Have you, as a listener, been suffering under the influence of Jazz Nerds International?
Jazz critic and blogger for the Ottawa Citizen Peter Hum wrote a terrific post Thursday on the latest installment in what's become known as "the jazz wars," a long-running culture clash pitting the music's traditionalists -- personified by nearly any member of the gifted Marsalis family -- versus what could be considered jazz's new guard.
A little background: This new guard encompasses some of the most acclaimed, adventurous artists in jazz today -- Christian Scott, the Bad Plus, Vijay Iyer and the Claudia Quintet, just to name a few who have been featured in this space -- as well as anyone who followed in the footsteps of late-period John Coltrane and "Bitches Brew"-era Miles Davis. A hardcore traditionalist would argue that these musicians, though talented, may be playing interesting music but it's certainly not jazz.
Recently examined in the documentary "Icons Among Us," there's a lot of remarkable stuff going on in modern jazz that incorporates influences from across the musical spectrum, stretching into odd time signatures and generally treating jazz as the boundlessly creative, free-thinking genre it is. While on the opposite side, the traditionalists argue that truest form of jazz involves all-acoustic instruments, a swinging rhythm section and, if possible, some really sharp suits.
In the video posted on Hum's blog (and after the jump), drummer Jason Marsalis offers an amusing warning against "Jazz Nerds International," his term for young musicians who have a "selfish" view of jazz, eschewing the standards of the genre in favor of "abstract solos" and odd-metered straight rhythms. The end result, in Marsalis' view, is music that alienates its audience and exists only for the appreciation of fellow musicians.