Jazz is Life
I believe in Jazz. I grew up hating Jazz. It had no words, I wasn’t about anything…it didn’t tell a story like the John Denver songs my Dad loved to sing along to. I started playing in Jazz bands in 7th grade just to be with my friends, and have a good time. But junior year of high school my girlfriend, of 2 years dumped me. The first girl I’d ever said, “I love you” to. I became inconsolable, nothing that my friends, or family could say could really help. It was in that Jazz music that I had so much hated, that I found comfort. Not in some heartbreak country song, or even some misunderstood teen band. It was in the scratchy trumpet of Miles Davis that I took comfort. When I listened to “Flamenco Sketches” for the first time it painted a picture of some lost soul in a big city. Looking out his apartment window to the dark streets below, wishing his lost love would return to him, wishing he knew where he belonged.
Finally I had found someone who hurt as much as I did. Someone who felt the longing I did. He used simple melody and phrasing to communicate his emotions and tell a story in a way that no words ever could. It reached in and gave me that deep in my gut healing that I longed for. Finally I appreciated Jazz. I understood why people love it so much, I understood why people swear by it and commit their lives to it. Jazz heals, Jazz plucks our heart strings like no muse ever could.
Jazz is American. It is fast hectic New York, it is slow calm Georgia midnight skies, it is a barn dance. I think there’s a reason they play Jazz in funeral processions in New Orleans, because it’s somber and slow and can twist your heart and make it hurt so good, but it also celebrates life, and makes you want to dance.
So I believe in Jazz, in the crunchy hectic Mingus, the smooth cool Miles Davis, the four on the floor drive that shakes your heart, the lightning fast Jaco, and the random Holland. Jazz is life. Soloists trading fours is a conversation of friends. Mutes are facial expressions, straight, cup, plunger, harmon, hand, wa-wa, or my personal favorite, the pixie, are all different colors to accent the story they tell, like hand motions or facial expressions, an added way for you to feel the flavor. Improv is a story. Someone pouring their heart out and expressing themselves in the best way they know. So I’ve learned that Jazz really is about something, it paints beautiful pictures, tells amazing stories, offers comfort, and inspires in a way that gets us at our truly human level. That touches us deep in our soul, and words, would only get in the way.
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