Luv Doc Recommends: Jon Blondell CD Release
Elephant Room, Friday, July 9, 2010
Yes, you can dance to jazz, sort of in the same sense you can milk anything with nipples. At some point, however, perhaps when you have a double-fisted death grip on the teats of a stampeding mother rhinoceros, you’re going to find yourself asking, “Was it worth it?” Yes, jazz dancing has its pluses. The biggest of course is that you get carte blanche to do the Bob Fosse “jazz hands.” Nowhere else outside the realm of street mime performance can you get away with such overt hamminess without inspiring a gangland style beatdown. If you’re going to swing for that fence, you might want to put on a pair of white gloves first – really makes it pop. Then there’s the footwear issue. Jazz dance traditionally requires jazz shoes, but those are for formal jazz dance – the kind you learn in a real dance school. Dancing to jazz music only requires the shoes of a questionably crazy person, and here the styles of footwear are as diverse as the variations of insanity itself. To be sure, actual jazz dance shoes are pretty nutty looking outside of an actual dance studio, but don’t discount Crocs and socks, woven huaraches, or Vibram FiveFingers, those creepy looking glove shoes. Wearing FiveFingers is pretty much an outright admission that you never want to get laid again for the rest of your life. If the Vatican ever finds out about FiveFingers, they will become standard issue footwear in monasteries across the globe. Not even an altar boy would allow himself to be molested by someone wearing FiveFingers. “Forgive me Father, but you and Vibram have committed a mortal sin.” Really, the only place FiveFingers are apropro are Leftover Salmon/String Cheese Incident mosh pits and … well … jazz clubs, where ruthlessly innovative footwear has an actual chance of gaining a toehold, especially among people for whom nerdiness is a badge of honor. Make no mistake, jazz is cool. There is even an actual genre called “cool jazz,” but jazz is the absolute nerdiest of music forms, edging out even classical and polka. If music were math (and essentially, it is), jazz would be calculus, and jazz musicians would be mathletes. When someone has the chops to reach the level of a music mathlete, they usually turn to jazz. It is at this point that their nerdiness reaches such a density that it actually folds in on itself like a collapsing star and creates an alternate universe of cool. Aside from some obvious anomalies like axe murdering and scrapbooking, nothing is cooler than being exceptionally accomplished. Great jazz musicians are exactly that. They may be broke, alcoholic, homeless, marginally or even fully insane, but at the very least, they are exceptionally accomplished, and that is cool. Knowing that you can do/have done something that few people in the world ever will is surely liberating in many ways. If, for instance, you forget to bathe or shave or pull on some clean clothes in the morning, it’s probably no big deal. At least you can still do some amazing improvisational runs that might get you some free drinks and maybe even a roll in the hay with some moon-eyed jazz lover. Life is good in 5/4 time. This Friday at the Elephant Room you can find out how good when the Jon Blondell Quintet celebrates the release of its new CD, Bone-Nanza. The band features David Bowen and JJ Johnson on drums, John Fremgen on bass, Carter Arrington III on guitar, Jeff Helmer on piano, and Jon Blondell himself on trombone. Even if you don’t know Blondell, you’ve surely heard him. If not on his signature trombone solo on Sublime’s “The Wrong Way,” then surely as a bassist or trombonist on cuts by Willie Nelson, Ani DiFranco, B.B. King, Pat Green, Doug Sahm, James McMurtry, Dale Watson, or Ray Benson, just to name a few. Point of fact: Jon Blondell is huge, not only in stature but also in talent, and even if you aren’t brave enough to dance to his music, you will appreciate and enjoy it nonetheless.