“Jazz. The last refuge of the untalented. Jazz musicians enjoy themselves more than anyone listening to them does”. So said Tony Wilson in 24 Hour Party People. Typical Steve Coogan joke but it’s pretty far from the actual truth. Sure, it’s easy to go into self-indulging territories in Jazz (just like in any genre) but although a great degree of technical proficiency is required, the bit that really sells Jazz is the added emotions that every musician imprints on the music. That’s when the music created stops being a tough, final exam question and becomes a pure expression; emotions poured into notes.
Sorry for the soapbox moment.
Anyways, México‘s own The Jonathan Arellano Project have released a 4 song EP (5 if you count a remix) called El Loco (the madman). ‘Tristeza’ (sadness) kicks off with a classy, suave jazzy note. Pour a manhattan (or a negroni) and chill to the groovy atmosphere and the simply delicious double bass that easily steals the show (bastard!) from everyone else. The song meanders and sways, it teases with an explosion that never comes and, frankly, generalissimo double bass is the one yelling orders (Kike Mayoral from Los Sinco). A beautiful way to start.
That lack of explosion does eventually come around, knocking like a madman howling rebel yells at a waning moon. ‘El loco’ (the madman) is a straight punch. “La tristeza se ha aferrado a no dejarme marchar”. Hate translating lyrics but basically means that sadness is the anchor in your heels, the one weight in your neck that won’t allow you to move on. A lamentation for the brokenhearted and an appeal to move on. “Ya no quiero vivir en el ayer”…leave your memories behind.
‘Bereshit’ is a jamming track. Now everyone has a voice and they all use it to create an ever escalating atmosphere that is accentuated by a creepy vocal sample that either is doing some backmasking, cursing us or just panning from left to right for our listening pleasure. Maybe if my days in catholic school weren’t a repressed memory, I would remember that “in the beginning, God created heaven and earth”. Awesome guitar freakout.
‘Zorba the Buda’ is less religious and more of a chilling down sort of track. Take the structure of a post rock song (slow buildup), strip all until you only have the bodywork and paint in a jazzy way. There ya go. Lots of class and some great atmospheres here to be enjoyed. There’s a re-interpretation of ‘El Loco’ in the end, where the vocals sound slightly more desperate and less lovelorn, so it’s basically the same track.
An interesting EP of Jazz and experimental rock from the motherland (well, at least mine!). Some very interesting bands coming up from México and let’s hope they get some kudos.