Bug Music

The Flintstones, season 5; episode, “The Hatrocks and the Gruesomes.”
Synopsis : Fred’s country bumpkin relatives, the Hatrocks, come to visit on their way to the World’s Fair. The uncouth relatives overstay their welcome. Every attempt to politely send them off fails, even recruiting the help of next door neighbors, the Gruesomes, an Addams Family/Munsters farrago. Their only recourse—Bug Music, by the 4 Insects—a parody of The Beatles.

“That music is even more gruesome than we are,” states Weirdly Gruesome, who also finds Bug Music repellent. Every generation has its popular music that causes elders to recoil and proclaim, “That noise!”

Picture yourself in a boat on a river traveling back almost a hundred years, back to a time before Rap, . . Electronica, . . Metal, . . R&R, . . R&B, . . Big Band, . . It’s a time when pop songs were the likes of “Daisy, Daisy,” “Peg ‘o My Heart,” and “Yes, We Have No Bananas,” corny, sweet, hackneyed tunes. Enter the Great War, enter prohibition, enter Jazz. Jazz was the music of brothels and speakeasies—revolutionary, feral. It was infectious music that would drive a person to dance involuntarily, uncontrollably flailing arms and legs in sync with the savage beat. It would lead its listeners into a degenerate, drug-laden, vitality-draining lifestyle, dark and foreboding like its origins : the first Bug Music of the century.

Looking back, the fear of Jazz seems naïve. That beat, accused of being barbaric, was deviously sophisticated; the music cunningly stratified, and charged with references. Early Jazz has been mostly left to history. It’s known mostly through old, scratchy recordings. I find it hard to listen to what sounds like it’s been squeezed through an empty tube of toilet paper. The low fidelity wrings the punch out of the music, leaving it pallid, its living vigor limp. Enter Don Byron’s Bug Music, an exquisitely recorded and magnificently performed update of early Jazz.

Although, after all this preamble, there’s only one word needed to describe it : fun. There’s no way to listen without spontaneous head bobbin’, shoulder swayin’, foot stompin’. There’s no way to listen without smiling. Suddenly, you’ll become a high contrast silhouette dancing, uncontrollably flailing arms and legs in sync with the savage beat, hook-line-and-sinkered by music that’s been emancipated from its cardboard cylinder.

Have a listen. Warning : Wait until you have room to get on your feet and flail.

Take me home—St. Louis Blues

Wisps and wasps—Bounce of the Sugar Plum Fairies 

A wink and a nod to Chopin—Charley’s Prelude 

Quirky—The Penguin 

Kooky—Blue Bubbles 

Generally, I prefer searching for new music, or new spins on older music, but this CD has got me to realize there is something to going back, not for “the good ol’ days,” or to wallow in nostalgia, rather, to revitalize a bygone style with respect to its authenticity. Don Byron, and sidemen, Steve Wilson, Robert DeBellis, Charles Lewis, Steve Bernstein, James Zollar, Craig Harris, Uri Craine, Paul Meyers, David Gilmore, Kenny Davis, Pheeroon akLaff, Billy Hart, Joey Baron, and Dean Bowman honor this music, musically and spiritually. And they do it one better by delivering it to us with quality audio that transports us. We are there, in time and space, to experience it in full feral color.

Warning #2 : According to the proxy server ixquick Don Byron’s official website may contain malware. Likewise, DuckDuckGo does not give it a “trusted” site rating. Be advised to visit through a proxy.

(||) Rating — Music : A ║ Performance : A+ ║ Recording : A ║
 Don Byron, Bug Music, Nonesuch, 1996

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