20/10/2010

Jazz-Death


You can tell a lot about someone* from the historical year after which they stop listening to jazz.

  • Maybe you've an orderly mind ("What is this thing "improv", but anarchy?") in which case Satchmo goes and ruins jazz as early as 1925.

  • For loads of people it's 1945, where we noticed that, at some point in the Second World War, jazz ceased to be pop music and had donned the unwieldy headgear of art music. ("STOP DANCING AND LISTEN, DAMNIT." - signed, Gillespie, Parker, Monk) Jazz became agitation, spontaneity, the sound of your nerves.

  • Or there's 1952, when Chet Baker kills the piano (and thus yanks out the moderating seatbelt of standardised chord-accompaniments).

  • What might look like the grandest self-obsession of an egoistic time (1955-63) and place ("Mingus Ah Um"; "Mingus Dynasty"; "Charles Mingus Introduces Charles Mingus"; "Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus") is really a feedbacking loveletter to humanity, one rendered in tone poems, and his mighty erectus.


  • Coltrane gets himself his first of many skulls (his own abstract musicological category) with "Giant Steps". And "If you don't like Kind of Blue you don't like jazz." - the best excuse you're going to get. Or you might scramble for the lifeboats when Ornette gives a courtesy air-raid siren (all 1959).


  • Modes are tricky things, so if you're of a natural temperament, get out before Kind of Blue's alien beauties (or 1963, when 'Trane left his impression.)

  • Almost everyone bails right out when Albert Ayler gets his skronk on (1964) - we all say we want freedom, but balls do we. Freedom is apocalyptic.



  • 1972: If you're still here, it won't be this "fusion" nonsense that unseats you (jazz tamed by rhythm, and eventually beer).



  • 25/12/2005.


  • Nujazz, which allegedly has "made jazz fun again", is a retro movement hiding behind laptops, and so sets your Jazz-death at around 1940, not 1995.

  • I refuse to believe there's still many people who snub jazz for an exclusively classical taste (especially since this means they have to snub a great deal of "classical" music composed after 1924). But if you do find such a creature, then I suppose their Jazz-death might be 1890, when Brahms is supposed to have played ragtime.




Jazz is a hundred genres - Miles Davis alone is about seven. And (barring pathology [a tragedy]) you don't dislike them all.



(Uselessly Rough) Timeline

- Early Jazz (1900 - 20)
- Bigband and Swing (1920 - 40)
- Bebop (1941-60)
- Latin Jazz (1943 - perpétuo!!)
- Cool Jazz (1949 - 60)
- Hard Bop (1954 - 65)
- Post Bop (1960 - til fusion)
- Free Jazz (1960 - [concept of time dissolves])
- "Creative Jazz" (1968 - 1968)
- ""World"" (Coltrane - Toumani)
- Fusion (1969 - Prog)
- Acid Jazz (1988 - 2000)
- Postmodern Jazz (1980 - .)
- And..?



And if you need a more opinionated map, there's few obliviouser than Piero Scaruffi.


* As long as they listen at all (which closes pretty heavily the scope of this particular insight).

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