Jürgen E. Grandt Never Ran the Voodoo Down

Jürgen E. Grandt - Kinds of Blue (2005)Closets full of SATA cables wrapped around books like this one often unpack a decent memory.

Back in April of ’06, UGA alumnus Jürgen E. Grandt gave a lecture on African American “Literary Jazz and its European connection.” It was an interesting overview of jazz terms and ideas as they apply to literature, and it addressed concepts like abrupt ruptures or syncopated structures in plot, first person narrative “solos,” and the use of debasing language as a means of improvising textural change.

Grandt also spoke about jazz as music, describing it as “embellishing the passage of time” and modernist by nature in its ability to “make it new” while retaining a historical consciousness. He argued that jazz actively critiques essentialism by resisting to break down into black and white, and that it offers listeners the fleetingly rare and authentic overlap of race that lasts but a moment in the heat of impassioned performance.

Unpacking his book “Kinds of Blue” from a closet choke-out, the ’06 lecture seemed an interesting modal improvisation: Grandt attempting to mirror jazz narrative and music by including extraneous material of his own: telling a story about a Waffle House visit and convincingly answering my question about the nature of literature’s essential editing phase and jazz’s fundamental absence of it, and where the two might reconcile.

The ideas sounded new and novel; and I always meant to read his book, which he’d taken the time to sign for me – but I didn’t because his inscription, “To Rob, with more rhythm than blues,” made me wonder if I’d entirely missed the point about technical exploration paling behind soulful authenticity.

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One Comment

  1. Karen
    Posted January 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Permalink

    Rob never understood the voodoo.

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