Jazz You've Never Heard. (Maybe.)

Discussion in 'The Interchange' started by Flanderian, Apr 5, 2019.

  1. Flanderian

    Flanderian Connoisseur

    United States
    New Jersey
    Flanders
    When I was 8 years old, Dave Brubeck’s Take Five became an unexpected popular hit and received air time. As I suspect a fairly typical 8 year old, I largely ignored music beyond what was played as background on cartoons I enjoyed, and the like, or the music sung at Sunday school. And I had not found any of that particularly compelling. But Dave Brubeck’s music, particularly Paul Desmond’s alto saxophone, spoke to me differently, and opened windows on a whole different way of looking at the world and myself in it.

    But nobody else in my milieu seemed to have any interest in such music, so I decided I shouldn’t either. And as I progressed through childhood and into young adulthood the small amount of music to which I listened was what was most popular, which is to say, various forms of rock. And make no mistake, that large and varied genre has some marvelous music and artists. But it was always something peripheral to my life, something I occasionally stopped by to visit.

    And while I was on that journey, I would occasionally revisit my interest in jazz, but always became sidetracked, usually not listening to much music of any sort. Then a bit more than 30 years ago the circumstances of my life changed, and I reached out to find new things, and increasing the amount of music to which I listened was one of those. And as I listened to more of various types of music I came to understand that while I could enjoy visiting many genres, jazz is where I live!

    There has probably been as much or more written about jazz, as there has been of it played. So I apologize for adding to that glut, but along with only a few other things in my life, it is a passion. Though I need to get this out of the way; I am not a musician, jazz historian, critic or jazz expert of any sort. I’m just a guy who likes to listen to it, but who is very passionate about what I enjoy.

    And, finally, this brings me to the point of this thread: while commercially, jazz is a tiny, tiny market compared to other varieties of popular music, it also may be the most varied, with endless interpretations, instrumentation and improvisation. There’s a game that some people like to play, some of whom are both learned and bright, that goes like this, “Jazz is such and such, and any deviation from this is not jazz, and if you believe it is, you obviously are lacking in . . . .” And you can choose the term(s) taste, knowledge, sophistication, etc. And that’s a d*mn shame because jazz is a whole world of music and musicians with unique things to say and how they want to say it.

    When the great Louis Armstrong (For whom a strong argument can be made of having virtually invented jazz.) was asked what kind of music he played, he responded, “There is two kinds of music, the good and the bad, I play the good kind!” And Duke Ellington agreed, “If it sounds good, it is good!”

    So rather than any technical or commercial exclusionary definitions of what is and isn’t jazz I offer some examples of the virtually endless breadth of interpretation, instrumentation and improvisation of jazz, but which is still only a small glimpse into that whole universe. And the only two questions I ask are; does this person have something to say? And does it sound good?
     
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2019
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  2. Flanderian

    Flanderian Connoisseur

    United States
    New Jersey
    Flanders
    Steelpans Jazz -

     
  3. WA

    WA Honors Member

    United States
    WA
    Bellingham
    Is that Reggae music? Steelpan instrument in it. But, it could be used for other styles of music.
    There is certainly some Reggae in this music.
     
  4. Flanderian

    Flanderian Connoisseur

    United States
    New Jersey
    Flanders
    Busker Jazz –

    A busker is a street performer. Busking is a venerable occupation that goes back to antiquity and has been practiced in all cultures the world over. As in any endeavor, it can be done well or poorly. And among the jazz musicians who engage in busking there are some surprising talents. Some are even fairly well known with recordings, others, less so. And among the latter is a young woman who has caught my ear, performing her own work accompanied only by her banjo. Ms. Rachel Emma D’Arcy.

    It’s late, maybe 1AM, outside a Tube station on a cold London night. Ms. D’Arcy offers passers-by her brand of poignant whimsy accompanied, other than by her banjo, only by breaking bottles, traffic signals and the occasional drunk.


     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2019
  5. TKI67

    TKI67 Senior Member

    793
    United States
    Texas
    Austin
    I share your love for jazz and share the fond memory of Take Five hitting the scene. I’ve loved jazz a very long time and really think some of the best and most influential rock was when it crossed into jazz...East West Butterfield Blues being my favorite example. We listen to the classics in this house...Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonius Monk, Dave Brubeck, Mose Allison, etc. as well as the newer offerings. Our favorite Diana Krall stuff constantly amazes us with the brilliance of the ensembles she puts together. I was recently listening to Rachmaninov’s fourth piano concerto, and it hit me, “Hey, this is jazz!”
     
  6. Flanderian

    Flanderian Connoisseur

    United States
    New Jersey
    Flanders
    While I'm more often drawn to the softer side of jazz, I've found so much among the classic work that comports with my preferences, including the musicians mentioned. Miles Davis' album Kind of Blue, John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman's work together, organist Jimmy Smith, and it just keeps going. Jazz is such a broad and malleable form IMHO that its influences, and what it takes from other forms, is virtually endless.

    While I usually most enjoy the softer side of jazz, I must confess that I find much of what has been packaged under the term Smooth Jazz to most often be lacking in content. I.e., having something to say. Similarly, the attempt to more broadly commercialize jazz in the '70's via fusion, a mixture of jazz and rock, an effort even Miles Davis was in the vanguard of, was largely not music I could enjoy.

    But some rock blended seamlessly with jazz, groups like Steely Dan and Chicago come to mind. From the Delta Blues, the cauldron that brewed jazz and musicians like Armstrong, we have wildly improvisational rock performers like singer/musician Professor Longhair, whose influence permeated a variety of milieus.
     
  7. Flanderian

    Flanderian Connoisseur

    United States
    New Jersey
    Flanders
    Jazz Harp (Dorothy Ashby) –


     
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  8. TKI67

    TKI67 Senior Member

    793
    United States
    Texas
    Austin
    Bill Evans is right up your alley I’ll wager!
     
  9. Flanderian

    Flanderian Connoisseur

    United States
    New Jersey
    Flanders
    Very much!

    And most of what Stan Getz did also!
     
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  10. Flanderian

    Flanderian Connoisseur

    United States
    New Jersey
    Flanders
    TBI Jazz (Melody Gardot) –


    Where many people’s lives end, her art began when Jersey girl Melody Gardot became the victim of a hit and run driver while cycling. Music was the path that led her on her long road to recovery, and is now her gift to us all.


     
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