Thursday, February 7, 2008

Music Theory II: The Carrollian Mode

If you are taking the time to read a jazz blog, it can only be because you love jazz. There are so many more important things to read, the music is almost dead, not completely dead, but almost dead—to steal a line from the Princess Bride. So it’s got to be love. There are players we all love, there are players we argue about, there are styles we argue about—but all of it comes from the love of jazz.

And we also know that at the end of the day, the decline in jazz popularity comes from the musicians themselves, that somehow the music became the most passionate and inspiring music in the history of the world despite the astounding level of self-destructiveness among those so gifted. We can argue about the different levels of this behavior, who hurt jazz the most, but we know that the soul heat this music could generate, as often as not, came from soul nitro, with the expected consequences. So, we’ve moved from Orwell to Lewis Carroll and have taken a step through the looking glass.

That being said, we are faced with a bit of a problem, same problem, different form. And so I must move from my halfway poetry to halfway journalism and try to get some facts straight.

So here are the facts. Youtube exists. (I’m really starting at the bottom of this pyramid, aren’t I?) My nephew told me I must check this thing out because I can see footage of my favorite jazz musicians. Ah. So I began to surf this new thing, and lo and behold, there were others who were not just surfing, but continually posting some of the finest music I’ve heard. I’ve been playing guitar for years, heard just about every note Wes Montgomery recorded, but I had never seem him play. I’d never seen or could conceive of how he saw the guitar neck. But there he was. He glows when he plays. Like Marilyn Monroe gives off sex appeal, Wes glows with true beauty. A remarkable sight. I discovered the genius of Barney Kessel—just seeing him with a not-so-famous trio, doing things on the guitar that just weren’t possible, and seeing him during his solo, force himself into areas where he truly did not know what was going to happen next—as in whether or not he would be able to play the next lines or chords at all. Who does that anymore? Solos to the precipice then walks two steps over. Just inspiring. It wasn’t just guitarists, but so many others, Frank Rosolino. If you don’t live on the West Coast, if you’re below a certain age, who knew how brilliantly he played, who knew the tragic story of his life? My jazz appreciation and skill took a quantum leap upward because of Youtube. The same applies to Chet Baker. I have one of his records, but just to watch him play—he played more music when he wasn’t playing than most musicians play when they’re playing. (Take your time on that sentence, I wrote it and still have to read it twice.)

Not just Youtube—it’s just a computer program. It was the people posting. Such as Itsartolie. I’ve never asked, but I believe when I was collecting baseball cards and reading comic books, he was collecting jazz music, film, pictures, and videos. And so, given the restrictions of Youtube, of this computer program, he posted nearly 600 videos. I watched every one of them. Not only did I watch, but so did 1500 other folks who took the time to subscribe to his stuff. His videos were watched nearly 4,000,000—take your time, I didn’t make a mistake there—4,000,000 times. And he would get hundreds of emails during the day thanking him for his service and probably a few wondering why he let’s me keep commenting when I clearly don’t know what I’m talking about (see my Miles Davis post). As he commented yesterday, he would get letters from family members of deceased jazz players who were tearfully grateful that someone was showing the greatness and skill of their loved one, playing in their prime, so that children and grandchildren could see a young man playing instead of an old man in assisted living. This is all invaluable.

And then one day this email comes to Itsartolie from Youtube:

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Copyright Notice
Date: 29 Jan 2008 22:42
Subject: Video Removed: Copyright Infringement
To: itsartolie
YouTube | Broadcast Yourself™
Dear Member:
This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Chet Baker Foundation claiming that this material is infringing:
Chet Baker 1986 - Shifting Down:
Please Note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account. In order to prevent this from happening, please delete any videos to which you do not own the rights, and refrain from uploading additional videos that infringe on the copyrights of others. For more information about YouTube's copyright policy, please read the Copyright Tips guide.
If you elect to send us a counter notice, please go to our Help Center to access the instructions.
Please note that under Section 512(f) of the Copyright Act, any person who knowingly materially misrepresents that material or activity was removed or disabled by mistake or misidentification may be subject to liability.
YouTube, Inc.
Copyright © 2007 YouTube, Inc.

