Being a jazz fan can be hard. Jazz is one of those musical mediums that many people have no problem saying they hate. In fact merely utter the word in their presence and they immediately begin hearing a series of squawks and discordant drones that remind them of animals being strangled.
But jazz like cricket and single malt, is one of those things that takes time to appreciate. You have to get beyond your initial aversion and live with it to discover that this seemingly cantankerous and difficult relative of the blues, has hidden depth and beauty you had never expected to find.
Take Brad Mehldau’s beautiful album from 1997 ‘The Art of the Trio’. I’ve recently being playing it constantly and it’s just the kind of album that could act as a perfect introduction to the medium. Reminiscent of Bill Evans in his more melancholy moods, the album has a cool, laid back early hours of the morning vibe.
It’s the first in a series and on the strength of this one I’ll be exploring the lot. The key is the choice of songs to interpret. There is a beautiful version of McCartney’s ‘Blackbird’ that keeps the delicacy of the original while still playing with the melodic line.
I few listens and the idea of hearing something a touch more experimental won’t seem so intimidating.
More importantly I feel it’s a great shame that one of the great musical forms America gave to the world should increasingly languish in the margins while lesser genres hog the limelight.
Jazz may no longer be the popular music of choice as it was from the 1920’s right up to the late 50’s but it still has something unique to offer as this album proves.