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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
For all the years that I've been posting here, it never even occurred to me that I might be considering this matter in exactly the wrong way.

Japan likes American TRAD. After all, they invented the word. They saved J. Press, which in turn saved us all from loosing our last and best foothold.

You've probably heard me accuse the folks in Japan of aping American trad, of being wannabes, or copycats, or whatever. All the while, of course, poking fun at myself for the same pretensions of Tradliness.

This morning, I've begun to see this matter in a whole new light.

Jazz was not really respected as a legitimate form of music by mainstream Americans. Then one day, it crossed the pond and was whole heartedly embraced by the folks in Europe. The Duke of Windsor fell positively in love with American jazz, and became himself an icon of the jazz age.

Suddenly, Jazz is recognized as a truly American art form. Gerschwin didn't legitimize it, he merely capitalized on it by bringing it into the realm of symphonic music. That's my opinion, anyway. I've nothing against An American in Paris or Rhapsody in Blue.

So here's my question: Is French jazz somehow illegitimate in your minds, as a result of mere geography?

Every other American art form, from country to punk had to make the rounds in Europe before most Americans felt comfortable embracing it.

A program on VH1 suggested that the Sex Pistols came about as a result of the Ramones touring England.

Again, I have to ask: Do we consider British Punk as somehow less important than American punk?

Drawing distinctions between the two need not imply that one is legitimate and the other is a copycat. Nor do we overlook the pioneering efforts of the Ramones merely by recognizing various Brits who had such a huge influence on the punk rock movement.

Jazz and Punk may not be the best fer-instances, but they come readily to mind for me. Hopefully they will serve well enough to illustrate my point.

Perhaps the Japanese don't deserve to be called copycats.

Perhaps we ought to embrace them whole heartedly, as they seek to legitimize that which we all hold dear.

Anybody have any thoughts on this?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
If the original is lost, what do you call the best copy?
Well, I guess it sort of depends on how good the copy is. There have certainly been a lot of tribute bands out there lately who sound better on stage than the original band sounded in the studio with overdubs, outtakes, studio trickery and the works.

Many popular acts of bygone eras are out touring these days, some have only one member of the original band. Some sound pretty good, but some sound truly awful. Because the band has a member of the original act, often these bands tour under their original name.

So here's a good example of a best copy:

My wife's cousin is a musician and a die hard fan of the band "YES".

He told me once about a European kid who grew up listening to Yes records. He mimicked every nuance of Rick Wakeman's legendary keyboard skills-- the skills that perpetually landed Wakeman among the top three synthesists of all time in poll after poll at Keyboard Magazine (a magazine for musicians).

I don't remember the reason, but apparently Wakeman had to stop touring for a while. Probably carpel tunnel syndrome--seems to be the most common reason citied by pianists for quitting the circuit.

So the band held auditions for Wakeman's replacement, and in walks this European kid to play for them. He nailed every song, every note, every nuance, and the band knew they'd seen lightning in a bottle.

The kid can play blindfolded whatever Wakeman could only record with studio trickery and a lot of out takes. Not that the kid is anywhere near as original as Wakeman, but apparently he has memorized every note Rick Wakeman ever recorded. Great for a traveling band.

Having heard this story, I may be interested in going to hear him play some time. Sounds like a fun concert, don't you think?

Look, I've lived in Japan among the Trad aspirees. Sometimes they try to hard, and turn TRAD into a costume. So do I. But on balance, they seem to pull it off very well. I think you all should welcome them into your ranks, just as you have welcomed me.
 
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