Something Borrowed: On the Corner is a Trap That Doesn’t Satisfy

MM: Miles Davis is quite possibly the most important musician. Ever. Of all time. I admire him deeply because as an artist he always tried to be on the cutting edge, and that was most apparent when he moved from his modal jazz stylings to his jazz fusion era of the late ’60s and early ’70s.

1974’s On the Corner, is my favorite studio recording from this period. Miles made this album to appeal to the Black youth of the ’70s by taking notes from the pages of funk and soul acts like Sly and the Family Stone and James Brown … and free jazz wizard Ornette Coleman and German avant-garde electronic composer Karlheinz Stockhausen. 

I like this record a lot because it straddles the very fine line between accessible pop music and balls-to-the-wall avant-garde insanity. I know that our favorite Editor-in-Chief Jake Mauriello prefers pop music sung by sad white women, so I wanted to throw him a curveball with one of my favorite jazz records. Jake, I hope you dig it.

JM: This is a setup. I am not one to mince words, and I am calling this what it is — a setup! I have been duped! Bamboozled! This recommendation has been made to directly correlate with my failure!

Here’s the thing … the lovely Matthew McDonough and I do not share similar tastes in music. In the venn diagram of our music tastes, the middle section would be bleak. I prefer face-value music. Heavy synths make me emotional because they’re so easily digestible and so good. “Sad white women” are a favorite because they wear their emotions on their sleeve. I don’t have to search my soul to find out the meaning behind an Adele song — I can simply cry to it alone in bed staring at my ceiling. 

When I clicked play on On the Corner, I waited a bit for words. Then I waited an entire song for words. By the time I reached the 23-minute finale, my thoughts had been whittled down to, in the words of one Azealia Banks, “So … what now?” 

That’s not to say music has to have words. After all, music started without words, I think! I can enjoy a good film score from time to time, but if I don’t have a film to connect to the music, then I cannot handle a lyricless album. 

Listen … I get it. I believe every word Matt says when he calls Miles Davis the most important musician of all time. This album is jazz unlike I’ve ever heard it before — “La La Land” she is not! It has an almost electric/funk element to it, and though to trained ears I’m sure this sounds like the work of a mastermind, my inferior ears just hear sounds layered on top of each other.

I believe this “Something Borrowed” was a setup to prove, once and for all, that my music taste lacks in technical quality, and that is fair! My brain will never understand cutting edge jazz, but my brain DOES cry when a pop song uses vocoder, so I’m fine in my little world!

About Jake Mauriello 89 Articles
Jake Mauriello is a third-year student studying journalism and public relations, with a minor in film and video studies. This is his fourth semester with The Oracle. Previously, he has worked as an Arts and Entertainment Copy Editor, Features Editor and Managing Editor. His favorite stories to both read and write are those in the realm of Culture and Entertainment.