Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#841 in the Series) is Bryan Ferry, The Jazz Age
Talk about something coming completely out of left field. I had heard nothing about this album until one day I saw it pop up on a listing of new releases for the week. What makes it more surprising is that was true even though it had been out in the UK for about three months.
The premise of The Jazz Age is quite simple. Bryan Ferry takes some of his more popular recordings and transposes them into 1920s era jazz pieces. I love the idea but I must admit that it did take me a few listens to warm to the record. It wasn’t because the music wasn’t good for it was. The playing on the all instrumental album and the arrangements are strong musically. My only beef was that it was sometimes more than a little difficult to hear the original songs when giving these a go. The themes are so different that they’re almost a completely new song now. I think I like it more for being just a nice jazz album than I do for it being a redo of Bryan’s early efforts.
I guess it shouldn’t have been a surprise that Ferry wanted to reinterpret his own music since he’s been doing just that to others for so many years. He turned inside-out or sometimes just redid a straight version from the like of Bob Dylan, John Lennon to Cole Porter before this.
In an interview with Clash Magazine, Bryan explains the idea and the motivation: “I’ve sort of gone back to the music that I liked listening to when I was a young lad, nine or ten years old – I was really fairly precocious for that time. The first records I bought were 78s – big, proper things. Some were jazz, and I was also into the blues. When I got into making music as an artist, then I was trying to do something new, like avant-garde, or trying to create something that was different from what I’d heard before. But, at the same time, I was always looking back over my shoulder at this stuff, and all my sources, which were quite huge by the time I started making my own things. ’72 was the first record, so I had memories of so many notes flying around my head from different styles of music, and when I started doing that, I didn’t listen to jazz for, mmm, twenty years or something; a long time.”
Lastly, while Bryan Ferry helped arranged the tunes and conducts the band, he doesn’t actually appear on his own album.
All songs written by Bryan Ferry except where noted.
- “Do The Strand” – 2:10
- “Love Is the Drug” – 3:14 (Ferry/Mackay)
- “Don’t Stop The Dance” – 2:51 (Ferry/Davies)
- “Just Like You” – 3:24
- “Avalon” – 2:23
- “The Bogus Man” – 2:07
- “Slave to Love” – 2:38
- “This Is Tomorrow” – 2:27
- “The Only Face” – 2:57
- “I Thought” – 2:36 (Ferry/Brian Eno)
- “Reason Or Rhyme” – 4:15
- “Virginia Plain” – 2:14
- “This Island Earth” – 4:24
- Alan Barnes – Clarinet, Sax
- Sarah Chapman – Viola
- Paul Colin – Illustrations
- Katy Cox – Cello
- Robert Fowler – Clarinet, Sax
- Colin Good – Piano
- Chris Laurence – Double Bass
- Emma Owens – Viola
- Emma Parker – Violin
- Frank Ricotti – Percussion
- Malcolm Earle Smith – Trombone
- Victoria Sutherland – Violin
- John Sutton – Drums
- Enrico Tomasso – Cornet, Trumpet
- Martin Wheatley – Banjo, Guitar
- Richard White – Clarinet, Sax
Here is a playlist with eight tracks from the album.
Here are some interviews that Bryan gave for The Jazz Age
Here are more 2013 releases