What-evuh. While refreshingly democratic, the blogosphere can be a breeding ground for conclusion-jumping, clipped attention spans and e-hissy fits. Perhaps it's because those who use the web as their sole source of information tend to skim rather than read. As a result, they come away with flawed interpretations, projecting what they think they read on what actually is in front of them. [Pictured: Serpents by Harry Diaz]
Case in point: The overheated response (here and here) to my post last weekend on the way young people consume music and what this spells for jazz's future. My remarks never went into the issues these two bloggers cover. I merely said that people in their 20s tend to consume music less intensively than past generations thanks to new technology and that jazz's future doesn't bode well given the concentration needed to fully grasp the art form and message.Somewhere along the way, my comments were read as a rant against kids. Let's try again, slowly: 1) The digital revolution has changed the way music is consumed. This isn't subjective. The music industry says so. 2) People in their early 20s grew up with computers and digital downloads and absorb music differently than the LP generation. This isn't a put-down. They did and they do. 3) Too much choice breeds distraction, anticipation and the urge to sample rather than consume and digest. No? Try attending the Fancy Food Show sometime.
Let me clarify: Young people are smart and jazz will survive. But jazz will certainly have a harder time winning over those who don't have the patience to listen—or read—carefully.
Art on the edge. California writer Leslie Westbrook sent along this fascinating clip...
Sonny Rollins. Bret Primack produced a video in support of Saxophone Colossus: A Portrait of Sonny Rollins, a book coming in September by photographer John Abbott and writer Bob Blumenthal.
Dizzy Gillespie. Here's another gem from Leslie Westbrook...
CD discoveries of the week: Bassist Jamie Ousley's Back Home is a thinking person's album. All of the tracks leave room for your mind to enter and wander around. Though the arrangements are sophisticated, you never feel as though Ousley is backing you into a rush-hour corner. Ousley has a fine knack for assembling the right instruments and vocalists for different tracks and letting notes ring. The title tune, with an earthy vocal by the singer known as SAMM, is a perfect example. Same goes for So Long, with LeNard Rutledge on vocal. You'll can sample Jamie Ousley's Back Home (Tie) here.
While I've hissed and moaned about new singers' over-use of the American Songbook, I must reel that in a bit. Jim Altamore's License to Swing took me aback. Altamore has a saloony sense of swing and control—and even sports Sinatra's timbre. Yet he never makes the mistake of becoming a Frank impersonator. Instead, Altamore is a completely natural singer and plenty comfortable in his own skin. He tackles a few Sinatra staples (Learnin' the Blues, Nice 'N' Easy and All of You). But he also takes on Just One of Those Things, Beyond the Sea and The More I See You. A thoroughly satisfying listen from a guy who sounds like the leather interior of a vintage Caddy. You can sample Jim Altamore's License to Swing (Lucky Us) here.
On Carlton Holmes's debut CD You Me and I, the pianist offers a splendid mix of originals and carefully chosen jazz pieces. The album opens with Wayne Shorter's purposeful Edda, and Holmes had the good taste to take on Bill Kirchner's lovely waltz Theme for Gregory. Cedar Walton's Firm Roots also appears here, along with a warm version of Artie Butler's Here's to Life. What I love most about Holmes' playing is the tender joy he brings to each piece. As he develops as a musician and the industry's demands ratchet up, I do hope he retains his gentle and spirited sound and fends off the muscle-bound fusionistas. You can sample Carlton Holmes' You Me and I here.
Oddball album cover of the week: Marie McDonald was a 1950s actress who was known as "The Body Beautiful"—or "The Body" for short. Married seven times, McDonald was a tabloid darling and never quite made it in film or on LP. But at least her nickname gave the producer of this album some inspiration for a title and a pose. If anyone has this album and knows what The Body sang, let us know in the Comments section.