What's It Worth To Hold, Jay Dee?

from by Steve Lawson

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about

A fairly straightforward tribute to the two artists who inspired this particular piece - Dilla (AKA Jay Dee) and Allan Holdsworth...

I have an uneasy relationship with the world of ‘fusion’ or ‘jazz rock’ - so much of it sounds interminably smug. It’s the sound of music college grads who’ve singularly failed to consider what their music might be for continuing in the vein of trying to impress their peers with the cleverness of their playing, and turning that into a career, and even a little industry, selling guitar music to guitarists, ‘bass music’ to bassists...

Of course, there are myriad glorious exceptions to that rule (and also no shade intended to anyone who finds meaning in conspicuously technical displays of Guitarism...). On of those musicians who utterly transcended the form was Allan Holdsworth. He’s a textbook example of the artist as Tortured Soul. A man whose desire to make meaningful music apparently lead him to periods of self-loathing, and eventually to some extraordinarily destructive self-medicating. But his music reflects that sense of never quite meeting his own hugely high demands, it’s questing, searching music, music full of questions and explorations, in stark relief to the swamp of self-satisfied shredding that surrounded it in the 80s and 90s.

One of his most interesting areas of exploration was the colour and quality of symmetrical scales - the ones Olivier Messiaen termed ‘modes of limited transposition’. I spent two years exploring these at school, writing reams of music that utilised them, so was enormously grateful to be brought back into their orbit by my re-exploration of Allan’s music following his death earlier this year. I’ve spent a big part of this year listening to his entire back catalog. It’s an extraordinary body of work, occasionally bound to the anachronistic production values of the mid-80s, but always full of creative and exploratory ideas that transcend those limitations. Even his use of that most extraordinary expression of late-modernity’s pernicious influence on instrument design, the Synthaxe, is mind-bendingly beautiful. So this one is for Dilla and Holdsworth - two people who taught me to keep asking questions in musical form, and never bother try to record the answers...

lyrics

A fairly straightforward tribute to the two artists who inspired this particular piece - Dilla (AKA Jay Dee) and Allan Holdsworth...

I have an uneasy relationship with the world of ‘fusion’ or ‘jazz rock’ - so much of it sounds interminably smug. It’s the sound of music college grads who’ve singularly failed to consider what their music might be for continuing in the vein of trying to impress their peers with the cleverness of their playing, and turning that into a career, and even a little industry, selling guitar music to guitarists, ‘bass music’ to bassists...

Of course, there are myriad glorious exceptions to that rule (and also no shade intended to anyone who finds meaning in conspicuously technical displays of Guitarism...). On of those musicians who utterly transcended the form was Allan Holdsworth. He’s a textbook example of the artist as Tortured Soul. A man whose desire to make meaningful music apparently lead him to periods of self-loathing, and eventually to some extraordinarily destructive self-medicating. But his music reflects that sense of never quite meeting his own hugely high demands, it’s questing, searching music, music full of questions and explorations, in stark relief to the swamp of self-satisfied shredding that surrounded it in the 80s and 90s.

One of his most interesting areas of exploration was the colour and quality of symmetrical scales - the ones Olivier Messiaen termed ‘modes of limited transposition’. I spent two years exploring these at school, writing reams of music that utilised them, so was enormously grateful to be brought back into their orbit by my re-exploration of Allan’s music following his death earlier this year. I’ve spent a big part of this year listening to his entire back catalog. It’s an extraordinary body of work, occasionally bound to the anachronistic production values of the mid-80s, but always full of creative and exploratory ideas that transcend those limitations. Even his use of that most extraordinary expression of late-modernity’s pernicious influence on instrument design, the Synthaxe, is mind-bendingly beautiful. So this one is for Dilla and Holdsworth - two people who taught me to keep asking questions in musical form, and never bother try to record the answers...

credits

from PS, You Are Brilliant, released October 30, 2017

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Steve Lawson UK

The UK's most celebrated solo bassist, here with lots of looped/layered solo albums, & collaborations, most notably with genius singer Lobelia. Dig in deep, there's a lot to discover.

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