So I just came back from my first visit to Montreal and I must say that I loved it…if it wasn’t so damn cold up there most of the year, I think I definitely could live there…anyway…
I was fortunate enough to be there during the International Jazz Festival, it was an amazing experience to say the least. Although I loved the city and a few of the many cultural and culinary delights that i was able to experience while I was there, I must admit that the We Want Miles exhibit at theMusée des beaux-arts de Montréal was the highlight of my trip. A testament to the quality of this exhibit I think is in its ability to engaging and hold the interest of even a non “jazz head”, my girlfriend. I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who are already planning on going up there to check it out, so I am not going to say too much about it, because that is not really the point of this post. i will simply say that it is definitely one the best museum experiences that I have ever had and I did not know anything about Miles Davis before the exhibit I would definitely feel like I got not only an education on Miles Davis, but an Introduction to American Music and Culture…”bringing me closer to the point (rock dis funky joint)”..a few days ago i was reading Jazz Times at B&N and on the last page, Nat Hentoff had a piece about the We Want Miles exhibit.
Hentoff asks the question as to why jazz is not treated as “a fine art in any of the other museums around the country (the U.S.).” Hentoff also begs the question why events and programming beyond musical concerts have yet to take place in our great museums, such as MoMA and the like.
This is a serious question… Although Hentoff does not directly raise the question, I think he suggests enough such that this reader would further question why the American Fine Art establishment have not allowed the jazz and its practitioners to move out frame of entertainer and into being aesthetes or experts. Even here in DC, we see how jazz is used to set the mood, to be background or maybe even to give the appearance of intellectual depth, inclusive or progressive thinking, yet no serious engagement of the artform or the life of its practitioners beyond the realm of entertainer.
It is my hope that Nathalie Bondil will take up Hentoff on his challenge to invite museum directors from the United States up to Montreal to show them how it’s done.
check out Hentoff’s article here