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Music Notes: The appeal of jazz

PUBLISHED: 14:27 27 March 2009 | UPDATED: 15:40 29 October 2010

Albert Cooper

Albert Cooper

Kingsley Harris

MUSIC NOTES



I was drawn to the launch night of Albert Cooper's jazz album Songs for September at the Rumsey Wells.

Lets get the finer details out of the way, Albert is not known for his jazz escapades but is legendary for his blues band.

MUSIC NOTES

I was drawn to the launch night of Albert Cooper's jazz album Songs for September at the Rumsey Wells.

Lets get the finer details out of the way, Albert is not known for his jazz escapades but is legendary for his blues band. However, like he always points out it hasn't always been that way, his introduction to the Jolly Butchers back in the early 50s was to perform a rendition of Dr Jazz.

In fact much of his early performances were jazz based, singing with Black Anna and guesting with Norwich's Mustard City Stompers. So Albert doesn't see this as so much a departure but more of a return to his roots.

I thought at this point my review could go either way. Do I say that at £3 the album is great value for money featuring some really moving and unforgettable renditions like Skylark, My Foolish Heart, Stella By Starlight and It Was A Very Good Year, which are worth the purchase price alone! Or do I say that The Chris Cooper trio featuring Albert's son on piano, are one of the best jazz trios in the region at the moment or do I try and turn a few people onto what is still deemed boring hi-brow old people's music…

I have always seen it as a challenge to 'get into' as much music as possible; however, selling jazz to someone these days is like trying to pass on a rash.

Despite still being a major genre and being responsible for some of the finest musicians that ever lived and inspiring people such as Jimi Hendrix and Carl Barat of The Libertines, it still carries that weight of being dull and dirgy.

Jazz is now so indefinable as a genre with so many sub genres, its original influences of African American folk are very distant; we now accept even though sometimes contradictory, good genres don't die they evolve.

Anyway back to trying to sell you my rash, sorry jazz. As a teen I asked a mad keen jazz fan who I needed to listen to, to get into jazz.

I explained that if it involved too much contemplation on my part I would probably turn it off and go off chasing girls and footballs. He said two names Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt or as he put it any Hot Club de Paris collaboration as the two worked together for many years.

This stuff is amazing and I actually find it soothing to hear people that have mastered an instrument with such surgical precision. Yes, some of it has that recoiling dirge that suggests deep downheartedness and self-indulgence, but some of it is very uplifting and certainly danceable.

Sadly the biggest drawback of the night was the venue, its odd shape was like trying to squash Jaffa cakes into a Smartie tube!

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