Friday, September 07, 2007

The New Thing

Disclaimer: I almost never buy new releases and I am almost completely out of the loop regarding what's happening "now" in the strange music people still insist on calling "jazz."

Here's the list of new or recent releases that the radio station where I do my show, KSFR, just got in:

  1. Soulfive - No Place Like Soul (2007)
  2. Debbie Davies - Blues Blast (2007)
  3. Bobby Floyd - Notes to and From My Friends (2006)
  4. New York Voice - A Day Like This (2007)
  5. Charlie Hunter - Trio (2007)
  6. Carl Allen and Rodney Whitaker - Get Ready (2007)
  7. Diana Krall - The Heart of Saturday Night (2007)
  8. Knoxville Jazz Orchestra - Blues Man from Memphis (2007)
  9. Omer Avital Group - Room to Grow (2006)
  10. Jeff Hackworth - How Little We Know (2007)
  11. Illinois Jacquet - Swingin' Live (2006)
  12. Nine - Bring Back Pluto (2007)
  13. Armand Boatman - BeBop Revolution (2007)
  14. South 9 Ensemble - The Llama
  15. Charles Gatschet - Step Lightly (2007)
  16. Curtis Stigers - Real Emotional (2007)
  17. Ali Ryerson - Jammin' at the Jazz Corner (2007)
  18. The Shook/Russo Trio featuring Bob Butta (2007)
  19. Chris Potter - Follow the Red Line (2007)
  20. Mike Longo Trio - Float Like A Butterfly (2007)
  21. The Dan St. Marseille Quartet - Swinging with the Saint (2006)
  22. Wendy Fopeano - Raining on the Roses (2007)
  23. The Wonderful Jazz Ensemble - A Wish (2005)
  24. Sonny Fortune - You and the Night and the Music (2007)
  25. Christian Scott - Anthem (2007)
  26. Dale Fiedler Quartet - Plays the Music of Pepper Adams (2007)
  27. Bob Hamilton Trio - WixWax (2007)
  28. The Omer Avital Group - Asking No Permission (2005)
  29. Ted des Plantes Washboard Wizards - Thumpin' & Bumpin' (2006)
  30. Allan Harris - Nat King Cole: Long Live the King
  31. Grant Stewart - In the Still of the Night (2007)
  32. Joe Locke and 4 Walls of Freedom - Dear Life (2004)
  33. John Vance - Dreamsville (2007)
What the hell is all this stuff? I wish I had time to check it out and write some kind of incisive summary of The World of Jazz Today, but, for one thing, I'm 530 miles away from the station and for another, I just used some old Barnes and Noble Gift Cards from former students of mine, totaling $125, to pick up the following:

Miles Davis, Round About Midnight, the Legacy reissue with previously unreleased live recordings with the first quintet at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium, as well as bonus tracks that are among my favorite sort of hard boppish MD, including Little Melonae and Budo.

Miles Davis, Miles Smiles, which I've had on vinyl since 1976 and it basically went completely smooth.

Duke Ellington, Newport, the amazing Phil Schaap reissue with the real live recordings released for the first time in stereo.

Ornette Coleman, Free Jazz, including First Take...I got lazy with this one because I had it on cassette for years (no First Take).

Art Blakey, A Night at Birdland, Vol. 1 and 2, the great band with Brownie, Donaldson, Horace Silver, Curly Russell. This, I also had on cassette, recorded in about 1974 from the vinyl I borrowed from the Bethlehem Public Library.

Cannonball Adderly, Somethin' Else, a recording I somehow never heard before.

Someone, anyone, name one title from the above radio station list that a). you will still want to hear 33 years from now, b). will be coveted in reissue by people like me approximately 20 years after that, c). that you are likely to be able to listen to over and over again at recurring intervals for the next 50 years and hear something thrilling or new nearly every time. Oh I know, it's not fair to compare the above artists to Miles, Duke, Blakey, Cannonball, Ornette. Or maybe it's not fair to compare the radio station list with such classics as I picked up at Barnes and Noble. Okay, maybe you have a point, sort of. Except that I'd probably be excited if the radio station suddenly got the entire Blue Note catalogue, for example, from 1957. Or maybe even every Columbia Jazz release from 1967.

So why isn't it fair? And even if it's not fair, what does that in itself say about what has happened to this ugly stepchild of American musical culture that people still insist on calling "Jazz"?

Talk about leading questions. You know and I know that we all know the answer.

By the way, Sonny Fortune and Illinois Jacquet are incredible musicians, but I'm skeptical of the above releases. Chris Potter's disc might be worth a whirl. And one of the groups unknown to me, The Dale Fiedler Quartet, playing the music of Pepper Adams, sounds like it's worth a listen. But let's say I can still hear in 2057, let's say I quit smoking and take up yoga and don't get hit by a bus...what then, when I'm 96?


Izzy Feldman said...

You better check out "Float Like A Butterfly" before you pass judgement.
Izzy Feldman

Mwanji Ezana said...

I've heard #8 (you can download it for free here) and heard #19 live. Neither are exceptional.

But why do you take this list as being in any way representative of "jazz today"?

There is good stuff being released today, such as The Claudia Quintet's "For".