And so his site was shut down. Please note the ‘please note’ paragraph. Anyone who can write a basic sentence in English knows that this paragraph has nothing to do with basic English. And so I asked Itsartolie, whose first language is not English, to translate into English this apparently English sentence. This is how he explained it:

It really means that if access is restricted on my Youtube videos and I am certain that I own this material, I can claim it back. But, caveat emptor, if I bullshit them the offended party (the rightful owner that is) could sue my ass to his heart's content.

Okay, that’s English.

And now we come to the moment of international intrigue. The Chet Baker Foundation in Oklahoma denies it did this. In fact, in my comments section, one of the directors said so much. Well, okay, but this is curious. And there’s another Chet Baker Foundation in Canada (International Intrigue!) that might have done this. So now, using our best retention of Sherlock Holmes methods (you know my methods Watson, use them!), we have many hypotheses. One is that the Oklahoma Chet Baker Foundation is not telling the truth, another is that the board of the Oklahoma Chet Baker Foundation doesn’t know what the day to day administrative Chet Baker Foundation of Oklahoma is doing, another is that the Chet Baker Foundation of Oklahoma is telling the complete truth—which would then point to the Chet Baker Foundation of Canada that is doing the great harm to jazz. And the answer is—I don’t know and I never will. It will only become curiouser and curiouser.

But some Chet Baker Foundation might have the power to restore the site of Itsartolie, and restore and assist in their given mission. I’m not saying that they can—this is Youtube we’re talking about, but they might. And they should try. So I will help them, because they need to know which material is in dispute. Again, let’s find out from the source, Itsartolie:

Love for Sale
My Ideal
Just Friends
Helen David
interview by Elvis Costello
The Very Thought of You (w/ Costello)
If I Should Lose You
You Don't Know What Love Is (w/ Costello)
Shifting Down

It is worth mentioning that on 1/12/08 I got the exact same email for the Chet/Van Morrison performance of Send In The Clowns but this time third party was VAN MORRISON / POLYDOR.

At any rate, all these performances come from a single DVD called CHET BAKER LIVE AT RONNIE SCOTT'S PERFORMING WITH ELVIS COSTELLO AND VAN MORRISON issued by RHINO HOME VIDEO.

Apart from these and the Sinatra issue I had no other infringement trouble, so in essence it was only two instances.”

And there we have it. Who owns the copyrights to these? Is it possible to give written permission for Itsartolie to post them, since his work is most definitely helping the Chets Bakers Foundations. Is it possible after this is figured out, to tell Youtube that we, the Chets involved, withdraw our complaint, please let Itsartolie resume his most important work? Yes.

Is this actually a family squabble that all jazz lovers must now suffer? Could be. And that of course would get back to jazz being jazz’s worst enemy. These are questions that I can’t answer, I can’t write about anymore.

But we will know the truth shortly. If the Chet Baker Foundation in Oklahoma chooses to do nothing about this, then it’s a legitimate question to ask how much they actually care about their mission. If they contact the Canadian side of the coin to find out who has the rights to this material, and a fight ensues, we know that jazz must continue to fight jazz in order for jazz to be preserved. It’s life through the looking glass. And if both Chets get it worked out and Youtube is unresponsive, then I’ll be happy to write a post about Youtube trying to kill jazz while allowing its many virulently racist and anti-Semitic posts to remain.

We will also know the truth if someone from Chets tries to contact Itsartolie. I’ll be happy to help with that.

A friend told me years ago, you vote with your feet. In other words, people can say anything, the truth emerges from their actions. So, let’s hope for a happy ending, but the cynical Benjamin in me will not get my hopes up.

And this is the Carrollian Mode.

1 comment:

Naftali2 said...

I should add that I did a quick search of Youtube--there is no longer ANY footage of Chet Baker playing. A crime indeed for those who care.