My favorite bumper sticker of the 1980’s read “But Is It Art?” Adopting that as my motto for most of the following two decades, I wondered, “But Is It Jazz?” about the music I was listening to. Applying a Rorschach ink blot test to the new release by bagpipe musician David Watson leads us to varying conclusions. Some relate to suitcases and furry bunnies, but I’ll stick to the music. Finding bagpipes with percussionists, saxophones, didieridu, and a harp wasn’t a crash of an international flight as much as it is jazz! Think of jazz as blues. Then came Dizzy adding a Cuban sound, Miles’ fusion, or Coltrane's Eastern influence, jazz has always been a creative mix of cultures. Listening to Skirl one hears the bagpipes as John Coltrane’s alto from “Impressions,” or the on “Pneumatic” beating out a march not unlike a Gambling College marching band parade. As you release your ears to the compositions, the interplay between Balinese drumming and sounds reminiscent of Harry Partch’s unique instruments or the Japanese Koto drumming all mixed with the ever present bagpipes works. Maybe not on paper, that’s why these things are sometime better left to you ears.
I love jazz because it's sophisticated, international, atmospheric yet free, cool and warm.
I was first exposed to jazz through the sultry voice and flawless swing of my mother.
I met Mark Murphy, David Linx, Kurt Elling, and Youn Sun Nah.
The best show I ever attended was Youn Sun Nah in Paris.
The first jazz record I bought was Native Dancer by Wayne Shorter and Milton Nascimento
My advice to new listeners: open your mind and your ears, forget about structure, feel the textures.
Go see live music and keep buying CDs!