The executive producers of “The Great Gatsby,” Jay-Z and Baz Luhrmann were charged with recreating the momentous era of the Jazz Age for the score. I can hear the snickering and lip smacking in the background at the idea of a rapper creating a score for a flick with so many obviously white characters. I commend Luhrmann for acknowledging that jazz is a musical genre with origins in the African American community.
It took roughly 80 years before Jazz or blues were considered American music, other than just jungle music. From the hard streets of New Orleans, an art form was birthed. On September 23, 1987, introduced by the honorable John Conyers, Jr. a house resolution was passed by the 100th Congress of the United States of America. The resolution “proclaimed that jazz “is a unifying force, bridging cultural, religious, ethnic and age difference in our diverse society.” Interesting, right? Right!
“100$ Bill” by Jay-Z sets the stage. Yes, we know he’s pushing 50—nonetheless his eloquence perdures. You start seeing green, purple and gold: envy, hope and wealth. Mr. Carter’s braggadocio embodies the sumptuousness of the Jazz Age; he utters the women, the lack of morality as well as the obscure upward mobility.
It was ingenious of Jay and Baz to meticulously have contemporary classics that have already graciously captured the spirit of jazz to be covered by other talented artist. Andre 3000 and Beyoncé’s duet of Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black” immediately transports you front row at the juke joint. “Crazy in Love” is already a brickhouse record; Emeli Sandé coupled with The Bryan Ferry Orchestra gives the song certain versatility that easily makes it a signature tune, sort of like “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” If you are to infuse Jazz and Hip Hop and make the correlation that these musical genres are twisted sisters; of course, Q the Abstract makes the cut. Lana Del Rey hypnotizes you with her boisterous pipes on “Young and Beautiful,” which suits her and her forte for bad boys and their short attention spans. Sia (“Kill and Run”) and Florence’s voices are like the ocean. Their unique, hold no bars range allows them to depict blue emotions and love succinctly. “Over the Love” has blasted from my speakers ad infinitum consecutively since the very moment the credits ran down the screen. AIN’T no party like a will.i.am party! Other notables are Jack White, Gotye, Coco O. of Quadron, The xx, Nero and Fergie.
Unfortunately for the naysayers, the execution is immaculate.