Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Jazz in the Top 100

Albert Ayler
oil on wood, 2009
The Top 100 2012 contained very little music that one one would label as jazz. It's a bit surprising as I consider myself a jazz aficionado. Surprising too because jazz, unlike blues for example, is not a rigid style at all, it evolves along with changes in the world's music, and the world's cultures. (I do seriously question if this is still the case though—did jazz stop evolving somewhere in the 1980s, has jazz become a vestige of a once thriving culture?) The Top 100 2012 exhibition takes place in a jazz venue and I would like to cater to my audience a little bit beyond the two Rahsaan Roland Kirk paintings that are in the exhibition. To do this I'm referring to my archives. Looking at the 100 Greatest Recordings Ever that I compiled last summer, I see, for starters, a few candidates to be framed up and claim a spot in the WDNA 88.9 Serious Jazz Gallery come May 25. The 100 Greatest series contained 11 jazz paintings, all of them have appeared on these pages here, but most have not been exhibited yet. The Top 100 of 2009, the year before I started the Top 100 blog, contained 13 jazz paintings: John Zorn (2), Roland Kirk (3), John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, Art Ensemble of Chicago (2), Milford Graves, Billie Holiday, Walter Roland, and Machito. Reproductions of all these paintings, together with their accompanying texts, appeared in the book Top 100 2009, published in an edition of 100 by Iconoclast Editions, 2010. The small paragraph illustrating #23: Albert Ayler – Change Has Come reads: "My Name is Albert Ayler is the name of a film (2008) by the Swedish director Kaspar Collin. I saw it in an art theatre on a big screen in 2009. The audience became eerily silent when, in the film, things went wrong with Al. Albert Ayler (1936-1970) was from Cleveland, Ohio. The film made quite an impact on me. The tune Change Has Come was not featured in the film but comes from the LP Albert Ayler in Greenwich Village that I recently bought. The album was Ayler's first release on Impulse!, it was recorded live in 1966. I played this record, together with the other two Ayler albums I have, directly after coming home from the theater that night."

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