(Brick’s Picks, LA Weekly, 2008)
And then there’s that stack of records from the Goodwill. Apparently granddad died, and his beloved album collection wound up in the collection box. Hundreds of pristine swing records, a buck each…a good half of which now lie in stacks here by the stereo. Oh the wife was thrilled…. But listening to all this Basie and Duke and Lunceford and Goodman and Artie Shaw and Woody Herman (three Herd’s worth) we’re just struck (well I am, the wife has fled to the other half of the house) by the driving swing. This stuff simply rocked. It’s no wonder kids went nuts. Be bop, that didn’t rock. It went berserk, but it didn’t do that primal rocking thing, it didn’t swing. And Trane can ascend you to jazz nirvana (A Love Supreme does it everytime) but it doesn’t rock. You can’t dance to it. You go into any jazz club in town and there’s nothing to dance to. There’s no get down groove. There are exceptions—John Heard can get people out of their seats when he digs deep into some Eddie Harris, but that’s John Heard. And the Gerald Wilson Orchestra drives people nuts…but then Gerald Wilson is an old swing Cat (started with Lunceford, in fact.) And of course there’s all the Latin jazzers…but that is a gloriously different thing entirely. But jazz, our beloved life affirming local jazz cats, the ones we’re forever going on and on about…they’re not about grooving at all. Not like body grooving. Think of poetry, beautiful, skilled and often fulfilling stuff, but Jesus, who reads it? Other poets mostly, plus some English majors, artists, and a few other oddities. But for most of us, it’s just not fun to read. And for most people, jazz in all its post swing glory, is just not much fun to listen to. Unlike Seun Kuti, or Malian music, or a stack of old swing LP‘s. But for the jazz musicians and music majors and artists and assorted other oddities, the people who come back from Goodwill with boxes of records, who understand in our own strange way just why this pure jazz is so damn good, here’s a few picks for a slow holiday week….