Letters to the Editor September 20174 minute read

– Banjos Aweigh on JazzFest at Sea –

To the Editor:

As you now know, there will not be a 2018 JazzSea Cruise in January. Although it was a big disappointment for all of us, there is hope for another similar cruise from Jan. 3-14, 2018.

I have been asked by JazzFest At Sea to conduct the same musical format for banjo players aboard the MSC Divina for an 11-day Southern Caribbean cruise departing from Miami.

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Every day, we will jam or play from books that I prepared, but our banjo band will now be called Banjos at Sea. However, you may bring any instrument to play in the Banjos At Sea band and I’ll still be offering lessons through the cruise.

Please look up www.jazzfestatsea.com and join us on this fun cruise with a variety of great jazz music to enjoy. You may call (800) 654-8090 for more info about booking.

Just mention to them that I told you about this cruise. They will do everything to accommodate you! Since it is halfway through the year, I would urge you to contact JazzFest At Sea as soon as possible for the best cabins. Have a great summer and hope to see you in January.

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Tim Allan
Honoree, National Four-String Banjo Hall of Fame

– Jazzdagen Sails as Scheduled –

To the Editor:

An article entitled “JazzSea 2018 Update: July 21, 2017,” page 29 in the August issue of the Syncopated Times, announced and explained the cancellation of the January 7, 2018, JazzSea Cruise. JazzSea Cruises blamed the cancellation on Holland America for changing the itinerary of the originally scheduled cruise, for price increases, and for an upcoming renovation of the msZuiderdam that will make their preferred performance venues unusable.

Jazzdagen Tours has scheduled its annual New Year’s Cruise on the same ship, December 27, 2017 through January 7, 2018. Some readers may be alarmed by the JazzSea article and believe that the Jazzdagen cruise could be either cancelled or may suffer from presumed inaccessible performance venues.

Nothing can be further from the truth.

Letters to the Editor September 2017
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Jazzdagen Tours is expecting a very successful New Year’s Cruise. There will be at least five hours of jazz every day, more on sea days, using the main Vista Lounge and the Crow’s Nest. It is true that the msZuiderdam will be in dry dock (in October) and that the piano bar and the Crow’s Nest will be reconfigured. However, this does not affect any of the scheduled Jazzdagen performances, other than some minor modifications in the Crow’s Nest, to be named Explorations Central after the renovation. Both Vista Lounge and Explorations Central will have dance floors and ample seating capacity. Also, daily morning jam sessions will take place as scheduled.

Jazzdagen Tours has organized jazz cruises with Holland America since 1985 at an average of more than twice a year. Once negotiations between Jazzdagen Tours and Holland America were completed, Holland America has always honored its commitments. We would not have expected anything else. We will continue organizing jazz cruises on Holland America ships. In addition to our New Year’s cruise, we have also scheduled an Alaska Cruise, July 1-8, 2018, in association with Olympia’s America’s Classic Jazz Festival.

We are looking forward to seeing you one of our cruises.

Alida L. Meijers
Jazzdagen Tours
www.jazzdagen.com

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– More on “Appropriation” –

To the Editor:

With each issue, you keep exceeding my expectations for TST. August was, as the cigarette ads once said, “Round, Firm, and Fully Packed.”

You are right about the issue of cultural appropriation. The birth of jazz in New Orleans is the best example. The Creole players (e.g. Ferd Morton), dark African players (Louis Armstrong), West Indian Players (Luis Russell), and Euro players (Jack Laine, Nick LaRocca, Johnny Bayersdorffer, Edmond Souchon, etc.) all listened to one another, and stole from each other.

Before that, W.C. Handy went into the Mississippi delta taverns and “borrowed” the music of the local blues players. I don’t even want to think of the racial implications of a middle-class educated brown bandmaster stealing from self-taught destitute blacks.

And the “borrowing” continues to this day—the worst example being the “sampling” of earlier music that rap artists have been stealing and slipping into their grooves.

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The lesson is, don’t play it in public if you don’t want someone else to copy it. And maybe, improve it.

Keep it up. Good features, great photo reproduction, and Eli’s review was thought-provoking. His comments may be correct, but at least somebody younger is trying to play the music, however clumsily.

Rick Campbell
Tigard, Oregon

Thank you so much! I was particularly happy with how the August issue turned out and I’m glad you liked it.

I think “appropriation” is a given in this music. Today, the word is often used as an accusation, but it’s just a fact of life. My position is that if due respect isn’t shown to the music and its originators, the end product is going to seem rather shallow. I think that’s the problem that both Eli Newberger and I have with the Hot Sardines (though I did not mention them by name in my column). It’s not so much that they play traditional jazz (if clumsily) but that they “play at” jazz.

Letters to the Editor September 2017

There are scores of younger bands and musicians (such as our August cover subject, Evan Christopher) who approach the music seriously and with impeccable scholarship. The Sardines play in prestigious concert halls and performing arts centers all over, purporting to offer traditional jazz to a largely uninitiated audience. What they present is lively and diverting. Some will lap it up, thinking they’re getting the real thing. Others might say, “If this is trad jazz, then what’s the big deal?” The actual big deal is that counterfeit jazz is forcing the good stuff out of circulation.

Regarding the Hot Sardines: it’s okay to like them. It’s okay to enjoy eating at the Olive Garden. We have loads of excellent authentic Italian restaurants here in Utica NY, but the parking lot of the local Olive Garden is always full. I’m not going to scold people as they go in, telling them they should be eating at the little place across town with sticky table cloths and duct tape on the booths if they want a real braciole. (Though of course they should.)

Evan Christopher says, “Craft is not subjective.” I say, the music should never stop being fun, but it also should never stop being good. -Ed.

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