Jazz is music that lets outsiders feel inside. No other form of music creates this sensation for the average listener, the belief that there's more to the music than just its sound and pleasure. With jazz, there are personalities, dramas, hidden messages, life stories and a poetic component that you either get or struggle to get. [Photos by Burt Glinn]
Classical, rock, soul and rap don't really have this extra dimension. For a range of reasons, they are meant to be consumed like soup. When the bowl is empty, the listener isn't expected to linger and ask questions. With jazz, the act of consumption is involved because jazz listeners tend to be more curious. We want to know how the soup was made, what were the ingredients, who made the soup, who in the past made the same recipe and whose soup was best.
The definition of hip is just that—membership in an inner circle of similarly knowing people. No other form of music carries with it this intangible concept of hipness and cool, that being knowledgeable somehow makes you at one with the art. But are even the hippest jazz listeners ever really inside? Probably not. To be completely inside, you'd have to play jazz for a living, and work has a funny way of excoriating art's romance and perceived charm.
Inside or out, it doesn't really matter. With jazz, it's the feeling of being inside that's rewarding. By seeing or talking to jazz musicians or listening and reading liner notes, one feels connected to something momentous, something with a tradition that dates back at least 100 years. Jazz and its story are accessible and play out on a human scale. We see ourselves reflected in the music, in the creative expressions and the freedom to improvise. And when that happens, we're inside, we're hip and connected to others who see and feel the same things.
Will Friedwald. If you're in the New York area on Tuesday, November 2, drop by the Nesuhi Ertegun Jazz Hall of Fame at Jazz at Lincoln Center at 7 p.m. Jazz writer and author Will Friedwald will be discussing his latest book, A Biographical Guide to the Great Jazz and Pop Singers (Pantheon). He also will be playing video clips of some of his favorite singers. The book will be available for sale at the event—or it can be found here.
Ray Charles. In support of Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters (Concord), the new Ray Charles CD featuring never-before released recordings, filmmaker Bret Primack produced this mini-doc...
Horace Silver. Steve Cerra at Jazz Profiles has a terrific post on Horace Silver and an arrangement that Mike Abene, Bill Kirchner and Andy Boehmke wrote for Cookin' at the Continental. The post includes a clip of the arrangement.
Billy Taylor, Stanley Turrentine and Gary Burton. Here's a clip of these three giants in 1997...
Stan Getz. You rarely get to hear the voices of jazz musicians. Bev Getz, Stan Getz's daughter, posted a radio interview with the tenor saxophonist in Sweden in 1951. Just click on the image of Getz to start the recording here.
Don Patterson. Today, from 2-7 p.m. (EDT), on-air jazz maven Jumpin' Sid Gribetz presents a special five-hour radio broadcast celebrating the career of organist Don Patterson. Tune into WKCR in New York from anywhere in the world on your computer by going here.
CD discovery of the week. Fans of CTI Records will be happy to learn that California Concert has been reissued by Sony. The album with the Pete Turner image of a red setting sun on the cover was the label's first live LP featuring all-star musicians assembled by producer Creed Taylor. The jazz-pop fusion holds up well thanks to the artists assembled: Freddie Hubbard (tp) Hubert Laws (fl) Hank Crawford (as) Stanley Turrentine (ts) Johnny "Hammond" Smith (el-p,org) George Benson (g) Ron Carter (b) Billy Cobham (d) and Airto Moreira (perc).
The two-CD California Concert (Sony Masterworks) is available at iTunes or here.
Oddball album cover of the week. In 1957, alto saxophonist John Jenkins landed a Regent recording date and brought together some friends—Donald Byrd, Curtis Fuller, Tommy Flanagan, Doug Watkins and Art Taylor. The album was called Jazz Eyes. Then the cover was handed off to the art director for a creative solution. I'm not sure which of the model's eyes says "jazz." Perhaps it's the vulnerable one on our left. Or maybe the experienced one with the arched brow on our right? Nice to know that back in the late 50's, one could have "jazz eyes." Hopefully her ears worked as well.