Friday, August 1, 2008

Gerry Mulligan - Age of Music Blogs

If you read my earlier post on Blue Mitchell, then you know of my recent reassessment of the fusion period of jazz in the 1970s. The proliferation of music blogs and the ability to sample much of the music before searching out a hard copy has been a real boon to the expansion of my musical tastes. I mean, let's be truthful here, sixty-second samples of jazz tunes on any retail site are almost worthless. In most instances the sample either begins with the head and we hear none of the solos, or the sample begins in mid-solo and we have no idea of the context (or the other soloists). It's never been a worthwile expenditure of time. Therefore, the purchase of CDs has always come down to familiarity. And while the fear of buying something you hate has diminished with availability of sites like eBay or Half.com to unload clunkers, there is still the disappointment factor and the feeling of getting burned that keeps me coming back to the tried and true. Another Lee Morgan or Hank Mobley reissue? Great, toss it in the basket. But once you have every Blue Note and OJC reissue, what's next?

What the music blog allows me to do differently, is to listen to the entire album, in context, and then decide if this is something I'd like to have in my collection, with art, liner notes, etc. It's because of this that I have recently not only purchased a bunch of fusion CDs, but also a batch of West Coast and avant-garde sessions that I never would have glanced at in the old days while looking through the racks at Tower Records or Borders. Combining these new (to me) spheres of music is an LP that I find absolutely wonderful: Gerry Mulligan's The Age of Steam. For one thing--and probably the most important--this session finds Mulligan abandoning his effete counterpoint for a more robust style that is incredibly satisfying. For another, he shares solo duties equally with the other members of the group: Bob Brookmeyer, Roger Kellaway, Tom Scott, and Stephen Goldman. Great music, and great solos, with the Fender Rhodes about the only thing that dates it in any way.

But it gets better. The DVD of Age of Steam has a fantastic documentary Listen: Gerry Mulligan, a section with Gerry himself leading viewers through a master class, other contributors to his album giving interviews, lead sheets to the tunes and a ton of other stuff. In addition, the DVD also comes with a copy of the CD--for the price, it's a nice set. Not only has this become a satisfying addition to my DVD music library, more importantly, I never would have looked twice at it had I not been able to download the album first from a music blog. And while there are plenty of albums that we all have that we don't like well enough to buy but don't hate enough to delete, the music blog serves an important function that I hope is allowed to continue for a long time.

3 comments:

helan said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Barbara

http://www.ipodepot.info

hardbop said...

Thanks, Barbara. I don't have a lot of time to post as much as I'd like, but I'm glad you've enjoyed it.

Klimbsac said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


Sarah

http://www.lyricsdigs.com