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Re: CLOSE ENOUGH FOR GOVERNMET WORK and CLOSE ENOUGH FOR JAZZ

Posted by Gary Martin on June 17, 2006

In Reply to: Re: CLOSE ENOUGH FOR GOVERNMET WORK and CLOSE ENOUGH FOR JAZZ posted by Smokey Stover on June 16, 2006

: : : : : Dear experts,

: : : : : Would you say that the expressions CLOSE ENOUGH FOR GOVERNMET WORK and CLOSE ENOUGH FOR JAZZ are similar in meaning?

: : : : : Thank you,
: : : : : Yuri

: : : : Yes, almost. They both mean that whatever is being done need not be done especially well, just 'good enough'.

: : : : The motivation is slightly different though. In the jazz version of the phrase the reason for the lack of effort is the laid back and relaxed attitude jazz musicians are reputed to have. In the 'government work' version it's just attributed to a 'couldn't care less' sloppiness.

: : : : Not all jazz musicians like the 'close enough for jazz' term though. I worked with the jazz group Soft Machine way back and it was something that rather annoyed them.

: : : Is the "jazz" version strictly UK? Here on LeftPond, we hear the "government" one frequently ... but the Jazz is new to me. Any other yanks know it?

: : Nope. I am familiar with the one about government work (and bitterly resent it) but not the jazz version.

: While "close enough for jazz" sounds disparaging, it really isn't, in my view. The nature of jazz is to improvise on the basis of a known musical core, whether it's a melody or a set of harmonies. If it is TOO close to the original melody or other musical archetype, or too close for too long, it is no longer jazz, it's the original. "Close enough," it seems to me, would be close enough to recognize the musical skeleton behind what's being played, but not so close as to hamper the improvised self-expression at the heart of jazz. SS

Yes, that's probably what was originally meant. Some people interpret it as 'pick any notes you like; who cares?'. That's what my friends didn't care for.