Not that shit that puts your grandfather to sleep, that shit your grandfather fucked his stripper girlfriend to in 1928, both of em messed up on reckless amounts of moonshine, weed, and who knows what else! I want jazz that threatens to kill people. I want jazz that has killed a few people. I want jazz that’s vicious and breathes fire, I want chainsaw jazz that wants to fuck your grandmother. (See photo above)
Now, you might be thinking, “Ah, StrangeFlow, what are you doing? Talking about jazz, now? This is an electronic blog, isn’t it? Come on, make with the step!; either dub-, 2-, or future-; but don’t kill us with this shit. Why now? Why here?
Because I think jazz might be beyond genre; I think jazz is an aesthetic, and I’ll tell you how that relates to electronic music.
Let me explain what I mean… Jazz is not just a specific chord progression, but a mood. It’s not what notes you play, but with what attitude you play them with. To put it in context with modern electronic music, I have often thought that really good breakcore should sound just like jazz. Not the musical genre of jazz, but jazz as a kind of musical verb.
For breakcore specifically, it would mean jazzing out the breaks and samples in such a complex and seemingly chaotic (yet precisely controlled and meticulously formed) way so as to create a tangled string of beautiful and colorful knots; making a mess while simultaneously cleaning it up – a contradictory sound – a jarring language of intersecting sounds and noises, all fitting together like jagged little pieces to a mind-blowing puzzle. Good breakcore should have jazz in its DNA.
So, what I’m getting at, basically, is that jazz needn’t act like the boring old senior citizen most people take it for. And, to be fair, there have been some interesting trends for jazz in the last twenty years. Well, more or less… And, I’ll point out that even though I personally see it as an aesthetic, it’s not unusual to see it acting as merely a genre. Most people see it as one more passing trend, and nothing more. Sure – an interesting, and perhaps an epic trend – but an older one at that, and one that’s mostly dead, at this point.
But I think it’s bigger than that. I think that if “jazz-as-a-genre” dies (or if it already is dead) the spirit it encapsulates will still be with us, showing up in other forms. Jazz is what happens when musicians play, when they have an articulate conversation purely through the realm of musical devices and instruments, within the mode of uninhibited improvisation. It’s a mental wave length, a language. It can be fast, slow; straight, crooked; happy, blue; and in addition, it can also be maniacal, sinister, evil, and potentially quite perverted.
It’s really a very vivid bastard.
So, although I do think jazz music could (and should) reincarnate itself as a voodoo cannibal from hell, and even if the genre as we think of it isn’t coming back (with that same specific combination of conventional jazz instruments and formulas from the 20th century) the gene of jazz will probably stay inside us, as a species, for another million years. If we dig deep, we can get to it, as it’s always there.
Perhaps this is the way we should evaluate some forms of artistic expression, from now on – as being, potentially, more than just a genre. Not necessarily based soley on popularity or uniqueness, but on whether or not it’s BEYOND all those things, and if it can change you, mentally, to a specific degree, when you hear it, and entice you into performing or creating something creative with a certain type of energy. On that note, I also think punk is an aesthetic, as well. And, on that token, I think it might be arguable that funk is also an aesthetic, when it’s done right – meaning, when you’re not ‘faking the funk,’ – it’s a mix of confidence, sexual energy and experimentalism. Notice how I didn’t define it at all with musical concept? I’ll also point out that funk was once used as a description of jazz music, before it turned into it’s own genre, decades later. There’s lots of cross-pollination. In fact, I see no reason why you couldn’t punk out some funk with a jazz outlook, as well…
Well, I think I’ll finish this article here. If there’s any interest, maybe I could elaborate and go on to talk about punk or funk later, but for now, I think I’ll wrap it up. I don’t want to go off on any more tangents, like the one where I explain how melody is all just color, American dubstep is actually heavy metal, or, on a lighter note, how it’s impossible for anyone to look sexy while eating Taco Bell… no, I’ll save those for another day. Ha.
So, yes, to say that jazz is not a genre it’s simplistic. It can act as a genre, but really, it’s more than that, too. I’m not against the specific genres that jazz has formed, in fact, there are lots of different forms of jazz music that I love; espeially bop, dixieland, and electro swing… But, various other forms of music beyond jazz (that are now seen as genres) can also fit the description of going ‘beyond genre,’ as well. As I said, more on that later. I need to go work on some more sample packs… Leave a comment, tell me what you think! :-)