Jazz musicians pride themselves in creating their own unique style and color. They spend many, many years crafting their musical identity and work hard to keep it fresh. In this vein, traditional instrumentalist and composers began exploring outside of their national and musical borders for inspiration. It’s been more than half a century since greats such as Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis reached out to the world and brought its music to prominence in our country, and contemporary artists are still tapping into this enormous resource today. Fortunately for us, we’ve got the Ernie Ball Jazz Channel here in OurStage and it’s chock-full of original instrumental tunes that are constantly pushing the boundaries of genre. We’ve gathered a select few to showcase the variety of the style, and highlighted some of their outstanding features. There’s no need to be a music buff to enjoy this playlist; the only prerequisites are open ears and an open mind.
“Penguin Scramble” – Dean Taba: Starting straight off with a head that screams of contemporary north east jazz, this track jumps into a quickfire succession of instrumental solos. Each player gets their moment in the spotlight, and serves as a great introductory tune to what modern quintets are all about.
“Jeannine” – The Soiree Band: Reminiscing to the grandiose days of big bands, this incarnation of the Duke Pearson standard evokes the class and style of mid-century that is so impregnated in the definition of jazz. Laid back and smooth,
“Soothsayer Swing” – Chasm: Following a strong blues form yet decidedly jazzy, this song defies genre classification. Self described as “world fusion” (a tag we wholeheartedly agree with), this duo layers an impressive variety of instruments into a continuous, cohesive musical fabric, resulting in a very original piece.
“Brazilian Accents” – Kerry Politzer: A style brought to prominence by Stan Getz, this upbeat bossa definitely lives up to its name. The lyrical tone of the saxophone is a must for a song like this, and its melody sways to the beat in a rhythmic, dance-like fashion.
“Monsul” – Jorge Diez: With the popularity of artists like Pat Metheny and Juan Manuel Cañizares in the ’90s, the jazz guitar community exploded into a world music discovery frenzy. It was only a matter of time before they discovered a major source of this newfound tone and style; Spanish flamenco. While this track isn’t what many would traditionally “jazz,” it is a clear example of a jazz/flamenco fusion.
“Aheste” – Fahir Atakoglu: Tinged with Middle-Eastern harmonies and colors, this wonderful fusion tune brings the early Brecker Brothers recordings to mind, yet is incredibly successful in maintaining its own identity. A personal favorite.
“Venus Atmosphere” – Alexis Baro: Distorted guitars and a backbeat-driven drum beat make the presence of rock music clear in the tune. Funky at times, the rhythm section push the song throughout, while the trumpet and sax solos definitely make their presence known.
Have any tunes in particular that you care to share? Disagree with any of the picks? Want a theme in particular to be Shuffled? Let us know by dropping a comment! Listen to previous Press Shuffle playlists over at 8tracks.com.