Rifftides reader Peter Myers writes:
In your liner notes from the great Christmas present CD I received, The Art and Soul of Houston Person, you mentioned a gifted 19-year-old jazz musician who plays few standards. I wondered if you were talking about Eldar. I was looking forward to seeing him at the Clearwater, FL Jazz Holiday back in October. I came away disappointed for the same reason. He played mostly his own compositions. Brilliant though he may be, his choice of music almost boredered on semi classical. I think he played one number, “Straight, No Chaser,” that was recognizable, and that you could tap your foot to. I wanted to approach him at the CD sales and signing booth and tell him, in a constructive, senior citizen way, but I did not.
A gifted nineteen-year-old jazz musician recently told me why he and his band play few standards. With touching earnestness, he explained that people under sixty don’t relate to standards and that his generation has no connection to the classic songs of the last century. He had just played a concert of compositions mostly written by him or his band members. It evidently escaped him that the audience, with a sizeable component of young people, gave its most enthusiastic response of the evening to an adventurous performance of Matt Dennis’s “Everything Happens to Me.” As his career progresses, it may dawn on our emerging young artist that when he provides his listeners a melody they can hold onto, they open up to him and accept considerable leeway when he goes beyond the familiar. That has been a fact of life in music at least as far back as Mozart.