Is Bowie’s Blackstar Jazz?

This week, fans celebrate what would have been David Bowie’s 71st birthday on January 8th and commemorate his passing two years ago on January 10th. An iconic artist who’s creative spark is definitely missed, yet thankful for the musical legacy he left us.

“Francis Whately’s documentary The Last Five Years, which debuts January 8th on HBO, takes a close look at David Bowie’s final recorded documents, The Next Day and Blackstar.” Elias Leight via Rolling Stone

10 Things We Learned From ‘David Bowie: The Last Five Years’ – Rolling Stone

Many feel that on Bowie’s final album he turned to jazz, or at the very least, embraced working with jazz musicians to create something sonically unique. Long time producer Tony Visconti remembers their jazz connection and influence.

“David and I had long had a fascination for Stan Kenton and Gil Evans,” Mr. Visconti added, referring to two prominent jazz orchestrators of the mid-20th century. “We spoke about that virtually the first time we met, back in the ’60s. We always saw pop and rock as something we were quite capable of doing, but we always held the jazz gods on a pedestal above us.”

“We were listening to a lot of Kendrick Lamar,” Mr. Visconti, told Billboard magazine. “We wound up with nothing like that, but we loved the fact Kendrick was so open-minded and he didn’t do a straight-up hip-hop record. He threw everything on there, and that’s exactly what we wanted to do. The goal, in many, many ways, was to avoid rock & roll.”

Last summer Donny McCaslin visited our studio and spoke with Brad Barker about the experience of working with Bowie on Blackstar.