Tuesday, May 30, 2006

New (Old) Jazz 

This post is going to be way shorter than the topic merits, but I can only justify so much procrastination.

On my way back from Barbri today, I finally pressed play on my CD player to see what I'd left in there as I rolled into town almost a week ago. It was Nicola Conte's "Other Directions." The album is bossa flavored, but not as overtly so as his other offerings, and brings up a musical movement I've been meaning to mention.

Nu-jazz is a label that's been tossed about a lot since the late nineties when "Acid Jazz" lost it's edgy flavor and turned into noodly, watered-down nonsense (for the most part). I don't like most "nu-jazz" - but there is a strain of the genre that I love. I've heard people say stuff like "new jazz" - without the faux ravey "nu" spelling. It basically eschews the hard-boiled fusion inspired antics of the acid jazz phenomenon and with a return to classic compositions and styles. Conte's early bossa-lite compositions are an example. His first album, Jet Sounds, has some decent stuff, but it's definitely nu-jazz with a "nu." But the Italian producer/dj's newer "Other Directions" is something else. It's new jazz. The compositions are sharp and precise, but he leaves room for displays of virtuosity from his instrumentalists - harking back to classic standards of the late 50s and early 60s before the bop and later fusion movements spiked the punch. Note that "Other Directions" appears on Blue Note, not Conte's usual home, Italian label Schema.

So Italy has made an appearance, if a borderline martini-sipping, watered down, jet-set one. Where's the real action at? Scandanavia. I've gotta stop wasting time here, but go check out The Five Corners Quintet's newish album, "Chasin' the Jazz Gone By" on Ricky Tick. Also highly recommended is the dance-floor friendly, often latin-beat-driven deliciousness of the Jazzinvaders new album "Up and Out!" on Social Beats. That outfit is led by precussionist and drummer Phil Martin who I understand is something of a legend in Dutch jazz circles. Well, I caned the single to death and the album sampler is a new staple in my bag. I've gotta get the album on CD so I can rock it in the car, too. There couldn't be better sunny weather with the windows down danceable jazz goodness.

Gotta get back to work.


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