The search for less boring jazz

My jazz piano teacher told me I needed to listen to more music to give me ideas for improvisation. Buy more CDs? Oh, what a chore.
So yesterday I rushed home from work, changed my clothes, then dragged my feet over to That CD Shop in the space of half an hour. The Tanglin Mall staff are not as pushy/enthusiastic as the others but they did pick out a few good titles.
I’m at the stage where traditional jazz music makes me Bored with a capital B. I’ve had enough listening to slow ballads and different renditions of the same song which sound almost alike. I generally don’t like jazz vocals, especially if the voice is typically warm and old and low, the music is slow, and the melody is familiar. Bo-ring!
And if I had to listen to vocalists, I’d prefer their voices to be young, edgy, off-beat, paper-thin, or rough-accented… Give me Kent, Ono, Nergaard, Badu, anything but the ‘norm’. Maybe if I have sleeping problems I’d listen to what most people call jazz.
Anyway… after some concentrated listening, I picked up Monty Alexander’s Straight Ahead (a compilation of two old albums, Trio and Overseas Special), and Hank Jones’ The Touch. Good original piano improvisations, not too slow or Bo-ring, with a strong touch of Blues and harmonisation. At least I know I can’t do what they’re doing – yet. I mean, there’s nothing much to learn if you don’t hear anything new or different.
I also picked up a That CD Shop exclusive album from the High Society series, by Jazzamor. That was the album I had spotted during my last visit to another branch. It’s a delightful bossa-nova chillout mix. I actually smiled when I heard one of the early tracks. They also had a bossa nova version of Jamiroquai’s Space Cowboy! My favourite Acid Jazz tune!
Of course I am terribly biased, but also Bored. Let’s hear it for new styles and new music!!!


  1. monoceros

    are you familiar with dave brubeck’s work? he’s one of the old-timers but he really did some startling work with rhythms and timing. Try his “Time Out” album (I highly recommend this), which is the most popular one, and the other “Time” titles. He’s not of the vocal jazz genre but the composition and piano-playing – solo or accompanied by quartet – kind.

  2. b

    ooh i’m not a big music know-it-all but i do so LOVE silje nergaard. have you heard lisa ekdahl? it’s called “lisa ekdahl sings salvaldor poe”: (link)

  3. vantan

    monoceros – Yes I have one album, The Essential Dave Brubeck. Not bad at all. Thanks for telling me about his other albums.
    b – I have heard of Lisa Ekdahl before but probably haven’t heard her music yet. The Amazon reviews seem to indicate another unusual vocal talent. Thanks!

  4. monoceros

    I have that same album of Lisa Ekdahl’s and I like it quite a bit. If you like Silje you might like her singing too. rather unusual voice. but the songs are good.

  5. Jemima

    I really like A.J. Croce – great jazz piano with a good band and a superb, rich, voice (not at all ‘smooth’). I’d say his first album is the best, but they’re all good. Also, Oliver Nelson is brilliant.

  6. airhole

    Dave Brubeck’s Time Out is excellent. Definitely.
    For less boring music (hur hur) Try Herbie Hancock for space-funk jazz. If you are looking at piano solely, maybe Fred Hersh, Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bill Evans and Bud Powell? Naturally Bud, Oscar and Art come from the bebop school and Bill more like the modal jazz. Fred is more a modal guy with eclectic stylings? (dunno use the right description or not)
    For me, what always gets to me for improvisational ideas would be Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue, Coltrane’s stuff… hmm… thats are hard enough for me… sheesh!
    good luck. if you want more weird stuff… buzz me 🙂

  7. Gaijin

    I like my jazz a bit more funky, less soprific if you will. To that end, I like the Bluenote label’s more uptemtpo Hammond organ workout stuff – Jimmy McGriff, Lou Donaldson, Big John Patton – there is one excellent compilation (in two volumes) called So Blue, So Funky that really, you can’t go wrong with, if you have a pulse. Good place to start. Grant Green’s (guitar) late 60’s stuff is also primo toe-tapper country – anything out of that era featuring him and Big John Patton is a winner.
    But for a really surefire step in the right direction for jazz with more soul than berets & cigarillo pretense – some guys getting in it together and cooking up a funky storm – Chico Hamilton’s (drummer) The Dealer album from 1966 – absolutely impeccable. The track “For Mods Only” will knock your socks clean off.

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