Neverwednesday Nights

>> Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Back when I was in high school, I really tried to like jazz. I was serious about music then--actually, I still am (didja notice?)--and I was serious about being a musician (not so much now, tho' I still play a little guitar, badly, every now and again). So I was earnest about broadening my horizons, etc., and liking jazz and classical.

It didn't really work, though. It never quite clicked. Eventually, it was just a deficiency I learned to accept. Until....

The Columbia House record club was alright as record clubs went, back when it existed. You could sign up for a membership where they didn't automatically send you music you didn't want unless you mailed in a card, and they tended to have pretty good prices on boxed sets. And I guess it was about ten years ago they ran a special deal on the 4-CD Complete Bitches' Brew Sessions boxed set. It was a good enough price that you might as well buy the box as get the normal release, and I'd seen Brew listed on a couple of "Greatest Albums" lists--it was on the greatest rock albums list Rolling Stone ran when I was in high school. So, anyway, I bought it. And I put it on the CD player, and when "Pharaoh's Dance" started....

When "Pharaoh's Dance" started, I said, "Holy shit, this is jazz?" I said it out loud, even though my only company in the apartment was a cat (Elvis's predecessor, Springer; if there's an afterlife, I hope he's scratching up all their furniture right now, that mad, beautiful tom. He's missed, and still loved.) It was the most amazing fucking thing I'd heard in ages.

Turns out, I'd been listening to the wrong shit every time I'd tried the stuff. Sure, Coltrane is alright, great player, Miles's protégé, matter-of-fact; but Miles, Miles, now... Miles Fucking Davis. Shit.

Turned out Euterpe wanted me to listen to cool and bebop and early fusion the whole time and I never got the memo.

I still don't have much taste for classical. It's alright. I don't mind it. But I don't seek it out. But the jazz. Yeah, that's some good stuff. I finally figured that much out.

Miles Davis, "All Blues" from the classic Kind Of Blue, an album that I'm bold enough to say ought to be in any record collection worthy of the label (for the record, this means that I didn't have a record collection until seven or eight years ago, notwithstanding the several hundred CDs, tapes and LPs I had lying around pretending to be a record collection). This performance is from 1964, The Steve Allen Show, and while the sound isn't great, Miles's playing has a fluidity and grace that's missing from some of the later videos appearing on YouTube.


4 comments:

Random Michelle K Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 6:52:00 PM EDT  

Eric,

I love jazz, and have always loved it, although I have to admit that I've never been much of a fan of Coltrane.

But my love starts with Fats Waller and continues through the Marsalis brothers (I've seen Winton and Brandon both live; I prefer trumpets). There's something about good jazz I just *feel*. It's an ineffable something.

I don't know if you like older jazz, but if you've never given it much of a try, I love Fats Waller. His stride piano (and sense of humor) are simply amazing. (At his wedding, my brother's dance with my mother was to a Fats Waller song--Your Feets Too Big.)

Jim Wright Wednesday, September 24, 2008 at 11:57:00 PM EDT  

I love Jazz, I love Classical, I love 60's and 70's Rock, I love Bluegrass and Folk - most music made after about 78 I can't stand - with the exception of Knopfler and a select few.

Rap and Hip Hop are a fucking abomination.

Eric Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 11:27:00 AM EDT  

Michelle: I'm not familiar with Waller; I'll keep an ear out. Thanks for the recommendation.

If I had to express a jazz preference, it's probably for stuff in the bebop vein. But the classic stuff definitely has a place on my iPod, too. (I don't know for sure yet, but I think my Armstrong box probably has immunity--i.e., next time I change out tracks, it won't get deleted. On a related note: to the extent Ms. Simone is jazz--she's also pop, trad., and a bunch of other things but mostly just Nina--the Four Women box has total immunity and will only be deleted by solar flare or similar mishap.)

Jim: I won't try to evangelicize you on rap or hip-hop, because tastes differ. I'd only like to say that Sturgeon's Law is a bit more vindictive with rap/hip-hop right now because it's probably the most popular musical genre right now (i.e. since we hear so much of it, the "90% of everything [that] is crap" is right in everyone's face all the time right now). The 10% is worthy, which doesn't mean anyone in particular is obligated to like any of it, I'm just pointing something out.

Anonymous,  Sunday, September 28, 2008 at 9:21:00 AM EDT  

Eric, Thank you for your tribute to Paul Newman. You picked wonderful film clips. 4 of my absolute favorite clip. He was the man! His legacy will live on with his foundation doing wonderful works of charity.

Ruthie

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