Some really interesting (at least I thought) quotes from Robert Glasper on the progression of Jazz in the LA Times. His album ‘Black Radio’, released last month, did astonishingly well for a jazz record, ending up 15th on the Pop chart, an album Glasper thinks of as a Herbie Hancock type record. ‘Black Radio’ blurred the bounderies between jazz, hip-hop and soul; a natural progression according to Glasper, who said some thought provoking stuff regarding the current state of jazz:
“The jazz community kind of kills the alive to praise the dead. You look in any jazz magazine, 90% of it is old people, reissues or people who are gone already. The other 10% are new people, when it should be the opposite way. [In] jazz we’re so stuck on the old days, then we get mad when there’s no new audience. Well, why do you think there’s no new audience? You’re still playing [stuff] from 1965, that’s why. If Miles was here, trust me, Miles would’ve already recorded with Usher and Rihanna”
“My whole campaign is being honest. What are you really like? What influenced you? Who are you? When you do that, and that’s what comes out, that’s jazz from your eyes. I think it’s a good thing because jazz has been stagnant for too long. At least in hip-hop stuff always happens, so you want to see the news…. Even if it’s bad. Jazz, nothing ever happens. It’s literally like being at an old-folks home on bingo night, you know? I prefer to be at a party where a fight might break out.”
What he says is very true. When people play jazz these days it’s always stuck in the past or pretentious wierd free jazz outfits who most can’t really deal with. Jazz, at the moment, is fairly irrelevant to the larger music scene, and it seems all we appreciate now in a jazz musician is his individual talent, not his ability to write. I wonder also how this reflects on hip hop, which of course is deeply intertwinned with jazz. Hopefully forward thinking artists like Robert Glasper and Jose James continue to ride the wave of their momentum.