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Issue: March 1994
Todd Hildreth.

Jazzin'
By Todd Hildred.

Have you ever sat and counted all the cords and wires going everywhere on MTV's Unplugged? What's up with that?

The singers use microphones, the acoustic guitars are amplified with electric pickups, sometimes they use acoustic bass, but often it's electric. They've got monitors, a mixing board and, hey, isn't that a Hammond B-3? You can't play one of those unplugged! And what about all that elaborate lighting? Are those kerosene lights?

And why do they have to have thirty people up there? Why do they need to have six guitar players all playing the same strum? When a show that gets its hook from stripping everything down to the basics can't get any more basic than that, you have to wonder.

I've got an idea: Get an acoustic piano, an acoustic bass, a sax, and a small drum set. Use only enough of a sound system to achieve the right balance, and only enough lighting from everyone to be seen. Then just listen.

Nah, that would be too much like jazz or something.

The only thing that's unplugged during the broadcast of MTV's Unplugged is my TV set.

Speaking of jazz and MTV, did you hear above VJ Tabitha Soren? She denies a report that while interviewing then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton, Clinton said that he was a fan of Thelonious Monk, and she asked, "Who's the loneliest monk?"

It really shouldn't bother anyone that she doesn't know Thelonious Monk. Why should she; she doesn't host a jazz show. What kills me is she can't admit it. MTV deals mainly in pop and rock music. If they don't want to cover jazz, fine. The problem is, whenever the subject of jazz comes up (ever so occasionally), they deal with it like this:

"Hey, we're hip. We dig jazz, you know, Monk and Mingus and those guys. They're the best. It's just these kids today. It's gotta be rock or rap or they won't listen. I've got a whole collection at home, but you don't expect me to play it here, do you?"

Thanks for nothing.

So far, 1994 has not been a good year for local jazz players. On Tuesday, Feb. 8, singer Jeff Demling died at Baptist East hospital, another victim of AIDS. Jeff didn't perform in public much, but he had a passion for what he did, and he would not compromise his material. He was also one of the most sincere and genuine people I have ever known. Goodbye, Jeff.

See you next time.

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