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February 17, 1989 - Image 7

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1989-02-17

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A R TS

The Michigan Daily Friday, Febi
Marsalis: Jazz archivist

.. _M_ K.../

ruary 17, 1989

Page 7

BY LIAM FLAHERTY
FOR some, Wynton Marsalis is a savior with a horn,
A pristine soundtrack for their button-down and sus-
:pender dreams. For others, he is the embodiment of the
unfortunate '80s, a soulless practitioner of an art that
Remands passion as the primary ingredient. Neither of
these appropriations has much to do with the sounds
the man makes through his trumpet, but then music
has always come in second when discussing Marsalis.
Marsalis is, by far, the best known jazz musician of
his generation. He began playing trumpet at 14,
showing such promise that he shortly left his native
New Orleans for New York's famed Julliard School.
He quickly established himself there, and, in 1980,
joined Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers. Like so many
before him, Marsalis found his voice with the master
drummer and teacher setting the pace. His solos were
overloaded and precocious, but for many they recalled
the great hardboppers of the past. Here was Clifford
Brown reincarnated, Miles before he discovered
electricity.
Marsalis joined Herbie Hancock's Quartet, adding
depth and knowledge to his work. His self-titled debut
album knocked the uninitiated for a loop and breath-
lessly confirmed what many had been saying. Since
then he has won Grammys for both classical and jazz,
an accomplishment without precedent.
But Marsalis is as well known for his verbal state-
ments. He has been a tireless champion of jazz,
rticularly the pure line he sees dating back from
Armstrong and reaching to you know who. He has
been criticized for this conservatism, and rightly so on
some counts. But implicit in much of this is that he
should somehow apologize for his virtuousity. Those

who claim his fame has deflected from the innovators
of the decade are engaging in wishful thinking. The
David Murrays and Henry Threadgills will always
struggle for attention, as the nature of their work al-
most guarantees it. But there are far greater sins than
championing traditional acoustic jazz. Musicians are
not always afforded the the luxuries that we eclectic,
integrated listeners are. Musicians must make real
decisions, both emotional and technical, and execute
the consequences through their instruments. Marsalis
has chosen the breadth of his vocabulary, and presents
it flawlessly.
Others have snickered at Marsalis' impeccable at-
tire, and his almost detached stage manner. But these
decisions are not out of personal vanity. Jazz has al-
ways suffered from listeners' misguided expectations, a
fact inextricably tied to the fact that the art has been
created, perfected, and spread by Blacks. This is just
simply too astonishing for some, and their apprehen-
sion has been allayed all the way back to Satchmo's
mugging, Charlie Parker's heroin addiction, and other
charming, noble savage stereotypes. They got rhythm,
they can blow, but they don't actually read music, do
they?
Marsalis refuses to play these games. As Miles
Davis once succinctly stated, when Village Vanguard
owner Max Gordon asked him why he didn't smile and
engage the audience more: "I'm a fucking musician,
that's why." Which brings us back to music. Here
Marsalis stands beyond reproach.
WYNTON MARSALIS AND QUINTET will appear
in concert in Pease Auditorium on the EMU campus
on Saturday at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12 and $15.

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Pimpled teens everywhere yearn for a guide as instructive as Bill
Plympton's "How to Kiss," just one of the animated shorts in the
Festival of Animation.
Festival features
an eclectic sample

Hornsby: Home on the Range

BY MARK SWARTZ
HEB'S the other Bruce in the rock
world who puts on three-plus hour
shows and tells evocative tales about
livin' in America and chasin' after
your dreams. This Bruce, however,
feels more at home at the piano
bench than at the Nautilus bench.
You won't find this Bruce on the
front page of the Enquirer, either.
Bruce Hornsby plays a subtler,
more refined brand of rock music. A
driving piano sound propels the
melodies straightforward into the lis-
tening ears of America. Melding
strains of country and jazz into a
palatable pop, Bruce Hornsby and the
Range have found a home in FM ra-
*-dio. Coupled with intelligent (not
preachy) social commentary, it's a
sound that has made The Way it Is
and Scenes from the Southside plat-
inum albums.
When Bruce Hornsby and the
Range pull into Hill Auditorium
'Saturday night, he's going to sur-
prise a lot of his fans who expect
GOING PLACES

