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TV Reviews : ‘Jacksonville Jazz IX’ an Insult to the Musical Form . . .

It would be hard to imagine a more devastating illustration of the low estate into which jazz may seem to have fallen than “Jacksonville Jazz IX,” airing tonight at 10 on Channels 28 and 24.

Toward the end of the show, Paul Shaffer says, “Let’s bring back Michael Brecker, Louie Bellson, Bob James and Maynard Ferguson"--an odd remark, since none of them has been seen before. We have no way of knowing how their excised individual sets came off, and this hectic finale gives them no time to accomplish anything.

It is ironic that in the TV version of last year’s National Florida Jazz Festival, Spyro Gyra comes closest to establishing a measure of validity. The group’s three tunes typify its innocuous pop fusion of R&B; and Latin, with Jay Beckenstein on sax and Dave Samuels on vibes.

The Dirty Dozen Brass Band from New Orleans has only one tune, with simplistic harmony and a colorless vocal by Jenell Marshall.

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The decline of a once-promising voice is illustrated in three appalling vocals by Dianne Reeves, whose mannerisms all but destroy three classic songs. Her ruinous rendition of “My Funny Valentine” includes a 12-time repetition of the first vowel in “Unphotographical.” During “The Man I Love,” she repeats “I’m waiting” 10 times--and it’s not even part of Gershwin’s lyrics. Duke Ellington’s “I Got It Bad” is a similar miasma of melisma, with the word like split up into about 20 syllables.

Closing the show is Shaffer and what is billed as the World’s Most Dangerous Band. The only danger is that someone may mistake these gaucheries for jazz, or the musicians’ motions for emotion. To throw Bellson into this catastrophic clambake was an insult. But let’s face it: The show clearly has a mass appeal for the young-of-IQ.


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