After what happened at the London Live-Aid show, it was no surprise that Michael Jackson sold the rights to the entire American Jazz music catalogue. With the death toll sky-rocketing, liquidity would be essential to his defense and survival. No one could have imagined that his latest radical cosmetic surgery would be visually toxic. Everyone in the first thirty rows died in their seats. All in attendance suffered injury, how severe depending on their proximity to the stage. The full impact of the “Visually Fatal Event”, or VFE as it was now known, was thankfully filtered by television. Viewers around the world got headaches and nausea, but nothing worse. As a musician who grew up loving jazz, I found the whole situation sad, but I understood. The Korean investment group that made the final purchase was large and well funded. They retained the absolute best material. Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Bill Evans, and Charlie Parker’s work. Only the very best. What I found surprising was how quickly the Korean firm moved to sell the rest of this sprawling catalogue.
It was purchased with a very minimum of negotiations by a multi-national corporation specializing in salvage. Jazz fans around he world were outraged! There is no sentimentality at this level of global business, and the Fargo Asset Management Group
were know to be absolutely ruthless. Jazz was broken down into sale lots more or less by category and auctioned by Christie’s Ltd. online.
By this time American art and investment forces had rallied. The Smithsonian cherry-picked to fill in it’s Delta Blues collection. Texas oil money snapped up New Orleans Jazz in it’s entirety. Out of nowhere Bjork bought all of the Ragtime – Dixieland. When asked about the purchase she explained, “it is the only music that truly speaks to the
very souls of the Icelandic peoples”.
That was it. The magic was gone. The musical dream was over. Things went downhill
from there. The Hip-hop populous burned scraps of old jazz in street corner trash cans for warmth. Punk thrashers and slashers ripped out chunks of jazz with their sharpened teeth all up and down Sunset Blvd. Country music took just enough for appearances to maintain their mournful nostalgic point of view. Musical “found objects” kept the downtown New York art scene just spinning! Moby tribute bands took the final scrapings
into their world of ambient electronic whispers.
The discarded very last lump found it’s way eventually by post to North Africa. In dance clubs and cafes it was gradually reborn. No longer hindered by pretension it could thrive. Beautiful African voices sang this new music in the most sensual of smooth lingering French. The music felt like a lovers touch. The beat as familiar and welcome as that of your own heart. Wild and exciting, dangerously pounding fast, or slow and confident, sexy and steady in it’s own rhythmic measure.
This new jazz then traveled north to Parisian clubs. The music found me there, or I found it. The details now unimportant. After so much time apart, jazz and I discovered we could love each other again. I cried tears of joy to find my intimate friend and musical confidant had returned to my life.
by – Doug Mathewson