Jimmy Fallon is widely considered late night’s nice guy, which makes a recent segment in which he mocked a cadre of obscure musicians — and German free jazz musician Peter Brötzmann — all the more baffling.
Brötzmann’s reaction? “We both know that the world is full of ignorants and stupidos, one more or less, who cares,” he told Rolling Stone in an email.
Last week, in the creatively titled segment “Do Not Play List,” Fallon laughingly slammed Brötzmann’s 1969 free jazz album Nipples, because he apparently still finds the titular word (pun intended) funny and has never heard free jazz before. After tittering over the album cover — which features the musician in silhouette, reed clenched between his teeth — Fallon shared a selection from the record, wincing all the while. “That sounds like a Guitar Center on a busy Saturday,” Fallon quipped, invoking the most tired of music jokes.
The jazz world, naturally, was not pleased by Fallon’s timely takedown of the 52-year-old record. (Rolling Stone gave his 2018 album, Sparrow Nights, four stars, by the way.) Likely because Brötzmann is a well-revered free jazz musician with more than 50 years of experience and praise under his belt and Fallon compared him to a cadre of teens and washouts laboriously picking their way through “All Along the Watchtower” at a suburban strip mall. According to Brötzmann, several people have angrily sent him the clip since its premiere.
The musician, however, isn’t all that ruffled — unlike Trump’s hair, back in 2016. “This little snippet I got from friends all over the world and my reaction was laughter,” he said. “The only thing that annoys me a bit is that this 1969-made piece is a milestone in at least European free music history.”
“I don’t know these American TV shows but I know that it is a serious TV station, so after a couple of days I am asking myself, sitting here at my kitchen table, is there something behind, not just an out-of-order-joke,” he adds. “Well …. again… who cares.”