Thursday 4 October 2007

Musical Journey : Short Version

I went to post a short reply about a review of indie-poppers Los Campesinos over at disillusioned lefty and the music I'd listened to over the years wanted to tell its story. The orignal poster lauded the screaming of Los Campesinos and I felt compelled to identify. I only had time for a snippet, a comment. Perhaps the LP version will come later! Anyway, here's the comment in full:

I know where you're coming from with the "fringe, erratic screaming". My musical journey began with Iron Maiden's Piece of Mind. In their live material, I used to love Bruce Dickinson screaming at the top of his voice on songs like the Prisoner or Run to the Hills. From there I moved to bands such as Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine - both genre-making. But my journey was always conventional, never straying off the track into the harsh fringes of heavy rock. I used to loath death metal. I found it morbid and repetitive - though with hindsight much of the stuff I liked was the same in milder form. Along the way I detoured through softer indie stuff like the Happy Mondays, though to be truthful, it wasn't music led me to down the path to the Happy Mondays but a rather innocent and badly handled teenage crush. There was nothing happy about it, but that's another story.

I think I was growing out of all my old stuff when my musical journey was altered abruptly when a flatmate bought Kind of Blue, the Miles Davis standard. It was like I had just entered a new world. It hastened the retreat of metal from my musical life - but I still like the odd screamy anthem. Whatever about lyrics or musicality there is something envigorating about the high octane, energy-driven, racy vibe of heavy or alternative rock.

But I grew into jazz like nothing else. Jazz for me was less transitional. It runs deeper. It holds. Of course the world of jazz is as varied as life itself, but my favourite genres are scat, electro-jazz, and perhaps a touch of fusion. And of course, the standards never go away.

My favourite artist is Kurt Elling - best known for his scat and vocalese. His voice is rich and grainy and he has a bewildering tonal range. In live performances during an extended scat, he sometimes seems entranced, wholly absorbed in and carried away by his own harmonics, and then he hits the top, in a controlled but sustained scream, and just then some chord vibrates deep within me, as if something layed down years previously has suddenly been touched.

1 comment:

Donagh said...

I'll have to check out Kurt. In the recent Jazz vein I can highly recommend HiM, Our Point of Departure.

If you're interested send a mail to with details of where I can send a copy and I'll forward it on.