Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Time to move on?

I'm about to betray my generation, but I have to say I'm growing tired of the music of my youth. This is something that many of my fellow baby boomers apparently haven't felt ... yet.

While I still dearly love listening to -- and regularly do -- the music I grew up with, from the Beatles to George Benson, and Deep Purple to Return to Forever, I am forever hunting down new music to enjoy.

In recent years, I've found some recordings that I think will hold up over the years, just the way "Sgt. Pepper's" or "Kind of Blue" has, and I've mentioned them in other posts.

But I find the inability of many people to hear and fully enjoy such new music to be completely mystifying -- how can you find satisfaction in a steady diet of 50 or 60 year old music?

Dare I say it? Those recordings and musicians were great, but were not perfect. And you can be assured the last thing Miles Davis would have wanted is for his fans to stop hearing new music.

Thanks to sources like Napster, emusic and CD Baby, it's possible to consume a huge amount of new music, releases from musicians you've never heard of, from all around the globe.

Many are uninteresting or dully conceived; many are dazzling and brilliant. Are they as ground-breaking as "Giant Steps" was? No ... but how often can you listen to that and still feel it's originality?

I don't know if Ray Barretto's "Time is, time was" will be a classic, but I know I love to hear it as much as I love hearing Weather Report's "Black Market."

I don't know if critics and listeners will treasure Stefon Harris and Blackout's "Urbanus" as much as they treasure Charles Mingus' "Ah um," but I know it gives me the same pleasure as the first times I heard Mingus.

Some musicians attain greatness through ideas that flash like brilliant meteors; others are great through the brilliance of solid and steady performance. It's not always easy to tell which is which, when all we see is the brilliance, but you'll never know if you've closed your eyes.

Need proof? Check out the documentary "Jazz in the Present Tense," by directors Lars Larson, Peter J. Vogt and Michael Rivoira. It's not available widely yet, but here's a review by AllAboutJazz.com editor John Kelman that details the film's highlights.

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