The Importance of Satchmo (A pureness as of coitus between crocodiles)

Satchmo is Louis Armstrong. Famous for improvisation and redefining the importance of notes in a stream; the interconnectedness of notes but also their individuality…of the individual player. Scats–vocalisms like a trumpet being played coming out of his satchel mouth garbled with marbles.(

pg 52 from Cortazar (describing Armstrong’s 1933 “Don’t Play Me Cheap”) with the trumpet coming as “the yellow phallus breaking the air and having fun, coming forward and drawing back and towards the end three ascending notes, pure hypnotic gold, a perfect pause where all the swing of the world was beating an intolerable instant, and then the supersharp ejaculation slipping and falling like a rocket in the sexual night…”
(listen to a sample at:
Here, jazz is sex. Satchmo’s playing is jazz and sex is that moment when time is both erased and heightened, sensations both numbed and enhanced, heartbeats and expectations throbbing together for an incredibly instantly long amount of time. That moment is what Horatio is constantly living in, right before the ejaculation. He doesn’t feel the release (outside of the music) and is stuck trying to make sense of the moments before it, to dissect and analyze, in order to understand and capture the release and be able to play it back again and again any of the times his intellectualism crowds out the pureness of pure self-thought, like the record on the table spinning around.

Satchmo’s notes are sex in their connectedness, but they are also sex in their individuality. The isolation of the notes within the framework of the song, the fact that each note (like Salieri’s interpretation of Motzart’s arias in Amadeus) is essential to the entirety of the song. The three sharp notes are neither the melody nor harmony but are simultaneously part of both in their leading to the pause that collects the song up in a breath and ends it in a cacophonus fanfare, bridging the gap between expression and form, direct, almost verbal communication (something straightforward in 4/4…big band…Steve calls it “white music”) and the noise that Armstrong (we all) carries inside, that he expresses w/o words. He’s an individual in the collection: his new language (his own language) is not the language that I use, that Horatio uses, but we understand it just the same.

Horatio says that he doesn’t, but I don’t believe him. What’s with those wh’s that you use to disarm the words? What’s with all the runons and rhymes and internal twists and modifications, like bends in the stream of verbal notes, the little flats and sharps of esoterica and personal cataloging thrown in to get the reader both off and on to your trail? You say you don’t get jazz, but I think you live it, man. You got the red hot blues, no doubt.

No doubt, I think you used jazz as an excuse to not like Babs, to move away from her, to isolate yourself with this magician that will only allow you to decode and instruct. It’s a power thing, isn’t it? Intellectual domination, intellectual superiority, flexing your muscles, even when you claim you don’t know, when you claim you don’t have the spirit. But come on, Horatio, who do you think you’re kidding? Isn’t it inside of you all the time? When you go to sleep, when you wake, when you think about not thinking? (Your hypocricies make consciousness and time seem slow and episodic…riffinriffinriffin–somebody hit the needle…)

It seems like you use jazz as a consciousness, some unavoidable appropriation that works to both inform and enliven and obfuscate and debase everything you say. It keeps you in this red-blue circle that you can’t get out of, oscillating like Satchmo between the white and the black and the red and the blue and your thoughts and the words that you need to manipulate  so that they can become yours and not just a part of the collective which, inevitably, they still are.

Check out Louis Armstrong:

Satchmo circa 1926 (sick):

Satchmo and Notation, blues, 1955:

The body’s gotta die Olivera–you’re digging your own grave, one sentence at a time.

–Josh Barnes


~ by hobodreams on February 1, 2010.

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