Top Ten Jazz Tracks for Surf Music

Alan Bryson By

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The notion of jazz as surf music seems absurd at first blush, but it can work surprisingly well. Some time ago I learned this by happenstance while listening to an album by fusion guitarist Alex Machacek as I watched surf videos on YouTube. It was a true "ah ha" moment. Compared to the original soundtrack, Alex's music was much better suited to the surfers' incredible aesthetics, athletics, and the resulting excitement.

It struck me that it might be an interesting experiment to edit together some video clips from GoPro commercials and add some jazz music as a soundtrack. Because the GoPro clips included skiing, snow boarding, canoeing, mountain biking, and surfing, it turned out to be considerably more challenging than just working with conventional wave riding clips. Such steady long distance shots, filmed from the beach using a tripod, can even work well with something like "So What" by Miles Davis.

Number "1" is the original video with the most effective music I could find. For me an interesting by-product of this exercise was the realization of how powerfully music influences what we are watching, and conversely how visual stimulation affects our perception of music. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to offer a list, to allow you to experience how music affects the video. I imagine some of you will have some other and likely better ideas. By all means paste your top YouTube clip in the comments section.

1. Barbara Dennerlein

For videos 2 through 10, mute and replay the original video above and then play another clip from below to experience the difference.

2. John McLaughlin

3. Derek Trucks

4. Carlos Santana

5. Herbie Mann

6. Billy Cobham

7. Jimmy Smith

8. Ronny Jordan

9. Tal Wilkenfeld

10. Oz Noy


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