But that may have given the wrong impression. It's not that I dislike jazz, per se. It's just that I listen to very little of it, don't know much about it, and occasionally deride it as wonkish and wankish for cheap laffs. But underneath all that is, you know, a deep undercurrent of respect for this uniquely American art form. I guess.
Until recently, my jazz collection consisted of seven CDs:
- A Billie Holiday collection, an Ella Fitzgerald collection, and a compilation called the Great Ladies Sing Gershwin. 'Cause you've gotta love that stuff.
- Two (2) Dave Brubeck albums. 'Cause Take Five absolutely kicks my butt. Best drum solo ever.
- An album by Sadao Watanabe. When I was a senior in high school, I taped a live album of kinda fruity, big-bandy saxophone music that I always thought was Sadao Watanabe. And I still love that battered old cassette tape. If I go to a record store with a jazz section and listen to all of the Sadao Watanabe, though, there's nothing that sounds remotely like what I'm expecting. Maybe I labeled my tape wrong?
- The Best of Ken Burns Jazz. Yeah, whatever.
So, in my eternal quest to drink deep from the well of human experience, I recently started grabbing big fistfuls of jazz CDs at the library (which reminds me, Citizens of Roses, have you joined the Friends of the Library yet? And why the hell not!?!). I used the same criterion that one uses in selecting a fine wine, which is to say, I looked for discs with the coolest covers. Then I listened a few times, and returned the ones that didn't do it for me.
What follows are the ones I kind of liked. I have no idea if these are big names, or small names, or what, in the jazz world. Do they even have big names in the jazz world? Who are alive, I mean?
- The Dave Holland Quintet, Prime Directive. Lots of trombone. Interesting sound.
- Vijay Iyer, Reimagining. Very spacey soundscapy sorts of stuff, which I like, with very complex time signatures, which I like.
- The Horace Silver Quintet, Doin' the Thing at the Village Gate. The best of the batch. A 1961 club recording, sharp, intelligent, and redolent with the sensation of being happily wired at 2:15 a.m.
- Coleman Hawkins, Night Hawk. Bluesy oldschool saxophone stuff. Makes you feel all poignantly lonely.
- Two (2) Bill Frisell discs. These were kinda purty. But I don't know if they were really "jazz."
- Terence Blanchard, Flow. Trippy trumpet stuff. Makes me wish I smoked.
So, do any of you crazy jazz cats have any thoughts on this situation?
- Specifically, I'd be very interested to know if there is any coherent pattern to the jazz that seems to appeal to me. Am I listening mostly to representatives of one or another subgenre, in other words?
- Do you have any recommendations for further listening based on what I've said above?
- Or, failing that, do you have any general recommendations based on just whatever YOU like?
OK, that's enough about jazz.