All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

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All About Jazz: The web's most comprehensive jazz resource

Genius Guide to Jazz

Ebony and Ivory and Ted and Alice

By Published: August 29, 2004
As the late sixties and early seventies washed over America like a garish hash of both the fake and the freak (and the fake freak, who is still with us as the Credit Card Hippie), jazz was noticeably affected. The avant-garde movement, led in the piano division by the oft-mentioned Cecil Taylor, was so relentlessly exploratory that one almost felt compelled to make quotation marks in the air when calling it "music." The same way one does when referring to Christina Aguillera as a "singer."

As the seventies wore on, the Fusion movement took hold and players like Herbie Hancock (a one-time Miles Davis sideman) and Chick Corea (also a former Davis sideman, who had nothing at all to do with the Korean Conflict) brought electronic keyboards to the mix. While technically not pianos, one would be hard-pressed to find much in the way of acoustic pianos in the seventies. The sounds of the ubiquitous electric piano (which is on permanent display in the Holiday Inn Lounge Hall of Fame and Museum in Passaic, New Jersey) permeated the era.

So we find ourselves in the eighties and nineties. With no dominant central figure on the piano, like Wynton Marsalis on the trumpet , and no polarizing figure like Kenny G on the saxophone , the piano is quietly relegated to the background as it was in the big band era. Like Pabst Blue Ribbon™, though, the piano remains unconcerned with its popularity and continues to provide useful service to all who seek it out. And if that doesn't get me some sort of corporate kick-back, I don't know what will.

Till next month, kids, exit to your right and enjoy the rest of AAJ.


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