It is no secret that jazz music is a national treasure. And locally, jazz served as the soundtrack to South Florida and its sunny lifestyle way before megaclubs and laptop DJs took over.
But we're not here to bitch about overpriced nightlife spots or knob-twiddlers. It's simply time to celebrate our nation's third annual, Congress-designated Jazz Appreciation Month -- not to mention this year's National Jazz Day on April 13.
And so, we here at Crossfade have assembled a fantasy septet -- Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Nina Simone, and four other jazzy geniuses -- who we'd love to see on a stage together, dropping some righteous jams.
You can't talk jazz music without mentioning one of its biggest supporters and international ambassadors. A maestro of traditional styles and a great arranger who incorporated Afro-Cuban and African sounds into his compositions as well as some extreme cheekiness, no pun intended.
For this National Jazz Day fantasy jam, we're gonna balance out Dizzy's horn with another equally legendary trumpet man, Miles Davis. Even if all you've known is 1970's Bitches Brew, that's fine, because it is a flawless album. But what else could you expect from a flawless guy? Here's his quintet doing "'Round Midnight."
All good outfits start with the drums. And there is no greater drummer in the annals of jazz history than Gene Krupa. He generated amazing syncopated energies that'd always inspire the best from the players around him.
Rounding out the rhythm section, we need someone to match wits and energy with Mr. Krup. And even though he's much younger than the other jazzy geniuses in this fantasy septet, Jaco Pastorius is perhaps the bass guitar's last great jazz innovator. Bearing the mark of his 1987 murder in South Florida has been a heavy burden.
What's jazz without a little piano in it? Well, it can be jazz. But we'd never be able to see ourselves in the mirror again if we don't throw the pure and undiluted magical genius of Oscar Peterson into the mix. Sure, we could've gone with Thelonius Monk. But we think T would've given up the seat for Peterson without batting an eye.
For guitar, we're going to keep it simple and agreeable and give the charge to the great Wes Montgomery. Because not only do we feel he is tops, he routinely ranks among the top five jazz greats of all time. Sometimes we listen to our peers, sometimes we don't, but this time we will. Listen closely and you'll notice that a whole generation of rock 'n' roll guitarists took some serious cues from this dude.
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And now, before anybody goes and gets their underpants in a bunch, we all know jazz is no boys club. So we've reserved the last spot on our jazzy dream team for a very special lady. While we could go with Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, or even Etta Jones, we've decided to go with the only woman who could really lay the whip on these guys and make 'em perform to the very best of their already amazing abilities. That lady is the never-ever replaceable and sorely missed Nina Simone.