High Bias #10

NAME: Lindsey Horner

BIO: Bassist Lindsey Horner is one of the more versatile musicians in jazz and modern music. He has most often been heard with musicians on the cutting edge recording and performing with artists such as Greg Osby, Bill Frisell, Bobby Previte, Dave Douglas and Muhal Richard Abrams, to name but a few.

As a leader, he has recently completed the initial stage of a recording project called UNDISCOVERED COUNTRY through the innovative company ArtistShare whereby listeners and fans of the music can participate directly in its realization. He has also produced four previous recordings, NEVER NO MORE, MERCY ANGEL, BELIEVERS and DON'T COUNT ON GLORY.

He was a member of the co-operative group JEWELS AND BINOCULARS which focused on improvised takes on the music of Bob Dylan. Their final recording, SHIPS WITH TATTOOED SAILS, found its way onto many critics' "best of the year" lists.

Through the ‘90’s he performed as a member of the Myra Melford trio, an association which yielded four highly acclaimed discs.

He also has deep roots in Irish music having toured and recorded extensively with singer/songwriter Susan McKeown, Scottish fiddle master Johnny Cunningham and traditional Irish music legend Andy Irvine.

WEBSITE: www.lindseyhorner.com

Do you read reviews of your work?


Do you reread them? Save them? Quote them?

Yes, usually, and I do quote them if they are favorable and well phrased.

Have reviews ever had an effect upon the way you approach your work? For better or worse? How?

The opinions of my peers have had a greater effect on my work both for better and for worse. I saw early on that trying to guess how to please critics was a losing proposition.

Are there writers you hope will (or won't) write about your work?

There are certain writers about whom it is well known they have various axes to grind and chips of varying sizes on their shoulders. I hope to avoid those writers at all costs. On the other hand, there are writers with well deserved reputations for being fair and open-minded. I welcome their opinions.

Have you ever written to a reviewer or publication in response to a negative review of your work? a positive one? 

I have thanked a reviewer when I felt he really “got it”.

Are there reviewers who you consider to be your friends? Do they write about your work? How does that make you feel?

Sometimes. I hope they can evaluate the work fairly.

Have you ever been told by a writer that they feel too close to you personally to write about your work? What was your reaction? 

Yes. I think they were right.

Have you ever felt that a writer was trying to get something out of you, or get back at you, or had some other ulterior motive in what they wrote about you? Please explain.

I once met a writer in Sweden who seemed to have some axe to grind that I didn’t agree with. We just didn’t hit it off, you might say. He went on to review a concert I played and said some things about my playing that I felt were unjustified and clearly influenced by the unfavorable interaction we’d had. In other words, he was an asshole.

Have you ever published anything you wrote about someone else's music? How often? Do you continue to write about music?

Only in reponse to a general survey (like this one). I’m uncomfortable writing critically about other people’s music. I’d be even more uncomfortable doing it for pay.

Do you think there was a time in the past when music journalism was better or worse than it is now? Why or why not?

I think the standard of writing was higher in the past - just in the use of the English language. I’m tempted to say the critical faculty was at a higher level as well, but I’m not sure if that’s true.

Anything you'd like to add? 

I always enjoy reading things written by Ted Panken. I think he is a true scholar of the music, has a wide open mind, feels passionate about the art form of jazz music and has no prejudices - at least none that reveal themselves in his writing. 

In general, I think a critic should evaluate something on it’s own merits and terms. If he/she can’t or won’t do that, then they should admit that they are unable to review the artist or concert or recording or whatever. 

I’ll give an example. Years ago, I attended a concert which was an intriguing double bill of The Art Ensemble of Chicago paired with the group, Oregon. Each band played a set on its own and at the end they played one long piece together. It was a fantastic concert, and something of a one time only event.

A certain well known reviewer wrote at length about how Oregon was unable to swing, wasn’t really playing jazz and didn’t belong on the bill with the AEof C. Now, leaving aside for the moment that AE of C would themselves never be mistaken for the Basie band in the swing department, this writer clearly had an agenda, chose to ignore the high level of musicianship all around as well as the obvious enjoyment of the musicians and the vast majority of the sold out audience. In other words, he was  unqualified to write about this event and thus should not have done so. It was a drag. In my opinion, that is.

Anything you want to ask me? 

What led you to start writing about music? What do you get out of it artistically? Do you feel that criticism is an art form?

1 comment:

Kurt said...

In reply to Lindsey's questions, hmmmm... I avoided writing about music for a long time, covering local politics for daily papers instead. I suppose a big part of my deciding to write about the arts was people always telling me I should. Writing and listening to music are two of my favorite things, so it seemed a natural, even if I have some qualms about the practice itself.

I'm not sure I get anything out of it artistically - not in the way I do when I play guitar or write fiction. But writing about it does force me to try harder to understand this abstract language called "music." And I enjoy the challenge of doing something that's ridiculously difficult.

Criticism can be an art form, I suppose, but that's maybe a gray area. Like if someone was walking so daintily and dreamily that they might as well be dancing. Good writing is always an art form, so yes, but it doesn't have to do with it being criticism.

By the way, I hate the word "criticism." Or at least, I wish that we hadn't lost track of the difference between "criticism" and "reviewing." The New York Review of Books, for example, doesn't do much criticism. Their writers take new books and try to intelligently put them into the context of the author's previous work, similar work by other authors, and so on. Criticism is fine, I guess, but I'm more interested in contextualizing than saying whether or not I liked someone's solo.