Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Mind the Music: Avalon (at the Speakeasy)

Bryan Ferry Orchestra – The Jazz Age

This track from 2012’s unexpected (and unexpectedly cool) record, The Jazz Age, has Bryan Ferry – singer from one of my all-time favorite bands, Roxy Music –  re-imagining and re-interpreting songs from the Roxy songbook and his solo albums, taking every last vestige of glam and rock out and replacing it with the sounds of a hot jazz orchestra from the 20’s and 30’s.

Le Smoking: the silky, sexy "tux'n'cognac" stylings of Brian Ferry
The song ‘Avalon’, originally from the classic album of the same name, loses its entire late-night penthouse chic and weary post-hedonism and replaces it with a chorus of clarinets all braying at moon while a muted trumpet steps in for Mr. Ferry’s vocals. Like a loose, jivey Duke Ellington Orchestra at some speakeasy replete with flappers dancing the Charleston – even the recording sounds as though it was from old 78’s – Ferry clearly loves this music and he surrounded himself with some of the finest trad jazz musicians currently playing. This record, which is all-instrumental, is an absolute blast from start to finish, with not a bad track to be heard. 

What remains on both versions of this song is the tux‘n’cognac besotted cosmopolitan glamor; the original version sighs with resignation while Ferry is looking out at Manhattan from 60 stories up. This take is like the last call at the Cotton Club eighty years ago, wandering out from the glitz and back to the row house of Harlem. A marvelous record.

Dennis Yudt is a Sacramento based writer and music aficionado currently working on his vinyl record collection.


Unknown said...

Brian Ferry ... such a style ikon ...

Patti said...

ahh, this music made me feel so good! xox

Vix said...

He was mean to Morrissey according to Mozza's autobiography so I can never listen to him again! x