For today’s Music Monday I ‘d like to ask one simple question; in what universe is the music of Jay-Z and Kanye West considered preferable to that of Duke Ellington and Cole Porter? I’m thinking it’s the bizarro world.
You are no doubt aware of The Great Gatsby movie that is currently in the theaters. In yet another film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s literary classic, the movie stars Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role and was directed by Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, in 3D no less. My mom and I had planned to see the movie on Mother’s Day but at the last minute we decided to skip it. We had a lovely dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants instead. So I haven’t seen The Great Gatsby and am not here to offer a review. But film critic Rex Reed, in all his bitchy queen glory, ripped it to shreds.
What I do know is that the task of providing the music soundtrack for the film was placed in the hands of music mogul Jay-Z and his cohorts. The geniuses in Hollywood thought it a wise decision to pass over the authentic, totally fabulous music of the Roaring Twenties – or “The Jazz Age” as it’s known – in favor of modern day hip hop. Now I’m not naive. I get it. The strategy was all about marketing and making the film more appealing to a younger demographic. Because, you know, the young people of America don’t have nearly enough exposure to Jay-Z and Beyonce. That was sarcastic, by the way
Carroll Dickerson’s Jazz Band, floor show, Chicago, 1924:
I probably sound like an old fuddy-duddy, griping about music authenticity and giving the impression that I’m incapable of opening my mind to hip new styles and contemporary reimaginings of classic literature. But I assure you that that is not the case. Jay-Z’s soundtrack for The Great Gatsby really and truly is absolute dreck. But that should come as no surprise from the guy whose biggest hit was titled “Big Pimpin”.
As proof of the incredible treasure trove of actual 1920s music offerings – the ones cast aside in favor of Jay-Z – I had a hell of a time choosing a video for this post. Between Louis Armstrong, Ethel Waters, George Gershwin, King Oliver, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, Kid Ory, and Cole Porter, it was really tough. So in a hat tip to my late father, a trumpet player, I finally decided on Bix Beiderbecke’s “At the Jazz Band Ball”. Ladies, put on your best flapper dresses, and have fun! THIS, my friends, is what The Jazz Age sounds like: