I was driving to a meeting listening to satellite radio when a song by Lee Morgan came on. I know the band well (Jackie McLean, Hank Mobley, Cedar Walton, Paul Chambers and Billy Higgins) but did not know the song. I thought I had all his recordings. It was "The Double Up" on Charisma. I then realized that once upon a time I waited on the next LP from Miles, Monk, Coltrane, Lee Morgan and Hank Mobley. I even still have the first LP I bought when I was in the 9th grade (John Lewis "The Wonderful World of Jazz"). It is still one of my favorites. I know every note and all the personnel on all the hundreds of jazz LPs I own. But I realized I do not know the sidemen or the tunes much less the notes on any of the CDs I own unless they are a reissue of an LP. I also realize that the creative period of jazz is gone. Hardly any of today's players with the possible exception of Wynton Marsalis (although for my taste I prefer Roy Hargrove) will be a historic figure. Yet Marsalis is not the equal of Miles Davis, Lee Morgan, Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Brown, Clark Terry, Kenny Dorham, Freddie Hubbard, Chet Baker, Donald Byrd, Woody Shaw, Nat Adderley, Blue Mitchell and others I could name from that era. The 50's and 60's were replete with them. I do not know other music - except for R & B and the Blues. My guess is that the same is true for rock, country, blue grass and all the others. Is it because of digital supplanting analog? I have CDs of old sessions with three or four or more alternative takes. They all sound good to me. But the song that made it onto the LP sounds great. Nowadays I guess recording is like word processing. They just cut, splice and remix rather than take the time and effort to do a complete retake. Just like the written word has suffered because of word processing, apparently music has suffered as well. In the olden days, I would put on an LP and listen. Today I listen to XM and Pandora. If some song makes me listen, I then go to Amazon or ITunes, sample the CD and download it. I seldom listen seriously anymore. Music has become just background noise. Music has now become a convenience. What I don't quite understand is how this has created a generation of disposable artists.
Harold A. Black is professor emeritus in the Department of Finance, University of Tennessee, Knoxville having retired after 24 years of service. He has served on the faculties of American University, Howard University, the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill and the University of Florida. His government service includes the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and as a Board Member of the National Credit Union Administration. He also has served on the boards of directors Home Savings of America and its parent company, H. F. Ahmanson & Co., Irwindale, California prior to its merger with Washington Mutual Savings Bank, on the board of New Century Financial Corporation, Irvine, California, then the nation’s largest real estate investment trust and as director and later chairman of the Nashville Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He writes an occasional article for the Knoxville News-Sentinel at http://www.knoxnews.com/staff/dr-harold-black/. His web page is haroldablackphd.com