I took that as a sign (there are no coincidences) that I should write about jazz. The weather is appropriate, and with recent conversations spanning Django Reinhardt, local poetry slams, and Jack Kerouac I only just had to connect the dots in my head.
I love jazz music because of its emotional tangibility and almost haunting individuality. Pretension is very noticeable in a bad jazz song, but the best jazz music captures entire emotional spectra. It's the music of the introverted, and the people who spend most of their time thinking, and therefore it is usually calculated and relaxed. At other times it bursts with hidden exuberance and excitement. Tension is a major theme that often explodes in a horn solo.
Sit back, relax, and listen with your entire soul to the following songs. I promise you will not have wasted your time.
"I Know You Know" by Esperanza Spalding
With a voice that floats and sprints around the melody, Spalding crafts a hearty, bouncy bass-line that gives this playful jazz song body. "The way you look at me when you think I'm not looking..." is one line in a song full of strong and fun lyrics that wrap up the early stages of love (and sometimes the later stages too) in a poetic and honest way. Check out the live video below, and sit in awe at the size of Spalding's bass (!!!).
"Apparition" by Scott Dubois
The final song on Dubois' latest album Banshees this is an anxious, rumbling song that seems to be fleeing the titular apparition for a good 8 1/2 minutes. The percussion and bass-line are high strung, while the horns alternately mumble and shout their fears. This song is very well-written, and makes for nerve-wracking and exciting listening.
"Let The Music Take Your Mind" by Cameron Mizell
Simmering instrumental that makes wonderful background music, but is also exceptional material for mental deconstruction (I am a music nerd, and this is what I do in my spare time.) The sounds are so expertly layered, that it is unusual to find any disjunctions; and yet, so beautifully patterned that it is fun to pull apart the sounds in your mind.
"Equilibrium" by Soul Messangers
This song moves from pure jazz territory to more uplifting jazz/soul. I'm not completely certain why the Soul Messangers spell their name incorrectly, but it doesn't really matter when they're making music as good as "Equilibrium". The horns are heavy and the rhythms are constantly syncopated.
"Je cherche apres Titine" by Les Primitifs du Futur
Les Primitifs du Futur deserve their own post because their music is just so amazing. It's French jazz in the very best sense. Carnivalesque, strangely baroque with its circular melodies, and at times spooky, sexy, and weirdly catchy. The language flows and slides with the instrumentals, and the ghost of Django Reinhardt is ever present.