If there was one word to ultimately describe Miles Davis’s final handful of recordings, it would be “contentious”. While Davis was never too far away from controversy throughout his entire career, with a great number of his releases not finding proper reception until years after their release, this period of his life perhaps represented more of a disappointment by fans than any other. He’d been able to prove himself to be capable of serious experimentation with albums like Bitches Brew and On The Corner; one could only expect fans to be disappointed with the supposed lack of innovation found on The Man With The Horn.
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*).
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!