During college, while exhausting my pop/prog phase, I felt drawn toward jazz. The things I found — mid ’60s post-bop, or ’80s smooth jazz — were enjoyable enough but didn’t deliver the “complexity” I’d been promised by the critics. Not that I could perceive all the harmonies and polyrhythms in there, but it wasn’t the kind of music I was looking for. I wanted something more.
I started consciously listening to college radio again. I’d done this in high school, to stun myself with the brutality of hardcore punk (discovering Squeeze, of all bands, along the way) but now started searching the dial for the more opaque, abstract music I knew college stations played.
During one of these midnight radio binges, some station played “Bloodcount” by, confusingly enough, Tim Berne‘s Bloodcount. I was mesmerized. I wanted to hear more. I walked into Tower Records — which, even as late as 1996, was still carrying plenty of worthwhile titles — and amazingly found the exact album, Low Life, on the shelves. I bought it and listened through. And it was near the end, during a particularly jumping, tangly written passage followed by a stunning Jim Black solo, that I knew I wasn’t just kidding myself into liking this music. I’d found a new home.
Why do I do the radio show, then? Why this blog? It’s not because I’m expecting to convert the masses. No, it’s because when I decided I wanted to seek out this music, it was there for me. And I want to help it be there for the next person who comes looking.