Vital Signs

Music of the Peers

I recently attended a performance by the quartet known as Montreux, a group which, as you may know, records for Windham Hill. I had first seen Montreux perform a couple years back during Detroit's international jazz festival that's called, coincidentally enough, Montreux/Detroit. Those whose sensibilities were shaped by rock and roll may know Montreux-the-city only through the reference to it in Deep Purple's perennial favorite, "Smoke on the Water." The city, however, is more widely thought of in terms of jazz.

Windham Hill automatically tunes our thinking to "New Age" music, a term—an epithet, really—associated with whale sounds, white noise, channeling, Novocain, organic food, and other neural depressants. It's music that people listen to in order to tune out. At the same time, it's said to be yuppie music, which seems somewhat contradictory, for all of the yuppies in my acquaintance tend to worry about things like the "GRQ factor," which, for those of you who aren't familiar with the sublingo of the BMW set, means "get rich quick." There's little time to be laid back when you're on a roll—cocaine, not quaaludes, is the drug of choice.

When I went to the local computer network to buy the tickets for Montreux, the young lady behind the counter was puzzled. She'd never heard of the band. Had I inquired about Anthrax, the Junk...

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