him to re-create the tinkling ivory
and pleasant backbeat of hits like
"The Way It Is" and "The Valley
Road." "They'll get the songs they
want," he promises, "only with
much more intensity. They'll be
punchier, ballsier."
If fans expect a visual extrava-
ganza at the show, they will be.
similarly disappointed. Hornsby,
who's "very cynical about the rock
star pose," dedicates each performance
to what music's all about: music.
"No flash pots or fog machines," he
assures. When it comes to the music,
Hornby lets his opinions be heard.
He comes right out and says, "We
don't give a shit about that stuff."
"There's a very improvisational
nature to our shows," he explains.
"We play very often with the Grate-
ful Dead - that might surprise some
people - and our attitude is similar
to theirs."
Besides the Dead, Bruce Hornsby
sees his sound as a direct offshoot of
another '60s outfit, The Band. Led by
songwriter/guitarist Robbie Robert-
son, The Band brought a refreshing
homespun attitude into the
overblown pop music mentality that
GOING PLACES
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was created by Sgt. Pepper. "I've
been greatly influenced by Robbie
Robertson," he admits. "Down the
Road Tonight," from the first record,
with its evocation of backwoods
lives and roadside shacks, stands as a
positive testament to this element in
Hornsby's work.
Currently at work on an as-yet-
untitled new record with producer
Don Gehman (REM, John Cougar
Mellencamp), Hornsby promises to
continue in the great traditions set up
for him by The Band, The Dead, and
others. "It's not about pose or
videos. It's about music," he affirms.
Amidst the rubble of Bad
Medicines and Naughty Girls on the
top-40 stations, there is a good,
peaceful place called the Valley Road.
The piano rules this domain with a
quiet authority. And Bruce rules the
piano. Rules, man. Bruce rules.
Brooooce!
BRUCE HORNSBY AND THE
RANGE appear Saturday night at 8
p.m. at hill Auditorium. Tickets are
still available for $17.50.

BY ALYSSA KATZ
IN the past couple of years, the
Michigan Theater has demonstrated a
welcome commitment to the ani-
mated short by presenting a first-rate
series of compilations, ranging from
the popular 19th, 20th and 21st In-
ternational Tournee of Animation to
Streams of Consciousness, a rela-
tively inaccessible assortment of re-
cent American works which was
shown last semester. This week the
Michigan is featuring its latest and
most enjoyable show of animated
films yet: the unpretentiously named
Festival of Animation.
The Festival starts off with an
old Max Fleischer Superman short,
a potent reminder that the United
States' animation heritage runs much
deeper than Mickey Mouse and Bugs
Bunny. With its sinister shadows and
sharply angled perspectives, the film
has more in common with modern
animation than one would expect. In
any case, it is a fun blast-off for the
Festival .
The rest of the films featured in
the Festival have very little in
common with one another, except
perhaps the delightfully sick sense of
humor prominent in a good number
of them. Among the most deranged
are two hysterically bizarre near-clas-
sic repeats from the 19th Tournde:
"Vincent," a giddily creepy and bril-
liantly made black and white short
about a boy who thinks he's Vincent
Price (directed by Beetlejuice's Tim
Burton), and "The Big Snit," the
funniest film ever made about a nu-
clear holocaust.
Fans of the 20th Tournie will be

happy to see excellent encore efforts
by two of the better animators fea-
tured in that collection. Christoph
Simon and the band Was (Not Was),
the creative forces behind the
dementedly funny "Hello Dad, I'm In
Jail," return this time with "Earth to
Doris," a darkly stylized ode to
sleaziness and just about the only
non-comedy in the Festival. Director
Bill Plympton contributes the liter-
ally tongue-in-cheek instructional
film "How to Kiss," a sequel of sorts
to his earlier opus "Your Face."
The "computer tribute" is a disap-
pointment, partly because most of
the short clips it features are actually
corporate promotions - one made
by Apple Computer looks great but
is uninspired compared to most of
the other presentations in the Festi-
val. Nevertheless, computers are used
to amazing effect in "Tin Toy," the
last film in the Festival and the best
computer-generated film yet shown
in the Michigan Theater's series. It
features a baby - a replica of the
real thing down to the last drop of
drool - viewed from the perspective
See Festival, Page 8

Shocking
images
interrupt
Traffic
BY WHITNEY ELLENBY
TURN. Smile politely. Glance at
the pamphlet cover and feign inter-
est: "Thank you, I'll make sure to
read it over in my next free
minute." Agitated, search for a
garbage can and throw it out.
After all, who among us would
really stop and read a pamphlet dis-
tributed by one of those anti-nuclear
activists who make such deter-
mined, often annoying, efforts to
awaken us to their "cause"? Direc-
tor Arthur Strimling asks those of
us who habitually disdaiir them as
zealots and "uptight activists" to
think again.
In his startling yet poignant
production, In the Traffic of the
Targeted City, based upon the book
by Marc Kaminski, Strimling
speaks to us through a woman
(Diane Dowling, a University grad-
uate) who is deeply committed to
the anti-nuclear movement.
Handing out pamphlets about
survivors of Hiroshima, she en-
counters a nonchalant artist(Arthur
Strimling) on a New York subway.
Moments before they meet, the
artist delivers an emphatic and
amusing monologue about "how
little time there is in New York."
In the midst of the subway chaos,,
the woman hands the artist one of
her pamphlets, and manipulatively
runs off with his calendar.
The two meet again later, and,
despite his initial resistance towards
the woman herself, as well as her
cause, he becomes involved with
her and deeply committed to the
anti-nuclear movement. From this
point on, the play follows the two
See Traffic, Page 8

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