Monday, December 27, 2010
Doing Something Mean To It
During the fascinating pre-concert discussion at the Folly Theater on September 25, a member of The Bad Plus defended his complicated relationship with jazz. He and his two band mates, he explained, had developed their passion for jazz in an entirely organic fashion. No one introduced them to the music. Instead, their innate curiosity led them to the genre.
I came to jazz in much the same fashion. And like the men in The Bad Plus, I retain my love of popular music. I don't trust any musician under the age of forty that hasn't listened to Kanye West's new album. It's disingenuous for contemporary musicians to insulate themselves from the culture at large. I don't necessarily want jazz musicians to emulate West's music, but they at least owe it to themselves and their audiences to know the score.
Crosscurrent, a Lennie Tristano-inspired band, perform at Jardine's tonight. Its music is excellent. Because a few of the band's members bear a faint resemblance to these caricatures, the band- at least in their current form- are unlikely to find a big audience. Crosscurrent's insistence on purity, while admirable, is confining.
I'll always prefer the guys who come from a background and mindset more akin to my own. A prominent Kansas City-based jazz musician, for instance, was a member of '90s rock band Grumpy. It wasn't a great band, but the musician's music today is undoubtedly richer for that experience.