Sound Waves - a surf music blog

Sound Waves blog

Return to the Legions of the Jazzed

Aug 15

Written by:
8/15/2008  RssIcon

Earlier this week, Sound Waves bought our first set of speakers for the i-pod we reluctantly bought after years of holding out against the evil empire that is Apple. Now the front room is filled nightly with the golden music of Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, John Coltrane and Brad Meldhu. What is it about jazz and surfers?

Surfer Phil Edwards once famously termed all those who did not surf as, "the legions of the unjazzed". More recently Alex Wade, in his book 'Surf Nation', spent a chapter contemplating the possible links between the jazz music and surfing, specifically long boarding. They are views that Sound Waves empathises with, having been a lifelong, if not especially committed or knowledgeable, fan of jazz.

Notwithstanding that, advances in music playback technology have resulted in yours truly not having a stereo at home for something in the order of 5 years. I resisted the lure of i-Pod. I clung dearly to my CD buying habits, using my laptop to create mix CDs from my collection to play in the car. The car therefore became my listening room but set its own boundaries. Fast driving rock and roll by the likes of Teddy Thompson found favour but the complex patterns of Steve Reich proved overpowering and claustrophobic. My first MP3 player was a free gift thanks to a judiciously placed order for office products, it held about 40 songs, but due to my dislike of listening to music on headphones, and the constant roar of ambient noise of modern urban life it was rarely played. Moreover, the acts that were being promoted seemed little more than expensively produced tribute bands. Their music sounded familiar, like a movie actor you swear you have seen in a previous film but just cannot place. In a nutshell, I had become utterly sick of listening to music. In all this time, my modest collection of jazz albums by a shortlist of greats such as Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Brad Meldhu, Cannonball Adderly and Charlie Mingus lay in a box under the bed, still much loved but absolutely unplayed.

About six months ago, after much soul searching, I finally plumped down the cash to buy an 80G i-Pod classic. I wish I could say that I had some damascene conversion but I didn’t. To be honest, it’s just a well designed, if overpriced gadget and it has mostly spent its time sitting unused on my desk at home.

So what has changed? Well, earlier this week I headed into TX Maxx to buy some socks and there on offer was a set of speakers for MP3 players that contain lights that change in time to the music they are playing. The tag said € 25.00 and considering that any shop that sells I-pod compatible speakers tends to stock equipment with prices north of € 200.00, I figured I couldn’t lose. What I didn’t expect when I got them home was the high sound quality that could emit from a pair of speakers that, basically, double as Christmas lights. And so, I spent my first night with these speakers, first downloading my jazz collection onto my i-Pod via my laptop and then listening to the magical sounds of an elite group of artists drifting gently through the air of my living room, as my speakers pulsed in time with a soft blue light. Kind of blue? Not anymore.

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