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Dear Sirs:

Glad to see Peter Margasak is still keeping other music journalists honest (specifically those who work at real newspapers). In his column of 10-17-97 he castigates Tribune critic Howard Reich for calling Ornette Coleman's "important musical system...'harmolody'" when anybody (or at least anybody anal retentive enough to care) could've told Mr. Reich that the correct word is in fact "harmolodics." But even "worse," to quote Mr. Margasak, Mr. Reich apparently wasn't aware that the title "'Old Bottles, No Wine'...refers to the Gil Evans album New Bottle, Old Wine."

While I'm glad to see Mr. Margasak single-handedly making the world safe for music fans, I am curious as to why, in his column, Mr. Margasak also took Mr. Reich to task for implying that jazz has been in existence since at least 1910. Margasak writes that this "seems highly unlikely since jazz wasn't born until the following decade." In fact, most of the reference books that I've read state that, while no one knows exactly when jazz emerged, most believe that its antecedents could be heard in New Orleans at least as far back as the 1890s, in the form of, for example, brass bands playing in an improvisational style. And in Jerry Coker's Listening to Jazz, he writes that the form "evolved in the United States around 1900."

But hey, who ya gonna believe, the experts or someone who knows the difference between harmolody and harmolodics?

Jeff Brown

W. Sherwin

Peter Margasak replies:

Mr. Brown is correct in stating that no one knows the exact date jazz was born. My point was that you couldn't hear jazz at Orchestra Hall "since the 1910s," as Reich wrote. In fact, jazz didn't show up there until the early 60s.


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