What Are You Listening To?

My press agent Cary Goldberg asked me if I would write a paragraph for a new project that Patrick Jarenwattananon from NPR's A Blog Supreme (www.npr.org/blogsupreme) is working on. He is asking musicians to write about as song they are listening to. So I wrote this and figured it would make a good first blog entry:

I am digging through my roomate's vinyl right now and found this great album: Les McCann and Eddie Harris, Swiss Movement, Live at the Montreaux Jazz Festival. The first thing I noticed when I put it on following Miles Davis' Nefertiti on CD was how REAL it sounded. Then I realized it was because it has that stage feeling, the feeling of playing for an audience, which was a stark contrast to Miles' masterpiece where they are basically workshopping tunes in the studio. Nefertiti is like the best rehearsal ever. Anyway, the Les McCann and Eddie Harris album just kind of reminds you of what is so great about jazz. Some great musicians find themselves in Europe at the same festival and throw some music together, and then play it for thousands of people and make it sound amazing. Les McCann anounces one of the songs,

"Alright, we gonna try a new song. This song was written by Eddie Harris, and today was the first time we ever saw it, so with your help, we might do it. It's called Cold Duck Time."

The entire band is completely grooving and in their element. My friend comes down the stairs during Eddie Harris' solo on Kathleen's Theme and starts making saxophone motions with his hands with a look on his face the like "What the?" "It's so relaxed" I say, and he quips back "It's like Trane without the stress," and we both crack up. This is the way jazz is supposed to sound: spontaneous, thrown together, a special feast for whoever is lucky enough to hear it.

Now that music is a product that can be bought and sold there is too much importance placed on the ability to create the same experience over and over again, which is impossible. It is impossible, but it is every producer, promoter, agent, or label's wet dream. I saw a hip-hop show with Big Boi this summer and he was playing along to his own music video. Seriously? Is that what we are headed toward? If you ever see me on a stage playing along with a recording of myself please shoot me in the head and burn all my recordings.

Cold Duck Time.