Never been a real fan of having ‘days’ for stuff, but seeing that it’s international jazz day, I thought I’d share a few tracks that I have come to love over the years. Now, if you think I’m too pedestrian and too mainstream for your liking, go fuck yourself – jazz isn’t all supposed a filthy blast of nonsense – although that is nice sometimes as well. – FATS
Firstly, I have been doing some work with another publication, and the first artist I have researched is a Dutch cellist by the name of Ernst Reijseger. This dude is incredible. Yes, he is a classical cellist, but he smashes fucking face over a few different genres. Filmaker Werner Herzog, who has hired Reijseger to score and record multiple soundtracks for his films, says that this wizard of the cello plays so well he could “play the American Civil War on that cello.” His gift for Avant-garde jazz is amazing, as is his gift for African music and abstract soundscape stuff. Here is a performance he did with the New Rotterdam Jazz Orchestra – pretty crazy stuff.
NEW ROTTERDAM JAZZ ORCHESTRA WITH ERNST REIJSEGER
It must be 10 or so years now, but I did some work with a music festival in my home town and had the pleasure of working on a show that brought this Norwegian supergroup to our stage. Without knowing much of what to expect from Jaga Jazzist, as far as a live performance goes, as all I knew is that it sounded great and they had a fucking boatload of folks on that stage with them, I was blown away by their show. I’ve always been a big fan of prog-jazz, and these wizards sure as fuck didn’t disappoint. Here is a fantastic performance from that era of the band.
OSLO SKYLINE by JAGA JAZZIST
Now, this may seem a bit pedestrian, but whatever. I clearly remember pulling this record out of my fathers collection as a kid, a kid who hated the idea of jazz music at the time, and having my world changed forever. Much is said about the recording of Mile Davis‘ Kind of Blue and how he only gave the musicians a basic chord progression and concept of what he wanted, had no rehearsal before the sessions began, and something about a fucked up tape speed or something. Regardless, when you have the talent of folks like Coltrane and Adderley on the session, perhaps just fucking giv’n it is the right call. However it happened, no one can argue that this is the greatest jazz album ever recorded, and it was the one that got me hooked all them years back.
KIND OF BLUE by MILES DAVIS
As far as piano jazz goes, no one puts me in the place like Thelonious Monk. Fuck, that dude touches those keys like a right fucking master of the night. The second I hear that piano start I feel an uncontrollable pull toward the liquor cabinet and the finest Scotch I have at the time. There ain’t much better than some Monk and some Scotch. Fuck Yeah!
MONK’S DREAM by THELONIOUS MONK
Not that many of us need anything more in this world to make us feel sad, but there are times when overwhelming sadness feels better than anything else. When I hear this track, I have no choice but feel sorrow, yet smile the entire way through it’s playing. Music has always been about emotion to me, and Chet Baker sure as fuck elicits strong feelings from within my soul. Compounded on top of all of this is the fact that he died addicted to heroin, and in a nod fell from his apartment window and died on the street. So much sadness from a pure genius. Here’s a bit of information we found about the circumstances of his death.
At about 3:00 am on May 13, 1988, Baker was found dead on the Prins Hendrikkade, near the Zeedijk, the street below his second-story room of Hotel Prins Hendrik in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, with serious wounds to his head. Heroin and cocaine were found in his hotel room, and an autopsy also found these drugs in his body. There was no evidence of a struggle, and the death was ruled an accident. A plaque outside the hotel memorializes him and the room he was staying in, No. 210, is named “The Chet Baker Room”.
Baker is buried at the Inglewood Park Cemetery in Inglewood, California.
ALMOST BLUE by CHET BAKER