Look, I’m not a fucking moron. I get it. Modern jazz makes you uncomfortable. You don’t like it. I can see your eyes glaze over when I bring up the subject. I’m all like, “Hey! Check out this new jazz record!” and you’re like, “Dude … seriously? Fuck off already with that shit.” (Okay, you’re not that mean.) You’ll listen to a couple seconds and say some shit like, “Look, it’s different strokes for different folks. And this just isn’t for me. You can’t argue with that.” Then a wall comes up between me and you. I feel it. It’s instant. I admire the people who try. People who listen to an album and go, “Dude, I just don’t get it.” Then a wall shoots up when someone uses the word “intellectual”. Others will make it a generational thing like, “I only like Monk or Mingus” or, “I only like old jazz singers like Billie Holiday.” Ya, I get that shit too. And the reason I understand this shit so well is cause I remember saying the same goddamn thing.
Just cause I like some modern jazz doesn’t mean I get something that you don’t. I know what it sounds like to your ears: Cheesy. Really, really, fucking cheesy. Like Gouda fucked feta and mozzarella and melted cheese got poured into their collective cheese holes while they were cheesing. You don’t think I hear it? Of course I do! It’s ripe with cheese. It’s a motherfucking platter. But any jazz head can tell you the album that broke them. The album that turned that cheese into something delicious. That morphed the sound into horns doing some stupid shit into an ’80s song that you can’t help but enjoy but also something that challenges you emotionally to the core. Once you’re stung, it’s done. Once that shit is broke, you’ve crossed a threshold. Fuck, there are lots of albums I still find incredibly cheesy. I just swallow that shit down in order to get into its nourishing centre. I’ve heard lots say that this break can only happen when listening to live jazz. I don’t believe that. It’s not just me that knows this difficulty of the break, it’s all of jazz. Musicians try everything to keep this shit alive, to keep it applicable. This album is a damn fine example of this.
Right now London is a city of jazz. Shit just happens sometimes. Venues like Church of Sound, Total Refreshment Centre and clubs like Jazz Re: Freshed (See? This shit’s right in the fucking name) is keeping jazz alive like an iron lung. This album is a bunch of talented and young musicians from this scene making a collective album. I can’t think of a better “intro to modern jazz” album. Because if one song, one fucking song, grabs you then that’s fucking it. The wall is broken. You’ll be looking for that shit everywhere.
I can’t guarantee this album will work cause I don’t know where the break comes from. I only know what it feels like. I don’t think this is a perfect album. There are songs on this album I don’t like. But I think that’s the point. It’s supposed to be a wide spread of what’s to offer, like a platter. Most likely not one singular person will like Manchego, cheddar, Lunenburg, fontina, stilton, Limburger, and a brie de Meaux. But once you get a flavour you like, that’s it. You’ll be looking for that taste everywhere. It just takes trying a bit of everything in order to get there.