What’s hip, what’s jazz? and a bit of listening

Another blog prompted in part by a gig I’m missing. This time its the Dale Hambridge Trio at the Be-Bop Club tonight. Dale cites american pianist Robert Glasper as a big influence and Mr. Glasper is definitely pretty hip. The idea of blending club/dance music/hip hop grooves and sounds with Jazz isn’t very new but Glasper seems to doing it the context of an acoustic piano trio. Anyway it did get me thinking.

The instinct to classify and categorise music I suppose is a way to try and understand and makes sense of what you are hearing. So I was struck by a trend John Fordham describes here in a article about the jazz of the last ten years, which is the trend to build compositions and improvisations around repetitive loops and patterns. He says ” Jazz themes today…. sound more like drum patterns than the standard songs I’d first known, or the bop-blues licks I’d tried to learn guitar to in the 60s.”

He’s definitely got a point – is that coming from club and dance music or classical? I suspect some music school graduates are quite self-consciously using contemporary classical minimalism as a starting point. But it doesn’t really matter. I still tend to apply a really simple test: has it got soul? Shorthand for does it move me?

John Fordham’s little insight has been on my mind for a while. Reinforced when we saw the Kairos 4tet a few weeks back at Future Inns. They were definitely in the ‘themes based on repeated phrases and loops ‘ category apart from some departures when they were joined by a singer.

I’ve been thinking yeah… but… because they are plenty of bands playing melody and harmony led themes and playing changes, and still sounding fresh and interesting.  And as I was in the jazz shop the other day, the owner John cunningly put something that mad me go ‘oh – what’s that’

Jazz anoraks will be surprised I’ve not listened to this guy – he had put on a trio recording by Kevin Hays. Next post is about that one because of course I had to buy it and I’ve been loving it – very ‘now’ jazz, melody led,  changes playing.

So what is hip then?


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