First off I wanted to thank Klemen for giving me some space on his psychedelic music magazine to write about improvised music/jazz, the most ignored and the least popular musical genre in America.
I will mostly be writing about Free Jazz which is the ugly stepchild of Jazz, making it the least popular branch of the least popular musical genre in America.
I'm sure 99.9% of this magazine's readers have listened to little or no jazz. Maybe you've heard it at the holidays when they wheel out the corpse of Smooth Jazz for Christ's birthday. There are fireballing, trippy jazz musicians out there, but their profile is low which is why I'm here.
Maybe you've asked yourself in total disbelief: how did Miley Cyrus' song "Wrecking Ball" get 758 million hits on Youtube? If half of everybody of that tuned in did so just to watch her swing back and forth naked on the wrecking ball, that still leaves a lot of people who think it's a good song. Or a lot of people tuned in to watch her lick a sledgehammer. I watched her lick it, it's weird. Even if 95% of folks tuned in just to get their perv on, that still leaves almost 38 million people who think that's an awesome tune. Breathtaking.
Popularity (and profitability thereof) is not an indicator of quality and Jazz doesn't suck because it's not huge like Indie Rock. There's an argument to be made that hugeness produces more sucking -- Wilco, for example.
There is also a misconception that you need to know a lot to understand and enjoy Jazz. The same can be said of wine but a good buzz is a good buzz even if i am a low IQ achiever.
I wanted to start this column off with what I consider a straight up Free Jazz/Punk Rock banger from Don Cherry's record "mu" first part. Ed Blackwell, the drummer on this track with Don Cherry, tears up the drum kit while incorporating African rhythms and music from New Orleans, where he grew up. And Don Cherry is right on in his trumpet playing. Hopefully you'll check it out and just listen to how these guys play and work their way through a tune by listening to each other.
p.s Jazz is a mostly acoustic music and it doesn't really make the journey through google's bullshit mono bandwidth unscathed so maybe you might want a streaming service. And I know the streaming stores suck, (I fucking hate spotify) but it is a way to check out music that I will be talking about. I use beats, which has the best audio quality, but it has no free version.
p.p.s. There is also a stereotype that Jazz listeners are pretentious douchebags. I'm not going to deny that I have met ill douchebags in Jazz, but I have seen no proof that the douche ratio in Jazz is any higher than the douche ratio in Hip Hop (Kanye!) or heavy metal (lead singer of Metallica?). I will confess that I have been called a douchebag probably every two weeks or so over the course of my life, but i'm not pretentious.
p.p.p.s. Finally, I want to recommend a couple records from genres outside of jazz to show that I know my records. Maybe you've checked out Pig Destroyer's 2012 record Book Burner. Oh my, that will get your blood pressure going. Or Jeri Jeri's 2013 record 800% Ndagga -- that's an obscure one, but that's some heavy African music.
Column made by Steven Walcott/2015
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