9/5/13

Jazz (Yves Saint Laurent)



Traditionally I wear Kouros in September, as I have for the last three years, but this year I have a new fougère to play with. Personal circumstances have led to a need for a fresher, more discreet fougère, so I have turned to Jazz by YSL. I think it's an excellent fragrance. Whenever you have a classical fougère structure of lavender, coumarin, oakmoss, and musk, you have a winning formula, and adding generous notes of coriander, artemisia, basil, patchouli, nutmeg, tobacco, and cedar only enhances its beauty tenfold. Jazz is also historically significant, having been released in 1988, the same year as Cool Water. Many have pointed out that if Davidoff had not released its extremely fresh aromatic fougère, fragrances like Jazz and Tsar (1989) would have dominated the nineties instead. I really think this view applies more to Jazz than anything else, because unlike its contemporaries, it features a brightness, a dihydromyrcenol-fueled freshness that speaks to the laundered, hygienic mindset that had taken hold by the end of the eighties. Jazz also surpasses Tsar, Eternity, and Safari in quality and complexity.

Tsar resembles Jazz more than any other aromatic. I think of Tsar as being Jazz after a hike through a forest in Russia, while wearing a ushanka, and drinking cold Medovukha from a burlap flask. Tsar has a richer evergreen accord, a louder sandalwood note, more patchouli and juniper berries, and a more muddled tobacco. Jazz possesses a cleaner profile, with brisk lavender at the tippy-top, followed by stunningly realistic renditions of coriander and nutmeg, which smell like I literally sprinkled these spices on my skin. A soft pipe tobacco note arrives later on, accompanied by artemisia, basil, patchouli, cardamom, cedar, moss, and musk. As expected of YSL, the use of artemisia here is brilliant, and gives Jazz its woody snap. The composition is fairly tight, but note separation is terrific, and an impressive array of woods and herbs keeps it smelling multi-dimensional even into the far drydown. When I first sampled Jazz, I was afraid its drydown would be too thin and cheap, but wearing it proved to be a different experience altogether. I also smell the dihydromyrcenol in the top notes, and there is a very slight discordant quality to it, as if the metallic freshness of your average nineties deodorant were trying to wrestle the relatively mature proceedings into submission, but it only lasts a few seconds before balancing out and becoming a true lavender note.

Some have suggested that Jazz has been reformulated badly in recent years, as there is a newer "La Collection" version, courtesy of L'Oreal. I don't really know or care about that. I have the version pictured above, and this version is still available everywhere you go. Unlike a lot of fragrances, Jazz is something to buy at brick and mortar stores, rather than on the internet. Your local mall has a perfume shop, and in that shop sits a bottle or two of older vintage Jazz. You might end up paying $45 for it instead of the $35 it sells for online, but the newest version is actually twenty dollars more expensive for no discernible reason (and you get less), which is a bad deal - why spend $65 on it? Anyway, I'm glad they still make this stuff, because it's a perfect example of a natural-smelling fougère that works well at the office, at family picnics, on dates, at church services, and just about anywhere a man can be. They really don't make 'em any more versatile, interesting, or pleasing than this. Jazz is one of the greatest fresh fougères ever made.







10 comments:

  1. A fantastic scent you've reminded me to wear this tomorrow! Also I must mention Pierre Bourdon's masterpiece...Live Jazz! My favourite fragrance of all time. There is nothing better for the brutal Australian summers like Live Jazz!

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    1. It's funny that Jazz was formulated by a relatively unknown perfumer, but Live Jazz got Bourdon. Is it similar to Platinum Egoiste by any chance? I've read that . . .

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  2. Also a review request?

    Givenchy Xeryus one of the most underrated aromatic fougere in my opinion.

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    1. Keep an eye out for a review of Xeryus this winter. It's not something high on the priority list but I'll make it a point to get my hands on some.

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  3. Jazz is a classic for sure. I love Live Jazz too - a worthy flanker in my opinion.

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    1. Classic is a good word for it. Will try Live Jazz in the future.

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  4. Hi Bryan!
    Thanks for the review! This is also a Fall classic for me as well. As you said, versatility is the keyword with this one. Though I also have a small vial of Tsar and I can see the similarities,I also think that Jazz surpasses Tsar. It is worth mentioning that Pasha de Cartier does bear resemblance to Jazz, albeit a smoother rendition in my humble opinion. Compared to Pasha, Jazz is slightly rougher. Still, I love both!

    As a listmate mentioned Xeryus, I had also recently tested a small vintage vial of Xeryus. I find no similarity to Jazz whatsoever, but I do find some similarity to Sung Homme. It has that 'Irish Spring' facet to it. That's the good. Unfortunately, I find something disagreeable in it; hard to describe. There is an accord which reminds me of the smell of hot-dogs. At the time of its release, I have heard that there had been some legal friction between Givenchy and YSL as to the name of Xeryus which was originally supposed to be Keryus. Since that sounds too similar to 'KOUROS,' YSL pressed Givenchy for a name change. Hence, Xeryus. Whether true or not, I guess you would be the man to uncover the whole story. It would be nice to read a thorough investigation of this matter in the style of your recent erudite piece on the various formulations of Grey Flannel.
    Therefore, I look forward to your review on Xeryus.

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    1. All very interesting, Kris! If true, it points to yet another instance of perfume politics at work. Personally I see no comparison between Keryus and Kouros, but whatever. It's a unique name for a fragrance either way.

      Another blogger compares Xeryus to Cool Water, and claims that it's a more-natural and more complex variant on the Cool Water theme (it did come before CW). Just out of curiosity, do you get that comparison at all, or are these two very different (as in, more different than alike)?

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    2. Hi Again Bryan,
      I myself do not feel any similarity between Xeryus and CW. As I said, I do smell a similarity between Sung Homme and Xeryus. Xeryus seems to be composed of better quality materials. Xeryus also has a cheerier, sunny feel in the opening. Both have that leathery, ever so slightly smoky background. Xeryus seems more suited for formal occasions. Still, I prefer Sung Homme. Something smells disagreeable to me in Xeryus; a kind of hot dog smell which has cooled down on the plate. That is the best that I can explain it. I haven't smelled the newer 'Mythiques' version. My vial is the original shiny, mirror bottle. Having said this, it could have degraded. This may account for that slight disagreeable note. Who knows? I don't have any other reference to compare to as I never smelled it back in the mid-1980s when it was released. You have to give it a spin. Since you like the Irish Spring vibe, you may really enjoy Xeryus. I wonder if you will pick up the same similarity. Anyway, look forward to your eventual review of this one.

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    3. Yeah I didn't think there was any comparison between Xeryus and Cool Water either, but wanted to check with you (I'll look into that comparison myself). A lot of people think Sung Homme is a fresh fougere, but in fact it's a woody-fresh chypre, and it does share a lot of fougere-like qualities with its contemporary ferns, like Xeryus. I do enjoy the Irish Spring vibe from Sung, and that makes me more eager to give Xeryus a try. Of course, with Jazz and Tsar and even stuff like Red for Men and Acteur - without Cool Water's invention, history would probably have favored those "baroque" fragrances. Sung Homme could have been more influential. Ditto Jazz & Tsar. And even Pasha! But CW came along and stole their thunder.

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