Music Mondays: Gaga, Bennett, Bowie & Blue: The jazz conversation continues

The fallout of the Great Sonny Rollins Jazz Satire Blowup of 2014 is still reverberating through the jazz community, prompting new uproars and bouncing off a surprising number of new jazz eruptions in the wider culture. Definitely interesting times to be a jazz fan, if not always for the right reasons.

Some cool stuff going on, see links below.

  • Tony Bennett teams up with Lady Gaga, of all people, to put out a duets album
  • David Bowie teams up with Maria Schneider on a song for his new greatest hits package
  • Annie Lennox doesn't team up with any famous jazz people for her new jazz standards album
  • The band Mostly Other People Do the Killing recorded a note-for-note recreation of Kind of Blue, to much consternation and comment.
  • Flying Lotus getting some attention for playing jazzy electronic music
  • Whiplash, a new movie about a young jazz drummer and his abusive teacher, is released to much comment
  • New John Coltrane & Bill Frisell releases that not everyone loved
  • Steve Coleman was name a McArthur Fellow!
  • Jazz is the Worst, twitter and blog.
  • And various other assorted bits and bobs

Who says jazz is dead? Seems like the conversation is still alive, the music is still popping up in the public consciousness, if not always in good ways, but it's there, making an impact, surprising, delighting and provoking people in new and unexpected ways.

And here's the continuing story of jazz, culture and jazz culture in 2014. Not comprehensive in its treatment as many of the recordings mentioned aboe have been extensively reviewed, but I tried to get a representative sample. There's lots to dig into.


As usual, if I've missed or forgotten anything, please let me know.

Of all of this recent stuff, in my opinion the David Bowie's Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime) is by far the best pop/jazz collision, beating Gaga/Bennett and Annie Lennox quite handily. And of recent jazz recordings that I've encountered, the one that has impressed me the most is Canadian Molly Johnson's Because of Billy, her take on a bunch of Billie Holiday songs.

The next jazz-related project I'm thinking of is to perhaps pull together a bunch of the jazz is dead/jazz is not dead writings from the past decade or so and gather them together.

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