There are always rumors of dark international conspiracies and cartels . . . but what of the jazz underground, a secret force for good?
Eighty years ago, this generous conspiracy meant that someone would play you a record you hadn’t heard or even heard of — treasured OKeh of SINGIN’ THE BLUES or ORIENTAL STRUT — and change your life forever. Or someone would tell you about this tenor player in Minneapolis you have to hear.
Technology has changed the speed and the scope of these epiphanies, but the intent is the same.
This morning I awoke to an email from the jazz enthusiast and scholar Andre G. Growald (of Sao Paulo, Brazil) telling me about a band I would like to hear — the Original Prague Syncopated Orchestra. The clips are posted on YouTube by “indyhoppers,” who lives in Italy. I watched the clips in Maui.
I rest my case.
It gets better. In the first clip, four Czech musicians do their own version of the Rhythm Boys’ THAT’S MY WEAKNESS NOW, in Czech, of course:
Here the full orchestra takes off on PLEASURE MAD, a Sidney Bechet composition from 1924 which he updated in 1938 to VIPER MAD:
In both cases, they tend to speed up a bit, but that’s what weakness and pleasure-madness will do to you, I guess. And this conspiracy is one that inspires me: may it keep flourishing! And deep thanks to Andre and every other conspirator in the name of HOT.