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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

An underappreciated time in jazz history

After following a link for a different post, I found this list of great jazz records from 1973 to 1990 on the blog of the great music critic (and new Boston Globe hire) Steve Smith. It's a response to a similar list compiled by Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson. It's a period on which I've been focusing a bit, myself, And since I can only play so much of it on the webcast, I'll use this venue to share it with you.

These dates supposedly represent a fallow period for jazz (those various fusions again), especaially to the "Jazz Establishment" of the time (and later times). They were certainly considered as some kind of dark age during my time at Famous Music College in the late '80s - early '90s, an advent to the neo-classical age in which we were then living, ranging from the Marsalis camp at one end with the far-out edge being are Pat Metheny and John Scofield. (Well, there were some of us into Bill Frisell and John Zorn*). But now, 25 or so years later, I keep finding it too be a rich and underappreciated time in America's greatest artform.

Since most the records on Smith's list that I do know are favorites, the urge to go out and track down the rest is quite tempting. (It's been a while since I read Iverson's but I recall having a similar reaction.) This is a gap in my education that I've been trying to fill lately, particularly in regards to the AACM. I whole-heartedly second the special endorsement Smith gives to John Carter's "Roots and Folklore: Episodes in the Development of American Folk Music".

And if I may be so bold, I'll nominate Lester Bowie's Last Fast as a great record from 1974.

*And a smaller group beyond. I remember at someone's senior recital which was played in a very Cecil Taylor meets John Cage manner, and the work-study kid running the soundboard seemed to be praying for death to strike him.

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