Culture Magazine

Benzema and Higuain, a Jazz Reunion

By Sgulizia @catch22soccer

Benzema and Higuain, a Jazz Reunion

Like the eminent trombonist J. J. Johnson in the early 1950s, Karim Benzema is now the dominant bebop striker, and yet his saxophone sound has been criticized last season as unidiomatic and insufficiently ‘brassy’—whatever that means—but there is no mistaking his pre-eminence in the recent history of soccer. Born in Lyon to Algerian parents, Benzema emerged in Mourinho’s orchestra, and he is leaving an indelible yet peculiar mark with his Argentinean fellow-trombonist, Gonzalo Higuain. The movements of these two goal-hunters could not be more different. Together, they forced Real Madrid to rethink its striking phraseology, adjusting its attacking mechanisms to a powerful but unemphatic swing.

Higuain is irresistibly slow-tempo, in contrast with the slap-happy, chiming bass melodies of his French partner; he prefers the mournful, drawn-out statement that squeezes every drop of emotion the action has to give. His approach can be neatly captured by a good-natured four-bar exercise such as Lazy Bones, a Tin Pan Alley song written in 1933 by Hoagy Carmichael with his distinctively nonchalant, “let’s-get-at-it” attitude:

Lazybones, Sleepin’ in the sun,
How you ‘spec’ to get your day’s work done?
Sleepin’ in the noonday sun.
Lazybones, sleepin’ in the shade,
How you ‘spec’ to get your corn meal made?
Never get your corn meal made
Sleepin’ in the evenin’ shade.

When ‘taters need sprayin’,
I bet you keep prayin’
The bugs fall off the vine
And when you fo fishin’
I bet you keep wishin’
The fish won’t grab at your line.

Benzema’a approach, while equally perfect and beautiful, is at the same time more jubilant and vinegary; he picks up passes and notes like clay pipes at a shooting gallery. Because of this, he rather recalls a boppish blueprint, of the kind that produced J. J. Johnson’s rendition of Groovin’, as generic as the title suggests but so sweetly, so superbly done. ♦

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