Friday, November 26

Carlos Boyero: Is jazz in the catacombs? | Babelia

I did not start in jazz, that music that admits a thousand definitions, or that manages that all of them fall short, with some of its untouchable teachers, but because of a song that I heard on the radio and that purists (I found out later ) considered easy and absolutely expendable. Was Take Five and was played by Dave Brubeck. I keep listening to it and I don’t blush for it. This happened fifty-five years ago, on my first record player, which was battery-powered, rudimentary. From there I went on to a Bill Evans LP. In other words, big words, art in its purest form. It took me a little while to get into it, but the sound of that piano and the sensations it provokes in me will remain in my soul until the last day. And jazz made me fall in love in perpetuity. It offers company, beauty, sensuality, mystery and heart for all kinds of moods.

And I don’t know if jazz ever became the most popular music. To assert it would be an exaggeration. I suppose that rock and pop never had the slightest doubt about the legitimacy and evidence of being the occupants of the throne during the second half of the 20th century. And they tell me that these are also in crisis, that the current royalty is shared by rap, trap, hip hop, reggaeton, a dose of flamenco adapted to the new times, things that my progressive vocation as hermit or my unfortunate incomprehension is very rare for him. I do not capture their power or their beauty, they do not convey anything exciting to me, they bore me.

But I am clear that for many years there was a remarkable audience that shared the passion for that music that black-skinned people invented, that their continuous improvisation or their classicism kept intriguing or making you throb even though you recognized each song, that in that universe all the surprises they were possible. I never saw or heard Ellington, Parker, Coltrane, Billie Holliday live, but almost all of the most legendary, including six Miles Davis concerts. It had been electrified, it was no longer my beloved’s Kind of Blue, one of the five albums that would take me to a desert island, but he continued to create powerful and unspeakable music and the sound of his trumpet conveyed very deep emotions. You didn’t have to leave Madrid to listen to Art Blakey, Stan Getz, Tete Montoliu in a tiny club, like Balboa Jazz. Or Chet Baker and Dexter Gordon at San Juan Evangelista College. And I think I remember that during the 70s, 80s and 90s there was not an empty seat at jazz festivals. I don’t go to concerts anymore. I would like to think that these continue to enjoy splendor. And some of the great American cinema and the best film noir sounded like jazz. Although the most sublime soundtrack I have ever heard (and I did not forget the great Bernard Herrmann), the one that Miles Davis created in Elevator to the scaffold, was leagues ahead of the flimsy and pseudo-artistic film directed by Louis Malle.

And I read hopeful news. Which confirm that the catacombs in which jazz is still venerated must be very populated. They say that discs of the gods are reissued. Unknown recordings of Coltrane and Davis appear. I imagine that if this happens it is because the publishers believe that there is still a demand. Among them the recording they made in a club of Coltrane and his group performing A love supreme, or spirituality expressed with great music, capable of awakening the best emotions over and over again. In my case, it is an album that I like to listen to alone, something very intimate. And with which tears frequently surface. It is said that Coltrane believed he had found God when he composed and performed that chilling hymn to his supreme love. The emotion that this album gives off also soaks those of us who have no god. Let each one levitate with his supreme love.

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