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Jazz is serious music: so serious that sometimes it becomes a labor of such intensity that the composers and performers fail to have fun making the music. Vocalist/pianist/composer Jim Pearce specifically makes it a point to have fun, before getting serious (as serious as he ever gets). Gratefully in the mold of Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg and Mose Allison, Pearce specializes in bright melodies and clever lyrics, a modern throwback to Tin Pan Alley reclaiming clever lyrics from the great unwashed of country music, the current keeper of cagey words with snappy music.
Pearce's talent attack is on two fronts. He is a superb pianist and composer who solos against his compositions with a startling clarity, revealing an embarrassment of creative riches. The opening "You Pick Me" sings and swings with a goofy swagger that endears immediately, a quality lacking in so much music. And then there are Pearce's lyrics. "Old As Dirt" shows Pearce's lyrics chops in the sunlight on the back porch, considering old age:
"I'm old as dirt / fried like bacon / what golden years my knees are achin' / senior citicide, paleozoic / I'm fossilized prehistoric.
Got liver spots and ortho shots / forgeta loteat prunesby the box / mean and grumpy / sad and frumpy / grey-beard elder my butt is lumpy..."
The title tune is a clever, tongue-in-cheek, left-handed compliment lamenting ample talent lacking ambition. The song bounces around an open 4/4 and mentions Schopenhauer, Mahler and 12-tone clusters in the same song. That is a nice touch. "Even Big Monsters Love Music pits King Kong against Broadway:
..."and King Kong loves ballads real slow / he sings the pretty parts way down low. / He's just a guy that digs fine art / so, give him the songs by Rodgers and Hart...
Even big monsters love music / it's soothing to the savage beast / even big monsters love music / gobbling up an audio feast..."
As good as Pearce's lyrics are, his musical composing is equal or better. Half of You Are An Edgy Visionary Seer is made up of instrumentals...smartly constructed and effectively performed. "Western Skies" and "Another Waltz for You" are notable for their invention and musicality. You Are An Edgy Visionary Seer is a fine follow up to I'm In The Twilight of a Mediocre Career (Big-O, 2010), and exists as the promise of more such music.
Track Listing: You Picked Me; My Last Parade in New Orleans; Western Skies; Old as
Dirt; You Are an Edgy Visionary Seer; In The Evening; Even Big Monsters Love Music; Lost Love Found; Another Waltz for You; Open Plain.
Personnel: Jim Pearce: piano, vocals (1, 2, 4, 5, 7), keys (8); Herman Burney:
bass (1, 4-7, 9); Paul Fallat: drums (1-7, 9); Ken Gregory: trumpet
(2), bass (3), guitar (3, 7); Don Edman: clarinet (2); Bob Lewis:
trombone (2) Bill Rutan: banjo (2); L.A Tuten: tuba (2); Eric South:
flute and saxophone (9); Joe Gransden: trumpet (2).
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.