Re: A bit of Jazz
« Reply #47 on: Jul 19th, 2015, 06:48am »
As I already said in the "what are you listening to" thread I purchased Esperanza Spalding's album 'Junjo' (2006) two days ago. I actually wanted 'Radio Music Society' but they didn't have it in the store so I ordered it; looking through the crates I found 'Junjo' and 'Chamber Music Society' and decided for 'Junjo' without listening to it. I have to add I listened to 30sec. snippets of all albums in advance; these short snippets can be misleading though.
Now, 'Junjo' is a pure jazz album: it's a jazz trio (double bass, piano, drums, plus Spalding's lead vocal); Esperanza Spalding sings only scat vocals without lyrics except for one song where she does sing in Portuguese; and musically this can be categorized as modern jazz. With all that this album seems to be "the odd one" in her discography since, at least from what I get out of reviews so far, the 2nd album already marks a change towards more variety both regarding instrumentation as well as stylistic influences: more funk, more soul, more latin added to the jazz, and electric bass, electric keyboards, guitar and brass added to the trio instruments. Plus lyrics in all songs.
So, in general I am partial to that latter kind of jazz music with more variety; those pure acoustic albums usually leave me with a feeling of "it's good music but I won't listen to it very often". But anyways, now I have this album and then again, a little bit of jazz is never wrong.
So.... I listened to it a few times and honestly, I'm a little lost what to make of it. In almost every track the pianist keeps throwing in highly dissonant riffs. He takes jazz harmonics beyond its most extreme forms straight into atonality. In other words, what he is doing is just a whisker short of free jazz. I don't mind if musicians enter "free" improvisation as long as I can trace the path they went there and they go back from there; but that guy just jumps into it and leaves me puzzled what he is trying to express at all. It seems all a little forced to me.
I wonder if this is a reflection of the current situation of jazz music in the 21st century: jazz has been around for more than a hundred years, constantly evolving, and once again it might be asking itself: where do we go now? So much has been there already so what is left that we didn't cover yet? I have a feeling that the phenomenon of smooth jazz ("elevator music") had a bad impact on the jazz scene: smooth jazz tends to a) lots of electronic instruments, in particular keyboards, b) a lot of arrangement, song structure, and studio overdubs which c) restricts the room for improvisation, and finally d) a trend to leave jazz chords in favor of pop music chords. In extreme cases it turns into a genre of its own that is more or less anything but not jazz. In turn, I see the fraction of those who reject smooth jazz turning to the radical opposites of it: in their book, jazz has to be all acoustic, it has to be "straight ahead" jazz (no song structure, just one basic scheme repeating all over) to gain a maximum of space for improvisation, and it has to demonstrate it doesn't try to please the listener so it will go most dissonant/"free" as possible. I don't think this is a good development because I can't see its benefits.
Now, I don't think Esperanza Spalding's trio were trying to distance themselves from anything, I rather see them just doing their own thing; but I would go so far as to claim they fell in the trap of current jazz. By any means, I'm looking forward to the subsequent albums (I'm planning to purchase all of them), from all I've heard so far they must be way more accessible.
I think I like just about any type or style of the genre, with a few exceptions. For example, I have to say that I have never acquired a taste for jazz flute. It always seems to sound like Muzak to me.
Anyway, some of my favorites:
Louis Armstrong Duke Ellington Oscar Peterson Charles Mingus John Coltrane Billie Holiday Dave Brubeck Wynton & Branford Marsalis Pat Metheny Keith Jarrett Sonny Rollins Charlie Parker Wayne Shorter Stanley Clarke Weather Report Brand X Bill Bruford Return To Forever Diana Krall Patricia Barber The Bad Plus Medeski Martin & Wood John Scofield Bill Frisell Etc...etc...etc...
But my all time favorite jazz artist is undoubtedly Miles Davis.
I had a chance to see Miles live a couple of times, the last being within the month he passed away. But the first time was one of the greatest music experiences of my life. Even though he was well past his prime, he could still create incredible music.
There are so many variations and styles of jazz, it's quite difficult to pin it down to simply one type of music. To some extent, I find that those who don't like jazz usually identify it with a particular stereotype. Ultimately, I think it's a kind of music that needs to be explored.
You listed some great Jazz musicans/singers
I also love Diana Krall
I am still sad my favorite Jazz pianoist died last Sept, Joe Sample
I also have to include in my favorite jazz people, and I like all forms of jazz they include
Michael Brecker Fats Waller Christian Mcbride Ray Brown Jeff Hamilton Jon Hendricks Betty Carter Eddie Jefferson Carmen McRae T. Monk Herbie Mann
Somewhere along the line We convince ourselves Accept the ordinary
Re: A bit of Jazz
« Reply #51 on: Mar 19th, 2016, 4:36pm »
I have to make a little promotion.
De-Phazz released their new album 'Private' and surprise: it's all acoustic! They played in a reduced formation, on this album they are just a six members band: Pat Appleton sings all vocals, behind her there's a baritone saxophonist/bass clarinetist, guitar, rhodes, drums and double-bass. The album includes a couple old gems newly recorded such as 'No Jive', 'The Mambo Craze', 'Jeunesse dorée' and 'Something Special'.