Music exists in movement and change, but before any part of it can be pinned down for analysis, it has often moved and taken on a new face. The transformation is often driven by culture as forward-thinking people avoid the proverbial paths in search of revolution. Even though our pioneers prophesized that the revolution would not be televised, the message has permeated. It’s spreading like wildfire and leaders are defined by those that speak first: Jazz Is Dead.
The pluralism behind the mutiny is stark, but the reality is trapped in the eyes of us that fleeted the scene years ago. With Jazz Is Dead, a new musical denomination is born, reversing the damage done to the genre. Yes, jazz speaks to all, but the message was no longer being recorded with reverence to the processes of the past; the dissonance of our movement is serving as the undertow for change. As the current becomes stronger, it’s moving in the opposite direction of that on the surface. Jazz, and the presentation of our culture has a new face: Jazz Is Dead.
This movement expresses no simple associative information. In fact, most people would contend that its blasphemous nature epitomizes the disconnect between young and old, but it’s actually the opposite. For years, Jazz Is Dead concerts have epitomized a demographic connection as the average age is widespread. Nevertheless, it’s expected because people are viscerally attracted to the ethos behind musical revolution; especially those that embrace art and heritage fiercely and with pride. This is aural transmission and the message is boldly understood. Our musical heroes are touring and recording on new music for Jazz Is Dead. This synergy couldn’t have come at a better time. Jazz icons are connecting with new audiences, something most thought impossible; thousands of fans are traveling for Jazz Is Dead concerts, domestically and internationally. The mood is often palpable as fans are seen crying out in awe of what is being created for a forgotten language: Jazz Is Dead.
Music is the universal language and we are the interpreter of sound, a message that has been lost in transcription. Under Jazz Is Dead, younger artists are elaborating upon conversations started decades ago; jazz icons are utilizing vintage equipment to create new masters with Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad; the same equipment that recorded their coveted catalogs. The vitality embedded in the new masters epitomizes our quest for new life in music: Jazz Is Dead.
The addition of harmonics to the fundamental tone is what makes any voice or instrument sound good; the insurgence of spirit and vitality to a dead language revitalizes it’s meaning for the future. Any disturbance of regularities acts as tension: tensions to the dimension of jazz. Any syncopation against innocuous rhythms changes the minds and heartbeats of all. These are metronome markings that make some uncomfortable but beats that keep us going. With impeccable concert programming, breathtaking recordings and unflinching perspective, we can feel the pulse. The power of sound is captivating, and the movement needs no further exegesis: Jazz Is Dead.
“What is Jazz in 2020? I can answer that this way: jazz artists have not only been an inspiration that has shaped my development as a musician, but their music is deeply rooted into the foundation of the Hip-Hop culture,” says Ali Shaheed Muhammad. “We have risen because their head nodding beats, lush chord progressions, soul ripping melodies and bellowing basslines have given us a musical back beat to poetically flow on until the break of dawn. To me, it’s all freedom music and Jazz Is Dead is motivating a movement.”
The inaugural release of Jazz Is Dead is a futuristic nod to the past: a dream come true for two producers that started their careers DJing and sampling some of the greatest jazz icons. “It’s surreal to be in the studio with cats ranging from Marcos Valle to Roy Ayers. The stories, the music and the experience are something Jazz Is Dead wants to share with the world,” states Adrian Younge. With 7 albums slated to release this year, the compilation provides a sneak peek into the full-length albums coming soon.