There’s a great “Kids In The Hall” bit where there was an arguement that Rock died in the mid-1970’s. When Jethro Tull started to add the flute to “rock albums” it was all over. As proof, the protagonist said, “You’ll probably start to like jazz now…”And I kinda do. Sorta. A little. In limited quantities. But I prefer pop/rock/alt because it has a structure. Not necessarily the “Verse Chorus Verse” structure, but that it tends towards songs less than five minutes long, it has a melody, and has a beginning and ending. Even Nine Inch Nail’s messiest stuff (and I’m speaking specifically of his beautiful instrumentals) has a melody buried in there somewhere.

There’s a bit in Sting’s “Bring on The Night” where he postulates that jazz musicians, while being some one the most technically proficient and creative of all musicians, need a few minutes of a song to warm up, whereas rock muscians “need to burn from the first bar.”

It takes Coltrane or Monk, or any of the greats time to warm up (to a lesser extent Miles Davis, but that may because of his time spent in the rock/funk world in the 1970’s). It sounds like (I hesitate to say it) noodling. It sounds like yadda yadda yadda. It drives me up the wall. You’re a genius? Great. Get to the point already.

Thus, I end up listing to jazz musicians covering rock tunes. The Bad Plus covering Nirvana’s Smell’s Like Teen Spirit? Perfect. Their non-covers are cool, too, but they reside in that world of “We have 4 minutes to make a melody and turn of phrase get to the point” rock or pop. “Anthem for the Earnest” is an original, but it sounds like it could have been a cover. (I’d kill to hear The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s cover it.)

Brad Mehldau is the same way. His covers of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” and “Knives Out” are stunning. Its a frame work for him and his band to play some amazing bits withuot sounding like, “Hey everybody! Look at me play some cool stuff!”

All just end this by saying that design likewise lives within limitations and needs to embrace them. I mean, which would you rather have? Sting doing 10 minutes of bass work on a cover of a jazz standard, or a jazz trio doing a three-minute cover of a Police song?