If you're of a certain age, you can look back at the history of computer storage devices and recollect a fluid lineage of technology which brings us to the present day. Perhaps, like me, you've actually loaded programs from a cassette tape. More likely, you've had a stash of 5 1/4 inch floppy disks, which got slowly replaced by the hard cased 3 1/2 inch variety. Soon, we were all burning our data to CD-R, then DVD. Then one day, USB thumb drives and external storage became ubiquitous. The inevitable transformation to The Cloud is currently in process.
Why so much change in 30 years of personal computing? Because computing standards evolve -- each new iteration yields greater capacity, faster access, and a more convenient paradigm. We approve the agreed upon language of computer speak to move all users forward more or less simultaneously, and we all benefit from the ride.
So why have standards not done the same in the world of jazz? How is it that the same pop music and show tunes from the middle of the twentieth century have become the dominant lexicon -- and despite best efforts of its most brazen pioneers -- show no signs of abating.
Lord knows, but I do know that Paul Abella Trio is lifting and shifting traditional jazz into The Cloud -- racing past and assimilating any and all influences -- and this album is the blueprint for how its done.
In this mashed up, hyper-networked, post-everything world, drawing boundaries between genres has been increasingly arbitrary and meaningless. Jazz voicing and chords have bled into all manner of music from the most unexpected artists. More than ever, many listeners come to the jazz world through pop, rock, jam, indie even hip-hop and folk.
All sorts of musicians have used America's art form to great effect -- enhancing their material with jazz nuance and revealing to audiences worldwide the true treasure that is jazz. When The Paul Abella Trio avows to "make jazz fun again", you better believe that the band aims to return the favor from the the jazz world.
How? You've probably never noticed before but a-ha's "Take On Me" just begs to have its melody slammed out on a vibraphone. Jerry Garcia's "Foolish Heart" has the phrasing, bounce, and polish of any standard -- but who outside of the most hardcore Deadheads have even heard it? Even Metallica's "Battery" emerges as beautiful, delicate and sonically imaginative -- that's something. For Abella and the band, these arrangements serve as puzzles to unlock, worlds to unravel within their jazz training and sensibilities.
For those who dive into this work, your greatest gift is the gift of context. For many, it simply makes the music accessible, allows you to perceive a challenging art from with a certain comfort zone. For others, it will serve to expose the workings of the band's methods and minds.
"I'm out to prove that jazz isn't the songs, it's what you do with the songs," Abella quips. Just as our computers are more than the chips and circuitry that make them -- it is the vistas of knowledge and communications that they enable for us that make them vital. Jazz -- even the so-called traditional jazz sound -- holds just as many possibilities. A Change In Plans represents a few lines of code in that long awaited system upgrade that will move us collectively forward.