Jazz has emerged as the lost music of the 20th century. It has been out of the mainstream since the late 1960s. It requires more musicianship, more musicians, and more study than any other genre, which sucks, cause as musicians people are taking more shortcuts than ever. There are no shortcuts in jazz, not in studying it, playing it, or listening to it. Those of us who follow jazz might as well be anthropologists, examining the past and looking for dusty, forgotten relics that are worth their weight in aural gold.
The release of Austin Peralta’s Endless Planets on the Brainfeeder branch of Ninja Tune records comes as somewhat of a shock. Ninja Tune, known for its forays in jazz with releases from Cinematic Orchestra, Jaga Jazzist, and 9 Lazy 9 has allowed Brainfeeder to release a little known solo jazz pianist into the wild.
Then again, Peralta has already been in the wild. Still below drinking age, he has played with some of the greats (Chick Corea and Hank Jones), toured internationally at 16, and already played jazz festivals in Tokyo and Java. Outside of the jazz world, he has collaborated with greats like Flying Lotus and Erykah Badu. Youthful talent can be kickstarted by a day in the spotlight and a little bit of faith.
Released in February 2011, Endless Planets lacks the clumsiness or convention of a young musician. It touches on fifty years of jazz history with aplomb. Make no mistake: This is heavy music. Capricornus is an exercise of 60s free jazz, the jamming freedom tempered down for the record but bursting at the seams. Ode to Love allows the rest of his band to take the spotlight with multiple solos for the sax players. The 13 minute epic Algiers feels in place with the African rhythms of jazz that were popularized by Yusef Lateef and Randy Weston. The melodies careen across a thumping bassline, staccato piano notes tugging against seductive sax lines. The record fades into a blissful digital bubble bath provided by Strangeloop and the Cinematic Orchestra, electronic water to cool you off from forty minutes of fire.
If anything, this record is the sign of the times. Jazz is back and young again. Count us in the revolution.