Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Dubai Jazz 2008
Thrilling news that the internationally-acclaimed jazz artiste Mr David Gray will be gracing us with his presence as this year's much lauded Dubai Jazz Festival. The highly influential unplugged tunesmith who has influenced legions of bejeaned, stubbly and oh so emotional singer songwriter clones over the last few years will no doubt raise a chilled white whine at the news. Those interested in jazz, for all its manifold varities, better look elsewhere. Of course this is something of a tradition at Dubai Jazz. Last year Dee Dee Meyers (or someone who sounds like a Clinton staffer.. DD Bridgewater...Who?) was a top feature. She was a bit jazz; less so was Freddy Cole who is jazz as in being black and soulful, which covers an awful lot of talented people who would not dream of labelling themselves jazz. More RnB really, when the term meant rhythm and blues as opposed to, well, black. Strange really, I remember that just a few weeks after the Dubai International Jazz Festival 2007, the genuinely acclaimed Scandinavian jazz pianist Bobo Stenson was a part of the "Gulf Jazz Festival" that was on the road in bohemian fashion between Gulf Arab capitals and played a night at the Deira Raddison SAS. I missed that too, but in his case wished I had not. He has played with some key names at the freer end of the jazz scene since the 60s, including Charlie Haden, and is a virtuoso whose subtleties would be lost on virtually anyone who has ever trod the boards of Dubai Media City's open air auditorium. Speaking of jazz artists, the famous brand of toilet manufacturers also lends its name, appropriately enough, to an AOR band by the naff name of Toto who headlined Dubai Jazz this year. Was it last year that Thelonious Monk's son and heir Roger Hodgson was on the bill? Don't get me wrong, Supertramp's Logical Song and Bloody Well Right were groovy forays into sixth form art rock back in the 70s, but the only thing that was jazz about them was Antony C Helliwell's tenor, and that was played strictly rock-stylee. Jeez. I mean there is a lot of jazz talent out there. And I do not mean soft white female vocalists of the current jazz and rootsy "wave" like Dana Krall or Katie Melluah, nor the excreable Jamie Callum, who substitutes the sensitivities of the gym for the escoterica of the music. This is where the play off between bums on grass and the cost of a ticket to see class acts that people might have heard of from the real jazz scene kicks in. However Dave Holland, Anour Brahem (yes, an Arab), Charlie Haden, Pharoah Saunders, Lyle Mayes, Bobo Stenson... these guys do not cost like those pop artists increasingly drawn to Abu Dhabi do, and, if marketed right, people would come to see them. Anyone interested out there?