Today, the embracing of tradition in popular music is rare, but when it comes to the blues, its practitioners understand the importance of preserving its legacy through their own work. The same is true in jazz where musicians strive to preserve the genre’s heritage even as they seek to innovate. This is particularly apparent when it comes to the use of the blues in jazz. There have been many modifications to the Blues form over the years contributed by jazz players and composers alike.
Roger Kimball, writing on the legacy of Hilton Kramer, one of the founders of the literary magazine, The New Criterion, observes that “Tradition is not the enemy, but the indispensable handmaiden of originality and lasting cultural achievement”. One aspect of Pop-Culture is that in order to find consensual acceptance throughout the mainstream it has become fashionable to dismiss much of the traditions and standards of the past. In the arts, music, film, and literature there seem to be an attitude that previous forms and techniques are not only passé, but are to be avoided. This is especially true in music where musicians often say they must disavow the past in order to move the art-form forward. Is this the reason, or is it because, in their rush to seek stardom and celebrity status, many of today’s musicians feel it takes too much time and trouble to assimilate and master the prior art?
Pop-Culture Blues is a Suite in 10 parts that presents the development of the blues within the jazz idiom by utilizing the changing compositional styles prevalent from the late 1950s to today. The goal of the composer is to present the most important variations of the form in both technical and stylistic terms, though there are certainly many more variations possible than the ones contained on this recording. The complete work presents a logical and inclusive progression from traditional to contemporary blues, in so far as the composer is inclined and his craft is capable. Each movement was written to reflect the compositional style (at least in spirit) of an influential jazz composer or band leader of that period.
“Entertaining, inventive and wildly addictive.”
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The Boston Post-Gazette
“If your idea of heaven Is the Atomic Basie band, this latest release by Michael Treni is going to be right up your alley.”
"A sweeping panorama of blues-influenced jazz styles from the past 70 years."
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The Jassman (South Africa)
“Examining the blues in all its colors, all from a sizzling, steaming big band perspective. ”
Jazz Society of Oregon
“Big-band never died, and as long as artists like Michael [Treni] are on the scene – it never will!”
"Pop-Culture Blues begs to be played loud and often.”