It’s often pointed out that long ago, jazz was once dance music. It’s usually a way of lamenting its current reputation as a cerebral art for seated contemplation. But nothing says music can’t be for both hips and head.
Here are two music videos which, in their own ways, visually convey the dance roots found in even modern jazz. Neither are choreographed dance routines in the way of Michael Jackson or Beyonce, but I think both represent a strong movement imperative.
The first video, above, is from the band Now vs. Now — a trio from the keyboardist Jason Lindner, with drummer Mark Guiliana and vocalizing bassist Panagiotis Andreou. On “Big Pump,” the dancing, cinematography and video editing reflects the energy of the song’s arc. When the soloing and the beat are at their most intense, the bodily movement and lighting are too. It’s a representation of the song’s peaks and valleys, like an iTunes visualizer — except in the form of humans gyrating.
The lack of a coherent narrative to it all is worth noting. Instrumental music like this can’t quite tell a story in the same way words do. But if it grooves like this, it can still provoke a bodily reaction, and an emotional resonance. The underground nightclub vibe of this video, disjunct as it is, conveys both the dance and the abstraction
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