Jazz music, news and views

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

First Anniversary

A year ago yesterday, I began this blog as a rather whimsical hobby. A blog can't change the world, but it has at least become more meaningful to me as a simple creative outlet. Thanks for reading my ramblings, listening to the tunes, buying the albums and sticking with me in general.

Though an explanation isn't essential, I realize I never disclosed why I chose the name for this blog. "Song With Orange" is actually a gorgeous but lesser known Charles Mingus composition. It was originally penned for a 1958 CBS dramatic production called A Song With Orange In It, written by S. Lee Pogostin (it was part of a TV series and does not show up on Pogostin's IMDb profile). The original performance can be found on Mingus Dynasty from 1959 (the reissue includes solos edited out of the first release). There is an expansion of the same theme, on the album Mingus Plays Piano, by the title "Orange Was the Color of Her Dress, Then Silk Blue," and the album Changes Two features a very different extended performance of that expansion. In liner notes to Mingus Plays Piano, Nat Hentoff explains the theme's context:
The emotions in the music come from Mingus' brooding about the two main characters in the play -- a musician and a hollow society girl who almost destroys him. At one point in the play, she asked the musician to write her a song with orange in it (trying to find a rhyme for orange). "That's how deeply she felt about the music," says Mingus scornfully. "It's like asking someone to write a song for your new gloves or a new hairdo."
At this point, I should acknowledge the irony of naming this blog after a composition by Mingus: he is famous for disliking all but a few jazz writers. He saw much of jazz criticism as a cheap way for wannabes to play at intellectualism while misinterpreting musicians' styles, devices and intentions. In spite of this irony, however, I use the name of the tune because its origins reveal something important to me: it accompanies a story that expressed, as Mingus himself points out, the confusion between art and posturing and the need to tell the difference between them. What makes jazz deep, beautiful and significant is complicated and this intimidating concept can prevent timid listeners from becoming more passionate or knowledgeable, as "jazzers" tend to be. The role of the jazz critic is often described as acting as a liaison between the two, an interpreter that lets someone else in on the "secrets" of this music while lending his discriminating ears.

Over the past year, in my own small way, I've been trying to share my own thoughts about music I love, hoping that others enjoy it and learn something, too. Thanks for your open ears.


  • At 12/25/2006 1:01 PM, Blogger LEEBEY said…

    I've always dug that Mingus song. Have always wanted to see the CBS special for which it was written.


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