The Jazz.com Blog
August 05, 2008 · 0 comments
It’s time to update the old jazz wish list. The jazz scene is almost perfect. But there are some things I still don't encounter often enough. Here are eight from the master list.
(1) The Perfect Eight Bar Solo: There are many combatants who want to prove that they can deliver the ultimate eight minute (or longer) solo. But what about the perfect eight bar solo? Solo space was in short supply on those old 78s. Sometimes a hornplayer got only a bridge or a half-chorus, but still could make it count. If you were producing a record session today, and needed a perfect eight-bar solo, who would you hire?
(2) Jazz-influenced fashions: Billy Eckstine had his “Mr. B. Collar” and Dizzy had his beret. Miles had those special uniforms for outer space exploration – forget fashion designers, those duds came straight from a secret division of NASA. But there's no Miles today; there's not even a George Melly in sight. I am soliciting suggestions on which jazz musicians of today have "the look" that deserves to crossover into the mainstream. How about this happening Keith Jarrett attire? Or this Jamie Cullum I-may-still-grow-into-it outfit? And when will GQ do a feature on Kurt Elling's double-breasted stylings? Give me one good reason why jazz musicians shouldn’t be setting today’s fashion trends?
(3) Instrumental jazz crossover hits: Remember when folks like Lee Morgan or Cannonball Adderley could have a hit single that everybody heard on the radio. There are even rumors about a hit single long ago that was a jazz instrumental in 5/4 time. But I think that must be an apocryphal tale. You know, one of those lies jazz musicians tell? Can you imagine a hit single today by Matthew Shipp or Maria Schneider, Dave Holland or Miguel Zenón? I can dream, can’t I?
(4) Stop-time choruses: Hey, it worked for Louis Armstrong. It worked for Charles Mingus. It could work today . . . if anyone bothered to try.
(5) Bands that can play fast and soft at the same time: This is a powerful combination, but Ahmad Jamal must have locked up the intellectual property rights back in the 1950s.
(6) Smart Counterpoint: I’m not just talking ‘bout jazz fugues, such as John Lewis, Friedrich Gulda and others composed back in the old days. I’d settle for a pair of hornplayers who took some pride in perfecting improvised counterpoint and made it central to their musical vision. We once had Gerry & Chet, Warne & Lee, etc. But can you think of any twosome that stands out, at that same high level, today?
(7) Cover versions of Bud Powell tunes: Back when I was a young pup in the jazz kennel, I wondered why almost no one performed the old Bud Powell songs, with their catchy melodies and inviting chord changes. I’m still wondering.
(8) Lester People: I remember fondly deejay Bob Houlihan’s old “Lester People” show on KJAZ, which was (the radio host proudly proclaimed) the only weekly radio show devoted to the music of Lester Young and his friends & disciples. (Okay, it wasn’t really a whole show, just a few minutes . . . but point me in the direction of something better, huh?) Once “Lester People” were everywhere you looked: Getz, Quinichette, Lady Day, Al & Zoot. . . . Now Houlihan's show is gone, and KJAZ is gone, and the Lester People are gone too. They say you can’t bring back the past, but I’ve heard about his new cloning technology . . .
This blog entry posted by Ted Gioia