Jazz? Yay or Nay? The New Standards

Is it Jazz? Always a loaded question, it seems to be increasingly so with the passage of time. As I age, I am becoming less likely to engage in impassioned quarrels or trying to answer that conundrum. I mention this because over the Thanksgiving week, I found myself in the scenic venue of Papa Charlie’s in Lutsen, attending a concert by Minnesota’s “New Standards.”It was their wildly popular annual Holiday special and I found it entertaining and actually liked the casual approach to seasonal music as well as their avoidance of the usual musical tropes. Mostly. Wham’s “Last Christmas” could have been spared for my taste.But I got to thinking about how I often hear the group described as a “jazz” band. Whether or not that is self-affixed, I found my inner critic trying to deconstruct that. They are most certainly not a jazz band. They don’t present themselves that way, so why the moniker? My theory: The presence of the vibes. It’s always struck me funny that we often use instruments to label music here in America. And we are notably more obsessed with categorization and genres than most other cultures.If band employs vibes, sax or horns, they must be jazz. Electric guitars must be rock or blues and so on. Given my avocation, I can never really just enjoy a show at face value and I found myself having to qualify more opinions than I’d care to. In the end, I’m no different from most of the people who were there. They all seemed to be having a great time. I wavered between the extreme dancers and the chill observers. Just like always!If it hasn’t sold out by the time you read this here’s a link to Friday’s performance at The Fitzgerald:  https://hennepintheatretrust.org/events/the-new-standards-holiday-show/

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