Greg Henry Waters Newsletter September 2007
Topic: Mediocrity, What is it? Who are guilty of it?
On August 27, 2007 the New York City Latin Community said good bye to multi-instrumentalist Mario Rivera at Saint Peter’s Church. The title of the proceeding was ‘THE SOCIAL DANGERS OF MEDIOCRITY” Wow, what a great topic for me.
At times all I see around me is mediocrity, everywhere I see it. I am living in an age of mediocrity, it surrounds me. I moved to Mexico and it was worst than mediocrity in Acapulco. It was like there were no standards at all. I started to perform and record with my computer because to do what I wanted to do was impossible. I sent all my instruments down there, bass clarinet, bassoon, baritone saxophone, oboe like there was a New York type atmosphere in Acapulco. Needless to say all these instruments are still in Acapulco and there was no music community there to even use these instruments. I lost so much money there and never recovered from it. Now I do not even know if they were all stolen or still there in my neighbors house.
Well, Arturo Farrill was the M.C. at the memorial service with his band. He did a great job at the event and his concert was anything but mediocre. I am sure Mario would appreciate all the musician’s efforts that they show their respect to his life long effort to bring quality music to the world. Mario loved Latin music and it was his music. Even though he loved jazz his true love was Latin music and its status in the world. He said to me, “Greg, people do not know what they are missing if they do not know Latin music.” I must say I agree with him. I have always loved Latin percussion since I was a young boy in Wisconsin, listening to Latin instrumental music. I did not really know what it was but I felt very close to it. I now call Mario a true Latin musician not a jazz musician. I recently have come to the conclusion that Latin musicians and their music should exclude the word jazz, but should say improvisational Latin music. There statement to the music world is special and unique. It does not have to be compared to other forms of music. It is equal and at times maybe even better than other forms of art music.
You can read about the life of Mario and Tito at my site at http://www.greghenrywaters.com/musicnews/mario.htm it gives his history and his relationship with Tito Prente a super musician who recorded 100 albums which is a grand number.
My topic is art music. Instrumental art music and who produces it? Well, today I heard a Broadway show producer say that Broadway Musicals were the same as pop music. We are so surrounded by mediocrity that we do not even know it. I was listening to a TV commercial just a minute ago. It was a fake piano, strings, trumpets and a fake arrangement. This is what we listen to all day and all night. We are surrounded by it! It is awful. It makes me sick. This is the social dangers of mediocrity that ‘El Commandante’ (Mario) was talking about. What can we do? If we want to work as a performing musician we have to become of part of mediocrity and embrace it as great music. It turns us in to animals and soulless people. One thing that Mario had was he kept his soul intact to his body. He did not play the phony game that so many have to do to earn a living. When he played with his eyes open he was looking into the soul of God.
He became the truth and light. He suffered so much for his music. This is what made him stand out among his peers and why I felt so close to him.
When I got out of college in 1968 I found this situation to be true as it is today. No one was really interested in art music. All music had a familiar sound with familiar harmony or rhythm. The business community was cutting away musician’s lives since that time.
The international musician union sold the musicians out, also President Wilson setup the Federal Reserve Bank and made us victims of private bankers. They are still eating away at us. There is not one, full time live music, Latin Music Club in New York that hires Latin Bands every night. This was Tito’s biggest worry; there was no place to play in New York anymore. I remember too! I use to work at Roseland there with the Latin Band playing Latin Dance music.
The musicians, who work in the clubs in the village do not make a days pay. But they need to play to keep up their ‘chops’. To be in front of the public somehow, what else can they do? The free lance club musician community is not protected by the non-profit community. I am trying to change that but who will donate. I wrote a letter to the Mayor and to the Governor asking them for their help. I got the support of Smalls Jazz Club Community and we maybe having a fund raiser next month with some important people with money who wants to support the club musician.
At least club musicians are trying to be creative. I hope. You know the mostly Mozart Festival Orchestra finally hired a composer after 42 years of performing here in New York. Wasn’t Mozart a composer? Are these people idiots that it took them this long to realize they have a responsibility to creative musicians? This is the highest form of mediocrity Lincoln Center here in New York is just as bad they promote mediocrity to the highest degree. As Beethoven said, “Cattle you are all Cattle have no minds of your own.”
I am President and Founder of Creative Music Productions. I setup a donation fund for Composers, Village Club Musicians and Latin Instrumental Musicians. I hope some of you will get off your hands and support this effort or help me find people who would?
The Witch, here in NYC, gave 12,000,000 to her dog. Are not serious musicians worth as much as a loyal dog? Composer’s Fund is here. http://www.greghenrywaters.com/payment.html
The Latin Music Club Fund is http://www.greghenrywaters.com/musicnews/donatelivemusiclatinfund.html
The only way to fight against mediocrity is to have the money to fight against Sony Records, Columbia Records and other record companies who only produce mediocrity and only care to support mediocrity.
I can only say the musicians here in New York City are hero’s because they fight so hard against this sickness in our culture. They do it just like Mozart and Bach did. As individuals and not as money making corporate institution that reproduces the same old, same old over and over again. Musicians need money to practice, to rehearse, and all have jobs to stay out of mediocrity stage. There is never enough time to rehearse because the money is never there. It is the road to mediocrity and that is all we have now a days is mediocrity and more mediocrity.
I am listening to CBS news and I just heard a fake piano try to sound like a band. Are they kidding? They must be the masters of mediocrity. ‘I love my mediocrity I can make so many friends. People who do not like my mediocrity I will exclude from my life. You are trying to be superiority and better than my mediocre life.’ How dare you be this?
Beethoven said, “You are all cattle and locked into mediocrity!”
The internet may provide a way out to let the mediocre lose their strong hold on our society. But with Google and Yahoo controlling all the search engines and deciding which web sites come up I wonder if we are not being control by the power of the dollar once again. Money is the root of all evil so said the bible. Should money decide what quality is and what is not? In our day I believe this to be true. If you have a lot of money means you are a quality person. What a joke this is for me? There was a millionaire rap artist on TV the other day telling us about his knowledge and wisdom. Well, for me knowledge and wisdom takes maybe 50 years or so to acquire. But because this young man has a lot of money some how he is important!
This is our society now people with money are the authorities in all things!
Greg Henry Waters, Artist of Creative Music
Ode to Mario, Your life was so worth while, Your performing was so worth while, Your friends are so worth while. Your music was the soul of your country for you turned folk music into musical art. Just like Bartok with his folk music! Just like Bach did with Vivaldi, just like Mozart did with Italian Opera, you could raise the cultural level of your country if they knew what your effort was in bringing their music on the level of art music. Ode to Mario Ode to Mario