Jazz snobs irritate me. You know the kind of guy who claims it’s not jazz unless it is some kind of standard or follows some kind of bebop form. For a music that is all about improvisation, it sure seems to attract a lot of people who like pigeonhole things. For me, improvisation is the heart of jazz. On one extreme, I like Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck. In the middle ground, I’ll listen to a little Danilo Perez or Eliane Elias. Out on the other edge I love the music of Bob James. It should be obvious by now that piano is my favourite instrument when it comes to all kinds of jazz. But one thing all these piano players have in common is that they surrounded themselves with some great bands.
A guy who used to play with Bob James in the early eighties is Mark Colby, the tenor saxophonist. He’s been making some great straight-ahead jazz on Hallway Records. His latest is a tribute to the sax great Stan Getz. It’s one of the finest albums I’ve heard in the last two years. Here’s a guy who has made some great modern jazz but has also done the contemporary stuff too. Where there’s real talent there’s no room for jazz snobs and their pigeon holes. Just room for great music.