With all the political wrangling and the coulda-shoulda-woulda flotsam bobbing to the surface in Katrina's wake, it's all too easy to forget the unique role that New Orleans played in the development of a uniquely American art form. Were it not for New Orleans' unique cultural mix--a mix that owes itself as much to New Orleans' geography as it does to New Orleans' demographics--we would never have had jazz.
So, rather than get all caught up in the stuff that only serves to arouse anger regardless of what political stripe one might be, I've immersed myself into the music for a while. In the process, I've run across a couple of gems that I thought worth sharing.
One is a new release from Sonny Rollins. AMG's review is here. This one seems rather appropriate, as it was recorded on 9/15/01. Why it's taken four years to be released, I have no idea. Regardless, I'm sure you'll be as enchanted as I am with Rollins' ability to explore harmony without losing sight of the song's melody. This is jazz improvisation at its best.
The other is a live album by the Derek Trucks Band at the Georgia Theater. The AMG review is here. The line about "aimless guitar wankery" is priceless. The Mac connection: this one is available only via iTunes or via the Sony Music Store. If you're outside the US, try HittinTheNote.
Rollins is classic, straight-ahead jazz. Trucks, I sincerely hope, represents a significant future direction for music--a blending of a variety of musical styles and genres into a coherent whole delivered with a virtuosity that is always subservient to the music. That's what New Orleans gave us with jazz. It'd be great to see that kind of thing happen again.
Currently playing in iTunes: Kam-Ma-Lay by Derek Trucks Band