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Listening to Improvised Music
The social and political situation of 2012-13 was, of course, different to that of the
1960s,39 Burkhard Beins pointing out that:
What’s clearly different is that [then] it was... more like a black and white
thing. [...] There was the Cold War and the opposites were really clear, and
it was clear where the enemy was, in all respects. But now it becomes all
very unclear and there are so many aspects... it’s very problematic.
And David Diaz described how:
Nowadays [what] we name the left, or the radical [left]... it’s not any more
the same. It changed, because the world has changed. [And] now it has more
to do with... the critic[ism] of great narratives, than engaging in opposition
against a concrete political regime.
To conclude this section and this chapter, however, one more group of musicians
remained: those who, even though their social and political ideals did not manifest
directly in their music-making, did represent such ideas in their lifestyle choices - the
decision to live on a low budget, to play Improvised Music and to exist (as far as
possible) outside of the mainstream, made with the same distrust of capitalism and
globalisation as those musicians who put this into their musical output.
For Clayton Thomas:
One of the energy points of me really working so hard as I did when I started
playing bass was that it was a counterbalance to... the system I’d worked
And Andrea Neumann described how:
In a way, [to be] political is maybe to go into an area... [where] you will
never be really rich, so you decide to live [that] this music is more important
to me than to have a luxury life. Maybe within the capitalistic structures
we live in it’s a sort of statement - it’s not so important for me to have a
car and a house [laughs].
Michael Thieke also agreed that:
Living a certain thing, and not taking part into [sic] certain developments of
society by free-will and own-decision, because you want to do something else
- I think that’s a statement. And also somehow that it’s not going for the
See p. 32 onwards.
His previous employment had been in in advertising, see p 144. Thomas described how, despite his
initial attraction to the political aspects American free jazz, and these convictions having been stronger
in the past, “I play music for where I am now, and [...] it’s not about being anything else. [...] I’m like
a street musician [and] you can... attribute political values to it... because it is ideological music, and
it’s music about the power of individual activity. [...] But it’s only in the afterword that we go, ‘I can
attribute politics to that’.”