Monday, November 15, 2010

Blame It On My Youth

I occasionally experienced anxiety attacks night terrors as a child. The room spun and a sonic whirlpool rushed through my head. I'd suppressed forgotten these incidents until I first saw Mark Southerland twirl a hose connected to a saxophone during a Snuff Jazz performance. The effect recreated the nightmarish sound that once terrified me.

Last night's Snuff Jazz recital was doubly intense. Guest artist Brian Haas, keyboardist of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey, echoed Southerland's sound effect on a melodica.

I now know how to manage the onset of vertigo, so the combined effort of Southerland and Haas hardly phased me. They did inspire, however, thoughts about the relationship between age and music, especially in terms of jazz.

I'd spend the previous night listening to the incredible Deborah Brown. (Here's the Star's review.) About 150 people caught all or part of Brown's performance. Their median age was a relatively youthful 45. The median age of the audience of four-dozen at the Record Bar on Sunday was an even more encouraging 30.

I'm constantly wringing my hands about what will become of jazz once the original fans of artists ranging from Stan Kenton to the Crusaders succumb to old age.

Kansas City is loaded with scores of promising young jazz musicians, yet it's not uncommon for them to play for small audiences consisting of people three times their age. The jazz kids even have a hard time convincing their friends and romantic interests to attend their gigs.

That's why I invest so much hope in acts like Haas' Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey and in the artist I call The One. I also wholeheartedly approve of the crossover attempts of The Bad Plus, Vijay Iyer and Brad Mehldau. The efforts of Kansas City-based forward thinkers like Hermon Mehari and Mark Lowrey are even better.

If innovative projects like Black Friday don't succeed, I'm afraid that jazz faces a truly nightmarish future.

Henryk Gorecki died November 12.

Want to see me smile? Play most any ten-second snippet from the new Girl Talk album. Seriously, I'm not sure we can be friends anymore if you don't download All Day immediately.

Credentials Hip Hop interviews former Kansas City, Kansas, resident Mad Marlon. I miss the guy.

Now that she sounds a bit like Shakira, I'm going to have to start paying more attention to Lykke Li.

Kansas City Click: Jazzbo entertains Monday at Jazz.

Tim Whitmer has a weekly Tuesday gig at Accurso's.

(Essay cross-posted from Plastic Sax. Image of Brian Haas performing with Snuff Jazz by There Stands the Glass.)


bgo said...

The Girl Talk download is not working for me. I'll have to try later. I'm a big supporter of Creative Commons.

Happy In Bag said...

Yeah, it took me a few tries to get through this morning, BGO. The album opens with Black Sabbath/Ludacris and never lets up. The guy's label isn't called Illegal Arts for nothing.