Western audiences were notoriously slow to embrace many of jazz's innovations into the canon of western classical music. Consider the case of Igor Stravinsky's truly riotous debut of The Rites Of Spring in 1913, when Parisian audiences literally were tearing up the seats, protesting the complex rhythms and harmonies.
Before that, western classical music hadn't even introduced independent drum parts, let alone the fast-paced, frenetic rhythms and discordant melodies, perfectly encapsulating the accelerating Industrial Revolution.
Despite its revolutionary roots and sounds, jazz has become as codified as any other genre, perhaps even more so as the super polite and polished urbane music filling cafes and concert halls today are a far cry from the brutal architecture of the Harlem Renaissance.
Jazz's immediacy, energy and harmonic complexity has become a complex subtext for popular music, particularly soulful funk and R&B. For those who love the interesting arrangements, the tasty horn stabs, microtonal vocals and instrumental prowess of jazz will likely love the debut album Noticing You by Melbourne, Australia's Lilly Tunley. Those looking for the original pyrotechnic fervor and firebrand political, mental and social innovation might be left a little let down, however.
Noticing You features seven track tracks of fun, upbeat funk-infused soulful pop. Tracks like album opener "Help Me" are augmented with bold Tower Of Power-like brass stabs and smooth soulful piano, while songs like the title track feature little melodic guitar hooks that double the vocals - the surest sign of a well-rehearsed band. The arrangements and performances are flawless; they just don't have the same explosive revelatory moments of the original jazz innovators like John Coltrane or Billie Holiday.
There's nothing wrong with being "jazz-y." Steely Dan was jazzy, in their intricate arrangements and complex harmonies, as are a lot of prog and fusion bands. Jam bands like Phish and The Grateful Dead are jazzy in their arrangements, even while their extended improvisations may be also be proper jazz. In 2016, there's cooperation and interplay with the genres.
For those that are looking for some smooth and soulful pop music to relax and unwind to will love Noticing You. Even trade jazz heads may find some sweet delights in this short but sweet collection, as a lot of what passes for jazz these days is almost unlistenable, having shied too far from musical conventions. Tunley and her fearless band of collaborators strike a balance between innovation and musicianship, while still remaining musical.
Lilly Tunley - many will be Noticing You following this release. Keep it up, but don't be afraid to throw a little kerosene on the fire from time to time.
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