Can't Grow Up on Rock Alone, Kid: Nine Swingin' Jazz Albums

Grant Green
Grant Green

I know. You like to rock. If it doesn't kick ass, you don't need it.

Or maybe you're listening to a different genre, like hip-hop, but it's still the same. You like that hard-driving, in-your-face kind of stuff. That wonderful, rebellious, youthful music that makes you want to take another shot and get wild.

I get it. I felt the same way at some point. So did the people 10 years in front of and behind me -- when we were young. But here's the trick. You can't survive on aggressive music alone as you continue to -- gasp -- mature. Situations, companions, family settings, and changing tastes will demand otherwise. Here's another way to put it: Your wife won't let you play that loud shit.

Luckily, the ol' Record Store Geek is here to help expand your musical horizons without turning into a total wuss.

See also: - Steve Wiley: Music Parenting 101: The "Two Albums Before Bed" Rule - Steve Wiley: Heartbroken, Son? Sit Back and Enjoy the Music

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I'd Like You to Meet Mr. Coltrane The solution I recommend is jazz.

Not puppy jazz. Not smooth jazz. Straight-forward, jammin' jazz. The cool stuff. Something with a tempo and a bite comparable to the rockin', rappin' stuff you listen to now. At least to get you started.

That's what worked for me, anyway. First, I started listening to a little more jazz in the store, and asking our jazz-knowledgeable customers for advice. Then I brought home a few albums to listen to in more intimate settings with my girlfriend (now wife), and the next thing you know, I'm a jazz fan.

It took a little trial and error, and a bit of study, but eventually I learned more about America's genre. I learned that these jazz players and singers, in addition to being spectacular musicians, were rock stars before there was such a thing.

Drugs? Check. Groupies? Yep. These cats were just as rowdy, drunken, and troubled as rock's best.

From the perspective of a hoodlum, I've always liked that sort of character in my artists. When you look at musicians, painters, actors, or writers, the legends are usually pretty flawed. I don't know if it's okay to say I think that's cool . . . but I do.

Best of all, I discovered that a good jazz song, or album, can get your body movin' just as much as heavy rock, soul, or hip-hop. In other words, jazz can rock, if you know where to look.

That's where I can help.

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