Reviews, essays, and reflections on jazz and culture.
"If you ain't got it in you, you can't blow it out." — Louis Armstrong
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
The Jazz Passengers: Reunited
Here is one of very best jazz records of 2010—a lark and joy and also a serious recording, a jazz disc where the solos are short and to the point but not less inventive or innovative, a project featuring pop songs (Peaches and Herb! Radiohead!) and even pop stars (Debbie Harry! Elvis Costello!) but where the core band still rules the roost.
These guys were darlings of the downtown NY jazz scene as far back as the 1980s, emerging from John Lurie's "faux-jazz" Lounge Lizards with their sense of crazy theater intact but a fully "serious" musical mission at hand. Reunited is the first recording by the band (Roy Nathanson's alto, Curtis Fowlkes on trombone, Bill Ware on vibes, Sam Bardfeld's violin, Brad Jones on bass, drummer E.J. Rodriguez, and part-timers Marc Ribot, Harry and Costello) in many years, but it's certainly a return to the band's best form: serious composition mixing with humor, great playing in the service musical entertainment.
This is pungent music with a light touch. Jazz, usually pretty bad at maintaining a sense of humor needs more from the Passengers. It's great to hear them again.