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.