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specials

Rock Fan's Guide to Jazz

Charles Mingus If you've had trouble getting into jazz, you are not alone – even Jim and Greg took a while to figure it out. Jazz is an iconic product of the African-American experience, but there are a variety of barriers of entry that rock listeners often have to overcome. To begin with, jazz has existed for twice as long as rock, meaning that there's an intimidating ocean of music to navigate. That's why we've enlisted the help of jazz writer and curator John Corbett to create the Rock Fan's Guide to Jazz. John refutes the notion that jazz is“fuddy-duddy”music from a bygone era. Instead, it's an exhilarating, joyful genre that continues to develop today.

There are many potential entry points to jazz that share certain sensibilities with rock music. The hard bop stylings of Sonny Rollins, for example, have a sense of forward propulsion familiar to rock fans. Even though some listeners think of swing as polite, genteel music, John can cite examples of Duke Ellington recordings that have the verve of any good rock guitar solo. Rock and jazz intersect in a very real sense in the jazz-fusion records of Miles Davis in the late 1960s. And bands from The Velvet Underground to Sonic Youth have drawn inspiration from the boundary-pushing free jazz of Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler. But jazz is really best appreciated live, so fortunately there are many exciting young jazz artists performing today who exhibit a punk rock sensibility.

Go to episode 491
reviews
Broken Boy SoldiersBroken Boy Soldiers available on iTunes

The Raconteurs Broken Boy Soldiers

The next album up for review is Broken Boy Soldiers by The Raconteurs. The Raconteurs is a side-project for Jack White of The White Stripes. He is joined by power popster (and fellow Michigan native) Brendan Benson as well as members of garage band The Greenhornes. This marks a bit of a departure for White, who favors a much more minimalist approach with the White Stripes, and Greg is not entirely impressed. He feels that too much of the record is merely a classic rock imitation. Greg suspects that White ceded too much power to Brendan Benson, and wishes that he made more innovative musical choices, as he did on the album he produced for country star Loretta Lynn. Broken Boy Soldiers gets a Burn It from this critic. Jim, however, cannot stop listening to The Raconteurs, and for him that's all that matters. Rock and roll has never been about originality, and according to Jim, every song is catchy and energetic. Jim would Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 25
Light Up Gold / Tally All the Things That You BrokeLight Up Gold available on iTunes

Parquet Courts Light Up Gold

Who knew Denton, TX was a rock capital? There's Midlake and Neon Indian. Sly Stone was born there! And now we have Parquet Courts. With its 2nd release Light Up Gold, the garage quartet has relocated to Brooklyn and is getting much wider attention. The album is a perfect combination of expert pop craftsmanship and slacker-punk attitude. Jim and Greg grinned through this review, so Parquet Courts gets a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 374
news

Music News

Sad news: singer Ben E. King has died at age 76 in New Jersey. After being discovered in a luncheonette in 1956, King scored a string of hit singles as a member of The Drifters and then as a solo artist. With the unique blend of grit and smoothness in his voice, King bridged the gap between the doo-wop and soul eras – he's the rare artist who's charted in four different decades. He'll forever be remembered for his 1961 solo hit "Stand By Me," but Greg also loves his moving performance with The Drifters on the Doc Pomus-penned "Save the Last Dance For Me."

Last month we also lost Jack Ely of the Portland garage band The Kingsmen, who sang lead on their immortal 1963 cover of Richard Berry's "Louie Louie." Rumors spread that Ely's indecipherable singing might be covering up dirty lyrics, outraging then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and even prompting an FBI investigation. The more prosaic truth may have been that Ely's singing was slurred because his braces had just been tightened. While Ely may not be a household name, without those three chords, there would be no punk rock as we know it.

Go to episode 493