Writings about Music

Chess Not Checkers

Beginning to comprehend the totality of the wonder that is music is more like chess than checkers because of myriad forms and meanings throughout history and cultures to the present. Beginning in the next paragraph are thoughts pertaining to an interview with Sonny Rollins, much of which I enjoyed reading, especially learning what Rollins is doing and thinking now. Would enjoy meeting and perhaps interviewing Sonny myself, offering questions in different directions.

The Rolling Stones have a number of original masterpieces as great as any jazz in their own uniquely powerful, poetic, and spellbinding way. Music is about diverse genres, and don't see why not understanding rock is a virtue. (Sonny Rollins gets a pass, of course, because many jazz artists of his generation never accepted rock.) While admiring Sonny, I believe Lee Konitz is our greatest living jazz improviser. It's incomprehensible to anyone who understands jazz and jazz history why Konitz, a Jewish American artist, has not received the Kennedy Center Honor. Jazz superseded European classical music, followed by rock and pop doing the same to jazz (there has always been overlapping), and then hip hop did the same. The designation "classical" in Western music now has to do with individual quality, and is not owned by any particular culture, race, genre, or medium.

- Michael Robinson, February 2020, Los Angeles


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Michael Robinson is a Los Angeles-based composer and writer (musicologist)