Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Let's face it jazz is not an easily likeable genre. Most of the standards lack a recognisable melody, something easy to hum or whistle — which results in the lack of air time, creating a vicious circle or a jazz ghetto. It is also true that it is a more demanding genre than your average pop music (but aren't the rewards all the greater for it?). Nowadays if at all consumed, instrumental music is also preferred as background music. Strident and/or sudden changes of chord hardly make the best accompaniment to dinners and cocktail parties.
There are many more factors which could help explain  jazzophobia. Key among them is the elitist views on jazz. For instance, mention the name of Michael Bublé. You'll be immediately frowned upon by jazzophiles who'd never call it jazz. "It's not real jazz!" would be their retort. — There's a book entitled "Girls Don't Like Real Jazz" by Walter Kolosky.

Jazz, it seems, has become the preserve of the happy few, who truly understand music. Those who can quote the different musicians on each of the 36 versions of "My Favorite Things" recorded by Coltrane by heart. Being a dilettante, I'm not bothered with such distinctions. I'm glad that people buy Norah Jones's discs because I believe the true music lovers will seek out more about the origins of her songs and the genre in which they're inscribed.
People often make the mistake of wanting to feel the music and then will blame jazz for failing to give them any sensations. They forget that listening is an active act requiring their participation. Only when they commit to it by actively making it theirs will they be able to "feel" the music. There must be an initial spark within for the kindling to burn.
Most of the time, I refrain from counting the ways in which I love jazz as nothing can disgust more than over-enthusiasm. While I appreciate the erudition available on such and such records (recording date, number of takes, musicians and so on), I don't forget these details can also awfully tedious. — I prefer letting the music do the talking. To be more precise, I'll let Thelonious Monk speak for me.
I sincerely believe that "l'appétit vient en mangeant:" by listening to jazz one cannot fail to feel the sound, the sensuousness, the sheer beauty of it and eventually come to enjoy the music. This is the optimistic view on jazzophobia: that someone's tastes can change provided they're curious enough.
If you're so inclined, perhaps will you perceive how Monk plays on his very own beat, "subdividing in so many different ways that where he actually chooses to place the note is played against the implied rhythm." You may also want to check out his solo: a quirky improvisation at times noisy but sparkling throughout. If you prefer, you can also enjoy how Charlie Rouse's sax keeps up with Monk's idiosyncratic metronome...
Now, I will understand if your jazzophobia has grown even stronger after reading this inane screed of mine. I won't blame you. Please do not let my clumsy wording stop from listening to the music. If Monk's "Bright Mississippi" is still unpalatable why not try some Duke Ellington & John Coltrane!

Two versions of a title sequence for a feature film entitled "House of Jazz". 
The film had a psychedelic horror theme and was directed by Jacques Boyreau. Unfortunately he changed the name of the movie after finishing these titles and the project stalled in the editing phase.

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