Tuesday, March 1, 2016

YET ANOTHER IMPRACTICAL BUT EDUCATIONAL PROJECT: JAZZ BY SUN RA


I've started another non-practical project, listening to all the Sun Ra albums on Spotify in order, starting with the first available there, Jazz By Sun Ra (1956).  Saturday was such a beautiful day and it was a treat to run errands and blast this slightly off, early album on the cassette converter of the old Suburu.  Midtown KC seems like one of the best places in the world to explore old jazz music while driving.  

I'm only piecing together my jazz musicology.  I guess this has elements of swing and bop and maybe hard-bop or post-bop to it.  It sounds both old-fashioned in a bait-and-switch, tongue-in-cheek way, and just slightly twisted, like the acid is kicking in at a strange after-hours steakhouse.  A bass clarinet bleats where it should not; a bass pattern is repeated in a slightly neanderthal way like The Troggs might do; the song titles are goofy: Brainville, Call For All Demons, Fall Off The Log.  The voicings are weird.  African percussion rattles almost subliminally.  

There's a regularity to the patterns that has rock and roll appeal rather than that drive for speed and complexity that makes some jazz hard to grasp. (Metal shredders, bluegrass shredders, jazz shredders, they're all the same high-flying mathematical animal to me.)
  
There's nothing going here on suggesting Sun Ra hopes that jazz will replace classical music as high art that people will sit still and sober for in large auditoriums and cathedral-like halls.  Nor is it cool club music for late nights in hipsterville.  Some of the sounds here are the equivalent of the unique and wonderful non-actors Fellini cast in his films because they had strange, non-proportionate faces and physiques.
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