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April 02, 1978 - Image 14

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1978-04-02
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The Michigan Daily-Sun

THEY'RE YOUNG-in their late
teens and 20s-and they've grown
weary of the single-chord strum
of Kiss and the sheer volume of
the Rolling Stones. As one defector de-
scribed it, "Rock is all resolution, without
any of life's complexities."
To them, jazz offers those needed com-
plexities. One music critic once described it
as "the sound of surprise."
But the legendary Louie Armstrong
perhaps summed it up best when he said if
you had to ask what jazz was, you'd never
All over there is talk of a rediscovering of
jazz. Jazz nightclubs and bars, once con-
fined to the sleazier sides of cities are now
springing up in downtown areas and college
towns across the country.
This flocking to jazz by a new, affluent
audience even prompted one jazz artist to
lament, "Nobody listens to the blues
anymore except middle-class white kids." If
America is indeed rekindling her lost love
affair with jazz, then Ann Arbor, long
among the forerunners of the avante garde,
can proudly assert that here, anyway, jazz
never went away.
The jazz audience in Ann Arbor had been
thriving since the Blues and Jazz festivgls of
an earlier era, until the city put a damper on
that Ann Arbor tradition in 1973. Then the
city's enthusiasts fell dormant, while for two
years Ann Arbor jazz was searching for a
By 1975, jazz fans hungry for recognition
began to rumble, and the University Ac-
tivities Center (UAC) began to listen. What
they heard were the sounds of discontent-a
widespread dissatisfaction with the co-op
concerts of pop and rock that were filling
Crisler Arena with 10,000 decibels. The jazz

of rock and generally combine's them with
electronic instrumentation and heavy
amplification. Critics say fusion lacks the
improvisation-that "sound of sur-
prise"-that characterizes jazz: Fusion,
they say, is shallow and does not come from
within. Saxophonist Sam Rivers is less
reserved. "They're doing it for the money,"
he says.
More important than feeding Ann Arbor's
jazz appetite, Tyner's acoustic concert was
making a statement. By shunning the big
power amplification of counterparts like
Herbie Hancock (who was playing
simultaneously in Detroit), as well as
foregoing Hancock's electric piano for his
own acoustic sound, Tyner was giving his
audience jazz as it used to be, before the ad-
vent of complex sound systems. Tyner and
.his quintet relied simply on superb
musicianship, and it was just what the
audience wanted.
Tyner himself summed up his own disaf-
fection for what was just beginning to be
labeled "jazz-rock fusion," when he said af-
ter that concert date that "there is a time
and a place for everything, but it (elec-
tronics) sort of removes the human element
between the performer and the audience."
What Tyner did, besides proving that a
concert in Ann Arbor could draw crowds
without being plugged into amplifiers, was
to determine the course that the new concert
series was to take. The series was designed
to give audiences what they wanted to hear,
and the audiences made it clear-they wan-
ted jazz.
With the next four Eclipse concerts during
that season, the series vascillated between
electronic jazz and the acoustic variety pre-
ferred by purists. After Tyner came
vocalist-pianist Les McCann, whose quar-
tet, in their concert at the Union ballroom,
See ECLIPSE, Page 8



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