Wednesday, March 10, 2010
The Big Question at the heart of this blog ...
is: have I gone nuts? My masthead informs the reader that the blog is "largely devoted to hard bop." But I keep posting on avant garde music. I have always thought that the melody was the thing in music, but I keep listening to music that wants to transcend the melody. What gives?
Intrepid reader Dan isn't too shy to say that the emperor has no clothes. He didn't like Archie Shepp's interpretation, or maybe anti-interpretation, of 'The Girl from Ipanema'. I did like it. Maybe all this edgy jazz has damaged my brain.
This reminds me of a conversation I had with a fellow grad student on the dark road back from a California desert, decades ago. Wes said that jazz was destructive music, as it tried to undermine all coherent forms in music. I argued to the contrary that jazz was of all musical genres most devoted to the forms of music precisely because it dug into, rearranged, and constantly explored all the myriad dimensions of melody.
Of course all that experimentation is bound to produce a lot of false positives. I am on recorded as having no time for Trane's Ascension. But one thing I notice: when avant garde masters present more conventional, straight ahead jazz, they bring lots of new juice to the table.
Case in point: Anthony Braxton's Six Monk's Compositions. Braxton is one of the more extreme page five musicians. His album Eugene is listed as one of the Penguin Guide's core collection. I bought it on that recommendation years ago, and I still can't figure out what it is about. But today I acquired the former recording, and it is marvelous. Here is a sample:
Give this one a listen, Dan, and let me know what you think.