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Genius Guide to Jazz

Someone's in the Kitchen With Genius

By Published: February 19, 2013
I could go on and on about the similarities between Jazz and food, and I will if I have to; I'm not what you'd call a proud man. But I think you get the point by now and if you don't, go get a cheeseburger, put on some Bobo Stenson and you'll be right up to speed.

Moving forward.

Having already compared the individual components of Jazz to those of a burrito (see my previous article, How to Listen to Jazz, or wait for the film version in theaters this summer, starring Sofia Vergara as Salsa), I won't submit you to another rehashing of a theme just for the sake of keeping my hand in the game. Nor will I clog up the Interwebs with yet another reposting of Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
's chili recipe or Dean Martin
Dean Martin
Dean Martin

vocalist
's recipe for burgers. Instead, I thought it might be fun to associate some of my favorite Jazz artists with the influence they have on my cooking. For example, Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
Louis Armstrong
1901 - 1971
trumpet
may invite a "special recipe brownies" reference for those in the know, but Pops always puts me more in the mind of red beans and rice, that staple of his hometown. And "Struttin' With Some Barbecue" makes me want some barbecue, which is a whole 'nother article entirely.

So then.

John Coltrane
John Coltrane
John Coltrane
1926 - 1967
saxophone
:
Trane puts me in the mind of something smooth and rich, yet well-spiced and constantly surprising. Indian food does the trick. A nice mild Korma for his more accessible and melodic works (Blue Train), a complex Jalfrezi for his more challenging works (A Love Supreme).

Miles Davis: The Prince of Darkness makes me want something dark, obviously, but complex. A Mexican mole poblano sauce served over a grilled turkey breast does the trick. Pairs well with Sketches of Spain and a pint or twelve of Negra Modelo.

Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor
b.1929
piano
:
A combination of things that shouldn't work together, but somehow does. Think chicken and waffles, or bacon milkshakes (which I personally don't care for, but I didn't like Cell Walk for Celeste either). Put on Unit Structures, pour on the maple syrup and hot sauce, and dig.

Donny McCaslin
Donny McCaslin
Donny McCaslin
b.1966
saxophone
:
Something new(er) and fresh. Roasted brussel sprouts with pancetta and shallots. Goes with my favorite, The Way Through.

Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
Duke Ellington
1899 - 1974
piano
:
Something classic that has stood the test of time, yet always new and and surprising. Something that seems easier than it turns out to be, but worth the effort. I go with Beef Wellington, and not just because it rhymes and sets me up for a ridiculously easy Duke of Wellington joke that doesn't seem so easy now that I've forgotten what it was. Anything by the Duke works (Ellington, not the other one), but I like Ellington at Newport 1956.

These are just a few ideas, and are wholly subjective. If listening to Marcus Miller
Marcus Miller
Marcus Miller
b.1959
bass, electric
puts you in the mood for seared ahi tuna served on a bed of Fruity Pebbles, then have at it. If Jacqui Sutton
Jacqui Sutton
Jacqui Sutton

vocalist
gives you a taste for Texas-style brisket on New York rye, then you, sir or ma'am, are a friend of mine. And if listening to Boney James makes you want to go to Subway for their $5 footlong sub of the month, then this entire article has been wasted on you.

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


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