Monday, March 25, 2013
No Church in the Wild
I recently walked out on band during the first chorus of "Kansas City." The Kansas City jazz musicians weren't catering to out-of-town basketball fans in a downtown bar. They were playing for locals. That's just not right. Musicians can perform whatever they want, of course, but that doesn't mean I have to willingly endure it.
I often find myself dodging gigs by locally-based musicians just because I know that I can't tolerate hearing their overly familiar renditions of classic compositions by Horace Silver, Wayne Shorter and Count Basie again.
Acknowledging that it's 2013 is one way to avoid stagnancy. In addition to a repertoire of worthy originals, Diverse plays a solid arrangement of a hit from Watch the Throne. Phonologotron focuses on contemporary pop material. Mark Lowrey plays an intriguing version of "Buildings and Mountains" by the Kansas City rock band the Republic Tigers.
It's an unhealthy sign that much of the positive attention the Next Collective is receiving is due to its contemporary song selection instead of the brilliant playing of its members. Young musicians should perform material like "No Church in the Wild" as a matter of course.
I have no intention of reviving the controversy associated with Benjamin Schwarz's controversial review of Ted Gioia's The Jazz Standards: A Guide to the Repertoire. Nor do I endorse a disavowal of the past. Instead, I'm merely encouraging a handful of hidebound musicians to consider updating their songbooks.
(Original image by Plastic Sax.)