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Catching up with jazz July 21, 2009

Posted by Peter Hornby in music.

Years ago, I listened to a lot of jazz.  I still do, but I haven’t really kept up with the scene. If I look at the dates on my jazz CDs, they’re predominantly eighties releases.  I keep an occasional eye on my favourite musicians – John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, Pat Metheny –  but I’m nowhere near as keen a fan as I was in 1985, which is a shame, because there’s nothing in music quite like the sound of a great jazz improviser feeding off a great jazz band.

Last night, I happened once again to buy a copy of Downbeat magazine at the Laguna Beach news stand to look at over a cold Sierra Nevada at the Marine Room next door.  No synchronicity this time – the classic rock station seemed to be focussing on Eric Burdon.  However, it turned out that this was the issue where the magazine announced the results of their 57th annual critics poll, and it struck me that this might be an interesting opportunity to see where the jazz world has moved to in twenty-odd years.

So, let’s look a little closer.  There are three pages or so of categories – small groups, big  bands, instrumentalists in every possible area, vocal and instrumental rising stars, producers, arrangers.  Each category includes the top ten vote getters.  All in all, there’s a whole lot or material to work with.

Now this is not going to be some musical version of the Julie/Julia project (although, who knows, maybe I could get Andie McDowell to play Lorraine in the movie), but it would certainly be fun to dig into some of the more interesting categories, find some new musicians, and see what I think about the world of jazz in 2009 (and, frankly, probably in 2010 too).

I mean, what can go wrong when the winner of the “Jazz Group, Rising Star” poll is an ensemble named “Mostly Other People Do The Killing”.



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