I'm a freelance writer by day and a working jazz musician by night, and often I am able to combine my two lines of work. This blog is for posting gigs & various rants about music and life in general.

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Thursday, November 10, 2005

a day in the life of a fool

Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler lends his voice to a jazz recording? Say it isn't so!!

Sadly, it's true. While I am an Aerosmith fan (my first rock concert was the Permanent Vacation tour) and believe that Tyler's raspy vocals suit the band perfectly, I have to say I'm less than thrilled to hear him try his hand at jazz. Then again, isn't that the trend nowadays? Pop stars must be bored with their own genre, because they all seem to be coming out with jazz standard albums. Most of them just don't sound that good. (e.g., Rod Stewart...and he keeps coming out with subsequent recordings!) The jazz stylings of truly great vocalists like Sarah Vaughn, Billie Holliday, and Mel Torme are missing. I'm convinced that these pop gurus haven't listened to much--if any--jazz at all.

While I'm going off on vocalists, I need to say a word about smooth jazz guy Chris Botti (this is the recording Tyler appears on, by the way). His new album isn't much better. It's a carbon copy of Chet Baker's stuff...and that's precisely the problem. Baker already did the muted trumpet/wimpy vocal thing. Why does Botti need to emulate this? Can't he come up with his own concept? Granted I haven't listened to the entire album, but based on the tracks I've heard: B-O-R-I-N-G.

One more artist I'm disappointed in: the great pianist Herbie Hancock. Caught him on the Tonight Show the other night with the buttocks-bearing pop diva Christina Aguilera. While Aguilera sang well (and I do have to give her credit for dressing appropriately...she was even wearing a dress with sleeves), I can't understand why Hancock needs to use pop stars to generate record sales (the new album, Possibilities, also features Sting, John Mayer, and Annie Lennox). He's a genius and should be worshipped as such. He doesn't need these other guys. He's proved himself--many times over. What the F*#$! ???

Maybe it's pregnancy hormones, but this sort of thing is really starting to irritate me. There are tons of jazz artists who don't feel the need to copy someone else's style or align themselves with current hotshots. Why don't these people get the recognition that's due to them? Why is America dumb when it comes to choosing intelligent, thoughtful music?

The rant is over. Wonder if there's anyone I haven't offended?


Blogger Roger U Roundly said...

I think jazz artists align themselves with pop stars, like Herbie Hancock w/Christina Aguleira(I do like the adjective "buttocks-baring", btw)for a number of reasons. Certainly, increased record sales would figure in, maybe the 'challenge' of a different musical setting(especially true in Hancock's case, having seen him over the years with just about every kind of group you can think of), but mainly I think just trying to reach the proverbial "wider audience".
Ideally, in this quest for musical "universality", you want to reach everyone's so-called 'higher nature', but what you usually end up with is the lowest common denominator. John Q. Dumbsh*t. Take Kenny G(please!).
You want to make jazz accessible to everyone, but not by watering it down to the point that it's lost all its potency. I've never heard Chris Botti, but I agree with you as far as the muted trumpet/wimpy vocals.(For that matter I always enjoyed Chet Baker's trumpet playing- brilliant, haunting lines--he was kind of a hauntED dude for that matter--but not his vocals).
It's a shame, but jazz is not gonna be for everyone, and it really shouldn't try to be.
So much for my 2 cents. Hey, nice newspaper interview(11/17)!

4:21 PM  

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