I don't mean to disparage but I just don't get free jazz, virtuosic or not.
When it comes to free jazz I'm kinda like the tea party, I feel like I've been bullshitted and now I am mad as hell and I ain't gonna take it no more. It may be that I simply don't understand free jazz. But here's the problem, nobody can explain it to me in a way that makes any sense to me and I have asked some fairly serious musicians about it.
I sometimes wonder what the free spirit that was Thelonious Monk would think of free jazz. Would he revel in its unobstructed freedoms? Or would he find it just to weird to stroll and dance to?
Now even with my limited understanding of the objectives of free jazz I could hear and understand the occasional flashes of technical mastery of a recent group of practitioners of this stuff. So the musical skill of the players of this form is not at question. How these musicians choose to deploy their gifts is my gripe.
Why must there be a reading of abstract poetry to go along with their abstract music. It makes me feel like I accidentally stumbled into some sort of seance while the head wizard is reading an incantation to turn nonbelievers into toads or something. And here's another clue for you, anybody who brings more than 3 horns to the gig automatically goes on the suspect list unless your last name is Kirk .
Now I enjoy musicians who don't mind taking a song outside to play with it. But when the tune starts out down the block and around the corner and never even comes past the house much less come inside I get a little frustrated. I don't understand how as the listener, I am supposed to participate in this endeavor.
I mean when a song is grooving in 4x4 time I can pat my foot and keep time on my beer bottle at the bar and feel like I am a part of the performance too. But what am I supposed to do when they play free jazz, run calculus problems in my head.
OK fine, maybe it ain't for me and I just shouldn't listen.
But maybe musicians shouldn't be running around collecting $20 cover charges to play it either. If its so artistically specific and esoteric that the heathens can't get to it maybe you should just stay home and play it in the basement so your artistic bona fides don't get questioned by those heathens. But I could be wrong.
Here is some music that I can get to and there seems to be plenty of room to find new material if you know where to look.
Back in the stone age, when I dragged myself up out of the primordial soup that was the pre-high speed connection days of the interenet, one of the first places I found as a reliable source of jazz was KCSM. This station was a beacon of light and hope in an otherwise very dark world.
There were hundreds or even thousands of stations broadcasting on the internet back then. Almost none of them playing real jazz and even fewer broadcasting with a strong reliable broadcast stream. But there was KCSM playing jazz full time 24 hours a day with a strong reliable connection. Even on dial up you could get more jazz than buffering which was, from my perspective, a major advancement.
I have been a KCSM fan since I first found them. When I got my first high speed internet connection I played the station 24 hours a day. I worked listening to jazz, I ate listening to jazz, I watched television listening to jazz, I went to sleep listening to jazz, I woke up listening to jazz. Life was good.
The station has contributed to my growth and development not only in jazz knowledge but also in knowledge of the world around me. Jazz is the text book of choice for me.
As a fitting tribute to the impact KCSM has had on me, the very first entry to the jackedUPjazz blog, even before my own first post, was a link to the KCSM broadcast stream. That link does not work any more but here is an updated link
Well anyway, the fine folks at KCSM are having a pledge drive and deserve your help and support in keeping jazz alive on the airways. I have listened to the station for many years and have found them to be wonderful and passionate stewards of the art of jazz.
Give them a listen and if you are able, drop a little cash on them to help keep the music playing.
Special thanks to the fine folks at Real Jazz on SiriusXM Radio for an above and beyond the call of duty assist in tracking this down.
The song that got me was "La Luna" which Elin composed and sang the hell out of in apparently fluent Portuguese while Luiz Simas paints chords on the piano that are as clear and vibrant as a high def photo. I can't understand what she is saying but I sure as hell know what she means.
Anyhoo, she doesn't have a video soooooo here's another video you can't understand what they are saying but you know what they mean.