Context – werk wurk work wark wirk
Today I decided to try to give some proper jazz a try.
I like jazz, but know very little about it. And by like, I mean I like when things are “jazzy,” which is a term I use seemingly indiscriminately. I’m also a fan of the expression “close enough for jazz,” in part because it’s silly and in part because I actually have a lot of respect for jazz musicians, and being glib can be fun.
I like the jazz-inspired production on Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly. I like at least one album by jazz fusion act Weather Report. I like that scene in Anchorman when Will Farrell’s character plays some sweet, sweet yazz flute.
And now that you know most of my jazz context, I feel safe telling you that I mostly like Thelonious Monk. I say mostly because I’m not 100% sure what happened to my ears, so on further listens I may come to alternate conclusions. Probably not, because Monk is awesome and abstract music only gets better with understanding and context, but something about not burning bridges.
I know Thelonious Monk as a mostly pianist, and part of my disjointed feelings about it stem from the overwhelming amount of trumpet on this album. I like a little trumpet here and there for spice. I have about a 3 ska song tolerance when not actually at a Less Than Jake show. But too much of a good thing is, well, too much of a good thing. I may think I want Coco Puffs for all of my meals, but after the jaundice clears I may consider broadening my diet.
Harsh and glib analogies aside, I think I need to find more of Monk’s work where there isn’t so much horn. That sounds rad. I love his piano playing. I love his flavor of jazz. But the aforementioned 3 ska-song limit means that by the time all 13 minutes of “Ba-Lue Bolivar Ba-Lues-Are” were over I had already met my horn-section limit for the day. The rest of the album is as good as the beginning, but the horns being what they are to my ears I found myself with less patience as the album went on.
Next time I’m feeling jazzy maybe I’ll try some Wes Montgomery. That guy is holding a guitar in his pictures, and I like the guitar a lot. If that’s the lead instrument, there should be less horn involved because of how overpowering a horn can be. Especially a trumpet.
I blame Lou Bega for bringing in an otherwise awesome instrument into a terrible song. I’m going to blame his line “and here comes the trumpet” for all of my horn-gripes in this post. Article? Can I call these articles yet? Close enough for jazz.