I’m usually not a fan of musicians rearranging and rerecording their own music from an earlier period. Songs or albums tend to speak to a certain time or place in an artist’s life and in our cultural milieu (even the songs and albums that are timeless), and revisiting songs years later—in a studio, not in a live setting—can come off as tired and hackneyed. Yet when I heard that Bryan Ferry reinterpreted a handful of Roxy Music classics as instrumental jazz songs, I was first intrigued and then surprisingly delighted. The songs on the Brian Ferry Orchestra’s The Jazz Age sound like authentic 1920s compositions, made by musicians who clearly admire and understand the jazz music of that time period. The songs sound so radically different, I had to listen to the album a few times before I recognized some of my beloved Roxy Music favorites. The album is fun and enthusiastic, and although it doesn’t replace the original Roxy Music songs, it’s a pleasure to hear.
While we don’t have The Jazz Age in our CD collection, it is available through Freegal. Freegal is a downloadable music service that allows resident borrowers to download three songs a week with their library card. Check out The Jazz Age and then see what else Freegal has to offer!
For comparison, here's a video of Roxy Music performing "Do the Strand" on the BBC in 1973:
And here is a one-minute snippet of the same song from The Jazz Age:
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