Report: Heavy Metal And Jazz Meet At The Extremes

Greg Burk of the Los Angeles Times reports: The common factors between metal and jazz? Technique: the wonderfully unnatural feats the human limbs and brain are forced to accomplish when running down riffs at quicksilver speed, or playing 11th chords in 11/8 time. Improvisation: Always at the root of jazz, it's also the process through which most modern metal structures are created. And advanced harmony: Both metal and jazz discarded folk basics long ago, and hybrid artists come up with chords that would scare Schoenberg.

Axeman Greg Howe, the ultimate hybridist, stretches from sideman spiels with PRINCE to his own funk/fusion/metal explosions; recently he guested on a JEFF BECK tribute album.

"Back in high school, my one group of friends was into Ronnie James Dio, and my other group of friends was into disco," says Howe by phone from his Long Beach home. "And if I ever said that I liked this song by KOOL AND THE GANG, and I also liked this song by BLACK SABBATH, people looked at me like I wasn't allowed to say that."

A metal-jazz connection is rarely articulated, says Joe Lester, bassist of the local prog-metal band INTRONAUT, who studied music at UC Santa Cruz; at 24, he's been a practicing musician for 10 years. "Guys that are into technical music, death metal and extreme metal love amazing drumming, amazing guitar playing, and they know that jazz is amazing technical music," says Lester. "But they might not know any names beyond Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong."

Read the entire article at the Los Angeles Times.


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