[Dixielandjazz] Evolution of Jazz
janetshaw at sympatico.ca
Tue May 20 11:27:46 PDT 2003
Thanks for saying, up-front, that it is not for everyone on the list. I
read it, just for curiosity, as I sometimes take a morbid or cynical
interest in what is currently happening in the brave new world of "evolved
While you name the writer, you do not tell us in which publication it
appears. I would like to know this, as I would not want to make the mistake
of inadvertently buying it.
This is not a scene for which I crave, Steve - I prefer to remain
In reading carefully through this article by Ben Ratliff, I can imagine
what my dear old mum might have said about it - "What a load of
sanctimonious old clappfaertt!" or words to that effect.
Give me the "old jazz" any day. By the "old jazz" I mean before the
"improvers" got to work on it and stripped it of its essence!
(writing from SARS - free, or virtually free, Toronto but getting ready for
the summer West Nile virus)
----- Original Message -----
From: "Stephen Barbone" <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>
To: "Dixieland Jazz Mailing List" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Tuesday, May 20, 2003 9:10 AM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Evolution of Jazz
> WARNING, NOT FOR EVERYBODY ON THE LIST.
> BUT, IF YOU ARE A BAND LEADER, OR A SIDEMAN THERE IS PERHAPS A GLIMPSE
> OF WHERE THE GENERAL AUDIENCE FOR JAZZ IN THE USA IS HEADING.
> MY BAND HAS FOUND A VERY VIABLE MARKET NICHE AMONG GENERAL AUDIENCES FOR
> LOOSE, JAM TYPE, OKOM BASED JAZZ. THE FOCUS OF THE BELOW ARTICLE IS NOT
> TOO FAR REMOVED FROM THAT.
> IF YOU ARE LEADING A "WORKING" JAZZ BAND, OR A MEMBER OF ONE, YOU MAY
> FIND THIS ARTICLE WELL WORTH READING.
> MY SUGGESTION? CONCENTRATE ON THE SCENE THAT THE ARTICLE TRIES TO
> PORTRAY, RATHER THEN ON THE WORDS AND PHRASES IT USES. IN OTHER WORDS,
> "HEAR THE MESSAGE"
> Steve Barbone
> May 20, 2003
> Smooth? How About Some Chunky?
> By BEN RATLIFF
> Around 1974 a mutant strain of jazz broke apart from the main
> organism. Its leading artist was Grover Washington Jr., a supertalented
> alto saxophonist, and the music was made by jazz musicians playing jazz
> vocabulary (if through a limited number of chords) over shuffles and
> funk rhythms.
> By the mid-1980's that music diversified, found a marketing genius or
> two and came to be called smooth-jazz. It developed its own world of
> It cultivated a large audience, both black and white. And as the options
> in popular music for adults quickly proliferate, it is sounding tackier
> every day.
> These three new CD's seem to predict where the audience for smooth-jazz
> could go next. It's likely that the genre - as represented in
> smooth-jazz radio
> playlists and the Contemporary Jazz category of the Grammys - will
> revisit its early-70's roots: it will get identifiably blacker, guided
> by neo-soul, and
> more hippie-ish, with the connotations of jam-band music.
> Hard Groove
> Roy Hargrove
> Roy Hargrove's "Hard Groove" (Verve) was recorded with a studio
> collective Mr. Hargrove calls the RH Factor. A lot of hopes have been
> pinned to this
> record. Mr. Hargrove, who has a successful mainstream-jazz working band,
> was the trumpet player on D'Angelo's studio masterpiece "Voodoo" a few
> years ago, and this CD was similarly assembled: it has a large core
> crew, with piecework added from recognizable names.
> Like "Voodoo," it transmits the feeling of musicians at work in a casual
> atmosphere. Every track attains the loose-limbed momentum of a jam
> session, and
> the sound has been heavily altered in postproduction by Russell Elevado,
> who also designed the remarkable mix on "Voodoo." Mr. Elevado
> Mr. Hargrove's trumpet sound, caking it with fuzz and wah-wah at points;
> he artfully buries a Hammond organ, and sometimes even vocals, under the
> rhythm section.
> "Hard Groove" is a late-night party album: it begins upbeat then settles
> into a stoned haze. The rapper Common comes along in the second track,
> freestyling badly; D'Angelo himself arrives in Track 3, efficaciously
> nailing Funkadelic's "I'll Stay"; Q-Tip drops by to rap about jazz in
> his mentholated,
> nasal tones, followed by Erykah Badu. And so on, through sweet funk
> ballads and even an uptempo charge through free harmony by the
> Steve Coleman.
> It's an odd album, lurching regularly across 72 long minutes from the
> banal to the inspired. The record aims for a feeling of mystery. These
> are primarily
> jams, not songs. That's good. And thanks to Mr. Elevado, it always
> sounds seductive. But too many dull ideas are spun out too long, and
> there's a
> persistent dependence on all kinds of instrumental and vocal clichés of
> Ethnomusicology, Vol. III
> Russell Gunn
> Russell Gunn, who's just released "Ethnomusicology, Vol. III" (Justin
> Time), has much in common with Mr. Hargrove: he's a young hard-core jazz
> trumpeter who has worked behind R&B stars (in Mr. Gunn's case, the
> singer Maxwell). Logically Mr. Gunn wants his work to build a sensible
> between the jazz and neo-soul audiences. If Mr. Hargrove's touchstone is
> "Voodoo" and the music that inspired it, Mr. Gunn's might be Guru's 1993
> album "Jazzmatazz," with a lot of sampled drum loops and D.J. scratches.
> (The jazz and hip-hop/R&B aesthetics are quite far apart: this hybrid
> evolves slowly, precisely because it's so hard for musicians on one side
> of the fence to become masterly at the music from the other.)
> Mr. Gunn wants to relax you with soul ballads, a few of which seem right
> for commercial radio. Then he wants to challenge you. There are samples
> squealing tires, a car crash, a barking dog; he encourages crunching
> dissonance here and there. The album uses some different beats, like a
> fast house
> rhythm in "East St. Louis" and some jazz historicity: an airy jazz-funk
> version of "Yesterdays" and a swirling bad-dream arrangement of "Strange
> Up All Night
> The John Scofield Band
> Since the 1970's the guitarist John Scofield has effectively
> incorporated rock and funk into his jazz; "Up All Night" (Verve) uses
> his tight new working
> band, aiming right at the jam-band (i.e., post-Grateful Dead) audience.
> What makes this album different from the two above? This is guitar
> music, for one.
> (Mr. Scofield has an unusual, woozy touch and rattles off beautiful
> fractured solos, unified by his own rhythmic logic.)
> It's a strict band, playing in real time; the goals are more focused.
> The dance groove is shallower and brighter: it's the classic early-70's
> sound of the
> Meters, rather than contemporary R&B, that's in his head. And despite
> Mr. Scofield's frightening musicianship, this album is also more
> workmanlike: it is merely the latest installment of a natural-sounding
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