Wednesday, June 22, 2011

album of the day: Backatown

We heard Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews on some late-night program, and the performance was just terrific. So we bought the disc.

I ain't got much to say about it. It's terrific. My only criticism is that I wish at least a few of the numbers were extended jams instead of the tight 3-minute jobs they are. I'm not sure if that would defeat Trombone Shorty's purpose here: he might well have a sort of point to make about musical economy, or jabs, or the state of recorded pop music in the fatal stages of capitalism. I don't know.

If you're into that kind of thing, you might enjoy playing "what genre is this" with the album. I had initially stuck him in jazz, before we played the CD, because of the TV performance we'd seen. He was dressed kind of jazz then, too. He looks sorta jazz on the cover. But I moved him to the general mishmash section of our CD collection, because I've decided that the more central vibe here is funk.

But really, what this is, is music. That whole genre-definition game is overdetermined by capitalism, class, and culturally snobbery. At bottom, the only thing that holds a genre together is usage. Certain traits of musical performance and composition keep getting called "jazz" until the family resemblance fools us into imagining it has an essence. By then, it has a cultural cachet, the main significance of which, especially these days, is its brand-identity.

Anyway, you should listen to Trombone Shorty and have a good time.

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