the BBC (not that you'd know this from a certain magazine's "history" just published), it was something designed for the community to work together on for the common good. The unfortunate thing - which I didn't anticipate - is that by propelling the scene up another level it has possibly brought in elements that could cause its own destruction.

If our community really is breaking down now that it has become bigger and stronger, I think it's a big shame. There are certainly people who have moved into it in the past decade who exhibit all the worst tendencies of the mainstream music business, something I've always tried to stay outside of. But if that's how it's going to be, dog eat dog, then I guess we'll all have to adapt to survive - which we can do, but it will no longer be the attractive community to work in that it has been for the past quarter century.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:52 am
by howard male
Ian wrote -

What you actually mean, Howard, is not "most world music" but "the stuff I like."


What I actually mean, Ian, is what I wrote.

I would content that almost all of the world music albums released in the last year or so (a year only chosen because it's the first time I've been fully immersed in the stuff) which has been given any kind of record company push, has been of a commercial variety. And no, not by any means all 'stuff I like', far from it.


Examples? Well how about Amadou & Mariam, Amparanoia, Ojos de Brujo, The Symmetric Orchestra, Salif Keita, Nitin Sawney, Susheela Raman, Rachid Taha, Souad Massi - should I go on? All nicely packaged, highly polished, western-tinged, rousing chorused, poppy world music.

No squabble intended, just pointing something out.

Long-time-no-spat, Ian! I hope you are well.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 12:42 pm
by Adam Blake
As someone who likes folk music and jazz, and thinks a lot of "World Music" is boring, can I just weigh in and say how much I agree with Ian's sentiments that we should remember who the real enemies are here. It can be fun winding each other up and getting involved in typical trainspotter "what I like is better than what you like" pub arguments, but real music lovers should not lose sight of the common goal which, as I see it, is to promote quality over commerce and celebrate the magic moments in music that we are all, in our different ways, continually sifting for.

It ultimately doesn't matter whether or not I think that some bunch of worthies from somewhere in Latin America are dull and samey, the point is that I am being presented with the opportunity to listen to them if I want to and there will, no doubt, be another act from somewhere else that I really appreciate and enjoy.

The world's music is a supermarket for affluent Westerners like me to browse around in at leisure. I like this. It's a benchmark of civilization to me. The fact that the really tough stuff (which I like) will undoubtedly be diluted by such homogenization is an unfortunate by-product which ethnomusicologists have been debating since the days of Alan Lomax. Still, all in all, I'd rather have the opportunity to be bored by some "World Music" act than have to put up with music which only exists in order to make rich businessmen richer.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 12:55 pm
by Con Murphy
Andy Wood in a letter to the Guardian wrote:Will the world music reviews only make it back into the pop section when the last ethnomusicologist has been strangled with the guts of the last Radio 3 music producer? If so, then hold my coat.


Ian A. wrote:Awards For World Music


This’ll be my first one tonight, and I’m really looking forward to it; and I’m so pleased that there are Radio 3 Music producers still around with the guts to broadcast the event to the wider world.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 1:07 pm
by howard male
Adam wrote -

can I just weigh in and say how much I agree with Ian's sentiments that we should remember who the real enemies are here.


They may well be his sentiments, Adam, it's just a pity he doesn't practice what he preaches. As it is, here he is again, delighting in pointing out what he perceives as my volumes of bile rather than thinking for a moment that I might just be expressing a carefully and calmly considered opinion. Obviously that opinion cannot help but reflect a certain bias, but I do make a conscious effort to be as objective as possible.

But, yes, obviously - three cheers for Ian and Radio 3 - I too am looking forward to my 'first one' tonight!

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 1:31 pm
by Adam Blake
Yes, I did think that "volumes of bile" thing was a little unnecessary - especially given the context!

But let's all play nicely together, and have a great time this evening.
Thanks for the invite, once again, sorry I couldn't make it.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 3:10 pm
by Ian A.
Adam Blake wrote:Yes, I did think that "volumes of bile" thing was a little unnecessary - especially given the context!.


Yeah, you're probably right. Apologies. I'm being more than usually grumpy today, and probably reacting to the Howard of old rather than the new housetrained model.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 3:34 pm
by howard male
Apology accepted Ian.

Though it's a shame there won't now be any fist fight in the lobby of the Academy tonight - it might have generated some much needed mainstream publicity.

Though having said that, I do resent the statement that I am now housetrained! I think it's just that all the arguments have now been argued and we're all just getting on as best we can - like all those stray cats living together on that houseboat in Amsterdam, skulking warily around each other and then all gathering around the trough of world music at feeding times.

Forgive the obscure and longwinded metaphor - sometimes I just can't help myself.

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 3:53 pm
by Adam Blake
Having seen the cats in question, I think it's a very good metaphor!

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 4:15 pm
by howard male
Did you see them back in the days when they all ate from two or three huge plates of unplucked fluffy yellow baby chicks? We didn't know whether to laugh, cry, or throw up, the first time we saw that peculiar juxtaposition of cuteness and deadness. These days it's just ordinary cat food and the cats themselves are kept in individual cages most of the time - now where's the fun in that!

PostPosted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 9:47 pm
by Guest
howard male wrote:But, yes, obviously - three cheers for Ian and Radio 3 - I too am looking forward to my 'first one' tonight!

So... is there something going on somewhere tonight?

PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 7:34 pm
by Guest
Apparently there was. Something to do with the BBC. Name me 5 nominees...

Personally I was unfortunately too busy to use my invite as I was picking up Baba Zula from the airport and getting them also in for a BBC World Service interview prior to their gig the next day in Carling Academy with Mad Professor. Oh, Baba Zula are a kind of psychedelic-ethnic-rock band from Istanbul. Not everyone's cup of tea (but folkies may like the saz and rockers the moustaches, not too much for a pop audience admittedly, but they do come with a belly dancer). It was a good collaboration. BZ and MP played in each other's sets. They've performed together before around Europe so not an artificial pairing.

Anyhow, my point is (what was my point?) there is loads of music going on outside the bigger strunctures you're discussing round and round. But anyone out there who is a promoter will understand something that most punters/reviewers/presenters etc can never - namely how HARD it is to sell tickets to ANY of this stuff, known or unknown, not to mention the sheer amount of work to produce the thing. Ads in BOTH magazines. Fat lot of good. Over 25,000 flyers - waste of paper. But the bottom line is still there - and either there is some kind of funding (from Turkish record labels? you're kidding) or you have to sell tickets. Any ideas?

Seb