Jazz has never quite shaken the notion that newer is better.  Musician C, born in 1956, is an improvement on B, born in 1936, and we are affectionate about A, born in 1916, while casting kindly eyes at his shortcomings.  And these assumptions creep into the critical language, as if playing a “harmonically sophisticated” chord was more “advanced” than a seventh.  Perhaps this ideology has something to do with our desire for novelty, our short attention spans — listeners getting bored with perfection.  Yes, artists do stand on the shoulders of previous generations — but such reasoning is ultimately limiting. 

As my counter-truth, I present four performances by the Anachronic Jazz Band, recorded at the Nice Jazz Festival on July 16, 1977.  The AJB hasn’t existed since 1980, which is a pity: we always need such romping enlightenment.  Its members were Patrick Artero, trumpet; Daniel Barda, trombone; Marc Richard, André Villéger, Daniel Huck, clarinet; Philippe Baudoin, piano; Patrick Diaz, banjo; Gérard Gervois, brass bass;  Bernard Laye, drums.  Goran Eriksson sits in on recorder on the third performance.

The band’s comic spirit is witty and knowing; the music isn’t mean-spirited or broadly knockabout.  You’ll see!

Heartfelt evidence that “progress” in jazz is illusory; rather, art is a Mobius strip, where beginnings and endings cease to matter.   ASK ME NOW would have gladdened the hearts of both Thelonious and Louis.  Bless every one of them.  

5 responses to “AGAINST THE CURRENT

  1. Bless the AJB and JzLvs for getting them up on the silver screen in ’09. Illustrates something I’m increasingly aware of – remember I was there and sentient in ’45 when Diz and Bird destroyed us players and steamrollered the past with ‘Salt Peanuts’ (and for the record, almost in synch with Hiroshima). Now: I heard big chunks of ‘Birth of the Cool’ on the radio last week. Seminal, ground-breaking in 1949 (don’t look at the hydraulics of that too closely). AND – whisper it – it sounded quaint. Tell me — in your drunkenest stupor would you call ‘Hello Lola’ quaint? For instance.

    AJB takes the old chestnuts (‘Anthropology IS still ‘I Got Rhythm’ after all) and breathes life into them again. THAT’S contemporary music !!…sp

  2. Great stuff, love their recordings.
    Ask Me Now is my fav’ of these.
    So cool to see them perform these arrangements.
    I wish there were videos of their versions of Joy Spring (a la Bix and Tram) and Daahoud (a la Bechet), as well, but I’m thankful for these.
    thanks for posting this!

  3. Stompy Jones

    Love it!

  4. Owing to your blog, I reach to hear music which differently I never would hear. I owing to you is unlimited!

    P.S. As you can discover, I am doing greater successes with my English lessons.


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