“I’ve got no kick against modern jazz,
Unless they try and play it too darn fast,
And lose the beauty of the melody”
-Chuck Berry nailed it in 1957
This collection is for people who don’t think they like Jazz. I’m one of them, after all, because I think a great deal of it is boring. Too many notes going nowhere as fast as they can. Where is the tune?
Shane Theriot hails from New Orleans and is currently guitarist and musical director for “Live At Daryl’s House”. His “Sanford and Son” (2000) seemed like the perfect place to start.
“Jungle” (1995) by Jef Lee Johnson is one of several tracks featuring vocals. Purchased as a cut-out from Sal back in the day. The rest of the album, “Blue” is just as good. Unfortunately he passed away at 54 in 2013.
“Elephant Walk” (2009) by Israeli guitarist OZ Noy is the funkiest and loosest of grooves in the best possible way.
“Kimotion” (2001) Composed and conducted by guitarist Kimo Williams is pure exhiliration.
You’re excused for thinking “You Can’t Sing, You Can’t Dance” (2013) by Serbian guitarist Dusan Jevtovic is Hard Rock. More like mid-period King Crimson than standard Jazz. One of the baddest songs I know.
“Pineapples & Ashtrays” (2015) is best described as “Surf Noir”. Led by Saxman Bryan Beninghove, the Hangmen are an incredible live act. Highly reccomended
James “Blood” Ulmer got his start with Ornette Coleman but really made a splash in the early ’80’s with his angular idiosyncratic guitar style. “Black Rock” (1982) somehow manages to sound like both Captain Beefheart and James Brown.
“Sacred Emblems” (2014) is more Surf than Jazz. From “Psychomagia”, the second album by Abraxas, led by Shanir Exra Blumenkranz, performing compositions by John Zorn.
“Keep The Bugs Off Your Glass And The Bears Off Your Ass” (2003) The Bad Plus. They’ve been called a “jazz power trio with a rock n roll heart.” The melody is as much fun as the title.
Singer, musician, songwriter, producer Cassandra Wilson’s take on “The Last Train To Clarksville” (1995) is one of my all-time favorite covers.
Bill Frisell, an incredibly versatile guitarist contributes the only ballad. A lovely rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like A Woman”(1992)
“Footsteps”(2012) by The Fretless Brothers truly unique exploration of microtonal guitars and tunings makes this track wonderfully disorienting.
“Storm The Reality Asylum” (1982) features the vocals of a very young Neneh Cherry with her stepdad Don sitting in on trumpet.
“Silent Land” (1981) Material, formed by Bill Laswell in 1978, went on to become an integral part of, and define the post No Wave downtown Jazz scene.
“Breathe” (2014) from a Big Band reinterpration of the Pink Floyd classic, “Dark Side Of the Moon”.
“Tobago Tango” (1986) Art Ensemble Of Chicago were the first Jazz band I really loved, Probably because they annoyed many Jazz fans by playing music that seemed like anti-Jazz. This is their most accessible moment.
“Come As You Are” (2003) Pink Freud. From Poland. Nirvana cover.