Ken Vandermark : Raw and Refined


Changing Subjectivity

AAJ: As a listener, I’ve noticed that even personal subjectivity changes; what seemed like nonsense in the past becomes something beautiful and fascinating today.

KV: Oh yes, that’s the thing; that we’re constantly changing and that the music is constantly changing. Like you said, that’s a reference point you go back to hear something that you think you know, and like, you know the art of Thelonious Monk, it’s fascinating to go back and hear him again and again and realize how much I’ve changed in relationship to that music because it’s a recording, it’s a quantifiable thing—and the quantity that’s changed is me.

AAJ: Exactly, the subject matter has remained fixed in time, but the listener is changing which changes the listener’s whole experience.

KV: And that’s why I think anybody who’s serious about the music is always changing and their music is always changing and why you find a lot of the frustration at least with the people I’m friends with and know, why they get frustrated with how common it is to be pigeonholed as a certain kind of player doing a certain kind of thing, and how that prevents an open mind for so many people when they listen to the music. Again, it gets back to the idea of preconceptions and when you’re dealing with a music that’s supposed to be, for my mind, about exploding preconceptions, about erasing the status quo, about breaking apart boundary lines. It’s very surprising to me how common it is for people to want to standardize the thinking about it and define people in a very, very limited way. And any art is complex, as we’ve already talked about.

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