COMPOSERS: Jane Ira Bloom
LABELS: Koch Jazz
PERFORMER: Jane Ira Bloom (ss,as); Fred Hersch (kybd); Dave Friedman (vbs, perc); Ratzo Harris (b); Sidro Bobadilla (d)
CATALOGUE NO: 3-7828-2
In jazz today there’s no shortage of virtuoso players. But most young musicians, having achieved breathtaking levels of technical fluency, have tended to retreat into hard-bop orthodoxy. Why not? It’s the fashionable thing to do, record companies appear eager to sign young talent who subscribe to the comfortably accessible mainstream and audiences seem willing to buy their albums. So, everything is right with the world. But is it?
Not when you consider jazz has traditionally represented a flight from the status quo, not a return to it. The reason why the sound of mid-Fifties/early Sixties hard bop is recorded and promoted by record companies is because they think it will sell.
The problem here is that corporate commodification is producing something bland and innocuous, déjà vu jazz with no teeth. In such a climate it’s therefore refreshing when an artist suddenly does something different, something that doesn’t kowtow to the prevailing climate of conservatism and conformity.
Jane Ira Bloom has consistently figured in the Downbeat polls as a talent deserving of wider recognition, and with good reason. An elegant, forceful improviser who specialises in the soprano saxophone, she is a throwback to the days when jazz used to sound surprising.
Reconfiguring the standard sax-and-rhythm ensemble by using the modernist grammar of electronics, her bright sound and intrepid attack are perfectly framed in new and original surroundings.
It simply serves to underline the fact that the challenge in jazz today is less one of achieving instrumental prowess, more of creating an original context in which to function as a jazz musician. SN