I’ve been compelled to write a post with this title as a consequence of my previous post in which I slandered another perfectly respectable music genre. However, such is my new-found cantankerousness and intolerance that I find myself able to fulfil this task as well.
I am going to present my argument solely in terms of Trumpet Playing and Anal Retention. Have a listen to the first part of Louis Armstrong’s West End Blues:
Over and over I tried to play that intro on my trumpet, then the tune, slow and melancholic (here’s a later, brassier version, which is also good) yet it flickers with the humanity that Armstrong could rarely keep to himself. Unfortunately I can find no clip of the only track to which I’ve ever attempted to do a striptease: Armstrong’s early recording of Tin Roof Blues (Tiger Rag and it would have all been over in a flash....) Satchmo kept himself ticking with a bit of marijuana and the help of Swiss Kriss, a laxative of which he was such a fan that he once recommended it to Britain’s Royal Family, and I admire him as a man who kept his embouchure clenched and his bowels open.
Now, there were other trumpeters with nice styles (and some modern players of other jazz instruments that I like). But somewhere it goes wrong, it all becomes a bit, well, Jazz Club. And I reckon the cause is Mr Miles Davis. He’s probably a genius, enough people have told me that he is, so I’m probably a philistine, I’m probably missing out. But for me the most accurate word I’ve ever heard applied to him is “costive” – I just want to shake him.... shake him and shout “Wake up, you dozy bastard!! Wake up and go to the lavatory!!!!”.
Fortunately, however, all is not lost. Musicians from other genres have been inspired by jazz and incorporated it into their shtick. Here are my favourite Russians, Markscheider Kunst, whose trumpeter I reckon listened to more Louis than Miles; have a listen to the intro in the 1st one, before the band gets into its lovely Latino-Leningrad stride, then look at the 2nd one if you wanna see them in a proper video. Now, this is obviously just my personal preference, but to me that’s Nice!