MyAmericanFuture

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MyAmericanFuture

Saturday, March 14, 2015

March 14-15, 2015: All That Crowd-sourced Jazz

[Inspired by the anniversary of Charlie Parker’s death—on which more in Thursday’s post—this week I’ve been AmericanStudying some figures and issues related to the very American musical genre of jazz. This swinging crowd-sourced post is drawn from the responses and recommndations of fellow JazzStudiers—add yours in comments, please!]
First, I just have to put in my strongest possible plug for David Simon’s Treme, a show very much about jazz (among many other topics). As of this writing I’ve watched through Season 2 (of 4), and while it’s different in almost every way from The Wire, it’s also both a wonderful complement to that show and an incredibly successful work of American art in its own right. If, like me, you hadn’t gotten around to watching it yet, I give it my strongest possible AmericanStudier recommendation!
Second, I have to mention another cultural representation of jazz I had the chance to check out this past week, Whiplash. Interestingly, Whiplash takes almost the exact opposite tack on jazz than Treme—for the latter, jazz is one of the most affirming and inspiring parts of a world that can be bleak and painful so much of the time; whereas in Damien Chazelle’s film, jazz itself is literally and figuratively painful, pain that might well be necessary in order to produce great art. And it uses the subject of my Thursday post, Charlie Parker, to make that case!
On Monday’s Scott Joplin post, commenter sunshine_247 writes, “I studied Scott Joplin at a very young age … I even learned ‘The Maple Leaf Rap’ when I was 12 … he is amazing!”
Robert Greene II follows up Friday’s request for contemporary artists by highlighting:
“1. Robert Glasper--who I would argue is most pertinent to your post. His most recent albums, Black Radio and Black Radio 2 have been attempts to fuse together jazz with contemporary genres of hip hop, soul, and R&B. He worked with some well known mainstream artists on both albums. 

2. Esperanza Spalding--a prodigy out of Portland who has also done some great work. 

3. Trombone Shorty--this artist has kept up the fantastic jazz tradition of New Orleans.”
Michael Rifenburg goes with “Sun Ra!”
Andrea Grenadier adds, “I love jazz, and this reminds me I'd better start updating myself, since I'm a purist, and have always loved the wild roots of jazz, until the late 1940s. Although never a fan of fusion, I love when the traditional collides with the present. To me, Marcus Roberts is a genius, and not only because he focuses for the most part on those pre-1950s riffs. I love great trio work, and hey! Here's a shout-out to bassist Larry Grenadier, who plays with Brad Mehldau's Trio, and Fly.”
Next series starts Monday,
Ben

PS. What do you think? Other jazzy connections or recommendations you’d share?

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