Teddy and Tommy: The Masks of Doctor Faustus
The one-sided love story of Theodor Adorno and Thomas Mann and its comedy of errors, as the philosopher wooed, counselled and was misused or rebuffed by the novelist. What was Adorno’s exact role in the genesis of Doctor Faustus, while the two shared an Angeleno exile? Why did they never meet again after the war? Who was the real original of Adrian Leverkühn?
Play It Again, or, Old-Time Cuban Music on the Screen
“A friend of mine, a Cuban film director, writes to me about visiting the Salzburg Festival. After enjoying operas by Berlioz and Mozart, he says, the big surprise was the Festival’s closing event, a concert by the Cuban old-timers La Vieja Trova Santiaguera, chosen by the Festival’s special . . .” read more
Fela Anikulapo Kuti: A Honest Man
“Through an accident—performing a service for a friend of his in London—I was invited to stay in Fela’s house the first time I visited Africa. In 1973 the naira was high, Lagos hotels were expensive as well as bad, and I was not rich, so I accepted. For . . .” read more
A Quartet for Our Times
“In 1992, music suffered the loss of three of the most outstanding composers of our century, the Frenchman Olivier Messiaen, the American John Cage, and the Argentinian Astor Piazzolla. In these three figures, who all lived long and richly productive lives, can be found important clues about the . . .” read more
Second Thoughts on a Rock Aesthetic: The Band
“In replying to Richard Merton’s comment on my first article, in nlr 59 I take the opportunity to clarify and correct some of my own positions, and also to attack, some basic errors in Merton’s conception of the aesthetic status of rock music and its relationship to . . .” read more
Comment on Chester’s 'For a Rock Aesthetic'
“The impulse behind Andrew Chester’s attack on the notion of pop music is correct. ‘The pop critic’s attitude towards the music is generally patronizing in the extreme,’ Indeed. After contumely or scandal, patronage is the entrenched mode of bourgeois consumption of plebeian art. The question arises, however, if . . .” read more
For a Rock Aesthetic
“For three years rock music has been considered, both within and outside its socio-cultural base, as a subject for serious critical attention; yet the standard of writing on rock remains poor and the major breakthrough necessary to found a genuine rock aesthetic is still to be accomplished.” read more
“In this series of articles on pop, I have so far discussed the basic lines for the analysis of contemporary pop music (nlr 39), and one pop group—the Rolling Stones (nlr 47). However, this procedure, passing from the theoretical preconditions for a study in depth to . . .” read more
“Both accounts of the music of the Rolling Stones offered in nlr 47 seem to evade the question of how good the songs are as music, by evaluating them according to external, non-musical values. Both adopt different kinds of moralistic approach towards them. Beckett’s a psychological one, . . .” read more
Comment on Beckett’s 'Stones'
“Alan Beckett’s assessment of the Stones must be unequivocally welcomed. It represents the first serious critical account of the group to be written. The current maudlin patronage of pop music by Sunday newspapers and literary weeklies makes it all the more important to establish a genuine canon and . . .” read more
“The group takes its name from Muddy Waters’ Rolling Stone Blues (nlp28040). Their initial direction is taken from a broad spectrum of American Negro popular music, including both rhythm-and-blues, from Muddy Waters and Howling Wolf to Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley and Rufus Thomas, and soul music from . . .” read more
“Largely because of the success of The Fugs (Ed Sanders’ and Tuli Kupferberg’s beat group, to be discussed in my forthcoming essay on popular music), the e.s.p. label continues to exist, and has grown in size and substance. The faults we noted previously are still sometimes apparent—there . . .” read more
Bob James Trio
“Jazz has never been completely cut off from the European musical tradition as some people imagine; we can immediately recall that some New Orleans musicians also played in the City Opera. Initially, most contacts were attempts to use ‘classical’ techniques, but as the general level of technical sophistication . . .” read more
The New Wave in Jazz: 'The October Revolution'
“‘It is our belief that jazz musical forms must be extended to meet an entirely new set of artistic, social, cultural and economic circumstances. It might seem strange to some to see the word ‘jazz’ mentioned in context with such cold hard realities as society and economics, yet . . .” read more
“Luigi Nono, who was born in 1926, is a musician and a marxist who believes the composer must relate his music to the condition and problems of the contemporary world. He sees music as part of a wider context and as a means of defining and communicating consciousness. . . .” read more
The New Wave in Jazz: The Older Avant-Garde
“‘I listened to him all kinds of ways. I listened to him high and I listened to him cold sober. I even played with him. I think he’s jiving, baby. He’s putting everybody on. They start with a nice lead-off figure, but then they go off into outer . . .” read more
The New Wave in Jazz: Ornette Coleman
“The ‘new wave’ is now at least six years old and the time has come to take stock. In the four articles of which this is the first, we shall attempt to do this, giving the bulk of our attention to solo and collective improvisation. There are two . . .” read more
John Lee Hooker
“Modern blues singing has not, until recently, received the attention it deserves. The few records which have been released in this country have had a mixed reception. Although improved technique and a constructive command of increased instrumental resources have often enriched their music, modern blues singers are still . . .” read more
“The Impulse record company has done much valuable work in documenting contemporary developments in jazz. Perhaps their finest achievement to date has been the compilation of nine volumes of John Coltrane’s playing since 1960. They deserve to be commended for continuing to release the work of this important . . .” read more
“The European avant-garde is often accused of ignoring the wider problems of communication and of having retired into an ivory tower. This is one of the dangers facing a composer today: he cannot rely on a public audience with stable views and attitudes; he cannot be content to . . .” read more
Sonny Rollins since 1961
“In 1959, Sonny Rollins retired from active participation in jazz, reemerging in 1961. Four records have been released under his name since then, and while each deserves greater consideration than can be given here a brief assessment of their general direction is overdue.” read more
Introduction to 'Motifs'
“Throughout the world, art and art criticism are perplexingly fluid. It is at this moment that socialist artists and art critics can intervene decisively, staking out the arena for debate, indicating and achieving the next steps forward. In this section of New Left Review we shall publish a . . .” read more
“The use of chance in music written during the last ten years has been much discussed. Expressions like ‘indeterminate music’, ‘aleatoric processes’ are thrown about with little attempt at definition. The situation badly needs clarifying: at least two distinct ideas which involve chance have been used.” read more
“Pianist Cecil Taylor was born in New York City in 1933 and has lived there ever since. His urban life seems to have been important in the development of his musical aesthetic. ‘What makes jazz unique’, he has said, ‘is the compression of energy into a short period . . .” read more
“Jazz has had a rough deal from the cinema. This year, a group, including Paddy Whahnel, Alan Lovell and Doug Dobell, decided to try to make an honest film about professional musicians—the Bruce Turner Band. Living Jazz was presented in a programme of jazz-and-film at the NFT: . . .” read more