Stravinsky once dismissed jazz as ‘a kind of masturbation that never arrives anywhere.’ Prince, may have shared that view when he called for jazz to die on All the Critics Love U in New York but his rebellion against the music of his parents didn’t last long. Jazz soon came to represent a freedom from rules and in Love Like Jazz, far from being a directionless act of self-pleasure, jazz became the blueprint for sexual improvisation between two lovers responding to one another. “The notes u play should be a reaction to mine” he sings “nothing planned or contrived, then both of us will arrive at our destination.” Like Prince’s views on jazz, my feelings about this song have also matured, albeit at a breakneck speed. With no other song have I leapt from cringing to bewitched quite so suddenly. Right before my ears, what I previously dismissed as hotel-lobby muzak transformed into an aquatic Sergio Mendez tripping the light fantastic on Neptune. And it gets better with every listen. With the dependable Sonny T and Michael B on bass and drums Love Like Jazz is a solid and earnest pastiche like Cherry Cherry or Te Amo Corozón, and possibly a leftover from the 3121 days. That’s not to say it doesn’t have depth. It may sound breezy but it’s Strollin’ with a jazz masters degree; Do U Lie? advanced syllabus.
339: Love Like Jazz