In response to “What Would You Like To See Here?” I’ve decided to re-post something from my old blog. It’s a bit of a jazz primer for those of you who said you’d like more music recommendations. I’ve added some bonus content—the above video is some advanced content from the the great Kenny Garrett for those of you who want more than the introductory music in the post. More of this to come if you like it—Bark
Jazz currently makes up less than three percent of all record sales, and that’s probably a generous number—I imagine that is probably much less than that when all forms of music sales are taken in account. As a Gen Xer who’s been a fan of Jazz for over twenty five years, I wish I understood a bit more about why Jazz is so unloved by people of my generation and younger.
There are countless articles on the internet that have been written by Jazz lovers, trying to explain to the uninitated why they should start listening to Jazz. I have never found any of these to be particularly helpful. They set out to introduce people to Jazz by giving a list of classic recordings that people should go out and listen to.
Well, there are a few problems with that. First of all, the classic recordings are just that—classics. Nobody who loves Jazz doubts that Kind of Blue or Giant Steps are great records, but they’re pretty inaccessible to the untrained ear. Kind of Blue, for example, is based on modal harmonies with the purpose of allowing the musicians to stretch out without being constrained by traditional vertical chord structures. Fascinating and revolutionary, yes, but interesting to the novice? No.
Secondly, they’re written by people who don’t listen to popular music. Like, not never. So how would they know what would be interesting to a person who enjoys Imagine Dragons or Katy Perry?
Therefore, I find it to be my moral obligation to try to create a sampling of music that the popular music fan might find interesting enough that he or she would actually listen to the whole thing—sort of a gateway drug to Jazz, if you will. I encourage you to listen to just a little bit of the selections I’ve picked out, and tell me in the comments below what your reaction is.
Courtney Pine is, in my opinion, the most technically capable saxophonist of his generation. He also manages to play music that is absolutely, positively Jazz, while still adding elements of hip-hop and electronic music. Underground is probably his best and most accessible recording, featuring great musical statements from Nicholas Payton and Cyrus Chestnut. This entire record sounds incredibly modern and forward-thinking—and then you realize it was released in 1997 and your mind is officially blown.
Redman isn’t my favorite saxophonist, not by a long shot. However, he does make tremendously accessible music. Brian Blade throws down some ridiculous beats here—it’s almost impossible to listen to this recording and not move something. Redman has made some very fine music with his Elastic Band, and this is the original version (Flea appears in a later version).
Is TOO Jazz! Miles Davis used to cover the popular tunes of his day—this is no different. Features a marvelous cameo from the spectacularly versatile Joe Lovano on saxophone. In addition to having an intoxicating voice, Spalding is also a superb bassist (electric and upright) with impeccable time and groove.
That’s enough for now. Listen. When you’ve absorbed this, I’ll give you more. Just like your local crack dealer, the first hit is free.