I found my six-disc set of Miles Davis and John Coltrane and ripped the first three discs today. I hadn’t been listening to much jazz in the last three months and now I’ve dived back into it. This is exactly the kind of jazz I love.
When I listen to this music it does the same thing as the classical music I grew up with; it completely sucks me in. I don’t want to do anything but listen and follow the melodic line, the rhythm, everything, as closely as possible. I find myself smiling at little musical jokes and getting shivers when something unexpected happens.
Music geeks my age or younger are all about post-rock music. If they’re enthusing about an innovative artist, chances are it’s Four Middle Class Kids Making Somewhat Dissonant Noises to a Pop Beat. There are probably at least two electric guitars involved, and if they don’t exactly make rock and roll music, that’s their background. If they do a cover song, it’s likely to be a post-Beatles pop number.
And then I put on a CD like this and think: The most sophisticated and subtle music America produced is here. It’s from the late fifties and early sixties. And it was made by largely uneducated people from poor families, most of them from a mistreated and disadvantaged ethnic group, working under tremendous commercial pressure. The music these people made still feels new today. And there’s more innovation and exploration in one of these songs than a hundred faux naive indie pop albums can muster.
I still like pop music. I can’t be one of those “Well now that I’ve heard jazz I can’t be bothered with pop music” elitists. But the armies of college kids with guitars and Pavement CDs have some catching up to do.