Top 5 Coolest Dudes in JazzJuly 8, 2011
By Alex MacNeil
Jazz has been considered by many, unfortunately, to be terribly inaccessible, esoteric and all together impenetrable as a genre to involve oneself with. I cringe when I hear this; although as a young hipster-child I probably would’ve agreed with these people. Luckily at 15, I stumbled upon some fantastic music that would serve as bridge into the lush green pastures of hipness.
That is what this article is all about, converting the non-believers with some of the coolest covers of their favorite pop songs, with the infectious grooves of hip hop, and the coolest styles from around the world.
I dedicate this article to my good friend Marc Deshaies from Quebec
1. Brad Mehldau – She’s leaving home (The Beatles)
Brad Mehldau may have been the first to inadvertently start reaching out to the Indie crowd. Putting Tom Yorke, The Beatles, Elliot Smith and Nick Drake covers next to Thelonius Monk, Charlie Parker and personal compositions helped catapult his career well beyond the reach of the average jazz pianist. His sound is clear, articulate, intelligent and absolutely never convoluted. His improvisations say what needs to be said, nothing more, nothing less, and that lends itself to the interpretation of loose or (in the case of Radio Head covers) odd forms.
Brad’s style and aesthetic and marketing also brought Jazz back to a more wholesome, less scattered, classic kind of cool.
2. The Bad Plus – Flim (Aphex Twin)
I give electronic music fans license to go nuts over this one. I’m a huge fan of Aphex Twin and so hearing a piano trio bust up the traditional piano trio sound with this track is great. The melody is reminiscent of the compositions of Russian composer Arvo Part, but the beat is reminiscent of kick ass break beat madness.
If you like this check out their CD with indie rocker from Seattle, Wendy Lewis as well as Dave King’s Happy Apple, you won’t be disappointed.
3. Lage Lund – Vonnegut
What could be better than a track named after and dedicated to the author which hipsters call their own? I met a girl at the war memorial the other day who had a tattoo with a Vonnegut quote and was reminded to check out this track again. Lage is a brilliant composer, and the music is a little less accessible than my other choices, but anyone can hear why he titled the piece the way he did.
4. Robert Glasper, Mos Def, Chris Daddy Dave – Thelonius
This is my hip-hop pick. Really cool feature #1: Mos Def! Wow, that’s really awesome, one of my favourite rappers playing with Robert Glasper. Robert Glasper is one of those jazz musicians who clearly doesn’t care about his “Legacy” in the jazz world, which is why he is more likely going to have one. He has the balls to do what he wants, and audiences around the world are right there with him. From this, to stunning arrangements of the Sam Rivers tune, Beatrice, Robert Glasper has the right stuff to make it with audiences beyond Jazz heads.
5. Christian Scott – The Eraser (Tom Yorke)
I’m gonna go out on a limb. I’m going to say it. Christian Scott would hate me for saying it. The Jazz Police will come in the middle of the night and steal me from my room and torture me for it. I just want to so badly. Christian Scott, given time, may become the next Miles Davis.
He has the cool factor, the distinctive, personalized tone and the taste of the modern jazz audience in his grasp and in just a few years, I predict he’ll join Esperanza Spalding as a Grammy award winner, and as an international super star breaking down the jazz barrier and opening the music up to even larger audiences. Christian Scott has all of that at his disposal.
As you can see from the picture, he is the most stylish man in the business. On top of being a model performer for young jazz musicians he has also posed for and been given recognition by these magazines: L’UOMO VOGUE, VOGUE ITALIA, THE SOURCE & KING MAGAZINE