Hold the Noodles!
A treatise on what makes
jazz listenable via reviews of the new Herbie Hancock reissues.
The situation I listen to CDs I'm about to review under is this: alone, not doing anything else, maybe anticipating what I'm about to hear and how I'm going to put it into words. At times this is a tedious activity, even with music I generally choose to listen to.
So, again, what is there to say? It's established musicians
playing established compositions. All waltzes to Frank Lloyd Wright
notwithstanding, the reason listening to music for review becomes tiresome is
because musicians, even (sometimes especially) the great and legendary, are
indulgent as fuck. The VSOP CDs are an example. Sure, maybe they were
propelled by the momentum of the audience and the momentum of each other in a
live setting, but I have a hard time finding justification for fourteen to
twenty minutes spent on a single number. Especially given that, on disc one, a
good chunk of that number is given to the kind of drum solo that's become a
running joke among rock audiences. It's this very indulgence, I think, that's
separated jazz from its roots as American popular music and turned off a good
part of its original audience, which in turn paved the way for fusions uglier
cousin to become the casual listeners answer to
"jazz". Don't look at me, I find Kenny G as unlistenable as anyone else, but to
people who want to say they listen to jazz and don't want to wade through ten
minutes of solo he's accessible.
Then again, maybe it's just the circumstances I'm listening
under. The same exact number might sound great if I were, say, washing dishes or
grouting my bathroom or punching numbers into a cash register. It would probably
sound even better if I were sitting around with friends who actively listen,
make comments, raise eyebrows either in mockery or admiration and then pass the
joint over. As it stands now, to my ears, Live Under the Sky is more for the
audience who was there at the time.
The Piano is much easier to take in, given the circumstances. It's just Herbie Hancock and his piano, meaning he's more prone to self editing and realizes an effective tapestry can be weaved off of the themes in less than five minutes. The beauty of it all is, of course, its simplicity and it's brevity. I can only strive for the same in reviewing it.
Herbie Hancock - The
Piano 8.2/10 VSOP- Live Under the Sky I and II 6.5/10. Review
by Ollie Hunt.
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