Those who follow me on Twitter, about 1,820 people and counting, will know that we spent the other weekend at the Love Supreme jazz festival. I have been mulling over since why there wasn’t much classic jazz around.
(Sorry, this one’s about music.) We were at the Cambridge Folk Festival last year, and as I noted here then, there wasn’t that much folk around there either, on the main stage.
By not much classic jazz around, I mean very little music that could have been created much before 1970. No bands that came across like Coltrane in his Blue Trane period, or 60s quintet Miles Davis, or Mingus. Almost every act was to some extent electronic, with electric instruments, with often nods to acid house, or trance, or whatever.
I suppose that if you are Kamasi Washington, the stand-out act for me, or Melody Gardot, or one of the younger bands such as Gogo Penguin or Moon Hooch – no I am not making these up, both pretty good actually – you grow up surrounded by rock, or soul, or house, or whatever. It is all-pervasive, and it is bound to influence what you play. Washington is only 35, after all.
Moon Hooch, for example, took an unpromising line up of twin saxes and drums, which should have sounded awful, and made it palatable by adding an electronic rhythm track.
Miles at the end of the 1960s took elements of funk, Sly Stone, James Brown, whatever, and moulded it into works like Bitches Brew or On The Corner that were genuinely revolutionary. And was reviled by the jazz establishment of the time, just as Dylan was excoriated by traditionalists for going electric. We ended up with Spanish Key, or Like A Rolling Stone, which sounds good enough reason for me.
Against that, you have diehards like Wynton Marsalis who insists on recreating the sounds of that classic Miles quintet of the 1960s, the one before Bitches Brew with Shorter, Hancock, Carter, Williams, and making an awful lot of dull albums, IMHO, to sit alongside those classic recordings. Of which Miles made quite enough to go around in the first place.
I am reliably informed that Love Supreme, now in its fourth year, is running at a profit, for which the heavens be thanked. It does so, like other festivals, by bringing in non-genre acts such as Grace Jones and Burt Bacharach to pull in the paying punters. And I wasn’t unhappy to see Grace Jones at all.
Still, it might have been nice to wander into a tent at Love Supreme and see five musicians playing (acoustic) trumpet, sax, piano, bass and drums.