The search for the greatest jazz album of the decade ended in 2015 when LA-based saxophonist and bandleader Kamasi Washington released his aptly titled debut, The Epic. A nearly three-hour love letter to the genre’s greatest attributes, The Epic is the kind of album that could sustain an artist’s legacy on its own merits alone; follow-ups are welcome, of course, but admittedly unnecessary for the endeavor of establishing Kamasi’s longevity of influence. Though these claims may seem bold, there’s a reason the album inspired the launch of our Jazz Club column and became perhaps the first pure jazz album to ever land among on our collective Albums of the Year. The ensemble’s performances of Kamasi’s compositions are nothing short of enthralling, whether they’re soaring through swirls of gospel choruses and inspired playing or masterfully moving through contemplative moods. Every track is an epic statement in its own right, and by the time the album concludes, listeners should be awed by the manner in which Kamasi maintains intrigue and quality across such an overwhelming run time.
We’re back with more fantastic jazz from the second quarter of 2017! Unfortunately with the departure of staff writer and our friend Jimmy Mullett from Heavy Blog, it’s left a hole in our Jazz Club trifecta. Thankfully we were able to fill that void quickly with our buddy Dave Tremblay of Can This Even Be Called Music? Dave is constantly finding interesting and original stuff in the way of jazz and elsewhere, and we’re excited to have him join and help us recommend jazz of all stripes that demands your attention.
Welcome back to Jazz Club! It’s been a while since the three of us (Jimmy, Nick and Scott) sat down to dissect the one of our favorite genres, which was most recently a conversation about BADBADNOTGOOD’s excellent 2016 album IV. In that discussion, we tossed around the idea of pooling together a list of some of our favorite new jazz releases, something we’re excited to finally begin today with our first installment of Jazz Quarterly. This is also offering us an opportunity and excuse to get ourselves back in the habit of listening to new jazz regularly, which, if you’re anything like at least a couple of us (namely Nick) has been something we’ve been meaning to get back into for far too long. There are a few places now that offer some great monthly curated lists like Bandcamp, Stereogum, and more, and you’ll likely notice that a bunch of these selections are pulled from there because they provide a valuable resource for even supposed “curators” such as ourselves. As each of us prefers different flavors of the genre, you’ll find an eclectic list of recommendations below, ranging from more traditional offerings to experimental blends of jazz with Indian classical music, doom metal sensibilities, electronic music, progressive rock and much more. We’d be genuinely shocked if you can’t find at least one release worth your time from this list, so without wasting any more time, feel free to dive in to the best the genre’s had to offer so far this year.
Way back in 2015, Nick, Ryan and Scott kicked off Jazz Club with an in-depth discussion of Kamasi Washington’s phenomenal album The Epic, easily the greatest jazz album of that year and (arguably) the decade thus far. We’ve ventured in different themes since then though, opting for discussions ranging from current events (Ornette Coleman’s passing) to genre starter kits. Today we’re back with a conversation focused exclusively on a recent release that many of us view as a potential jazz AOTY for 2016. This time, Nick jumps aboard with Jazz Club dynamic duo Scott and Jimmy Two for a dissection of IV, the latest offering from Canadian quartet and overall jazz powerhouse BADBADNOTGOOD. The band has leveraged hip-hop, electronic music and jazz to create some of the most exciting music in the genre, so needless to say, we were stoked to see what their fourth proper release had to offer.
Welcome to another edition of Jazz Club, where we touch upon several classic records and a handful of newer albums that are handily carrying the torch. This week, we wanted to explore the idea of a “classic” jazz record, specifically regarding this question: were some jazz standards always thought of as highly as they are today? The answer is a pretty resounding no; as with any genre, many of the records now considered essential were once earth-shattering, jimmy-rustling affairs that either puzzled or repulsed music critics and fans. Today, we’re going to take a look back at three of the most controversial records in the genre, all of which redefined the genre in some way and received quite a bit of flack for it, before eventually leaving a lasting imprint on the shape of jazz to come (*hint* *hint*).
Welcome to Jazz Club, where we might actually be on track this week! Actually, it’s true; we have a real topic and real albums to bring to your earballs, all about one of the most revolutionary (and highly criticized at the time) forms of jazz of all time, Jazz Fusion! A little note before we start, though: all three albums featured today have sizable contributions from guitarists. Although fusion includes more instrumentation beyond the guitar (for example, Mahavishnu Orchestra once included violinist Jon Luc Ponty), guitar was essentially the big focal point of the genre, as fusion is a blend (no duh) of a few genres with jazz, the biggest being rock music. (Of course, there are other jazz guitarists that aren’t fusion, such as Django Reinhardt, but this is a new sound we’re talking about.) So without further ado, let’s defuse a contentious – but rewarding – subgenre of jazz.
Welcome to yet another Jazz Club, where we get to take a break from the admittedly wonderful world of metal in exchange for some horns and sax and plenty of Miles Davis. Honestly, we tossed around topic ideas for today, but nothing really seemed to stick, so we’re going to have a much more conversational installment centering around various questions we’ve been mulling over lately. Sorry ahead of time, unless this turns out great, which in that case, you’re welcome.
After we provided a general introduction for the genre in our last Jazz Club, Jimmy and I tossed around the idea of writing an adjacent piece catered specifically to metal fans. As with any genre, it’s easier to crack into the overall style with a handful of bands or albums that incorporate elements from genres that the listener is already familiar with. There are some pretty strong links between jazz and metal, which made it easy to select a well-rounded list of albums to recommend for metal fans who want their jazz to have an added edge. Some of these releases lean more towards one genre than the other, but they’re all excellent in their own right and provide a solid, metallic gateway into jazz.
Welcome to Jazz Club, our sort-of-but-not-really regular column that expounds one of the greatest – and perhaps most alienating – genres ever. Today we’re going to go back to square one, and talk about some key albums to spin if you’re interested in possibly listening to jazz. Obviously, these are our opinions; if you don’t agree, feel free to send us hate in the comments.
When Scott and I started up The Jazz Club the better part of a year ago, we had intended to make this a monthly feature that would give us and other Heavy Blog staff members a forum to discuss music from all over the jazz spectrum, both new and old. Given the fact that we only got through two articles and the last one was from July 2015, clearly we have fallen well short of that goal. But now we’re back, and we’re more determined than ever to make this a regular monthly column. For our comeback piece, we’ve chosen another recent release that’s attracted a surprising amount of crossover and mainstream appeal, acoustic piano trio GoGo Penguin’s Man Made Object. Along the way we also discuss a couple of other groups who have been blending groove-heavy jazz with electronic elements and influences, Portico Quartet and Skalpel. Scott and I were joined by fellow editor Eden for this one, and our conversation definitely ran a bit on the long side, but we’ve decided to keep it largely intact as we really enjoyed where it went. We hope you enjoy it, too!