There have been a lot of hard-hitting jazz albums this year. You know, that kind of jazz that makes you wiggle, bounce, and dance in cocaine fuelled rages while howling at the moon, only to wake the next morning with an ashtray for a mouth and your brain floating in your skull like it’s the last lonely pickle in the pickle jar. Music like: Makaya McCraven, Moses Boyd, Ambrose Akinmusire, Phronesis, Binker and Moses, Kamasi Washington, Sons of Kemet, Antonio Sanchez, and Jaimie Branch has kept me convulsing on the kitchen floor this year like it’s electrified. But that’s not all jazz has to offer the world. Because, some days, you just don’t want to fucking dance.
There is a kind of jazz that can ride the coattails of cigarette smoke. It can make the air seem thicker, like we could all suddenly swim to work. It’s a kind of style that makes the dirty beautiful, the decadent bizarre, and the banal truly fucking insane. After listening to it for a while, I find myself picking up everyday items like coffee cups, spoons, and juice containers and whispering behind crazed eyes, “What in the living fuck is this shit?” Don’t misunderstand me here, this music doesn’t make you insane. But it has this strange ability to take you out of your reality and make you stare back into it like it’s Barbie’s dream house. And from that distance, you end up looking over the strange patterns of these diurnal rhythms. You watch these hella recognizable tiny humans arguing inside a tiny space about tiny problems, and it all seems so suddenly senseless. Like, why the fuck do I care about … things! and that … that! … you know … that? Whatever, fuck you Betty Crocker. No, to clarify, this music doesn’t make you insane. But it might reveal the lunacy of ordinary life.
Jakob Bro is one of the gods of this strange realm. He was part of the famous Paul Motian Trio. If I had to describe Paul Motian in a single word, I would say, “fer-lala-er-loosh-ka-baba-ner-witz-icle” because this motherfucker goes beyond definition. Jakob is that same fucking wheelhouse. Like any good trio, Jakob doesn’t lead this shit even though his name comes first. Thomas Morgan is a bassist with the intuitiveness of a gypsy in a fair booth and the depth of a hungry black hole. Joey Baron plays the drums like he’s invoking the gods of thunder and warning. Joey won’t convince you in flash, bangs, and pops. He convinces in rumbles, trembles, and growls. With this backing, Jakob is way the fuck ahead of the game. So when he plays out his reverb-laden and delayed stretched guitar tones in that Bill Frisell way, his notes settle on the soundscape like a morning fog that smiles. Sometimes the most powerful thing in a room is the shit that barely registers. It sits at the back and fuck with your shit without you ever knowing it. Jakob and his merry trio fuck this opaque life-controlling machine right back and tunes it to their station. The result? A warm bath in sonic opioids, echoing laughter, and loud whispers that say, “If it’s all a fucking joke, then I might as well laugh to death.” In short, this shit is trippy as all fuck.