It’s kitchy; it’s funky; it’s a twelve-minute disco. Blue Jazz TV’s extended “Karaoke Life” is a grooving smooth-jazz throwback to bar nights full of song.
Bobby always knew
that I could sing in tune
and that ain’t easy (and that ain’t easy)
Waiting for the day
when labels come my way
and they will see me (and they will see me)
Now I come to play
in the city by the bay
outside of Baltimore (outside of Baltimore)
I’ve practiced all my songs
I never get them wrong
That’s how stars are born
“Karaoke Life” – Blue Jazz TV ft. Billy G Robinson
Atwood Magazine is excited to be premiering “Karaoke Life,” the first of two extended long-play singles featuring Billy G Robinson (B.T. Express) and Brooklyn jazz group Blue Jazz TV. Considered one of America’s original art forms, jazz, like bell bottoms and disco, is often glanced over by music magazines and popular culture. While the music of Kendrick Lamar or Bruno Mars, Lady Gaga and more wouldn’t exist without jazz and its influence, the predecessor of rock, hip-hop, funk, rap and “pop” music is a considered an “older” sound, with a niche audience that grows smaller every year.
One might argue it has expanded into new territories (prog, etc) and adopted new names, but jazz is far from dead: While you’ll find a jazz band in most middle and high schools, bands like Blue Jazz TV – the Brooklyn-based songwriting team formed in 2009 by Max Zuckerman and Adrian Knight – continue to experiment within and build the genre. The group’s music is literally all over the place, and yet each song itself feels far from scattered: The band themselves are tight as heck, blending funky dance rhythms with deep undulating bass grooves and stacked harmonies – not to mention sweet, blistering solos.
“Karaoke Life” finds the six-piece jazz band continuing to foster an ongoing collaboration with vocalist Billy G. Robinson, whose incredible voice takes the whole number to a new level. He screams, he cries, he belts out huge lines and follows them with subtle, spine-tingling whispers.
Out on the beach
the girls never looked so fine,
sipping on their cold white wine,
waiting for their turn
Gary’s in demand,
with sueded leather tan,
He’s hitting high notes with the band,
living for tonight
“You can be what you want to be in a karaoke life,” says Billy G. Robinson of the new single [pause for effect]. Directed by Scott Kiernan, the accompanying music video brings us back to a time where smooth jazz reigned supreme. Getting everything they can out of a low-budget effort, the nearly 12-minute production includes low-resolution scenes at karaoke bars and a PBS-like blue screen band performance. It’s all very fun and self-aware, knowing full well that what matters most is the music – and the music holds.
We don’t cover enough jazz, and I’m not superbly equipped to analyze the solos and chord structures of “Karaoke Life,” but I can speak to how it makes me feel: Nostalgic and appreciative. Blue Jazz TV are but one of the thousands of jazz bands keeping these grooves alive every day, and this song really does harken back to the late ’70s and early ’80s fusion of jazz, funk, soul, etc. In between all the pop, rock, and folk we’re pressing against your ears, be sure to look out for the music we’re not always talking about – including smooth, mind-easing jazz.
Blue Jazz TV, meanwhile, will continue their personal motto of “unlearning music one note at a time.” Catch them on tour in February and March 2018 – dates below!
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photo © Scott Kiernan