Release Date: Feb 12, 2013
Record label: BMG Rights Management
Genre(s): Jazz, Pop/Rock, Retro Swing, New Orleans Jazz Revival
Imagine a disembodied pair of jazz hands. Now imagine that those hands, as they flutter and preen, are bringing the world into existence, tweaking the air here and grabbing it there as they create experience. And those hands have also created themselves, white gloves from whole cloth, ex nihilo. Now, play that image in reverse.
It is sometimes said that a really good song will survive, even thrive, with a radical rearrangement. It's a flawed argument, but one to which albums such as The Jazz Age add seductive heft. Here are 13 classic tunes from the Roxy Music and Bryan Ferry back catalogues – from Virginia Plain to Don't Stop the Dance - reimagined as big band soiree music from the tootling 1920s, to mark 40 years of Ferry's career.
Bryan Ferry has recreated Roxy Music's hits as languid instrumentals for a replica 1920s jazz band – but this is more than a tourist-trip to Gatsby-land. Ferry the jazz fan and his pianist Colin Good have mixed the soulful glide of the 1927 Duke Ellington Cotton Club band, the sinister purr of 1940s film noir and those Roxy qualities that went beyond Ferry's dinner-jackets – including their adventurous song structures, which give this vintage sound a very different melodic and harmonic spin. UK reeds virtuoso Alan Barnes and trumpeter Enrico Tomasso shine in an elegant lineup that reworks Avalon's crooning vocals and wah-wah guitars as gracefully wheeling clarinet sounds against brass whoops, turns the pounding of Love Is the Drug into louche brass polyphonies, and preserves Do the Strand as an invitation to dance – but to some eerie mutation of the Charleston.
Over the last 40 years, singer Bryan Ferry has established himself not only as the frontman of one of rock's most iconic bands, but also as a unique interpreter covering the songs of others. The songwriters he's covered have been transformed into something wholly other by him. Ferry's ability to find and reveal what is hidden in a lyric, a musical phrase, or even a key signature is uncanny.
Bryan Ferry works steadily, recording, releasing, and (only if necessary, perhaps) touring new albums, even if he remains unable to step out from what was established on earlier work. But then Ferry seemed born to both reinterpret and to look backwards. His solo career started one year after Roxy Music's own debut full length with These Foolish Things, a collection of soul, jazz, and rock'n'roll standards often revisited in utterly surprising ways.
As one of the leading luminaries of the glam rock age, Bryan Ferry is not necessarily someone whose forays into the world of jazz you might immediately be intrigued by. After all, the tightly knit chart successes he enjoyed with Roxy Music don't appear to have a great deal in common with the freedom and indulgence of the Jazz Age. .
An album as fascinating as it is perplexing, and one to be applauded. Chris Roberts 2012 It’s not uncommon now for artists of stature to rework standout moments from their canon. Recently Jeff Lynne revisited ELO’s catalogue, and Tori Amos re-recorded old songs with an orchestra. Some deem such moves a lazy admission that fresh ideas have expired; others relish seeing masterpieces in new light.