“But he’s not wearing anything!” the little boy cried. And soon the rest of the people started to whisper, then shout: “He’s got nothing on!”; “He’s absolutely starkers!”; “You can see his willy!” or words to that effect. The little kid had burst the bubble, said the one thing everyone else was too afraid to say for fear of appearing unknowing or ‘not with it’.
Maybe it’s about time someone said the same thing about jazz. I’m not talking about all jazz, I like jazz. But there comes a time when some of these virtuosos disappear so far up their own arses, displaying such technical proficiency and rhythmic complexities that any listening pleasure, any musicality is lost. This whole ‘look at what I can do’ mentality in jazz is out of control. You end up listening to someone showcasing what they can do with their instrument and not what a group of musicians can do together to create good music. It’s like watching a badly scripted and poorly acted film but in ultra-ultra high definition. You can wax lyrical about the clarity and the sharpness of the colours or whatever whatever but in the end it’s still a shit film.
And so Stanley Clarke came to Gijón. I was so excited. I texted friends: ‘Stanley Clarke Sat. Nov. 12!!!’ I splashed out €60 on a couple of tickets, got dressed up and off we went. Stanley Clarke, for those who don’t know, is a giant in the bass-playing world. If you had to append the word ‘legend’ to a bassist there are only a handful who would be deserving of the accolade: Charlie Mingus, Jaco Pastorius, Larry Graham, Bootsy Collins and our man Stan. So for the Jazz Gijón festival to bag such an artist was a big thing. It just didn’t work.