Wednesday, March 05, 2008
The correlation between love of jazz and love of baseball has, I think, been established in the past, at least among American white guys (Does this hold in Europe, substituting soccer--or, as they insist on calling it, "football"--for baseball?). Established by whom? I've no idea--I don't know of any studies on the subject--but from decades of casual conversation, it's entirely commonplace for serious baseball discussions to sprout at a jazz venue. Less so for eai? Dunno, though we have Mr.'s Abbey and Mitchell around who certainly fit the bill and Tim Albro and I spent many a minute in baseball discussions last year.
I'm wondering if it goes further than that. If we take, as a general rubric, the category "new music fan" (meaning an interest in the avant-garde in jazz, improv, contemporary classical, etc.), I'm betting that the representation of not only baseball fans but the subsection of those fans who whiled away thousands of hours casting pairs of dice on an APBA or Strato-Matic board far, far exceeds the national average. (These thoughts spurred, naturally, by the current thread at Jazz Corner)
I became hooked on the former in early 1973, playing the 1972 season. I've no idea how knowledge of this game entered my consciousness; certainly no one I knew was into it. My brother Drew and I placed the order, he taking the NL, me the AL. Not having a clear idea of the "value" of the cards, we traded a bit willy-nilly. I recall finagling Leron Lee from him, possessor, iirc, of a formidable 1-3-6-6 card. It's interesting that, many years since I last played a game of APBA, number combos like 1-1-4-5, 1-5-6-6 or *gasp* 1-1-4-5-6 can still elicit pangs of tingly nostalgia. It's a bit hard to reconcile the image of my 18-year old self, tossing the dice on the floor of my bedroom and consulting the play charts while the Art Ensemble is blaring from my wretched turntable above.
(I'm amusedly contemplating the doubtless majority of readers here wondering what the the hell I'm going on about).
APBA and the like involved abstracting the game of baseball, codifying a player's season into a concise series of numbers which, when combined with the play boards, yielded a near-infinite number of possible game outcomes, but a bound infinity within the probabilities of the game. Somewhere in there might be the connection to improvised music. Maybe.