I could have told them that was a good pairing three years ago

September 14th, 2006 → 11:49 am @

This week, Jason Moran‘s Bandwagon and the Bad Plus are playing a double-bill at Manhattan’s Blue Note. (There’s a review of the show in today’s Times.) The Blue Note is one of my least favorite jazz clubs — the acoustics suck, the sight lines are crappy, the food is sub-standard, and the crowds drawn by the legendary name are frequently both annoying and unknowledgable — but this is a show worth going to. The Bad Plus are one of my favorite groups of the decade, and they’re as good an introduction to the current jazz scene as anything out there; for such an adventuresome (and rhythmically complex) group, they’re also an easy entry in for those intimated by the whole genre. (“Iron Man,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Heart of Glass,” “We Are the Champions,” and “Chariots of Fire” all make regular appearances on their set lists. No joke.) I’m surprised this isn’t a double bill that’s played together more often; as I wrote back in 2003, they’re among the best of this generation of jazz musicians. (I’ve become newly obsessed with another pianist I wrote about: Brad Mehldau. Check out “Day Is Done” and “Live In Tokyo.”)

Post Categories: Jazz

Why I no longer write about jazz

August 29th, 2006 → 4:28 pm @

I love jazz. I love listening to jazz and I love seeing jazz live. For a while, I wrote about jazz. And then I stopped. Why? Because there was no way I was ever going to be knowledgable enough to write paragraphs like this one, from Nate Chinen’s New York Times article on a Sonny Rollins concert:

“What came next was even better: an unaccompanied cadenza that took Mr. Rollins through the emotional spectrum of his playing, and through seemingly dozens of musical quotations. In one stretch, modulating keys and elasticizing time, he flirted with the “Tennessee Waltz,” and then quoted, back-to-back, “I Thought About You” and “Look at Me Now.” In the hands of another player, this might have seemed cloying or overtly conceptual. Mr. Rollins made it a personal outpouring.”

My version would have been more along the lines of, “Man, is Sonny Rollins awesome.”

Post Categories: Jazz & Sonny Rollins