[Dixielandjazz] Where is Jazz Going?

Rob McCallum rakmccallum at hotmail.com
Thu Dec 1 13:03:14 PST 2005

Hi Steve and everyone,

This is an interesting article, however, I'm not convinced that the fusion 
of jazz and indie rock will be the next new thing.  James Carter is a 
fantastic player and, on one hand, I'm a bit surprised that he's going to 
start branching outside of jazz.  He made his career being the new voice "in 
the tradition" of Ellington, Lester Young, Hard Bop, etc.  His soloing is so 
energetic that it practically mesmerizes his live audiences.  However, he 
was the new thing in the 90s and I think his career may have stalled a bit 
(I see him hanging around Detroit way too much : ).  So, on the other hand, 
he may be looking to reinvent himself.  He's almost 40, so he's no longer 
the young phenom, and in the modern circle, Ron Blake seems to be the new 
guy who everyone's talking about.

The Bad Plus is another story.  This trio does have more in common with the 
modern rock crowd than the jazz crowd.  They are young and hip.  I heard 
them at the Vanguard right after their first album came out.  I don't know 
what their sound is like now, but at the time, the rhythm feel was not a 
jazz feel at all, though they did improvise over it (pianist sounds a bit 
like Tristano at times).  I think they sound like a jazz group because it's 
a piano, bass and drums trio, but the feel doesn't swing (in either a 
traditional or modern sense) at all.  It's not meant to.  That's the "modern 
rock" element.  Each song is structured around a unique bass line.  
Sometimes it seemed awkward.  Perhaps that's because I was always waiting 
for the drummer to kick into swing (almost fell out of my chair trying to 
anticipate it) (Hadn't heard of them before attending their live show so I 
was unaware that they never play in jazz time.)  They were really playing 

I think it's great that they're developing their own sound and that it's 
working for them.  The Vanguard was packed and, after their set, the 
enthusiastic audience jokingly raised their lighters as if at a rock 
concert.  The band obliged with two encores until Lorraine Gordon stood up 
and said, "Okay, okay.  That's enough."  I don't know that they'll spawn too 
many imitators, but at least they're trying something new.

I played in a group about ten years ago that was trying to blend indie rock 
and jazz flavors.  The issue seems to be that modern alternative rock is 
rhythmically stiff and usually completely arranged.  It doesn't leave room 
for improv or room for individual "voices."  I think that classic rock (ala 
the Doors etc) had more in common with jazz because it left more room for 
musicians to express themselves.

BTW--Apparently Smalls (the cutting edge, all-night jazz room in the Village 
that brings up young talent) has reopened in its previous location.  
According to the Web site, they now have a bar (it previously didn't sell 
anything--patorns would pay a $10 cover to listen to various groups until 
dawn).  The owner also has another place around the corner called the Fat 
Cat, which now also has jazz seven nights a week.  It's not Dixieland, but 
it is where the younger jazz guys are cutting their teeth.

All the best,
Rob McCallum

>From: Steve barbone <barbonestreet at earthlink.net>
>To: DJML <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
>Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Where is Jazz Going?
>Date: Wed, 30 Nov 2005 10:06:19 -0500
>Otherwise, this is an interesting article on how a couple of jazz bands are
>gathering in a younger, Indie-rock oriented audience.
>Dixielandjazz mailing list
>Dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com

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