David Smyth wrote this in his preview/plug piece in the Evening Standard before Meltdown. It’s that “why jazz?” scepticism which one gets to recognize.
Check out particularly, if you please, Smyth’s use of the word “relevant.”
“The latest curator presents something of a risk. Ornette Coleman, at 79, is […] the first jazz act, and a far from comfy one at that.
“If you’re anything less than a full-time jazz aficionado, is it really worth getting involved this far down the line? Yes, is the short answer — as the full line-up for Coleman’s Meltdown, which begins next weekend, suggests that his influence spreads far enough to make him relevant to more than just turtleneck-wearing chin-strokers.”
The South Bank have done well. The (jazz) gigs I went to were in a packed Royal Festival Hall. The free gigs were well supported. There was a lot of life and buzz about the place.
But the sight I hold in my mind, and one of the sounds I hold from last night in my ear is the bassist , but now also the full-blown A-List celeb from LA , Flea (above).
Flea just looked happy – proud? – to be sitting in with Ornette Coleman’s band. He was on the button, with every one of the Colemans composition right under his fingers.
As a musician , this gig, this pioneering music, was clearly “relevant” to him.
I guess the message here is that “relevance” in music might not just be about celebrity and about quantity of albums shipped. It might also be about ears?
Damn. I'm really disappointed I had to miss the Ornette Coleman gig in the end, having originally had tickets. Sounds like Coleman's approach to picking his fellow meltdowners worked well. And, for the record, no-one I know in the jazz meetup wears a turtle-neck sweater!