Arts and Culture Editor
While there is a booming hip-hop and electronic scene in Los Angeles, the Jazz scene has been on the rise, putting out some pivotal records over the last few years. Much of this centers around the Brainfeeder Records label, which was founded by multi-genre producer Flying Lotus, who is nephew of John and Alice Coltrane. Off of this imprint, bassist Thundercat, the late pianist Austin Peralta, saxophonist Kamasi Washington, violinist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson, producer Ras G, and Flying Lotus himself have put out some of the best records on 2010’s, all jazz or heavily jazz influenced. Last Year, Flying Lotus's You're Dead was considered by many critics to be the album of the year and was comprised mostly of Jazz fusion with hip-hop and electronic flavors.
Out of Montreal, Constellation Records has released some of the most important records of the 21st century so far. Matana Roberts has played with bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor! and Jeff Magnum of Neutral Milk Hotel, but has gain notoriety since composing COIN COIN, a 12-part musical series that deals with African-American history, ancestry, and issues. Her willingness to experiment and the topic she deal with has opened her up to broader community. After the events across the country with police brutality against black males, her art is more relevant than ever.
Colin Stetson is another Constellation artist who is a touring member of indie band Arcade Fire and has worked with Bon Iver. While with Arcade Fire he plays indie rock, on his solo projects his saxophone blares strains of avant-garde jazz with classical influence. His music was feature in the soundtrack of 12 Years A Slave. His willingness to experiment and transgress jazz convention has earned him critical acclaim.
While Jazz in the strictest sense of the word isn’t going to appear on 99.5 FM anytime soon, new jazz artists are making compelling music that is influencing the major artists and expressing feelings that relate to the world today. Many associate Jazz with grandparents and music instructors, but this new strain of jazz is innovative and pushing the boundaries of music.
Here are suggestions of where to start:
- Flying Lotus - You’re Dead
- Thundercat - Apocalypse
- Austin Peralta - Endless Planet
- Kamasi Washington - The Epic
- Matana Roberts - COIN COIN series (chapter 1-3)
- Colin Stetson - New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
- BADBADNOTGOOD - BBNG2
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