Bryan Ferry has always been a magical, musical, mind — and the evidence of that genius can today be found in his new “The Jazz Age” album packed with his current hits, re-performed as 1920’s Jazz standards. Yes, the idea is confounding — making new music sound old in practice and performance — but, in the ear, everything is ultimately pleasing in the effort and effect.
Here’s how Bryan explains the project —
If there was ever a musical icon and a decade destined to come together it is Bryan Ferry and the Roaring Twenties. The artist as creative powerhouse with a dazzling career of endless surprise, delight and innovation, and the decade – a time of modernity, decadence and bright young things – all driven on by the thrill of it all.
So what better way to celebrate and mark the 40th year anniversary of Ferry’s incredible career as a singer and songwriter, than by rearranging his own compositions and have them performed in a 1920’s style by his very own Jazz Orchestra?
It began as an idea, fuelled by Ferry’s fascination of that time between the wars known as “The Jazz Age”. He decided the songs were to be all completely instrumental reinterpretations.
— and here he is, in the flesh, explaining the philosophy of the album:
I love “The Jazz Age” — I can recognize the modern melodies and the sound, feel and taste of the music is old and aged and rich in timbre. That’s the trick of writing a classic song: It sounds great retrofitted from 2000 to 1920 and beyond; just as a 1960’s Beatles song sounds universal as a classical Muzak remodel in an office elevator.
Art teaches us how to think about old things in a new way, and if you’re really smart like Bryan Ferry, Art can also teach us how to time travel by using modern methods to change the history of music by adding new songs to an oeuvre that doesn’t yet exist — until it has existed forever — and made in the mind to stretch back 90 years because of a jimmying of a new intention into an old aesthetic.
This isn’t quite “Back to the Future” thinking, but rather, “The Future Back to History and Back.”
Listen to “The Jazz Age” and all will be clear again.