This I Believe

Michael - Palos Verdes Estates, California
Entered on March 7, 2007

Michael Honan-Hallock

This I Believe: Jazz is Dead

Kenny G is the antichrist, as far as I’m concerned. Kenny Garrett, on the other hand, is talented, but he shouldn’t be grouped together with the legendary Charlie Parker. Jazz has been dead since 1970. When Miles Davis released Bitches Brew, the world knew that Jazz would never be the same, and they were right. The genre collapsed into Jazz Fusion, a hip new direction, but more recent attempts at reviving Jazz have been quite pathetic. If someone ever wanted to torture me for information, all that they would have to do is turn on 94.7 “The Wave,” and I would talk within seconds. Smooth Jazz should not be allowed to share a name with one of the greatest musical movements in history.

Practically anyone who knows anything about Jazz can’t help but laugh when they hear Kenny G at shopping malls, but a lot of these people genuinely appreciate quote-unquote “modern Jazz.” The only thing modern about it is the large amount of goofy hats that some of the performers wear. It is both physically and mentally painful to hear these new artists butcher songs that were released by legends nearly fifty years ago—they should have left those standards as they were, and not tainted our memories of them by performing them with mediocrity.

I am an open worshipper of Fusion, but I will be the first to admit that it was completely responsible for Jazz’s downfall. Purists were mortified by the prospect of blending Jazz and rock, but as an avid rock listener, I think that Fusion was a fresh new direction in music that incorporated Jazzy elements. I understand that everything, by nature, tends toward destruction, so I am only bitter about Jazz’s demise because people refuse to recognize it. I am not saying that players like David Sanborn should throw out their instruments and go hang themselves, but they should be working on innovating the genre or taking it into a new direction like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock did, as opposed to attempting to channel players who are long gone. Jazz should be laid to rest peacefully, so it’s not remembered as a genre full of cheap imitation and bad soprano sax playing.