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.”

Still confused?

Listen to “The Jazz Age” and all will be clear again.

23 Comments

    1. Ah, a good point I forgot to mention in the review — there is no Bryan Ferry voice on these standard modern 1920 re-takes — 100% instrumental… but, I argue, you can still hear Bryan’s beautiful voice in the horns…

      1. FNAC is the answer to that question – CD either in person at the neast shop or on-line. I would use iTunes but I have terrible issues with Apple . I bought my iMac and my IPad and my Macbook Air in the UK – better prices and of course in English – trying to synchronise buying in Portugal and downloading ANYTHING from the Portuguese Apple store – which is in fact in Spain is a NIGHTMARE which I could rant and rave about for hours. It means all my Apple kit is seriously under used.

        1. That’s an excellent plan, Nicola! If you get an iTunes Match subscription, you can access your music from the cloud, download it to your computer and then upload it to your Amazon music locker — at least you can in the USA!

  1. I love this article! I listen to a lot of music and I am ashamed to admit that jazz has not been at the top of my list. I have actually taken an interest in it recently through a video game I have been playing called L.A. Noire. The music helps gives you a feel for the time period and even better gives it a smooth detective game kind of feel.

    1. That’s a neat way to get to know Jazz, Brielle! I was not a Jazz fan until later in life. Then, for a long time, I was only a “Jazz Guitar” fan — but I have now expanded into piano and horns. Vocal Jazz doesn’t excite me much, just because it’s much harder to improvise and be subtle. You pretty much have to sing what is written every single time and that doesn’t leave much subtlety.

        1. Wes Montgomery is delightful, as you can see in this YouTube video:

          http://youtu.be/VBGZgyl72_g

          Don’t let the mainstream feel of Wes fool you on that variety show. He was a hardcore, genius, inventor!

          Grant Green is spectacular, but unknown. Joe Pass did a lot of neat work with Ella Fitzgerald. Kenny Burrell is a speed demon. Jim Hall is a olde skool classic.

          You should also get to know — http://www.jazzradio.com/ — you can drill-down into 31 Jazz niches, including Guitar!

        2. No discussion of jazz guitar is complete without Django Reinhardt.
          (You’ll also get to hear jazz violin in The Hot Club of France work.)
          For a different side of jazz guitar check out Charlie Byrd.
          And for a modern day practitioner, Frank Vignola.
          Enjoy your explorations!
          Phil Stern
          The Sidney Bechet Society
          http://www.sidneybechet.org

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