Monday, 21 May 2012

I hear music. No, it's an air-freshener!

The New York Times' online paywall policy has severely restricted my access to bad writing about jazz and pop music. I had resolved not to return to this topic, but I can't help myself; it's one of my guilty pleasures. Some people are fascinated by demolition derbies. Some enjoy watching people humiliate themselves on reality TV shows. I enjoy reading music reviews in the Times.

With the political season in full swing, I had already squandered my monthly allotment of free articles on campaign news and not-so-penetrating political analysis, which is why I missed this latest howler from the music department. Fortunately it was spotted and sent to me by jazz scholar Legrand Sidney Doggett. In the words of Eddie Condon, it's too good to ignore:

Half of the album’s 10 tracks date to the Thornhill era, and it’s striking how fresh they sound: even amid the swinging brio of a tune like “How About You,” there are piccolo parts made to lodge a citrusy dissonance.

"Made to lodge a citrusy dissonance" -- now that's Hall of Fame material.

The only antidote to such aromatic writing is a musical breath of fresh air, in the form of You Smell So Good (playable below) sung by Rebecca Kilgore, accompanied by Dave Frishberg -- two artists for whom the run-of-the-mill adjective "superb" will suffice.

As for the Times' music reviewers, I want to help. I really do; so let me lodge a curative suggestion, laced with calming undertones of sandalwood and ylang-ylang. The next time you feel the urge to be a prose stylist, make this your mantra and keep repeating it until the urge goes away: "I am not Whitney Bailliett, I am not Whitney Bailliett..... "

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