Jazz, like many other art forms, is currently suffering from a kind of creative mental block. The Big Bands stay in the past, the mainstream musicians prefer the status quo, and avant gardists, for the most part, are so concerned about the future that they have no place in the present. Jazz seemingly has nowhere to go. Or has it?
Enter the Lounge Lizards.
The New York-based group (which appeared at the opening of the 9:30 Club this weekend) is a jazz group. No, wait. They are a punk group. No. cThey are both . . . and neither.
The Lounge Lizards are one of the most imaginative and vital ensembles to hit the music scene in recent memory. Their music is a curious conglomeration of old and new jazz sytles which are presented with all of the rock brashness and visual strangeness of the early Sex Pistols.
Hopping about the stage, the musicians ravaged the classic "Harlem Nocturne" and trounced dozens of jazz cliches. Yet for all their irreverence, the Lounge Lizards brought a sense of precision and outright innovation to their work that made space-aged fusion music seem pale in comparison.
Purists will no doubt see, in this group, a concerted attack on the jazz they know. But who cares. The Lounge Lizards are bringing a new and energetic direction to rock and jazz. Punk has struck again!