Archive for May 23rd, 2009



Boris Johnson twittered that time is running out to vote for London as Jazz Capital of Europe by visiting this website: — then (in the top left side bar) simply click on the city and then click to submit the vote.

I just did this, and London is way out in front (probably thanks to the Mayor of London) with only a few days remaining, so it looks to be in the bag.

Serendipitously, I read a review of Melody Gardot.  Now I have been listening to her album for a couple of months, and it’s very nice. According to LondonJazz there’s a bit of a media fuss about her being commercial and fake:

“Gardot shifts product. Her albums are currently at No.2 and No.4 in both the Official UK Jazz charts and the Billboard US Jazz charts. These jazz charts are a comfort zone through-and-through: – the top five places are inhabited almost exclusively by Diana Krall, Madeleine Peyroux and Gardot.”

— this is fascinating!  In the first place, had no idea Melody was such a commercial success, but then that wouldn’t bother me. Next, I had no idea there could still be a fuss and hoohah about commercial success.

Back in the day, “selling out” was an accusation, but that was more about turning your back on your core fans, or about compromising musical genre or ideological stance.

This is quite different from commercial success; you could be a commercial success as, say, a heavy metal band, and sell-out by suddenly changing to appeal to a broader audience, or a different audience — by making a classical music, pop, country, or even a hip-hop record!

There even seems to be a suggestion that Melody is only successful because of her terrible accident — and that maybe she doesn’t really need that walking stick (it’s all trademarked, all fake, affectation, a gimmick etc).

Worrisome Heart (G min) and Love Me Like A River Does (C minor) are my current faves from her Worrisome Heart album (which I don’t love, but which I like a lot) without knowing anything other than the music.  Some people might dislike this music, others might really love it.  It’s not a million miles away from what-is-happening just now in the female Jazz vocal scene since Eva Cassidy, Norah Jones and Corrine Bailey-Rae. I just don’t believe that this market would give a damn about “her story”; this is not “American idol” or “The X-Factor”.  No tears need to be jerked from anything other than the music itself.

Sure, everyone knows what happened to Eva, and to Corrine’s husband, and also who Norah’s dad is — but can background alone account for their record sales?

What is it about making that kind of connection?  As far as I am concerned, music, architecture, sculpture, painting  (etc), are connected to the individual more than to the people responsible for it — the patron, commissioner, maker, designer, creator, artist, owner, client, sponsor, visionary, assistants, artisans (etc).

So I think the intention, the background story behind the product is of passing and mild interest, and definitely of secondary importance to the way the thing relates to me.

I can’t see myself hating something (such as a piece of music or a painting), and then loving it because I discovered that the artist was blind, young, old, disabled, poor or whatever.

Similarly, I cannot see myself no longer enjoying something just because the artist has become commercially successful!

Can everyone else be so different from me in that respect?  can Melody Gardot be selling recordings and gigs simply on the back story (fake or not)?

Hmmm. I wonder.