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About Me:18-year-old sixth form student, studying English Literature, History and Government and Politics. My articles will broadly cover topics from the current affairs of politics to reviews of books and albums, as well as adding my own creative pieces, whether it be short fiction or general opinion.
Jazz has changed. Before it seemed exclusive to those whom you would catch lost in a reverie of the 50’s, reminsicing a 'better time'. Or, if a jazz-lover happened to be devoid of grey hairs and wrinkles, the chances are they either pretended they had such qualities, or thought themselves to be somewhat Bohemian; that jazz was a secret for their own private consumption. Now, however, it appears to be making a stunning comeback, with some even going so far as to say that it is entering a new ‘golden age’.
The truth is that jazz never left us. Its ‘comeback’ is merely it undressing itself and revealing its natural beauty. Jazz has stayed prevalent, most notably in the hip-hop beats as of the 1970’s, and becoming ever more prominent during the 1990’s. The most prominent champions of which were the likes of J Dilla whom has a plethora of beats sampled from the jazz greats such as Bill Evans and Ahmad Jamal (for an example, listen to his beat ‘Ahmad Impresses Me’). Dilla’s beats chiefly captured the mellow mood that jazz could create, usually opting for merely two bars of a standard and having it on a loop until it became hypnotic. Madlib, another hip-hop great, seeks to show the multiplicity of jazz. His beat of ‘Raid’, which has MF Doom on vocals, samples Bill Evans’ ‘Nardis’ and accelerated the tempo to create an anxious on-edge and funky feel to the beat.
What we see now, however, is not snippets of jazz, but jazz in its original form, albeit produced in a progressive manner. Kendrick Lamar’s critically acclaimed album, To Pimp A Butterfly, arguably brought jazz back into the limelight. The album, as mentioned in my review earlier this year, is a perfect exhibition of the extraordinary jazz talent around today. Kamasi Washington, a contributor to Lamar’s album, released one of the most intense and daring jazz albums of our generation in 2015, aptly titled The Epic. Refreshingly, Washington combines aspects of funk and gospel as well as adding orchestral arrangements to complement his incredible tenor saxophone solos.
Other contributors, such as Terrace Martin and Robert Glasper, have been putting out jazz records for nearly a decade and are now rightly receiving the attention and praise they deserve. Jazz has also suffused its way into R&B, with neo-soul pioneers such as Frank Ocean, Bilal, Erykah Badu and D’Angelo borrowing from its conventions. A young band by the name of BadBadNotGood has raised some eyebrows with their wholly modern approach to jazz, regularly covering hip-hop and dance tracks, and using dissonance in their solos to built anxious tension.
Where jazz comes alive most, however, is in a live setting. I was fortunate enough to see Kamasi Washington and his band this year at Hyde Park. The difference with jazz as opposed to other genres of music is that it is rooted on improvisation. This means, therefore, that each live set is unique and serves to primarily show off the artists’ musicianship. It was great to watch as Kamasi and his band would each become absorbed in their solos, each going on for roughly six minutes, with the crowd getting behind them with each subsequent bar. I’d highly recommend you go and see any of the artists listed in a live setting to experience this spontaneity.
Image Credits: youtube.com