Decade In Review: Jazz And The Mash-Up
by Michael Katzif NPR.org
It's difficult to frame the last 10 years in jazz around its "most
important" recordings: What strikes me as most important about this
decade is that musically, anything went. In the age of the mash-up
and the iPod shuffle -- where musically different artists can sit
comfortably against each other -- jazz's continual flexibility to
incorporate any number of sounds and distill them within a jazz framework
is what's made this decade so refreshing.
So what defines "importance?" The musician in me wants to say that
the most important albums were the ones that we believe to be the
most musically skillful or adventurous, or those which introduce
us to a new exciting voice in jazz -- Jason Moran, The Bad Plus and
Brian Blade Fellowship come to mind. But what about albums with mass
crossover appeal like Norah Jones' Come Away With Me; or recordings
pegged to an event, such as Terence Blanchard's A Tale of God's Will
(A Requiem for Katrina); or Ornette Coleman's Pulitzer Prize-winning
recording Sound Grammar? What about albums that explore a high-concept
multimedia project like Bill Frisell's Disfarmer and Dave Douglas'
Keystone? I think those are all good choices. They all brought attention
to the music in creative new ways, and all capture their own snapshots
of the 2000s.
One record that really exemplifies that for me is the Bill Frisell/Matt
Chamberlain/Lee Townsend/Tucker Martine project Floratone. Taking
the Teo Macero approach to production, Townsend and Martine crafted
a stunning album from the free studio improvisations of Frisell and
Chamberlain. Floratone's lush production brings in hints of New Orleans
jazz, swampy R&B, surf rock and electronic music. But it also
feels like an inventive and foward-thinking tapestry of sounds that
could have only happened in this decade.