Friday, July 2, 2010
Village Voice hates on Trombone Shorty
Very strange review of Trombone Shorty's Backatown in the current Village Voice. Tom Hull does back of the envelope reviews of 40-some releases in an installation of the "Jazz Consumer Guide," an idea of pretty useless merit to begin with. Naturally some flip put-downs need to be included for "balance." Out of all the releases out there Hull chooses Backatown for his "duds" section. Hull is creating a straw man to knock down because whatever you might want to call what Shorty is playing on this record, "jazz" is not the first description that comes to mind. Backatown is a an album of short songs played by what is essentially a funk rock band without significant solo passages. It's no more of a jazz album than recent releases by Galactic or Juvenile, two albums that are pretty similar in feel. Shorty is an outstanding soloist but you won't hear that on Backatown because that's not what the album is about. Hull's view is that it's a "New Orleans horn line" (what????) "tricked up with synth beats" (all the drum tracks are live in the studio, no samples or 'synth beats') "bogged down with guest vocals" (Shorty has many strengths but singing is down the list so the addition of Lenny Kravitz and Marc Broussard is hardly a distraction) "and a stab at grunge" (it's a jazz review, so the writer can be forgiven for such a complete misrepresentation of Pete Murano's guitar playing, which will never be confused with Kurt Cobain's). Just another example of the implosion of credibility the Voice's music coverage has suffered in recent years. The days when Robert Christgau and Gary Giddins made the Voice a must read music publication are as dead as the oysters in the Gulf of Mexico.