The preceding item about using good music as punishment has an unintended connection to a piece in one of Gene Lees’ latest JazzLetters. With Gene’s permission, here it is.
Kenny Drew’s angst over the state of popular music put me in mind of a news story that came out about a year ago.
The Associated Press carried a report on a U.S. military prison near Kabul in Afghanistan that specialized in torturing prisoners. The Human Rights Watch group, based in New York City, after interviews with so-called “detainees” (if you don’t call them “prisoners” you can do anything you want to them), describes how prisoners were chained to walls or hung upside down or kept in total darkness for days and subjected interminably to loud music. And what kind of music was it? “Loud rap, heavy metal music, or other sounds blared for weeks at a time.”
A prisoner born in Ethiopia and raised in England said that he was exposed to Eminem and Dr. Dre for seeming endless hours
What? No Mozart? No Bach? No Debussy or Duke Ellington or Charlie Parker or Bill Evans or Miles Davis or Frank Sinatra?
The prisoner said he could her people knocking their heads on the walls and screaming.
You won’t find Gene Lees Ad Libitum & JazzLetter on the internet. It is published the old fashioned way, with ink and paper. The legend at the end of the September, 2005 issue reads:
The JazzLetter is published 12 times a year at PO Box 240, Ojai, California 93024-1240. $70 per year U.S. and Canada, $80 for other countries. Subscribers may buy introductory gift subscriptions for friends for $35.
Oh, about the September 2005 issue coming out in August, 2006. The JazzLetter shows up in batches, sometimes four or five issues at once. Whatever the dates on the issues you receive, what is in them will be timely and timeless. It is an unusual publishing practice, but the JazzLetter is an unusual publication, forthright, beautifully written and ranging through subjects of interest to intelligent, aware readers, whether or not the topics relate directly to jazz. I have every copy since it started, March 15, 1982. If seventy dollars a year sounds high, I maintain that the Scott LaFaro and Herb Geller issues Lees just sent out are worth that much and more.