Before there were theoretical polychords, tritone substitutions, diminished scales, or intervalic patterns, there was one element of American jazz music that defined it all: rhythm. What became the trademark sound of traditional jazz was a rhythmic conversation between multiple voices, counter-melodies that accompnaied a phrase by outlining a harmonic progression or answering a lyrical call, while coloring the spectrum of the collective sound. Each voice is a jigsaw puzzle piece, a musical shape that interlocks within other phrases through syncopation to create a bigger picture, a larger sound, and a richer story to tell.
A master of the tailgate style, Freddie Lonzo plays the trombone where most others do not, within the pockets of inhalations, the hiccups in between beats, while sliding around the harmonic boundaries as if to wrangle the wandering herd of musical voices. He is the glue that holds the craft together, the excess mortar that texturizes a brick wall. His syncopation of a beat highlights its rhythmic possibilities by molding it into asymmetric divisions. In the middle his solo, Lonzo uses only a single pitch, the Ab, to spit out a dizzying array of off-beat launching points, accenting the regional influences and the historical depth of the music.
With as much apprehension as one would have navigating around the tip of an protuding iceberg, featuring the trombone stylings of Freddie Lonzo and his work with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band is the my first anxious Polar Bear Club plunge into the deep waters of American jazz. While I know how to keep my head above the surface, the fear and panic set in when it occurs to me that I do not know how to swim, how to flow with the breaking waves, or how to move against the rushing tides. Rhythm is my life-saver, and this is my modest attempt to stay afloat.
SPECIAL THANKS to Sam Baker for the clarification regarding the Amazon Exclusive!
Here is a YouTube video of Freddie Lonzo playing with the PHJB.
Recommended Reading: Traditional New Orleans Jazz: Conversations With The Men Who Make The Music by Thomas W. Jacobsen. Published by Louisiana State University Press.