Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Time for a Name Change?

rock-n-roll-hall-of-fame-421x300Another class of inductees to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame has been announced.

And so begins another session of (justifiable) carping.

The problem isn’t with any of the new Hall of Famers, as each has had a significant impact on popular music — the sounds one hears on the radio, in widely distributed recordings, at concerts, in nightclubs — to one degree or another.

Rush and Heart easily fit the “rock” category, and the great singer and songwriter Randy Newman kind of does. But Donna Summer (disco), Public Enemy (rap/hip-hop) and Albert King (blues) don’t. Quincy Jones has made major achievements in pop/rock, as well as jazz.

New Orleans’ Meters, who should have been asked to join the club this year, but apparently didn’t receive enough support, aren’t “rock,” either. They split the difference between New Orleans funk and R&B.So why not call the place/institution the Popular Music Hall of Fame? No, it’s not as snappy as the existing name, which is often shortened to “Rock Hall.” But it would be far more accurate than “rock” or even “pop,” neither of which are broad enough.

The time for a name change is long overdue. Get with it, RnR HoF — Shouldn’t your name reflect your membership, rather than refer to a single genre of popular music?

Ceremonies will be held April 18 in Los Angeles. More details, including interviews with the inductees, can be found in this AP story.

The Bad Plus – Still Bad (That’s Good)

What is jazz?

The Bad Plus, nominally a jazz piano trio – piano, upright bass, drums – begs that question.

Still, the group turned in one of the most inspired sets at this year’s Jazz Fest in New Orleans; an emotionally intense version of David Bowie’s “Life on Mars,” released on the group’s 2007 Prog CD, was a particular highlight. I spoke with several Bad Plus newbies who were entirely blown away by the performance.

The trio’s latest, For All I Care, is their first with a vocalist. Minneapolis altrock singer Wendy Lewis achieves a spooky feel on Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb,” her voice whispery over Dave King’s quietly rumbling toms and Reid Anderson’s deeply resonant bass lines. Pianist Ethan Iverson shortly later countes with fluttering piano cascades.

It may not — does not — swing. But it’s a wildly creative approach. And the same could be said about what the trio does with Nirvana’s “Comfortably Numb,” Wilco’s “Radio Cure,” Yes’s “Long Distance Runaround” (Yes!), the Bee Gees’ “How Deep is Your Love,” Heart’s “Barracuda” and the Flaming Lips’ “Feeling Yourself Disintegrate.” The group also takes on several 20th Century classical composers.

The project, produced by Tchad Blake (Los Lobos, Peter Gabriel, Tom Waits) is remarkable, and I’ll go into greater detail in a review slated to be published in a jazz mag early next year.

Here’s hoping that The Bad Plus (finally) returns to our neck of the woods. I fondly recall their first appearance here, at the Royalty Theatre in Clearwater.