The following conversation was initiated via iPhone at Trattoria Cadorna, Rome.
Thomas Bartlett: Can you make a “jazz” playlist for me and Rob to listen to? If you make it on spotify you can just send to us or something.
Sam Amidon: Hell yeah!! That is a great genre of music
Sam Amidon: do you want all good and beautiful jazz, to listen to for pleasure, or good jazz plus annoying jazz, because annoying jazz is amazing?
Thomas Bartlett: Rob says, “I’m mostly interested in rediscovering the joy of jazz.”. Interpret as you will.
Sam Amidon: can ur wireless deal w like a 25 or 30 megabyte sendspace file
Thomas Bartlett: Yeah, should be fine. You’re giving us stuff of such obscurity that it doesn’t appear on spotify?
Sam Amidon: gimme a few hours
Sam Amidon: ok if anybody ever chooses to call me a “GENIUS,” it will exclusively be the result of this here mix. if you actually listen to it, i will pay you $5 each, and also your life will be changed. 2 sendspace files on their way. then import to playing device and put in the following order. enjoy
(episode 1 coming very, very soon…)
A few nights ago, in Bari, Thomas Bartlett and I were seated in my hotel room, 324, facing a crossroads in our evening. The hotel bar was closed, and while a lukewarm stock of pre-mixed Campari and sodas remained, he was running out of music to play that I hadn’t already heard. You see, we have a rather established touring cycle routine of sipping digestifs in whichever of our rooms is vaguely superior while sampling music that excites us. We often begin by paying lip service to the social custom that is alternation but both of us know that eventually Thomas, alpha male though he may not be, will control the remote. You see, I’m not that much of a music fan; I’m a mere practitioner.
Control he had, guiding us expertly through Talk Talk, Yo La Tengo, PJ Harvey, Dirty Three, Plush, Elvis Costello and a host of others. At a certain point, however, those lightly effervescent spritzers led us to a Nick Cave song I already knew (in fact, Thomas had previously given me the album!) and my mere recognition of it ruined the fun for at least one of us. It was only a few songs later that we reluctantly gave up the quest for late night music, without even the staple of a 90’s R&B conclusion.
Our tails were truly between our legs. I suggested that, in the future, we practice a two song minimum per artist, requiring Thomas to suppress his roving attention span in favor of continuity. It was likely a helpful idea but I’d be lying if I said my heart was truly in it. Had our routine simply run its course? I feared that we would have to resort to something more constructive, like Scrabble, in our future.
Fast forward: Rome. Somehow, the subject of jazz came up yesterday. I don’t know if it was all the Wayne Shorter posters, or the perennially tasteless playlists of the average neighborhood enoteca, but Thomas made a remark about his lost love for jazz that resonated particularly. We mused on the potential, indie-appropriate irony of readopting the idiom in our private, listening lives. After all, Bari’s failed audio tasting menu had left us slightly desperate for a potential change of pace. Almost as a joke, I suggested we ask Sam Amidon to curate a hotel room playlist for us, a tour through jazz history. Thomas said he would write him. The next day, these words stumbled out of my mouth:
I’ve been thinking about that thing I said, and I want to start a blog that chronicles the commissioning and airing of curated, hotel room playlists.
The truth is, I have long desired a blog but have lacked a thesis. Until now, Twitter has been a sufficient receptacle for my pithy bursts of self-indulgence. The hotel playlist idea, however, seems worthy of an extended and interactive medium, and I am excited to unveil it gradually, with all the care of a novice technological charlatan. Please stay tuned for Volume 1 of my forthcoming listening series, featuring the enigmatically encyclopedic Sam Amidon!