Elevator Music


Would someone please explain to me the whole concept/cult of jazz?!

In this case, it was some smooth jazz (ie. the stuff that’s not completely awful, is actually palatable to the ear, and can go on in the background without it interrupting too much of the current topic of discussion) that we saw. In a pub. Yes, a pub. A pleasant quiet-ish sort of pub that served cloudy cider. Although it had a few suspect continental lagers around too. Not your ideal setting for JAZZ (maybe a bar in New York? A “swinging club” in the deep South of America?) as such, but we chose neither the genre or the setting.

The players themselves were outstanding musicians – really quite excellent, although I rather feel the cow-bell was somewhat overused – and the way they played with each other was brilliant too. They were so in touch with each other that they could just start a tempo of sorts and everyone could join in with something. Just like regular jazz musicians. So one is led to believe this wavelength element is vital to playing jazz.

But what they were playing was just elevator music! It was the same beat every time, just the solos were a little different. But the crowd loved it. It provided excellent background ambience, but I found you could either ignore it completely and have a nice chat with a friend you had not seen in a while (maybe about “What the hell is this music?”), or you would get sucked in 100% and start subconsciously grooving away. There was no plateau, no middle ground. Alas. Was its purpose just to sit in the background, casually grooving away and creating a mild ambience of tack? Because if so, it does it very well indeed. It’s not like they can start playing a “number” and you yell “CHHOOOOOONNN!!” now is it?

Jazz to me seems very much to be a club or cult sort of thing, that if you get it, you love it. It also seems a little pretentious to me too, as, really, how much can one honestly like and merit elevator music? Where is the variation? Where are my lovely lyrics?! Fair play for varying the regular “song” format, but what is there to remember from elevator music? It all seems quite indulgent (for the musicians) in a “Let’s get our instruments and have a jam! Oh and there will be people watching” sort of way. But is there some merit to music that has just been created for your enjoyment on the spot? Possibly. But I rather want my music to have more meaning and thought involved. I find music means so much more if it actually means something in the first place, and it is not just music for music’s sake. I would quite like to know if anyone actually likes this music, because there is a reason it is called elevator music, and there is a reason it is only played there. You do not have to sit in an elevator for a whole evening. Now do you?

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