A part of me thinks jazz took the 80s off because the fidelity of cassette tapes was below the standards of any conscientious jazz musician. Of course, what really happened to jazz was set in motion well before then, but like all music I love, I put it on a pedestal.
Fast forward to 2009 and jazz still hasn't seen a resurrection, despite nearly every other genre and fad receiving its second or third go 'round. Arguments could be made on many levels, but most would agree the lack of pop in jazz has made it hard to appeal commercially to a wide range of audiences. And when you add pop to jazz you get Kenny G. But in the recent excitement of embracing the past–most notably, the fidelity of vinyl and cassettes–one would think it would lead to a re-embracing of jazz. That's where Father Figures comes in.
The Brooklyn troupe recorded an album at the end of 2008 through post-modern means, which, while somewhat commonplace among the independent music community, seem almost destined for jazz accompaniment. In their words:
We recorded five hours worth of improvisations to 4-track cassette and
a breaking Navy reel-to-reel 1/4″ tape recorder. We dumped it into
digital, sorted through everything and picked out only what we loved,
then chopped, mixed, produced, tweaked and arranged it into a finished
album, consisting of 18 pieces.
They go on to explain how they feel these recordings are the true bridge between the jazz and rock minds, the weird and the weirder, framed in the melodic realm. You can decide for yourself, but I think it's nice to see jazz finally catching up with the 80s.