MOODYMANN / “Rectify”
“The common element of most house music is a 4/4 beat generated by a drum machine, together with a solid (usually also electronically generated) bassline. Upon this foundation are added electronically generated sounds and samples of music such as jazz and blues.” —From www.wikipedia.orgMoodymann AKA Kenny Dixon Jr. is a house musician out of Detroit, so why does his new 4-track EP sound like Andre 3000 (the singer, not the MC) sitting in with Miles Davis’ rhythm section circa 1969? Part of the answer is provided by the eloquent, if terse, response of Moodymann compatriot Theo Parrish when the BBC asked Parrish questions such as: ‘Why do you think house is often regarded as having less ‘meaning’ than jazz, for example? Do you agree?” and “Do you see your music as conceptual?” To paraphrase (since Parrish insisted that his response not be edited), Parrish’s statement says: 1) Musical genres are meaningless 2) Musicians should play what they feel 3) Listeners should listen to what they like 4) Dancers should dance to what they like, and 5) Music journalists should find other lines of work Since Dixon doesn’t do interviews, we can’t know how much of Parrish’s sentiment Dixon agrees with. A quick listen to “Rectify” will tell you, however, that Dixon definitely agrees with the ‘musical genres are meaningless’ part. “Rectify” begins with an extended drum roll (courtesy of a drummer, not a machine) and is consistently interrupted by piano, saxophone and bass solos, all of which are being played by what sounds like skilled jazz musicians. The thing I like most about “Rectify” is its rhythmic complexity. The prototypical house rhythm is there, but its ‘ghost in the machine’ there. Sometimes audible, sometimes not. Sometimes upfront, sometimes buried in the mix. Throughout though, there’s something about the off-kilter way the band plays and the way the singer keeps pausing that insinuates a house groove. I never was a fan off hearing that ‘thump-thump-thump-thump,’ but if a quartet of instrumentalists can make me think it, more power to them.
If the music formerly known as “house” has less or more meaning than any other music conveniently categorized into a one-word catchphrase, it is because of weak, uninformed, uninspired, lazy music journalism. Perhaps, if you actually commented on something I have said, as opposed to offering a blanket statement for me or any other artist to co-sign on to, this unbalanced view of any music in any form might change. Any practitioner of music that passionately expresses themselves finds meaning in what they do. These expressions came from inside me and through my faculties, out into the world, and my mind has a significant role in that process. So yes, it is conceptual. Yes, concepts from the mind of a “black” man. But my race is not a choice, so I find it disrespectful to label anyone “political” or “militant”, or any one-word catchphrase, simply because they happen to be “black”. Most of the world has a tendency to lump “black” in with those adjectives you mentioned, the second a person of colour decides to publicly or privately speak their mind on any given subject. Furthermore, we are not one monolithic group of people. Just because a “black” man that I know has a point of view doesn't mean I share it, or the opposing view either. There are so many types of “black” people that the term “black” doesn't even apply. My skin colour is a dark, reddish brown so understand the ignorance you are putting on display to the folks of African descent by the manner of your questions. Anyone you regard as “black” is of African descent. All music is “black” music, all of it - anything you have ever heard - has African roots. Any musician from any culture knows this, whether they admit it or not. Millions of artistic waves have reverberated across the world and back in call and response. The attempt to capture, imitate, package and sell them at any given moment is the foolish attempt of those who should just watch and enjoy, to do what they simply cannot. That cheapens the efforts of those dedicating their lives to catching a reverberating frequency and expanding on it. These artists are plentiful and cross time, gender and geographical location. They can be described as anything that sounds subjectively essential and you can find their recordings at your local record store. Not online. PS. Do not print or display this interview if it is to be edited in any way, shape or fashion. AGAIN - DO NOT EDIT! Theo Parrish, Sound SignatureWishing Moodymann the best
"I don't make music for the masses to dance to, i make music for the small majority that listens." —Kenny Dixon Jr http://www.orangesoul.com/kdjlabelprofile.htmI can dig it. Though I am not moved enough by the selection to go out and buy the release, I am moved by what the brother is doing, both in terms of his conceptions and intentions, and also in terms of what he is actually putting on the disc. Coming up out of Motown he’s got a jazz jones on his back and a stiff Motown wind of commercialism cutting at him from round the corner, plus down the street you can hear techno with a vengeance, not to mention the menace of Detroit rap. What’s a musician supposed to do? If you don’t join the crowd, you are guaranteed a life of deprivation and stress, trying to make ends at the same time you’re trying to make music. It’s a classic struggle. I’m too much of a jazz head to dig this as jazz, and at the same time I’m realistic enough to realize that most pop audiences would immediately classify this as their parents’ music (and that’s assuming they had hip parents!). Here’s wishing him the best as he continues down his chosen path. —Kalamu ya Salaam
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