Just saw a photo of a bunch of jazz musicians–some of the very best in fact–making silly faces. I was taken aback. I mean is the serious jazz picture phase is over? Did someone kill it? I don’t have a jazz column anymore and don’t keep up with these things. I can never keep track. There have been so many phases. I have records from the fifties with these old time musicians grinning like happy drunks. Which they probably were, bombed. A little reefer. Meanwhile the bop guys are all serious, way serious. Suits too. Matching. A little too big but matching. None of them ever cracked a smile. Too many changes. Wild tempos. Pawned horns. Suits were out by the angry album cover era. Dashikis, even on white guys. With their dashikis, long hair, and horn rimmed glasses, the white guys always looked like engineers on acid. The black guys looked angry. Man, were they angry. Scary angry. I once looked at a Pharaoh Sanders album and hid under the bed for three days. I was never comfortable with the 80’s happy jazz picture phase. Sonny Rollins happy was weird. Chick Corea disturbing. I’d listen to the albums but try not to look at the covers. My favorite period was the jazz musicians in bell bottoms and sideburns and leisure suit era. You’d see them on their album covers trying to look like hippies but always looking like heroin dealers. Then there was the everyone dressing like Sly Stone period. Huge hair. Huger flairs. Heels so high they created their own weather patterns. And bling baby, bling that made Isaac Hayes blanche. Sometimes, though, the players looked less like Sly Stone and more like Elton John crossed with an electric chicken. Which wasn’t actually the intended effect. But I digress.
A lot of those albums sure were great, though.