When acclaimed artist Jean-Michel Basquiat died in 1988 at age 27. he left behind a collection of over 3000 mostly jazz LPs. Music inspired Basquiat in his painting and jazz performers were honored in a number of them.
On August 30, Prestige Records will release the mixed media CD Basquiat Salutes Jazz which brings together 12 bebop classics with reproductions of the artist’s jazz-influenced paintings. Like Basquiat’s approach to his art, bebop reflects the greater stylistic freedom accorded musicians in their use of rhythm, tone and improvisation. The tracks feature many of the great names from the early years of bebop including Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, Art Blakey, Charles Mingus and Thelonious Monk.
For those with limited familiarity with bebop, this CD provides a great introduction to the music and its most influential performers. For others, the CD takes all the work out of assembling some of the most representative recordings of the era into a single compilation.
Despite the uneveness that comes from combining tracks made at different times, in the studio and live, it is worth having for the imcomparable playing. There is a live recording of “Salt Peanuts” that is best described as frenetic. Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers’ bebop take on the swing standard “Caravan” provides a good introduction to this jazz form. The CD concludes with Charlie Parker on “Ornithology.”
For those who would like an opportunity to hear the CD before buying, you cannot do better than to visit this site.