I like acoustic music for similar reasons that I like organic food. For one, it tastes good! Second, the sound of the instruments: brass, especially trombones and French horns, drum cymbals and snares, reeds, especially the tenor sax, the sounds of all the woodwinds: flutes, clarinets, bass clarinets. And of course a good piano. When instruments are all playing together, you have harmony that is both human and musical. When you have somebody like Gil Evans or Clare Fischer put flutes, French horns and tubas together, the musical mélange is sublime.
I was once watching a hand drummer in an African show @ The Skirball Cultural Center. The rhythm speeds up, then slows down, and it’s constantly changing. Just like the human heart. Drums and hearts aren’t like machines or metronomes. They’re natural. That’s my organic metaphor.
I was thinking about this recently when I was listening to a new Gerald Wilson Orchestra cd called Legacy. On it there is a cut called “Virgo”. The musicians are all gifted and weave a tight musical tapestry. I think of the collective years all of them have spent practicing and learning to get this beauty out.
Certainly great artists like the late Joe Zawinul used advancing musical technology—as it reached the consumer market–for decades. But he had years of classical Viennese training before Weather Report ever formed. Ditto for Herbie Hancock. These two maestros first mastered the acoustic piano before venturing into new electronic territory.
Sure, I love Nicodemus and Thievery Corporation, Kruder and Dorfmeister, Kraak and Smaak. They make music that propels a thousand dance floors daily. But when I do close listening at home with my vintage tube gear, acoustic music, whether it be jazz or classical, always takes first place.