Monday, October 13, 2008

A more plausible scenario

More timely vintage Flash Gordon from King Features Sundicate's Daily Ink.

In other news, the Times of London meets The Bad Plus, and is not entirely sure how to digest that certain Corn Belt take on life, in which everything is simultaneously earnest and self-parodic.

On the new album coming out later this month:

The album, For All I Care, is inspired by the John Coltrane band’s record with the vocalist Johnny Hartman, according to the band’s cerebral pianist Ethan Iverson. Except that Coltrane never mixed up the Bee Gees’ How Deep is Your Love with Wilco’s Radio Cure or Stravinsky’s Variation d’Apollon. A postmodern mess? Actually no. With the discipline of having to back a singer, the band have reined in their more chaotic impulses and delivered one of their most convincing sets.


Reid Anderson, the bassist, calls the record “a kind of unifying statement that all these diverse musics can live in the same world”. They accept that the jazz police might not get it. “What we’re trying to do is be real. We’re not trying to please everybody but we have to please ourselves. But it’s a misconception to say that we’re antijazz or not serious.”

But isn’t it at least true that the band have played some tunes for laughs – as when they used to beat up Abba’s Knowing Me, Knowing You? “We don’t relate to this idea of irony even though it’s something other people may see in us,” Anderson says. “We don’t start from a place where we say these songs are worthless. We like the way they connect with our life experiences and the life experiences of people in the audience.”

But what about that hyperbolic Black Sabbath cover? “When we met Geezer Butler, who wrote Iron Man, he said it was the best Sabbath cover he had ever heard,” King says. “He came to tell us that. He felt it was a very powerful rendition. He didn’t see it as a joke.”

Iverson dislikes the snobbishness that views rock songs as less valid than jazz tunes. Too many jazz musicians are playing by rote. “Jazz education has turned out a zillion players that play this B-flat moderate jazz and it’s terrible for the music. You can’t tell anyone apart.”

He leans forward and says carefully: “It’s really important for musicians to know a lot about jazz – then choose not to play jazz. Too many people learn just to ‘play some jazz’. If you’re not bringing surrealism, a sense of ‘other’, the creative imagination . . .” he tails off and adds: “I can get quite angry at times.”

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