Saturday, June 6, 2009

OUT THE CLOSET


Alexander, I have a confession. First, you should know I’m a jazz purist. I listen to every form of jazz from be bop to free jazz. For years I disregarded smooth jazz. My outlook on it changed, however, when I heard the new incarnation of the Jazz Crusaders at the 2003 Idlewild Jazz Festival. Saxophonist Everette Harp and keyboards Bobby Lyle man the front line. The only original Crusader was trombonist Wayne Henderson. He looked foolish dressed in a black and white polka-dot apronand matching chef cap. Surprisingly Harp and Lyles swung just a hard as any be bopper I’ve heard. That night, on the drive home I realized that for years I’d unfairly judged smooth jazz.

After hearing Harp and Lyle, I began listening seriously to smooth jazz. I must admit I liked most of it now. Those artists worked with the same level of diligence and commitment as be boppers, hard boppers, and avant-garde musicians. The smooth jazz cats also
have a loyal fan base, which they labored to build. Alexander, that’s my little confession. I’m a closet smooth jazz fan.

I’m certain my jazz purist license will be revoked soon. I’m just kidding. Such a license doesn’t exist. I want my readers to know -- you are one of my favorite. I’ve enjoyed the time I invested new album “Doin’ in the D (the D being Detroit), which Heads Up Records will release June 23rd. Normally, I wait after an album has hit the street before I review it, but with your album I
can’t contain myself. I implore my readers to buy a copy. In fact, they should purchase spare in case they wearout the first.

Before I comment on the album, you should know I’ve never told any of my jazz purist running buddies about my change of heart concerning smooth jazz. Since I’m confessing, should know also once I converted I didn’t defend smooth jazz when my when buddies dogged Kenny G, Boney James, and another prominent smooth jazz players. I should’ve but I refrained because I did not want to shunned by other jazz purists.

I have grown. I’m more courageous. When my buddies dog your contemporaries. Now I defend smooth jazz artists right to make the kind of music they want. I’m no longer afraid to voice my support. Their music is worth defending. That brings me back to your new work.

“Doin’ the D” is rock solid. You assembled a stellar cast. I particularly enjoyed you and saxophonist Kenny G on trumpeter Freddie Hubbard’s ditty “Little Sunflower”. Both of you were in sync. Kenny keeping the melody at arms length while you crafted counter-melody on the spot.

On “Undun”, the voice and flute duet with Maysa was incredible. You transformed the flute into a human voice that was just as sweet and engaging as Maysa’s. The album had plenty more memorable had aspects.


On “Passion Island,” for example, you and pianist Bob James were like to brothers trying to outdo the other. It was harmless fun. I could go on and on about “Doin’ the D”, I’ll stop It’s getting close to bedtime, and I want to listen to “Doin’ the D” one more time before I hit the sack.
I feel relieved I’m finally out the closet about my feeling about smooth jazz music. My jazz purist friends may refuse to hangout with me after they get wind of my comments. Shame on them. Maybe some of them feel the same as I do, and they’ll have the courage to broadcast their true feelings.too.

Continue to swing,

Charles
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