Joe Blessett: Chillin out - JazzWax

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September 30, 2011


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Since Marc regularly writes rave reviews of new recordings by traditional jazz artists, I think we have to take this column with a grain of salt. Taking his premise at face value, it really boils down to which listeners you want to stultify. Overdubbing and electronic manipulation have been used effectively by many musicians (not usually classified as jazz) but the gestalt of spontaneous live interaction between musicians is as valid today as in ancient times. For me, some of the most exciting music comes from musicians who are finding a personal voice within, or rooted in, the jazz tradition. A few examples of contemporary jazz artists that are pushing the envelope gently: saxophonist/composer Ted Nash, bassist/composer Avishai Cohen, trumpeter/composer Evan Weiss - and there are many others. However musicians interested in cranking out more dollars should, in most cases, just avoid the jazz idiom altogether.


Thanks for the great info. on Blessett. Wow! I'm impressed that he plays so many instruments. Will definitely check him out!

Doug Zielke

When I read: "sidestepping jazz tradition", I knew I probably wouldn't be digging Blessett. A sample listen on itunes verified this for me. However, if you take Patricia Barber for an example, here you can find an artist who plays stimulating, contemporary jazz without it sounding like Muzak.

Ed Leimbacher

"Lava lamp" Jazz is the music's future, eh? His "own life's sound track," too. Well, well. Sounds perfectly, wonderfully kitschy-sinkish... sunk in lava goo. (Hey, Dave, maybe instead of a grain of salt you could pass me that bottle of aspirin... I feel a brainache comin' on.)

Kent England

I don't know where jazz is going but my favorite contemporary musicians all combine jazz with other things.

I wonder what Marc thinks of the New Orleans scene. I love the traditional brass bands and I love Galactic. Is it jazz? I don't know, but it sure is funky.

Jery Rowan

Sorry Marc, but this JazzWax fan doesn’t think the world’s quite ready for Joe Blessett’s world.

I’m one of those dudes who doesn’t think disjointed and half-baked ideas do anything for the betterment of jazz. And your comment about sidestepping jazz tradition and convention strikes me as more of an apology than a considered rationalization for what he does.

Just sayin’...

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  • Marc Myers writes regularly for The Wall Street Journal and is author of "Anatomy of a Song" (Grove) and "Why Jazz Happened." Founded in 2007, JazzWax is a two-time winner of the Jazz Journalists Association's best blog award.

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