13 May 2009

Loves Me Some Jazz

When I first discovered America's only true art form, I was 15 and sitting in a jazz club (that no longer exists) in Westwood.  It was a magical night, and then later at CSUN during undergrad, I took a jazz appreciation class with a terrifically avuncular professor who wanted us to love jazz as much as he did.  This class seemingly covered it all, from the first recorded jazz song ("Back Home Again in" Indiana) to an 18 yr-old jazz upstart in the Northridge music program who performed live for us -- his name was Mr. Eric Reed, and he would later drop-out and tour with Winton Marsalis and is now an influential player in his own right.

The thing that we who love jazz (and those soul stirring standards) appreciate is "discovering" the next great thang (that's right, I said 'thang').  We like to fancy ourselves hip A&R professionals who seize upon new talent and then turn like-minded friends onto them as well.  Witness the new wave of accolades surrounding the hugely talented and unbelievably cool Ms. Esperanza Spalding; girl is just blowing up.   I saw and heard her about a year ago, and thought, "here we go again."  Then I saw her on David Letterman, and that's when you know "it's" over.  The (cool) cat is out of the proverbial bag, and she now beglongs to everyone in the main. 

The same thing happened with Joshua Redman, Madeleine Peyroux, Diana Krall, Nora Jones, et. al.  There's something about discovering a unique blend of jazz and vocal stylings that reflect an appreciation of the old standards but with that "new song" writing voice.   Amy Winehouse has that just once in a lifetime original voice, with that northern soul vibe.  Gawd, I hope she survives her own self and is around for decades to continue making amazing music and just enjoy her life.  But, the music business and its successes has a lot of trappings and emptying disappointments, the likes of which so many Billie Holiday's and Janice Joplin's, Kurt Cobain's and Elliot Smith's can't steer clear of.

Of course, it happens with all genre of music and their attendant music Mecca's, whether it's electronica, rock n roll, or country western.  First it was Nashville, and now its Austin.  L.A. was hot and then it was Seattle.   The cool, hip venue is certainly de reguier, with your young, ultra hipster crowd "in the know" of which nondescript club is the place to see the "act du jour."  But, with jazz, not so much.  Everyone is pretty laid back, from LA to Chicago.  NY to New Orleans.  Jazz brings out the timelessness of music appreciation, almost (I said almost) like classical music.  The jazz aficionado is there to enjoy the music more than he or she is there to ogle the latest act, or get caught up in the scene, which is part of why I enjoy jazz so much.  Sure, it's got its problems like any other music sub-set, but it is not so mainstream as to become tainted by an over abundance of air play.  There is a chance that even the most popular jazz recording artist will still be able to be fairly accessible at your local jazz club when they come to town.  It's (and they are) still cool because the entire scene is still below the radar, a sort of musical anti-proof of the economic theorem of "scarcity."   

Right now, I am enjoying a lot of  the West Coast "cool" trendsetters like Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, Stan Getz and Dave Brubeck (with a bit of Johnny Hodges thrown in for good measure).  I am not saying that you should love jazz too; just that I loves me some jazz.  But, that's just one cat's opinion.

And, this just in!  Hollywood Reporter is reporting this morning that Martin 

Scorsese is set to direct the Frank Sinatra biopic by Field of Dreams screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson.  Sinatra had some serious pipes, and could arrange the heck out of a song.  I just wish Clint Eastwood was attached to direct; that's one guy that definitely appreciates some jazz (his son Kyle is a bassist with his own jazz quartet).  Leonardo Dicaprio and Johnny Depp are both
 mentioned as likely to star.  Which actor would you rather see?


Kirti said...

Well, I started reading this thinking that I don't know ANY jazz, but I actually have heard some Diana Krall, Nora Jones, and of course if Sinatra counts, I love him as well...so I guess I'm not totally ignorant!
Leo vs. Johnny--man that's a tough one...love them both...probably would go with Johnny because I he's closer in appearance to Sinatra, plus he's just so crazy...I can totally see him inhabit "Sinatra" for the movie.

JGregg said...

I'm with you as being in Johnny's corner for this one...however, Leonardo did a heck of a job inhabiting (as you say!) Howard Hughes.

Jazz comes in many flavors, not just in the straight-ahead type (as my 11 yr-old likes to call it).


Booneacy said...

Amazing. Perhaps there are no rules after all (Simon & Paula). There's hope...

David Diggs

(cheap plug)

JGregg said...

That's no "cheap" plug ... since I've purchased almost all of your albums!!! Thx for stopping by David, and YES to the cigars.

John g.

My Dog-Eared Pages said...

Well... this cat FatScribe's opinion is right on. Jg., you might like: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yuGAJiqOdfw
Happy Sunday ; )

Anna White said...

Hiya John, I can see that you are a fan of Esperanza's from waaaay back..and I have only discovered her..how sad am I
; )! Thank you for stopping by BOTH my blogs..so very kind of you. I did try to reply to your comment via gmail..but there was no reply email listed?
Look forward to reading more of your inspirational posts...you write so beautifully..something I need to work on..when trying to "find" the right words to convey my thoughts. :)