Review: Total Jazz

The first actual time I heard anything resembling jazz was Chuck Mangione. As a kid growing up in the early 1980s I had parents who still listened to music from the 1970s, especially disco music. Another genre my parents got into was popular music and for one bright instance in the 1970s Mangione’s “Feels So Good,” was a crossover hit. I can still remember hearing that beautiful trumpet play and it always takes me back to my childhood. That’s why when King Of The Hill had him appear as himself on several epsiodes, with “Luanne’s Saga” being the most memorable, it definitely brought a smile to my face.

Of course, since Chuck Mangione came out with that hit many artists before him and after him have crossed over to popular culture. As one of jazz purist uncle has said to me many times, “that is not jazz,” as many artists like Mangione, George Benson, Kenny G, and Al Jarreau, have made it on to the popular music charts. As I grow older and listen to all genres of music I have realized the true beauty of the music. It’s tenuousness, just like hip hop. It defies convention. In Blutch’s Total Jazz the auteur seeks to give the pedestrian music fan a rudimentary examination of music by itself but also jazz culture covering the many subgenres, the artists, and even the fans.

In “the Melody of Words” a young Apache princess listens to for her lover’s intentions through his action, one that makes her his bride. In  the Sound,” a musician looking to find a sound of his own ends up emulating one of his favorite jazz players. In “The Muse,” a young woman becomes the inspiration for four different musicians over the course of her life. In “Study on the Prejudice of classic comics to Jazz,” the vignette shows how comics have portrayed jazz music under unflattering light. In “She Shot Lee Morgan,” an artist’s death makes another artist appreciate the woman by his side.In “the Life of an Artist 2,” an artist whose idol is Sonny Rollins imbues himself into his idol’s work routine gaining fans all his own. In “MDD III,” Blutch charts the life of Miles Davis through his evolving personal style. In the last of the vignettes I will highlight “Diary of a Consumer,” the meager availability of jazz music in stores has reduced significantly, where now fans have look to the internet for their latest music fix.

Overall, an outstanding collection of visual essays that seeks to explore all facets of jazz music and what actually makes up jazz culture.The stories by Blutch are relatable, funny, and true. The art by Blutch shows skills that adjust to each unique story. Altogether, an essential book to add to your collection if you love jazz, but especially if you like music and the culture that surrounds it.

Story: Blutch Art: Blutch
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy