srijeda, 13. veljače 2013.

The Bryan Ferry Orchestra - The Jazz Age (2013)

Instrumentalni album koji prekraja povijest i zamišlja da su hitovi Roxy Music nastali '20-ih godina i da ih je izvodilo nekoliko različitih jazz bandova. Ako ne znate izvorne verzije pjesama, još bolje. Prošlost dolazi nakon budućnosti. 
(Tko bi očekivao ovako nešto od Ferryja.)

This is just about the most surprising album in recent memory, and a complete joy. The singer for Roxy Music, Bryan Ferry has also enjoyed a long solo career, both as an interpreter of songs by others — Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, Sam Cooke, Cole Porter, Lou Reed and many more — and as an extraordinary songwriter who's released 13 solo albums, each with its own strengths.
Still, nothing prepared me for The Jazz Age, an instrumental album which re-imagines Ferry's work and the songs of Roxy Music as if they were performed by a 1920s jazz band. Colin Good, who arranged the album (working with Ferry and The Bryan Ferry Orchestra), is a British composer and arranger known for his work in theater and television, as well as with a 1930s-style orchestra known as Vile Bodies. The result of the collaboration sounds incredibly fresh, capturing both the eccentricity that has always been a part of Ferry's music and the romance conjured up by the vintage sound.
Warmly recorded and wonderfully performed, The Jazz Age works on many levels. If you don't know the songs, the melodies stand on their own, and if you do, prepare yourself for an absolute thrill. - Bob Boilen

Bryan Ferry has recreated Roxy Music's hits as languid instrumentals for a replica 1920s jazz band – but this is more than a tourist-trip to Gatsby-land. Ferry the jazz fan and his pianist Colin Good have mixed the soulful glide of the 1927 Duke Ellington Cotton Club band, the sinister purr of 1940s film noir and those Roxy qualities that went beyond Ferry's dinner-jackets – including their adventurous song structures, which give this vintage sound a very different melodic and harmonic spin. UK reeds virtuoso Alan Barnes and trumpeter Enrico Tomasso shine in an elegant lineup that reworks Avalon's crooning vocals and wah-wah guitars as gracefully wheeling clarinet sounds against brass whoops, turns the pounding of Love Is the Drug into louche brass polyphonies, and preserves Do the Strand as an invitation to dance – but to some eerie mutation of the Charleston. Ferry devotees will love it, and so might plenty of others. - John Fordham

Imagine a disembodied pair of jazz hands. Now imagine that those hands, as they flutter and preen, are bringing the world into existence, tweaking the air here and grabbing it there as they create experience. And those hands have also created themselves, white gloves from whole cloth, ex nihilo.
Now, play that image in reverse. Those disembodied hands are not creating, but destroying the world, pulling it down and into itself until it disappears to an event horizon, then a dot which becomes a mere speck of dust on a tailored forefinger.
Which is it to be? We could say that there is no such thing as a simple act of creation or destruction — one encompasses and produces the other, endlessly. We live in an age in which a lack of destruction is itself the cause of destruction. As data pile up to unmanageable quantities, pop has no choice but to eat itself, Ouroboros-like, and grow fat in the process. Music lives (so the lament goes), but only as a monstrous revenant, capable of mimesis and mitosis, but not reproduction. Meld those two hands, mirror clones, into one, and then multiply them to a dazzling Busby Berkeley figure of intricate complexity, a snowflake.
A snowdrift piles up and becomes a thing, and the question becomes: in this bereft yet cornucopian circumstance, whence the material from which creation can occur? From what ground can clay be gathered and fashioned, when creation — making there what was not there — is precisely what is in question? Bryan Ferry is nothing if not elegant — indeed, he embodies “nothing if not elegant.” And in The Jazz Age, he has found an elegant solution to this problem: 20s-style jazz covers of his own material. Ferry’s choices span his career (up to and including “Reason or Rhyme” from 2010’s Olympia) and encompass both Roxy Music and solo numbers. Some Ferry standards are virtually unrecognizable (“Love Is The Drug,” “Virginia Plain”), while others are transformed into their opposite (“The Bogus Man,” from a nine-minute hypnotic exploration, becomes a charming 128-second shuffle). Others hew closer to the original, the standout being a devil-may-care “Slave To Love.”
The Jazz Age both embodies Ferry’s political conservatism — a return to a nostalgic past, a valorization of what is now canonical — while also referring to an (or perhaps the) era of “cool.” The choice to record such an album in itself reflects this division: on the one hand, slavishly recreating the past is now precisely what pop music does; while on the other, the unusual particularity of the age and aesthetic chosen for reconstruction works against the typical paradigm — as does the holus-bolus reinterpretation of one’s own work, a kind of self-cannibalism (Ouroboros redux) but with a side of Baby Ruths and Wonder Bread. Ferry and other seminal artists of his time (most notably Bowie) have, paradoxically, taken reinvention as their only fixed point. On The Jazz Age, then, we have a literal reinvention of Ferry’s own material, but one embodied in the absolutely and unashamedly unoriginal, and in delving back ever closer to the zero point of popular music — which seems like a logical endpoint to the process.
The project can easily be compared to other left-fieldly archaic interpretations and cratediggings — R. Crumb’s justifiably well-received compilation That’s What I Call Sweet Music, for example. I was consistently reminded of The Jolly Boys’ Great Expectation, a Mento (pre-ska Jamaican folk) interpretation of indie standards from Iggy Pop to Amy Winehouse. And there is a precedent within Ferry’s own oeuvre, in his long-held penchant for jazz standards — think of 1999’s As Time Goes By.
But in another sense, The Jazz Age is more fruitfully understood through the lens of acts like The Caretaker (in much the same way as Ferry’s regrettable album of Dylan covers might be reinterpreted as a soundtrack to Todd Haynes’ Dylan art-biopic I’m Not There). Admittedly, the album is not overtly to be considered an avant-garde project, but neither should it be thought of as a novelty piece. Rather than Leyland Kirby’s careful, subtle manipulation of the melodies and crackles of vintage 45s, Ferry is working with the jazz genre itself considered as loopy, a deconstruction that transposes one lushness (that is, Ferry’s signature style) for another. And the distressed patina of age is not re-presented, but purposefully reconstructed — not so much shabby chic as swanky chic — the heartache without which no dream home is now complete.
But there’s a final void at the center of the work: for many, Ferry’s voice is the drug, and The Jazz Age is haunted by its doubly-disembodied absence. Indeed, collapsing absence upon absence, not only does Ferry not sing on the album; he does not play at all. And it’s this very lack, a sonically literal death of the author, which finally and absolutely redeems the piece from the whiff of gimmickry and makes its sound come alive. In his book Sinister Resonance, David Toop suggests that sound itself (let alone recorded sound) is a haunting. But what we have on The Jazz Age is music that’s haunting itself. And as if that wasn’t paradoxical enough, the ghost is older than its own embodiment — which it thereby sets in aspic. It’s a return trip from this side of paradise. - Rowan Savage
Bryan Ferry works steadily, recording, releasing, and (only if necessary, perhaps) touring new albums, even if he remains unable to step out from what was established on earlier work. But then Ferry seemed born to both reinterpret and to look backwards. His solo career started one year after Roxy Music's own debut full length with These Foolish Things, a collection of soul, jazz, and rock'n'roll standards often revisited in utterly surprising ways. By the time of his third solo album Let's Stick Together, Ferry combined yet more covers with reworkings of Roxy's own material just a few years after it had been written and recorded-- his preference for focused contemplation and his particularly male vision of love, lust, and wariness came to the fore.
All told, he's done six albums of covers and revisions over 40 years' time. The Jazz Age is the seventh out of 14 solo efforts total, though Ferry acts as co-producer and general driving force rather than performer. In fact, for the first time since Let's Stick Together, Ferry's own material is the subject of reworking: all selections are his work ranging from Roxy's debut single "Virginia Plain" to "Reason or Rhyme", a song from Ferry's previous solo album Olympia. To a degree, The Jazz Age's roots lie in 1999's As Time Goes By, where Ferry recorded jazz and pop songs predominantly from the 1930s. Five out of The Jazz Age's eight performers reappear from the earlier work along with others such as regular Ferry collaborator, trumpeter Enrico Tomasso. But The Jazz Age, a collection of instrumentals performed by the Bryan Ferry Orchestra, is more self-consciously 1920s, openly meant to evoke Louis Armstrong, early Count Basie, and the initial mass popularization of jazz.
If there's an inescapable element of perverseness about The Jazz Age, it's the sense of flattening a life's work into pastiche, down to the fact that the album is mixed and produced in non-hi-fi mono, something definitely not the case on As Time Goes By. It doesn't matter whether the source material is a frenetic explosion like "Do the Strand", a clipped mood piece like "Love is the Drug" or "Don't Stop the Dance", or contemplative songs like "Avalon". The resultant energetic but never too disruptive presentation turns everything into something which sounds like it could be coming out of the Victrola at a party at "Downton Abbey" by the time the show hits season five. The album is hard to immediately see as anything but a studied curio by a famous name deliberately out of sync with nearly everything around it, unless one wants to talk about Hugh Laurie's tribute to New Orleans and the blues.
The internal trick of The Jazz Age is that Ferry's orchestra also deftly avoids simply sounding one-note despite the uniform presentation and ambience. At points the arrangements are almost specific responses to the originals. "The Bogus Man" here shrinks from 10 to two minutes long, hinting at second line comedy before the funeral's actually been completed, while "I Thought", a slow, stately number from 2002's Frantic, and his utterly poised 1985 hit "Slave to Love" both become peppy dance numbers. But whatever prompted the various reinterpretations, surprises turn up one by one, almost always enjoyably so. "Avalon” kicks off with a rhythmic strut that's far more New Orleans than Newcastle, the crystalline theatricality of "Reason or Rhyme" mutates into a one-room-over and slightly boozy speakeasy swing, and "Virginia Plain"'s dramatic pauses showcase notably friendlier sounding solos.
Meanwhile, a telling break from Ferry's other work lies in the total absence of his most famous calling card-- his voice, with it his lyrical concerns and image. If anyone is the lead "voice" throughout it would be Tomasso or saxophonists Alan Barnes and Richard White, whose various solo turns on a number of songs take the place of the singing. As a result, it becomes a strangely affecting blend-- Ferry is here almost by implication, a certain unavoidably melancholic sigh that emerges in hints in the arrangements, even at their merriest.
The end result is actually the most atypical Ferry album of them all. It's something that seemed-- only after it was announced-- obvious that he would do but never actually did. It's also something he may never do again. It may not be an extreme reworking of song forms or a sudden return to action, perhaps simply another chapter in the various indulgences he enjoys, but in numerous ways, The Jazz Age is Ferry's most radical work yet. - Ned Raggett

It’s not uncommon now for artists of stature to rework standout moments from their canon. Recently Jeff Lynne revisited ELO’s catalogue, and Tori Amos re-recorded old songs with an orchestra. Some deem such moves a lazy admission that fresh ideas have expired; others relish seeing masterpieces in new light.
Yet Bryan Ferry, never averse to a re-make/re-model (as his lifelong parallel career as a covers-crooner of "ready-mades" has established), has cooked up something completely unexpected and unprecedented here. Not least because he doesn’t sing on it.
The Jazz Age is an instrumental set in which numbers spanning from Roxy Music’s Virginia Plain to Reason or Rhyme from most recent solo album Olympia are radically reimagined.
Some are only faintly recognisable. His hits and cult items are fashioned as they might have been in the Paris of the Roaring Twenties, or the Gatsby ballrooms of F. Scott Fitzgerald (a poster-boy of doomed romanticism to whom Ferry has never struggled to relate).
Names like Louis Armstrong, Bix Beiderbecke and Duke Ellington will be bandied around. In fairness to Ferry, this isn’t a dilettante detour: he has always, since the time of Roxy’s 1972 debut, when it was far from cool to do so, named these artists as influences.
Now with musical director Colin Good (who oversaw the 1999 standards album, As Time Goes By) arranging, another Ferry fantasy world emerges. Such is the devotion and sincerity (and musicianship) that it’s not an "easy"listen at all: the once supremely-stylised Do the Strand is now loose and freeform, while Avalon wafts blithely in and out of its melody.
Love Is the Drug sounds completely transformed without its bass hook, yet still wickedly alluring; Slave to Love becomes a strangely jaunty jitterbug. There is cheek as well as chic here. Yet, crucially, as the pining Just Like You (his most underrated song) displays, that trademark air of desire remains.
A peculiar concept then, with Ferry now, almost Warhol-like, sagely mute to one side while collaborators silkscreen his own icons. As fascinating as it is perplexing, anything but obvious, and therefore to be applauded. - Chris Roberts

 The punchy beginning to Bryan Ferry’s Jazz Age inspired instrumental album articulates from the outset that this is an album to take notice of. To celebrate Ferry’s 40 years as both an artist and as the creator of Roxy Music, Ferry has re-recorded much of his own work in the style iconic to the roaring ’20s.
There are no surprises in this album. Ferry has not set out to shock, or even indeed surprise. It is a nostalgia trip, right from the upbeat opening track Do The Strand down to the seductively lazy closing track This Island Earth. But what a beautifully crafted trip down memory lane it is. The Bogus Man is indicative, exuding class in its sedate pace. The muted trumpets and cheeky piano riffs excite, without bordering upon the raucous.
The songs are selected from 11 albums. This expanse of choice in itself is testament to Ferry’s enduring and creatively plentiful career. The albums date from his first in 1972, The Roxy Music, to his recent solo endeavour Olympia, from 2010. The jazz orchestra is comprised of individually selected British musicians.
Ferry started his musical career already interested in the composition of jazz music, so it is thus fitting that his memorial album would be thus focused. “I started my musical journey listening to a fair bit of jazz, mainly instrumental, and from diverse and contrasting periods,” Ferry comments. “I loved the way the great soloists would pick up a tune and shake it up- go somewhere completely different – and then return gracefully back to the melody, as if nothing happened. This seemed to me to reach a sublime peak with the music of Charlie Parker, and later Ornette Coleman.” The tracks selected reflect this propensity to diversity within jazz. Instrumentation ranges from soulful trumpets to mischievous saxophones.
The Jazz Age was a time of decadence, glamour and modernity – powered by an ultimately unsustainable economic boom. It was an era evocative of glamour and hedonism. The tracks selected to be re-recorded reflect this, most notably Don’t Stop The Dance. It has a quintessentially Jazz Age feel; the marching beat compels dancing, regardless of where it is played, such is its infectious rhythm. Ferry muses upon his interest in jazz, commenting “more recently, I have been drawn back to the roots, to the weird and wonderful music of the ’20s – the decade that became known as the Jazz Age.” While Ferry doesn’t sing on this record, the brass instrumental conversations that lace the tracks make up for the lack of voices.
The artwork is a further incarnation of Ferry’s love letter to the Jazz Age. Renowned French poster artist Paul Colin’s authentically art deco montages of flapper girls and sharply attired men form a neat complement to the album.
For anyone yet to be acquainted with the music of the Jazz Age, this is the perfect introduction to the sound of the era. That Ferry’s music can be so interpreted, and carried off so convincingly, suggests strength in depth to his canon of work. - Harriet Wade

 'The Jazz Age is an intoxicating collection of timeless songs.' – Rise
'Fresh, authentic and impossibly chic.' – The Sun ★★★★★

'Something wholly different and rewarding.' – AllMusic
'The great Gatsby of pop ... It is bang-on trend' – Mail on Sunday
'Every note is perfectly placed' – The Observer ★★★★★
'The Jazz Age is splendid' - Uncut

'The playing and arranging is so immaculate' – Evening Standard
'The Jazz Age oozes style, elegance and charm' – Sunday Express ★★★★★
'Enjoyable transformation' – The Independent
'Lovely, surprising and entertaining' – Daily Telegraph
'Nostalgic, dazzling and very fun.' – Italian Vanity Fair
'All is right with the world.' – Louder Than War
'...Wittily unbuttoned showcase.' – Q Magazine ★★★★

'A genius move in combining jazz with songs that fit the genre.' - Electric Banana
MORE REVIEWS (via MetaCritic)


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