How jazz secretly invaded pop music

From The Independent:

When Radiohead recruited drummer Clive Deamer to their live line-up last year, he found himself being grilled by Rolling Stone about Britain’s most innovative band, and had to swiftly put his interviewer straight.

“He kept using this term – ‘rock band’, ‘rock’ this, ‘rock’ that, he was dropping that in all the time,” Deamer recalls. “Halfway through the interview I had to say, ‘Hang on mate, we’re talking about Radiohead – what’s rock about Radiohead?’ Having spent nearly a year with them, they don’t see themselves as a rock band, and they’re not trying to maintain that.”

Anyone who saw their meditative surprise Glastonbury set, or heard the intricate, quiet beauty of last album The King of Limbs, would have to agree. These days, they instead sound like what one might have imagined a Blue Note modern jazz quintet would morph into by the 21st century. The presence of Deamer, who with his band Get The Blessing won 2008’s BBC Jazz Award for Best New Album, is a clue to a wider trend. He and Get The Blessing bassist Jim Barr are also Portishead’s rhythm section, while both Adele albums and parts of Emeli Sande’s were built on piano parts by 2007 BBC Jazz award-winner Neil Cowley. In the US, Wilco have been transformed by guitarist Nels Cline’s mould-breaking, ferocious improvisation skills. From Kasabian drummer Ian Matthews to Goldfrapp lynchpin Will Gregory, a music which gets little UK attention beyond the Mercury Prize’s token jazz nominee has dug a role in the mainstream’s heart.

It recalls the 1960s, when musicians from Ray Davies to Motown’s studio band drew on early days as jazz players to lend rhythmic suppleness to artful pop hits. A bridge which seemed broken, as rock bands who knew nothing else and House music’s iron rhythms ruled, is tentatively being rebuilt.

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