I keep thinking about this and I came up with a bloated analogy that I think makes sense.
Let’s say you want to be a jazz trumpet player. You take trumpet lessons from respected session players and you practice as often as you can.
Every week at the local club, Miles Davis does a set. On another night, the Ramones do a set. You love Miles but you also really love the Ramones. They’re not making the same kind of music you’re trying to learn, but they kick so much ass, who cares if they’re technically “good” or not?
Maybe your teachers turn their noses up a little bit at the dumb rock music, but being dumb and fun is what makes the Ramones so good. Listening to them isn’t going to help you very much at all with your trumpet playing, but that’s besides the point. They rock.
There’s no law saying you can’t love jazz and rock both. In fact, if you love only one and reject the other out of hand, you’re only doing yourself a disservice.
So maybe Shitty Jobs is punk rock and the Harold is modal jazz. Shitty Jobs is immediate and easy to understand, and it’s more about an attitude than a technical performance. The Harold is esoteric, complex and more difficult to access both for performers and audiences, though putting forth the effort to understand it is richly rewarding. Both are awesome in their own ways.
Next time you see me, please kick my ass for implying that Shitty Jobs is the punk rock of the improv scene, and that performing the Harold is like jamming with Miles Davis, man.