Theo Bleckmann: Elegy (ECM/Ode)

 |   |  1 min read

Comedy Tonight
Theo Bleckmann: Elegy (ECM/Ode)

Every now and again we allow ourselves to say, “an acquired taste” . . .

But usually that means something totally difficult and out there on the perimeter . . . like Yoko Ono and Pere Ubu used to be.

But, to these ears, this album by singer/poet Bleckmann and a very decent jazz quarter is what a university music department might call “Art Music”.

Which means not just mainstream classical stuff but music which is, in this writer's opinion, indulgent and self-important.

As here on this album of spare words (and blamelessly supportive musicianship) which would have you believe this has greater intellectual and emotional import than it conveys.

At times singer Bleckmann – who relies heavily on the quartet to bridge the divide between meaning and vocalisation – attempts to forge the bond between Stephen Sondheim (Comedy Tonight) and Zen (Beckman's own Fields, a poem by Zhiao Zhan).

There are rare songs here – the centrepiece To Be Shown To Monks At A Certain Temple written by Zhiao Zhan around 760AD – which work across that chasm.

Aside from when the acoustic quartet take small possession (the two minute Cortege for example) this to these ears this is . . . .

Well, to paraphrase Macbeth: “Now pretension hath made its masterpiece”.

Bleckmann's quasi-pop tune Take My Life – despite guitarist Ben Monder and the band getting a chance to dig deep in the singer's absence – comes halh an hour in and far too late to redeem this.

I shall await the consideration of graduate student's thesis to tell me why I should be engaged by this.

Decent band though.

“Now condescension hath made its masterpiece”?

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Jazz articles index

MARVIN “SMITTY” SMITH REMEMBERED (2015): Give the drummers some

MARVIN “SMITTY” SMITH REMEMBERED (2015): Give the drummers some

Because I always worked as a journalist, even if it was in the world of music, I never considered myself part of the music world. I was always only ever the “outsider”. The... > Read more

Manu Katche: Third Round (ECM)

Manu Katche: Third Round (ECM)

This album under the name of mutli-culti French drummer Katche (who has worked with Pat Metheny, Jan Garbarek, Joe Zawinul, Al Di Meola,  Sting, Tori Amos, Tomasz Stanko,  Peter Gabriel... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Green River

Creedence Clearwater Revival: Green River

In a freewheeling and enjoyable interview before a solo show in 2005, John Fogerty -- mainman behind CCRevival -- laughed about how at the height of the counterculture in the late Sixties bands... > Read more

DYLAN HORROCKS INTERVIEWED (2010): The graphic novelist as social commentator

DYLAN HORROCKS INTERVIEWED (2010): The graphic novelist as social commentator

At the launch of the long overdue local publication of his graphic novel Hicksville in Auckland recently, Dylan Horrocks said he grew up in two places: In New Zealand and in comics, and both were... > Read more