Look, I know this is not really something worth carping on about, but then again, that’s what the more traditional bloggers do so why not on occasion, eh?
I moaned a few days ago about the Mercury prize and its token jazz thing. Every Mercury judge who is also a journalist (two in the Guardian/Observer stable alone) is now going into print and online in order to say how they used to be cynical about it but now they’ve judged it it really is a good thing, honest.
That’s as may be – what I am interested in is the couple of slips that reveal where they are coming from when it comes to assessing the token jazz disc.
In a Guardian blog Jude Rogers admits she had never heard of/heard Portico Quartet before, which confirms my suspicion that the judges aren’t really well enough up on this particular style of music to be able to assess it very well.
Much more revealing is Kitty Empire in the Observer who says this: “Was it possible to weigh the merits of Empirical’s trad jazz against Benga’s dubstep?” Well, while the answer to that question is probably no, so why are you bothering, the more disturbing words are “trad jazz” applied to Empirical.
Now Empirical’s excellent acoustic jazz be what I referred to in the previous Mercury posting as jazz-type jazz in that they have some perfectly admirable ’60s Blue Note references in their music, but “trad” it most definitely is not – there are no discernible references in their music to Dixieland or New Orleans jazz before the 1930s, nor is there anything of the British trad boom styles of Kenny Barber, Acker Bilk, et al.
I don’t expect everyone to be au fait with the different styles of jazz, but I do expect people who have agreed to judge the stuff to at least try a bit. I bet Jude Rogers and Kitty Empire know their dubstep from their shitgaze (which I have learned is a new genre popular in Los Angeles at present).
Of course there may be a few jazzheads on the Mercury judging panel, who can advise the rest. I tried to find out who the judges were, but the Mercury website doesn’t seem to tell me. Of course, I may not have searched thoroughly.
I feel my carping energy waning. Thank heavens…