The 'Jazz Boyfriend,' And Your Musical Litmus Tests For Compatibility

First, watch this short video:

YouTube

We admit it's pretty funny, even if it does cut to the quick for some. (If you smart guys out there are wondering, no, I have never dated the lead singer of Mindtroll.) It also comes courtesy of Jezebel, which used the video as a launching pad for its piece "Has Your Partner's Musical Taste Ever Been A Dealbreaker?"

Being a jazz blog, we at A Blog Supreme have a slightly different spin on it. I suspect that for some of you more dedicated jazz fans and musicians, your love for the music has indeed been a point of contention in your romantic relationships. I know quite a number of couples where one person is obsessed with the stuff, and the other — usually, though not always, the female in a heterosexual couple — couldn't generally care less.

Even if you've never been in one of those relationships, we fans who care deeply about jazz generally realize: Most human beings don't. Which is cool by me, since I love a lot of not-jazz music too. But loving music in general — whether actively pursuing new sounds, regularly going to concerts or even making it at some level — that's very important to me. I don't know about the rest of y'all: I don't think I could ever be in a relationship where the other person doesn't care for music even remotely as much as I do.

Owing to both its depth of craft and general unfamiliarity, I think that good jazz music is a good test for this.

At university, my college radio friends and I — male and female, jazz hounds or not — liked to joke that Eric Dolphy's Out To Lunch was the perfect litmus test for a potential romantic partner. The whole record has a certain oblique, mysterious quality to it: Bobby Hutcherson's spacey vibes, the strutting way Richard Davis walks on "Hat and Beard," Tony Williams' magical way with cymbals. The compositions seem to jut out at you asymmetrically, but they somehow resolve in a way that's just satisfying enough. And there's Dolphy, a swirl of note spirals and that strident signature lick on three different instruments. I mean, that bass clarinet on "Something Sweet, Something Tender": c'mon now.

The reason this works well, we surmised, is that Out To Lunch isn't what most people think of when they're asked to imagine the standard sonic template of jazz. It certainly took me more than one listen to understand why people saw this record as a classic. But if you keep listening, you begin to hear something beautiful in there, in spite of its spiky exterior. And I like to think you can hear at least a hint of that beautiful core the first time through, and even become entranced by it — if you keep an open mind and an attentive ear.

So it makes for a good yardstick for one's musical curiosity. Does your potential mate care enough to think deeply about this somewhat jarring music? If there's no evidence of mental activity upon this really rich, dark, multi-layered stimulus, you might not want to pursue this avenue much further, at least not in the bedroom. (Contrariwise, if the other person already knows about Eric Dolphy, shoot, "look at this effing jazz-nerd love connection.")

jazz boyfriend i i

This guy clearly wouldn't pass the Eric Dolphy test. iStockPhoto hide caption

itoggle caption iStockPhoto
jazz boyfriend

This guy clearly wouldn't pass the Eric Dolphy test.

iStockPhoto

Eric Dolphy's masterwork — and jazz in general — is far from the only music one might use as a litmus test for a potential romantic partner's musical inclinations. (After all, certain frilly-shirted folks see jazz fandom as a turn-off, apparently!) Inquiring minds want to know: what are your benchmarks? Leave us a comment about how you pre-screen your dates for musical compatibility — or, in the case of some, if it's an issue you still live with every day.

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