Just when it’s all getting festive, here’s another gentle, disparaging put-down of jazz. I should get over it/ get a life/ get into the spirit of Christmas now, I know, I know. But, somehow, it feels necessary to capture this fleeting moment in British cultural life, as perceived from en haut, and to preserve it here:
Actor Colin Firth was waxing lyrical yesterday on the BBC Radio 4 programme Open Book with Mariella Frostrup, talking about Coming Through Slaughter the early fictional biographical sketch of Buddy Bolden by novelist Michael Ondaatje. The full programme is available here.
The discussion gets going around 8:20 in the recording…
Frostrup asks him: “You make it sound like music ..is there a relationship between words and music?”
He starts to warm to the subject:
This was the one in which I discovered experimentation.. a huge revelation to me….writing as jazz..working with a literary equivalent of jazz .. His literary protagonist Buddy Bolden …about whom we know very little.. an imaginative experience of his music… battle between a hymn and the devil’s music… .
Mr Darcy is now going at it hammer and tongs:
…..the writing is incredibly vital ..it delivers in fragments ….feels a bit like looking at old photographs ..experiencing ghosts of the turn of the century in New Orleans …it delivers itself with a high level of impact all the time ..intensely sexual moments..refelective ..compassionate…
Oh yes. And then, at 10:26, the put-down, swiftly cut off by Frostrup, who needs to move on.
“It’s the kind of jazz I’m always looking for, actually and I never get that experience from real jazz”