All That Jazz
The Bad Plus was used as the title of yesterday's post about the renewed 'ninja' killings.
Perhaps I should apologise to the very wonderful jazz trio
who are about to entertain a London audience as part of this year's London Jazz Festival
.According to New York's Jazz Police, the Bad Plus are very bad indeed. How can they be playing jazz working out on songs by Aphex Twin, Abba, Kurt Cobain, Blondie and the Pixies? For the rest of us, they are the most refreshing jazz group to have come out of the US in years. Their albums (latest: Suspicious Activity?) only tell half the story. Live, these guys draw you into to their musical roller coaster ride with humour and panache.
Oh, lucky Londoners.
I agree with saxophonist Gilad Atzmon
who wrote a year ago that jazz is a form not of knowledge but of spirit. Jazz is a world view, an innovative form of resistance.
Except, he goes on to say, it is now a tool of global business ... our devoted Big Brother has almost won. Jazz's spiritual and political message is almost defeated.
I'm not so sure.
The sheer range of styles suggests not conformity but freedom of expression.
Where The Bad Plus take modern classic songs and reinterpret them with both adventurousness and respect, Shirley Horn
, who sadly died ten days ago, infused standards with integrity thus also impressing on listeners the songs' inner qualities.Horn, a soft-voiced, lazily eloquent performer, had much of Billie Holiday's patient audacity about the pacing of songs - and she more generally exhibited the same disinclination to run if she could walk, taking until her 50s to become widely known outside her native Washington DC.
Many younger jazz listeners unknowingly hear Horn today, in the work of such influential low-lights singer-pianists as Diana Krall. Horn gave such artists the confidence to believe that more about a standard song could be expressed with less than had ever seemed possible before.
Yes, Jakartass is an unashamed jazz fan and I have been since I were a nipper listening to my Dad's collection of 78's. He also played the piano semi-professionally and still, at 86, entertains retirees in Eastbourne on a regular basis.
I sent him a copy of The Bad Plus album These Are The Days for his last birthday. I'm glad to say that he enjoys it, as does Son no.1 who took it back home for him.
Music that transcends generations can't be all bad, eh?
If you want to know more, the most authoritative and compendious site I know is All About Jazz.