Monday, May 25, 2015

JAZZ is hard to define...(and harder to decline, for Allen Kanovsky...)

Submitted by Al Kanovsky 05/25/15

You cannot put it in a box. The music itself evolves in an ever widening circle. It encompasses a continuing growing number of formats. 

As I've said and written over a hundred times, "Listening to JAZZ or BLUES is not an objective art". It is subject to numerous factors including background, upbringing, education and lots more. I was somewhat disappointed by some of the artists that were presented at the Jacksonville JAZZ Festival. Not that it wasn't enough good music. It just wasn't enough JAZZ. So back to the definition------I can't define it outside of saying, you know it when you hear it. 

So to last night. Eric and the JAZZers. A tight band with excellent musicians. Cornelius Johnson "Juju" on reeds and flute, Yamin Mustafa playing trumpet, Ken Burkhart manning the keyboard and 'Doc' Allison at the kit. Yvette Norwood Tiger does the vocal chores. Eric----I'm still wondering what he does. Altho he did play a little drums last night. JAZZ? Yes and no. Solos a solid YES on the JAZZ side. Program? Made to entertain and that's a good thing. Was it all JAZZ? To my ear and understanding , no. And that ain't a bad or negative thing. I enjoyed the music, regardless of definitions. Let me outline the evening. It started out with a JAZZ line with Yamin taking the first solo, followed Juju, Ken and Doc. Definitely JAZZ. Play "Cherokee" with Juju handling the 1st solo and Doc doing a dramatic drum solo and you almost have the definition down pat. They follow with "Misty" and I am in full JAZZ listening mode. Yvette takes the stage with "What Is This Thing Called Love". JAZZ has taken over the house. JAZZ has history.

Piano Bob is invited up to do what Eric calls BLUES. Piano Bob is a master, but not of the BLUES. Piano Bob plays 8 Beat. BOOGIE WOOGIE!!!!. 8 to the bar. The jitterbugs loved it. The 'lindy-hop' was created by it's rhythm. I asked Eric's wife Chantale to dance. We did and had fun doing it. I can listen to Bob bang those keys 'all night long'. Yamin & Juju do some New Orleans riffs and Kenny sings "Georgia". He ain't no Ray Charles but he can sing and makes the tune his own. Juju plays soprano on this one and Yamin delivers a 5* smooth solo. Yvette returns to do a request. "La Vie En Rose". Eric announces it as a Louis Armstrong hit. It was. But it was Edith Piaf who made that song famous. Yvette didn't do it like Louis or Edith. She did it like Yvette. Emotional and absolutely perfect. During Ken's solo he quoted "It Isn't Even Spring" bringing a different flavor to the tune. Ken is in 'quote' mode 'cause in the next tune "Apple Blossom Time" he quotes "Candy". Creativity=JAZZ. Spike Lee's "Mo' Better BLUES" closes the set.

Eric likes to bring us to N'awlins for the second set. Now we are in 'show biz' mode. "Saints Go Marchin' In", "Hello Dolly". Kenny joined Yvette on the vocals. Juju did some 2nd line solo and Eric took a turn at the kit. JAZZ came back to life with "Antelope" and then a funky "Watermelon Man". Juju on flute and Yamin blowing down the walls of Jericho. Tim Bluntson is invited up. He has a great set of pipes and does "Lost In A Masquerade" Not exactly in JAZZ fashion but really good to listen to. Yvette returns to sing "Tenderly" with Ken's solo closing the set. My notes for the last set are gone. I should be honest not 'gone'. Never written. No memory except that I was having a lot of fun. Tim Bluntson up for 'one more' and Mike doing a Frank Sinatra tune.

Eric called me up for the finale. I had written a BLUES lyric on my drive down from Jacksonville. The title "My Kind Of Woman". The band played in "F". I sang in "G". 

Thanks guys!!!!!  

Al's Disclaimer:
A short note: The reason I write this is because I love music and words. I do not book acts. I do not promote acts. I do not accept invitations to review artists. I go to venues of my own choice. When and where is not influenced by anything other than who I would like to hear that night or day. If I don't like what I hear, I won't write about it. When I like it I let you all know. I never mention a name without asking permission. "Pardon me, Miss. Would you like to dance?" 

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