To the editors:
I am a little confused about the intent of Daniel Swain's article on Brad Goode ["Very Young Man With a Horn," May 8]. Was it a mini-documentary of a new style of music (and a young man proficient in it) or an accolade for Brad Goode. The title of the article seems to imply the latter intent. Unquestionably you are a competent writer yet it is so very obvious that you know nothing about music (let alone jazz). Perhaps in your next journalistic effort you might take it upon yourself to extend your research beyond learning a few names and spending a few nights with the central character. Jazz solos are not breaks, they are choruses. Surely this is not too technical for the average reader and it certainly carries more of a sense of the structure and definition present in jazz. If your article was a mini-documentary then perhaps you might be a bit more articulate in your descriptions of the music. "His break is made of quick short runs that slide into longer phrases, precise and melodic." Really, a first-year music appreciation student could do better.
Jazz is taught on an equal basis as "classical" music in most schools of music these days. Nontechnical terms understandable to any listener can be used to describe this musical discipline. Words such as creation of musical mood, sense of swing, use of accents, compelling melodies, use of dynamics (was he screaming or whispering), vocal nuance, intensity (we all know what blowing one's brains out refers to in a solo) and dissonance (however subjective) would have contributed greatly in generating interest for this music.
Your article showed me nothing about Mr. Goode the musician. His short replies speak more for your childish questions than his inarticulateness. Jazz is as much a discipline as architecture or medicine; would you ask Frank Lloyd Wright the same style of questions you appeared to have asked Goode? By presenting such a shallow view of him and his craft in the public forum (a free newspaper) you are encouraging shallow appreciation of the music. You really don't seem to be aware of the training, concentration, pain and time spent in getting where Brad Goode is. Sensitive questions might have opened him up and allowed us a more sophisticated view of him.
Really . . . quite a banal article for such a remarkable music form.
Daniel M. Swain replies:
"Break" is defined by Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary as "a usu. solo instrumental passage in jazz, folk, or popular music." The word "chorus" has musical connotations for the average reader that I preferred to avoid.
As regards the rest of your comments, I take exception to the charge that I encourage "shallow appreciation" not because I deny it, but rather because I rejoice in it. It is in part the elitist attitude of many supposed jazz aficionados that keeps people from simply enjoying jazz. You do not need a college course on music appreciation to enjoy it. Perhaps if there were a few more "shallow" jazz fans and a few less arrogant experts such outstanding musicians as Brad Goode and Mike Finnerty would not have to pay studios to record their work.