It is hard to believe I have been writing about jazz for All About Jazz for almost 18 years now. During that time period, vinyl was scarce as can be, only to come back recently with a vengeance. With many classic jazz recordings working their way into the area of public domain, ubiquitous CD reissues have offered up even some of the rarest jazz classics to the masses. It has been an exciting ride to say the least. Nonetheless, I find that in picking through new music it has become harder and harder to find quality works worthy of lasting significance. And for some inexplicable reason, swing has seemed to become a bad word. In the final analysis however, the tradition will always be at the heart of what makes jazz music vital to this reviewer. Artists who are trying to be different just for the sake of being different will not find a place in my year end lists.
So looking through my offerings this year, the word traditional might come to mind and that is just fine by me. These gentlemen and lady are true artists practicing their craft at the highest levels within the tradition of the music. The same could be said for the embarrassment of riches we found in the reissue market this year, particularly when it came to vinyl. Furthermore, hats off to Resonance Records for unearthing two stellar sets that had been previously unheard.
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good
I was first exposed to jazz when I discovered that one of Jimi Hendrix's influences was Wes Montgomery. I played guitar growing up and idolized Hendrix, so I knew that anyone he looked up to must be good. I was 16 at the time. I went to Tower Records and purchased a CD by Wes, and I was hooked from the very first ten seconds. The sound of the song Lolita illuminated my bedroom, as I just sat back amazed at how colorful and soulful this music was--I understood it, even though at the time I didn't understand how to go about playing it. I get chills listening to Wes' solo on Lolita, and I can still listen to that song ten times in a row and never get tired of it. There is a truly timeless quality to genuinely spontaneous jazz music, and it is that quality that has inspired me to devote my life to studying and playing this music.