This is my first review of anything in the Jazz genre that hasn’t been world-music. When I listened to “Journal” by Joseph Lepore (Produced by Inner Circle Music, ICM), I enjoyed it to the extent that I wanted to do this review. That said, I also want to discuss the “State of Jazz“ in present times.
I recently read that the Recording Industry Association of America reported that in 1999, Jazz sales accounted for 3% of all recording sales. By 2008 this percentage had decreased to a meager 1.1%! And with the decline, I don’t want to think where we are in 2010! That said, any Jazz performer is the bearer of a huge responsibility to keep this unique American music form alive against all odds; I applaud anyone that elects to do this!
I do, of course, have a theory about why this is our current reality. I enjoy Jazz. Many years of listening to my son (You know, the Sax player) perform from elementary school through high school and many summer camps in between, gave me great exposure. The most common pieces that they played were the standards. These good-old tunes were the kind that any everyday Joe could hear and tap his toes along to. You know the ones I am talking about, Miles Davis, Coltrane, Byrd, Monk, Basie and so many more.
As time has gone by and Jazz has evolved, the music has become something so much more complex and at times even disjointed that it is way above the reach of common people. Many contemporary Jazz groups are playing amazing, technically precise pieces that can only appeal to other musicians and a diminishing group of enthusiasts.
This trend parallels what I have seen in the world of plastic arts where a huge canvas splattered with paint is acclaimed as a masterpiece and supposedly worth millions. (I saw it at the Bellagio in Vegas!) It kind of looks like a, “Painters drop cloth” to me.
Maybe I am just artistically ignorant but I do know what I like. I think that the dwindling number of Jazz listeners may be telling us what the public likes as well.
I may be over-simplifying this whole thing and I encourage you to leave any comments below if you have a different point of view!
OK, now I will get off my soapbox and on to the task at hand! “Journal” is a collection of eight original pieces composed by Joseph Lepore himself. The quartet comprised of Joseph Lepore on Bass, Lance Murphy on Tenor Sax, Tim Collins on Vibraphone and Nasheet Waits on drums make for a classic Jazz ensemble. All of these guys are excellent at what they do. They come together as a very well oiled, precise, intertwined combo. No weak links here!
We are treated to a mixture of some pieces that have more of the “old school” feel and some of the more contemporary ones that are a little more abstract. This variety offers a little something for everyone. There are some interesting time signatures reminiscent of Brubeck. Other time signatures have more of a “World music” kind of influence. A couple of tunes have that “classic” jazz feel that I was talking about earlier. One is so smooth that you might wear a smoking jacket and puff on a pipe while you listen to it!
My favorite is the first track “Running”! I play this track and feel like I have my own soundtrack behind an adventure movie, or some spy flick… and I am just driving to work! (Well… that in and of itself can be an adventure sometimes…) I really dig the tight combo work and that Sax. It’s all very cool.
All in all, I really enjoyed this CD and if you are one of the few loyal Jazz enthusiasts left on the planet, you will too… Check it out online at www.josephleporemusic.com! And listen to some samples at: www.reverbnation.com/josephlepore.