Jazz is Dead
Sadly, I believe this is what most people think of when they think of jazz. A bunch of loud instruments trying to drive you mad through cacophony. This is unfortunate and the sentiment is misguided. Jazz, to me, is a concept about how music, especially “live” music, can be played. A concept that promotes a mostly unscripted, free flowing exchange of sounds and ideas. A formula that elevates originality over predictability. In other words, jazz is all about improvisation, spontaneity, and taking chances. Certainly, there are cases when the formula fails, but when the stars align, jazz can lead to most beautiful, meaningful, and redeeming music you will ever hear. It’s really an approach to music and spans a wide spectrum of the musical landscape, from bluegrass to rock n’ roll to the more textbook definition of jazz, including blues, bebop, and hardbop. Bands and artists – to name a few -that live or lived by this jazz ethos include Miles Davis, The Grateful Dead, John Coltrane, The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, Charlie Parker, Sonny Rollins, Steve Kimock, and Phish.
One of the finest tribute projects honoring the work of Grateful Dead is the instrumental ensemble of Jazz is Dead. Formed in the late 1990s after the passing of Dead guitarist and bandleader Jerry Garcia, Jazz is Dead featured the best cats out there including drummer Billy Cobham and the late keyboardist T. Lavitz. As the project evolved other tremendously talented players entered the picture to continue this strikingly singular idea.
The 2015 release of "Grateful Jazz", produced by Jeff Pevar, features world-renowed musicians such as Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs), Jeff Pevar (Ray Charles, CSN, Joe Cocker, Phil Lesh, etc…) & Alphonso Johnson (Weather Report, Santana, etc…). Jazz is Dead begins their U.S. Tour on August 2, 2015 in LA, ending after 16 shows back in California again at the well-known, Sausalito Arts Festival on September 5.