Episode 129: Ugly Beauty with Phil Freeman

This episode of Across The Margin: The Podcast presents an interview with Phil Freeman, a renowned music journalist specializing in jazz and metal. He is the former managing editor of the world music magazine Global Rhythm, the former editor-in-chief of the metal magazine Metal Edge, the founder of MSN Entertainment's Headbäng daily metal blog, and currently writes a monthly jazz column, Ugly Beauty, for Stereogum. Freeman is also the co-creator of Burning Ambulance, a quarterly journal of arts and culture that encompasses a website, a podcast, and a record label. His latest book, Ugly Beauty: Jazz in the 21st Century, the focus of this episode, highlights how vibrant and diverse today’s Jazz scene truly is. What does jazz “mean” 20 years into the 21st century? Has streaming culture rendered music literally meaningless, thanks to the removal of all context beyond the playlist? Are there any traditions left to explore? Has the destruction of the apprenticeship model (young musicians learning from their elders) changed the music irrevocably? Are any sounds off limits? How far out can you go and still call it “jazz”? Or should the term be retired? These questions, and many more, are answered in Ugly Beauty, as Phil Freeman digs through his own experiences and conversations with present-day players. In this episode host Michael Shields and Freeman discuss what to expect when exploring the pages of Ugly Beauty while expounding on the unique jazz sounds coming out of the four cities focused on in the book: Los Angeles, London, Chicago, and New York City. They talk about the current surge in jazz appreciation abounding and the reasons for it, what it meant when Kamasi Washington broke through garnering masses of fans from outside of the Jazz world, and how hip-hop has dramatically affected Jazz in the 21st century. They also praise a slew of artists who cannot be contained by traditional views of what is and isn’t jazz, and so much more.




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