Monday, September 25, 2006

taking the rough over the smooth

Sholto Byrnes's account of a Randy Brecker concert with a Russian band is slightly condescending, but also touches on a good point.

The Russians did not sound totally au fait with developments in jazz over the last decade or so, and played Brecker's inside-outside bop compositions as though they were as new as they must have sounded when the trumpeter first cropped up in Horace Silver's quintet in the late 1960s.

But the benefits of this relative lack of sophistication soon showed... The music mattered deeply to them, precisely because it did sound contemporary in their hands... the group seemed to have a direct connection to the earthiness of bop and post-bop that smoother Western groups have lost. The rawness bred excitement, and the quintet produced some fiery, compelling playing.
I think the technique-over-emotion argument is often overdone - or maybe I just don't come across the legions of soulless virtuosos as often as others claim to - but the last time I had that feeling was with the Dutch saxophonist Tineke Postma: contemporary bop, maybe, but extremely cold. Of course, I'm a Steve Coleman fan, so what do I know?