The Playboy Life, Part 2

Integral to The Playboy Life is music, and for me, that’s jazz. Now, to clarify, The Playboy Life is not my entire life. The rest of me often gets tired of jazz. It’s an intellectual music and I am functionally an idiot, so I retreat to the comfort of more conventional tunes that rarely stray outside 4/4 unless it’s a waltz. I joke that I can’t count past 4, therefore I don’t play jazz.

Of course, like Rock, Jazz is not just any one thing. I love a good spray of Dixieland, a la Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five, and Sinatra sings with such ease I hate him. Too smooth. But if you want to pour maple syrup on your ears and hear lyrics and melody seamlessly welded together, none top Frank. Mmm… maple syrup…

There is, though, good reason why Kind of Blue is largely recognized as the greatest selling jazz recording in history. And its beauty is like walking into a huge cathedral or synagogue or Wrigley Field. It might not be your choice of religion, but it’s easy to see a shrine when you see one. Such is Miles Davis’s 1959 album.

He was breaking away from both jazz standards and the forms of bebop and hard bop he’d been exploring, into modal jazz, with improvisation built around particular scales. Now to my buddy Saxmanic that makes some sort of sense, but to me it’s finger snapping cool while going blahblahblah over the details. There are 12 bar blues cycles in some of the tunes which probably lends an accessibility through the more advanced layers, so us dummies can like it.

I know. I’ll never be this cool.

But here’s what it boils down to in my vision of The Playboy Life: It’s after midnight, candles are lit, it’s a cool night outside, the martinis (or their more palatable replacements) are drunk and things are winding down. The needle is lowered into the groove (The Playboy Life pre-dates CD’s) and the sassy brass So What issues forth and a little cocoon of warmth envelopes the room. It’s a bubble that Bruce Cockburn succinctly described as a “suddenly compact universe of skin and breath and hair,” and that’s it exactly. This is music for Digging at its finest and how better to Dig The One You’re With than alongside the intimate horns of Davis and Coltrane? This is not cold brass. This is music for lovers, baby. Viagra for the ears.

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Published in: on November 15, 2010 at 9:16 am  Comments Off on The Playboy Life, Part 2  
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