Here's a related (and recent) article by Chris Hovan...
Walt Weiskopf: The New Mainstream
Agreed.Originally Posted by Jakeweiser
Nice to hear the SF Jazz Collective get their props: one of my current favorites. If interested in them, do yourself a favor and get the 3 CD version of their first album. Well worth the extra $.
Thoughtful article that balances technical details with information for the compositionally challenged (Like me!).
What about the use of electronic sounds? It seems like more and more "mainstream" artists are using electronics: Bill Frisell, Terence Blanchard, Sex Mob, Medeski, Martin and Wood, etc.
I used to be opposed to electronics; I thought it compromised the integrity of the artists who actually "played" the music. Now it seems like really talented musicians know how to integrated these sounds into complex compositions, and mainstream listeners who grew up on hip hop that sampled older music and computer created techno are ready for this new kind of jazz.
What do y'all think?
Sound is sound, regardless of how it's created. In talented hands loops, samples, programs on a laptop, etc., are just building blocks for music.Originally Posted by Waldo Frank
Think of the reception electric instruments got 40-50 years ago--it's the same dynamic. Eventually good listeners recognize good music, period.
PS--at the risk of simplifying the critic's thesis (and I hope not misrepresenting it) I think it can be said that in any field, over time, what was once cutting-edge becomes absorbed into the mainstream body. The brilliance of this human trait is that a new cutting edge is always demanded.
My daughter listens to a lot of hip-hop. Most is forgettable, like most music in most genres. But occasionally something really stands out that makes me go "hmmm." A year or so ago there was a new Missy Elliott song that was ingenious sonically--an incredibly dense texture, a million different sounds percolating, NO key or even hinted tonal center (for the most part)...rhythmically it was pretty standard, but in terms of melody and harmony it was clear that what was once avant-garde was now informing a top ten hit. (Just looked it up--it's called "Work It.")
I was just within this hour mulling the same issue, given my own personal predilection to the artists that Marc focusses on (they are - with few exceptions - roughly my age).
I'm not sure I'd agree that jazz is "irrevocably Balkanized" as he posits in the article. Not that it mightn't be true, but for some reason I'm not quite ready to concede that.
But congrats - a great piece - one that I'll certainly be returning to often (also looking for updates and extensions
The soul is dyed the colours of its thoughts
I'd add Ralph Peterson's Fo'tet (the Blue Note CDs in particular).
"Irrevocably Balkanized": I'm not at all convinced that that's the case. Like anything else, this subject requires some distance -- if, in 50 years or so, this is what people are thinking about the music, then it might well be true. For now, I think it's part of a working hypothesis. (One I've thought about a good deal, to be truthful.)
It would be *very* interesting to see how this concept works when talking about Latin American, European, African (et. al.) musicians -- meaning people who are based in these places, not the US and Canada. When I add this to the equation, "irrevocably Balkanized" seems pretty irrelevant -- but I'm carping about something that's not at all central to the piece! (Which is excellent -- it's so nice to see a lot of these folks being acknowledged.)
Do you think the "new" mainstream is a continuation of the "old" mainstream with labels like Fresh Sound New Talent and Criss Cross taking the place in today's jazz world that Prestige and Blue Note held in the 50's and 60's? This isn't to say that Blue Note doesn't still produce excellent mainstream jazz - I just downloaded the new Greg Osby from itunes.
[So....this means Jazz is moving in the direction already explored in
progressive rock? :-)
Seriously, there is some truth in what is being said in this article
but what I cannot believe is that the important contributions to this
"new mainstrean" made by many Latino jazz musicians is not
mentioned!! David Sanchez group played with the Ornette inheritance
(with the addition of complex changes using latin rythms) way before
some of the people mentioned. Even when the author mentions the SF
collective he does not mention Miguel Zenon.
Is There A New Mainstream?
By Marc Meyers
"Back in the day, the term "mainstream" was intended to apply to jazz
that fell between the radicalism of bebop and the galumphing
stodginess of "moldy fig" music. In other words, the mainstream was
the swinging sound of the majority of musicians circa 1950, the swing
music played by the likes of Ben Webster or Roy Eldridge. As bebop
went from radical music to generally accepted music, and then was
challenged by the avant-garde and free jazz, mainstream became
mainstream-modern, and Sonny Stitt became as mainstream as Coleman
But with the rise of fusion at the end of the 1960's, jazz began a
long, slow process of splinte
You make a good case for a New Mainstream. It's early days yet to see where it's going, but it looks as though we're beginning to get over the Balkanization. (Ironic that Dave Douglas is working on this while being literally "balkanized.")
I think there's a historical dimension, too, in at least two senses:
1. Part of NM can be traced back to earlier attempts to treat jazz as one big thing, not a succession of Next Big Things. In this sense, it's heir to groups like Chicago's Association For The Advancement Of Creative Musicians, the St. Louis Black Artists' group, and Horace Tapscott's Quagmire Manor crew in L.A.
2. It's also an inter-generational thing, in a way that jazz hasn't been very often. A lot of the people involved have been playing in bands where young and old cats learn from each other. Chris Potter was discovered by Red Rodney, and Red's Then And Now is a good example of this kind of collaboration. Mel Lewis's The Lost Art is another. Rosnes started out pretty early playing with people like Joe Henderson and Wayne Shorter. And then there's Hank Jones mentoring Geri Allen. You can probably think of more things like this, but this does seem to be something that's happening.
Gerry Mulligan, way back in 1959, saw the need for this kind of thing. Nat Hentoff quotes it in Jazz Is :
"I think it would be a good idea to organize a unit composed of some of the older jazzmen and those of the younger musicians who can do it . . . But first I'd want the group to work out for some time. Then if something of musical value results, we could record it."
Jeru was famous for jamming with anyone, especially his elders. As Whitney Balliett put it, Mulligan "would sit in with a tree full of cicadas."
Maybe Mulligan's programme is getting tested. If so, it's getting very good results, so far.
While I have serious issues with the main point of the article (uh, not another Young Lions-like marketing ploy)and really find the whole idea of a coalescing jazz 'mainstream' scene a negative thing, I'd have to say that the aesthetic being articulated as indicative of this alleged movement is the stuff that has been explored for years by young to youngish to oldish musicians from Ben Allison and his crew to most of the releases on the Omnitone label to name two examples. I'm not quite sure what's 'new' about it.
The contributions of Latinos, and other cultures, to jazz belongs in a separate piece. Because internationalism in jazz is of huge and growing importance. I've been doing a lot of listening to musicians from other nations, such as Javier Vercher, Soweto Kinch, Giorgio Occhipinti, and many others. And their music is outstanding, more great jazz for my hungry ears. The new internationalism could be more important than the new mainstream, and it's something I should write about at length, in a separate opinion piece. I should talk to Mike about this.
OZ: If I get this concept, the point of it is that it is the opposite of the Young Lions. It's about putting jazz back together, and discovering what all jazz has in common. It's not about pushing a new or old style.
Chicago's AACM, and the Art Ensemble, had it right: jazz is "ancient to the future." Not boppers vs. figs, or east vs. west coasts. God forbid it should be yet another revival of a sound from the past!!!
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