Mixtape: Jazz for Metalheads
For all intents and purposes, this mix could be re-named Jazz For A Metalhead or Jazz From A Metalhead, the main subject in both being yours truly. Without diverting off into an unnecessary memoir, I bought my first jazz album at the age of 14 after an almost exclusive metal phase. I remember reading about this guy named Charles Mingus in an issue of Bass Player magazine and thought I’d chance The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady. Little did I know that almost 20 years later, that purchase would come to have such a strong influence on my musical sensibilities. Since that fateful day, I’ve developed what I believe is a cohesive, but by all means incomplete, comprehension of jazz tenets rooted in a metal aesthetic.
While I enjoy all incarnations of jazz, from swing to be-bop to free, this mix focuses on an era that speaks directly to me as a metal listener. The late ’50s and early ’60s saw a glorious changing of the guard for jazz when a slew of musicians began radically expanding its sounds, not unlike the scene in Tampa when bands like Atheist and Cynic emerged. This explosion of musical ideas embodied a quality, whether an issue of intensity or tonality or structure, that those with an interest in heavy music can appreciate. From the barreling intensity of Art Blakey, the avant-garde assault of Eric Dolphy, the menacing tones of John McLaughlin, the ominous drone of Grachan Moncur III (who penned the Jackie McLean tune), and the punk-rock swagger of Ornette Coleman, these musicians pursued uncharted musical realms to an enviable degree that propelled the genre to higher states, influencing countless numbers in their aftermath. These explorations continued until the end of the decade, at which point bellwethers like Miles Davis stretched those sounds into an entirely new atmosphere.
This mix has been whittled down from an initial length of over three hours to a more manageable 77 minutes; needless to say, there’s still plenty more music for those interested to discover. I encourage those curious for more jazz from hessians to check out the all-knowing Aesop at Cosmic Hearse who consistently posts great jazz, as well as Heavy Metal Be-Bop and Burning Ambulance. Enjoy.
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1. Art Blakey – “Free For All”
from Free For All (Blue Note, 1964)
2. Bud Powell – “Cleopatra’s Dream”
from The Scene Changes(Blue Note, 1959)
Check out Aesop’s thorough and intriguing bio of Bud Powell.
3. Eric Dolphy – “Hat and Beard”
from Out to Lunch (Blue Note, 1964)
4. Charles Mingus – “Duet Solo Dancers”
from The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (Impulse!, 1963)
5. Ornette Coleman – “Lonely Woman”
from The Shape of Jazz to Come (Atlantic, 1959)
6. Mahavishnu Orchestra – “Meeting of the Spirits”
from The Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia, 1971)
7. Eddie Gale – “the Rain”
from Ghette Music (Blue Note, 1968)
8. John Coltrane – “Sun Ship”
from Sun Ship (Impulse!, 1965)
9. Mal Waldron – “Status Seeking”
from The Quest (New Jazz, 1961)
10. Tony Williams Lifetime – “Vashkar”
from Emergency! (Verve, 1969)
11. Jackie McLean – “Love and Hate”
from Destination . . . Out! (Blue Note, 1963)