Anonymous said...

i'd give the charlie hunter disc a whirl. he plays guitar and bass simultaneously; rather than a gimmick, the guy can definitely swing and seriously groove the funk face...


Anonymous said...

Dear Life by Joe Locke and 4 Walls of Freedom is a fantastic disc.

But then again, I'm biased.

I'm Joe Locke's manager.


Tom Marcello
Manager Joe Locke

peter breslin said...

Hi- to be fair, I should check them *all* out before I pass judgment, right? Mwanji, thanks for the tip re: Claudia Q/Hollenbeck, a reminder to get around to that. I appreciate any and all recommendations.

But my three questions stand: 33 years from now, 50 years from now, you know, that terrible standard. Altogether too high? Then what is the world doing with, say, a document of OC's double quartet in it?


the improvising guitarist said...

Well, I can’t guarantee that I’ll still be listening to Free Jazz in 33 years time (or next month for that matter). I haven’t given the Miles records a spin in maybe ten years, I can’t remember the last time I heard Somethin’ Else, and the Duke and the Blakey, shamefully, I can’t recall at all.
But I don’t think any of that means I (should) think any less of these works. Maybe things have a time and a place, abandonment doesn’t necessarily mean that things lost were (or are) worthless. As improvisers, maybe we have a complex/contradictory relationship with the transient and the impermanent.

S, tig

Kay Sherman said...

I doubt whether anybody can predict what will still be listened to 33 years from now no more that they could have 33 years ago. That is a fact of life. The important thing with me is does the CD reverberate with people living at the time it came out. Pre-judging music without listening to it is also not too cool today or 33 years ago either. I took Mr. Feldmans advice and bought "Float Like A Butterfly" and is playing in my car constantly. A breath of fresh air without a doubt!
Kay Sherman

peter breslin said...

S, tig- thanks for stopping by. The "transient and impermanent" seems a different category than the shallow, the insipid and the disposable. Or my favorite lately: "the derivative." Have I mentioned yet how sick I am of retro recapitulation? My hagiography of Miles, Duke, Blakey in no way constitutes a taste of mine for folks churning the same strategies through the same meatgrinder 50 years after it was The New Thing.

Thanks too Kay for stopping by. I *can* predict what people will listen to 33 years from now. I don't know where I got that ability. Despite my not yet finding a way to convert this supernatural ability into cash, I cherish it. :-)


Susan Gatschet Reese said...

Wish you would take the time to listen to Charles Gatschet's "Step Lightly". A very talented guitarist backed by some great musicians.
A name you may not be familiar with, but one you should get to know. There is still room in the world of music for new compositions and fresh arrangements of classics. Ignore it and the music goes away, embrace it and it will be around 50 years from now.

peter breslin said...

Hi Susan- I don't think my embracing Duke at Newport has made it possible for it to still be around after 50 years. I am glad, however, that someone has embraced it, many times over. In fact, that Phil Schaap cared enough to track down the Voice of America tapes and the old Columbia tapes and remix the thing so that it actually has the live performances instead of the cheap studio patch job Columbia did in the first place.

But I digress...

I listened to some of Charles Gatschet's Step Lightly and Reflections and I fail to hear anything innovative, new, fresh or particularly stirring. It's nice jazz music, well played, clean, clever and artful. There are a few quirky heads, especially "Contradiction." It's entertaining music, not disturbing or imposing in any way, and very pleasant.


Good Times said...

There is still room in the world of music for new compositions and fresh arrangements of classics. Ignore it and the music goes away, embrace it and it will be around 50 years from now.

No embracing necessary. Besides "Free Jazz" has been (comparatively) "ignored" for the totality of its existence and it's still here.

So long as there is an economy, and so long as artists can't come back from the dead to demand royalties, "Jazz" will "continue."

For all we know, economically "Jazz" hasn't even gotten started--even though artistically "Jazz" has become codified, eager to distance itself from those innovations (from forty years ago) that may jeopardize the Real Book At The Radisson gig or the generous financial support of listeners and corporate sponsors.

For all we know, the ossification of Jazz is the first step towards its total musical hegemony.

(Is that crazy talk?)

Mind you, they are still releasing, marketing, publicizing, applauding, and making money from re-renditions and re-mis-readings of music that's over 500 years old.

What do you think is going to happen to ("our" love of) "Jazz" when all of it is in the public domain?

peter breslin said...

artistic codification....that's what I'm talking about. Or as Mamet might have one of his characters say, that's what I'm *speaking* about. We're not talking about it, we're just speaking about it.

But, oddly, to even speak about it seems shrouded in taboo. Sure, people are going to get their feathers ruffled. People should have fistfights about aesthetics, right?

I just wish the dress rehearsal would end, the scales over chords would stop, and someone would wheel out the big bazooka. Well, someone other than my already-heroes, who have been wheeling out big bazookas for decades.


DJA said...

Omer Avital is great. I haven't heard those records but I've heard him live in a few different contexts. I had no idea his records were selling so well that he'd have two entries on a list like this.

I have no interest in what people will be listening to 50 years from now. Even if it were possible to know, who the fuck cares? I sincerely hope 50 years from now I will be listening primarily to stuff released in 2057, not 2007.

shermanrubin said...

peter, sherman here, get in