The great jazz recordings can be viewed as snapshots of scenes: They capture groups that performed nightly for weeks or months at a time, or combinations that happened once at jam sessions where somebody said “we should get together and record,” or ad-hoc ensembles assembled for the purpose of snagging a quick buck. During the music’s most fevered growth periods, the players who were hired by big established names (like Dexter Gordon or Sonny Rollins) were regularly involved in other projects and different orbits – sometimes they led their own ensembles, and sometimes they served in support roles.
To fully appreciate the contributions of some of these artists, it’s important to check out not just recordings issued under their own names, but the work they did as sidemen. That can be difficult in this world where music travels around accompanied by no credits or relevant information.
One remedy arrived recently, in the form of a Spotify app created by Blue Note Records: Slide to pick a year, and up jumps all the titles that were issued during that year. While you listen to the music, it’s possible to read background information (some of it repurposed from All Music) on the release, and then – crucially! – you can click to learn about some of the sidemen who were involved in the recording. The amount of music available within this brand-new app is already staggering – slide to 1971, not generally regarded as a “heavy” jazz year, and you can discover a thrilling live Grant Green record, Live at Club Mozambique, as well as the sadly underappreciated Elvin Jones classic Live at the Lighthouse.
The killer aspect of this app: Its chronological orientation helps enrich understanding not just of the individual records and the artists behind them, but also the ethos of the music at any given point in its development – the tone of the times, so to speak. Prowling around these stacks, you begin to think of jazz records not as separate little marvels but as part of an interconnected and constantly evolving web spun by many gifted individuals.
#1 from Dan Buskirk, Philly USA - 09/24/2012 2:57
I know the old guard of critics slag the “commercialization” of jazz in the seventies but the funk, rock and electronic sounds post-boppers found so distasteful can sound kind of timeless to modern ears. Anyway, a raft of killer jazz records from ‘71 would include Carla Bley’s ESCALATOR UP THE HILL, Ornette Coleman’s SCIENCE FICTION, George Benson’s BEYOND RTHE BLUE HORIZON, Charles Mingus’ LET MY CHILDREN HEAR MUSIC, Joe Zawinul’s ZAWINUL,Alice Coltrane’s UNIVERSAL CONSCIOUSNESS, Michael White’s SPIRIT DANCE and onward through jazz’s unbelievable riches….
#2 from Rob Ardura, Richmond, Va - 10/02/2012 8:47
WOW!!! I was amazed at this Spotify app. It’s beautiful! For jazz lovers and for people who are searching for more meaning in their music this is a fantastic tool to use. I know nowadays most of us are bombarded with the sounds of Katy Perry and the like, but hearing this is the equivalent of spa treatment. It massages the ears and allows your brain to process what actual music sounds like.Commenting is not available in this content area entry.