Watching Ken Burns' PBS doc JAZZ, you'd be forgiven for getting the impression that jazz is a done deal and that the "fracturing" of the music in the sixties was responsible for its crucifixion.
Of course, for those of us who feel jazz owes more to the anxious nudge forward than to the self-indulgent look back, nothing could be further from the truth. The free-falling experimenters that blew like shrapnel from the phoenix of the music of Coltrane, Taylor, Coleman and Davis has kept jazz's embers not only glowing, but red hot.
Witness HiM. Though a small ripple in the sea of followers of the dense, trance funk of Miles Davis' early seventies work, this brainchild of drummer/dub master Doug Scharin is at the crest of a new wave that blends jazz's instrumental flexibility with ambient electronica. Scharin - whose previous "Sworn Eyes" Stereophile Magazine called one of the top "66 records to die for" of all time - gets to Davis' sonic wave by way of the reggae dub-masters, trippy eighties explorers like the Durutti Column, and Nigerian Davis disciple Fela Kuti. Yet in Scharin's Brooklyn-cum-Chicago mix of electronica, percussion, bass, fragmented guitar and horns you can still feel the On The Corner groove pulsing beneath.
This EP of three cuts from an upcoming Bubble Core remix album isn't certainly ain't for the Stan Getz fan (or even the Trane fan really). But HiM's genre bending improv is at jazz's underground edge and its loping, vital grace may counteract the rampant standard-craving conservatism of the Jazz Establishment. And just maybe some future, under-30 Bird, Trane or Miles (or Scharin) might dig this and take it somewhere sublime.