I could feel the excitement emanating from every person in the crowd as we packed into the immense theatre of the Overture Center in Madison, Wisconsin. The astonishing musical genius Wynton Marsalis was about to perform with his septet.
I had never heard such a brilliant musician, or rather, such brilliant musicians. The entire septet was thoroughly thrilling and the music sent me into a deeper love of jazz. All of the tunes, from the famous and sweet “Embraceable You” to the hopping, joyous “Citi Movement,” completed my notion that music truly can affect the heart, mind, and soul. From that day forth I never set down my trombone, even when I was frustrated by the seemingly inevitable band drama. I never stopped playing, and I loved every millisecond of that time. All of the music and the opportunities I had with instrumental music were some of the greatest parts of my life, and definitely made me who I am today.
I believe in the power of music. I believe that music can make any person feel any emotion, from solemn to contemplative to exuberant. Music can make you feel disheartened or dejected, but even in those moods you feel joy because of the true intensity of feeling in music. Even with a relaxed, laid-back tune such as “Someone to Watch Over Me,” the beauty of the notes lifts you. The only experience in the world that can have this effect is music, and many people are never able to realize this power. Even the slowest songs can invigorate the soul, revealing the fantastic effect music can have on a person.
Rock brings strength, country has familiarity, and techno provides the dance beats, but I believe that jazz has the deepest and strongest impact of all genres. It’s hard to describe the profound effect of the artistry of jazz because, as jazz great Thelonious Monk said, “Talking about music is like dancing about architecture.” However, I can tell you that whenever I hear jazz I can close my eyes and let the sultry notes flow through my mind, swirling away my pain, my frustration, my anger. Jazz has the ability to free your mind and take you to a perfect place that can’t be found elsewhere. The expression, the relation of thoughts and feelings, and the pure love that are all poured into the art form complete an unparalleled and perfect musical wonder.
I believe that the free-flowing, unstructured, emotional identity of improvisational jazz can affect every person, no matter their background, in an incomprehensible way. The purity of self and the absolute personal connection that all jazz musicians have with their creations are the reasons that jazz has such a great impact on society. Without the individuality that all jazz musicians channel into their respective pieces, there would be no effect, no feelings, no emotions, and no love. And a world without the jazz culture would be a dull, drab place.
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